Why Do People Cut Dogs Tails Off?

If you have ever seen a dog from a breed that would typically have a long, waggy tail but they have a short, stubby tail.

The chances are that the dog’s tail was deliberately cut off when they were a young puppy.

It might sound strange to think that some dog owners would do this.

So in the post, we will explain why dog owners cut off their dog’s tails.

Why Do Some Dog Owners Cut Off Their Dog’s Tails

Cutting off a dog’s tail is known as tail docking. It is mainly done for aesthetic reasons.

Some dog owners think it looks good to own dogs with short tails.

There are claims it is safer for working dogs to have docked tails, but most vets dispute this and say the practice is cruel and unnecessary.

What Is Tail Docking?

Tail docking (sometimes referred to as tail bobbing) is the term used for cutting off a dog’s tail.

It is usually carried on dogs when they are very young puppies, typically under fourteen days old.

The tail docking is nearly always carried out with no anesthesia.

While people who do it claim there is minimal suffering, most (if not all) veterinarians and other experts strongly question this.

If you imagine accidentally stepping on a young puppy’s tail, it would no doubt yelp in pain, so it follows that cutting off its tail without anesthesia would hurt much more than this.

Why Do People Cut Dogs Tails Off?

NOTE – You might also find this post interesting about why dogs get stuck after mating.

Why Do People Dock Dog’s Tails?

Historically tail docking was carried out because it was believed to be good for dogs, mainly for working, hunting, or fighting dogs.

Dog owners believed that tail docking strengthened the dog’s back, reduced the chance of injury when fighting or hunting, and even reduced the chances of the dog catching rabies.

(It is worth noting that none of these claims are borne out by modern science).

More recently, people now dock their dog’s tails primarily for aesthetic reasons.

Some owners think it makes their dogs look better, and some do it because they believe it may help their dogs do better in competitive dog shows.

The owners of working and hunting dogs may still dock their dog’s tails because they believe it is safer, but as already mentioned, the scientific evidence does not back this up.

Is Dog Tail Docking Cruel?

Yes, I believe tail docking is cruel for the following reasons:

  1. The experts say there are no benefits.
  2. It causes pain and suffering to very young puppies.
  3. Dogs need their tails for a variety of reasons.

Cutting off a dog’s tail can be a controversial topic.

So let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail to understand why it might be a cruel thing to do to a dog.

1. The Experts Say There Are No Benefits to Cutting Off Dog’s Tails

Tail docking is strongly discouraged by the American Veterinary Medical Association (also known as the AVMA) and other global veterinary associations.

So if there are no legitimate benefits beyond an aesthetic preference to cutting off a dog’s tail, and doing so causes pain to the young dog, I think it is fair to call tail cutting a cruel practice.

You might also find this video interesting. A vet gives his opinion on docking and why dogs’ tails should be left alone!


Note – You might also be interested to read this post answering the question – why do dog owners cut off their dog’s balls?

2. It Causes Pain and Suffering in Very Young Puppies

Cutting off a very young puppy’s tail for no benefit other than aesthetic preference is clearly a cruel practice.

Most vets agree that docking hurts, and to be quite honest, it doesn’t need a vet to understand that cutting the tail off a young puppy will cause the pup pain and suffering!

So, unless advocates of cutting off dogs’ tails can cite high-quality evidence of the health benefits, I think they need to accept that the process is unnecessarily cruel.

3. Dogs Need Their Tails for A Variety of Reasons

Dogs use their tails for all sorts of things.

You only have to watch them being active and engaging with other dogs to observe them doing so.

Dogs use their tails to communicate with other dogs and with humans.

They use them for balancing and even to help them in the water when they are swimming.

So it is evident that unless you have an excellent, evidence-based health reason for cutting off a dog’s tail.

It is, in fact, a cruel practice and shouldn’t be done to suit an aesthetic preference.

Should Your Dock Your Dog’s Tail?

Unless you have an excellent reason for doing so that a fully qualified veterinarian agrees with, in my opinion, the answer is a very firm no.

You should not cut off your dog’s tail, and you certainly shouldn’t do so just because you like the look of docked tails.

Dogs deserve to be loved and treated with compassion and respect. They are living creatures, not fashion accessories.

Please Don’t Judge Owers of Dogs with Docked Tails

Even though I think it is cruel to cut dogs’ tails off, I don’t think we should jump to judgment of people whose dogs have docked tails.

It could be that the dog is a foster or a rescue, and the tail was docked long before the current owner took care of the dog.

Or it could be that the owner was unaware that cutting their dog’s tail off is cruel.

No one is perfect.

We all make mistakes, and having a little less judgment between dog owners is a good thing, in my opinion.

Final Notes on Dog Owners Cutting off Their Dog’s Tails

Dog owners cut off their dog’s tails mainly for aesthetic reasons and sometimes because they believe it is good for the dog.

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back up the claim that it has health benefits.

Many governments and veterinarian associations worldwide are opposed to the process, so it is probably a cruel and unnecessary practice.

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