What is Tail Docking?
There are over fifty breeds of dog, which
have had their tails docked, since the inception of the breed. The original
reason for docking some breeds is well documented, for some, the reasons have
been lost over the fullness of time. The vast majority of breeders and
prospective puppy purchasers continue to want these breeds docked for a variety
of reasons. Many reasons are given for the different breeds and range from the
need to protect certain breeds from tail damage, for hygiene reasons, to protect
breed standards, to ensure that puppies can be sold or exported.
Tails are normally docked at 2 to 5 days of
age without anaesthetic being used. When carried out correctly, the procedure
causes no more than momentary discomfort since the neonate puppy does not have a
fully developed nervous system. When the pup is placed back with its
littermates, it quickly falls asleep or starts feeding from mum again. This is
in contrast to a puppy in pain, who would exhibit continuous crying,
restlessness, crawl around in pointless circles and fail to suckle.
The older the animal, the larger the tail,
and therefore the more traumatic the procedure becomes. If the puppy is more
than 10 days old, the procedure should only be performed under anaesthesia,
preferably not before 8 weeks of age. Many undocked adult animals undergo the
tail docking procedure out of necessity when their tail has been traumatised.
How is docking carried out ?
There are two methods of docking. The
majority of breeders used the technique known as "banding", in which a
ligature, normally an orthodontic band, was placed over the end of the puppies
tail at 24-96 hours old. This effectively cuts off the blood supply to the end
of the tail, which comes away within 3 days.
Most vets used to cut the tail with surgical
scissors but in the UK, are now more likely to use the banding method to..
detailed information can be found under the :
What are dewclaws?
Dewclaws are like thumbs. They are the first
digit on a dog, and, unlike digits 2,3,4 and 5, are not used for walking. They
are located a short distance up the leg on the inside surface. They are usually
removed at the same time the tail is docked, at 2 to 5 days of age. At this age,
the bones that make up the toes are tiny and soft so that snipping them off is
easy. If the dewclaws are not removed at 2-5 days of age, like the tail dock,
one should wait until the pup is old enough to anaesthetise safely.
Removing dewclaws from an adult animal is
much more difficult than snipping them off of a days old puppy. Recovery time is
also longer and many adult animals will bother the incision excessively because
it is so easy to reach. This usually necessitates the placement of an
Elizabethan collar, a funnel shaped plastic device that surrounds the animal's
head, so that it cannot lick or chew its sutures out. Dewclaws serve no purpose
to the dog. They are easily snagged on things and often traumatised.