Tail Docking

*****We do not Dock Tails*****

The practice of docking and cropping began as a way for people to avoid paying Luxury taxes not for the function of the dog during the Georgian Period and the tax law was repealed in 1796. The Georgian Period 1714 - 1837. The practice of docking and cropping began prior to breed clubs formations and began as a way to avoid paying taxes, not for function. The first breed club, the Bulldog Club, in 1864, to write a breed standard to prevent what the members felt were undesirable changes to the breed. The club only lasted three years. More breed clubs were formed in England after the founding of the Kennel Club in 1873, starting with a new bulldog breed club in 1875 in London. History is clear on the practice and how it began, people liked it or got used to it and the practice continued for cosmetic purposes.

 It is nothing like circumcision, a completely different anatomical body part. To compare docking to anything other than severing the extension of your spinal cord would be incorrect. Also the studies in neonatal pain and pain reception. All conclude to the fact that docking is more harmful than once thought to be. It is a cosmetic amputation, not of just skin, nerves, and blood vessels, but an amputation of muscle, bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. 

puppies nursing and silent within minutes of the amputation, here is why, Nursing releases Endorphins, a natural "feel good" as these are natural pain and stress fighters. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain. Because of this we look and observe behavior and wrongly misinterpret that there was no pain in the procedure. You couldn't be more wrong.

Studies have proved that cutting the tail tip of mice increases sensitivity to pain in later life, an effect known as hyperalgesia. In fact puppies do feel pain and sensitivity to pain for many months after docking. Rarely mentioned is the fact that tail docking can have far reaching health issues. Due to the relationship between muscles in the dog's tail and the pelvic area, docking can affect muscle function around the rectum and pelvis thereby carrying a risk of faecal incontinence, acquired urinary incontinence and hernias. The tail is an extension of the dog's spine including various muscles and tendons. An example of this is the rectococcygeus muscle on the hind wall of the dog's rear, near to the anus. This muscle is attached to the base of the tail as well and supports the anal canal and rectum along with the Levator ani muscle. These two muscles also assist in movement of the tail and when the dog has a bowel motion. Docking the tail must obviously affect these muscles, a fact that is backed by studies showing that breeds such as the Boxer have a predisposition to perineal hernia. The females in docked breeds such as Rottweilers, Doberman, and Old English Sheepdogs suffer more from urinary incontinence after docking than undocked dogs.

There is the issue of movement, communication and balance. The tail supports the back and aids balance. The tail is used when dogs communicate with each other. The tail expresses the dogs state of mind to another dog, showing whether it is friendly, dominant, or submissive.

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Cosmetic tail docking remains controversial for acute and chronic pain associated with the procedure [3]. This is more severe in puppies due to incomplete myelination of their nerve sheet which make them more sensitive to pain than adults [13]. As previously reported [3], the tail is a complex anatomical structure comprising of ligament, muscles, and tendon, well innervated and vascularised.

Tail docking in many dog breeds is an established custom believed to have been introduced some 2000 years ago [1]. In recent times, dogs’ tails are supposedly docked to conform to breed standards, prevent tail injuries, and to potentially reduce the accumulation of fecal materials around the tail area of dogs with excessive coat [1, 8]. Docking dogs to prevent tail injuries has, however, been controverted by many recent studies [9, 10]. In a study conducted in Great Britain, to assess the risk of tail injury and associated risk factors, as well as, to allow objective assessment of the frequency of tail injury and risk factors associated with them [9]; the overall risk of tail injuries was low. The weighted risk was 0.23 % per year, with working-dogs being 0.29 % and non-working dogs 0.19 % [9]. The study concluded that, although docking appears to be protective against injury, over 500 dogs would need to be docked in order to prevent one tail injury [9]. In another recent study to assess the nature of canine tail injury in New Zealand [10], it was concluded that tail injuries are rarely observed in Veterinary clinics, and docking a risk factor in traditionally docked breeds [10]. Tail docking is associated with severe acute pain which often causes behavioural distress in puppies [11] especially when performed without anaesthesia or analgesia, especially as with rubber ring. Chronic pain arising from tail stump infections and neuromas have also been reported [12–14], and elucidated with pain studies in other species [15]. Chronic health challenges such as faecal incontinence, atrophy of pelvic muscles [5], frequent tail damage [9, 16, 17], impaired locomotory and communication defects have also been reported and confirmed through previous studies [4, 5]. These complications, and lack of dog’s benefit from the procedure have raised strong oppositions from Veterinary associations and animal welfare groups [3, 18, 19] resulting in the ban of non-therapeutic animal docking in many European countries, Australia and South Africa [3, 7, 20–23].

Early pain experience has been correlated with increased sensitivity to subsequent painful stimuli, impaired neurodevelopmental outcomes, and structural changes in brain development.

Animals considered to be altricial are those which at birth are immature, and therefore, totally dependent on their mothers. Cats, dogs and human beings are all considered to be altricial species. 

  1. Australian veterinarian Robert K. Wansbrough explains, in an article published in the Australian Veterinary Journal, that anatomical studies demonstrate that pain in day old puppies would be actually more than in an adult dog due to the way impulses are sent through the puppy's unmyelinated fibers. Their slower conduction due to incomplete myelination, is offset by the shorter interneuronal and neuromusvcular distances the impulse has to travel, therefore, creating greater pain due to the pup's undeveloped inhibitory pain pathways. Dr. Robert further explains that cutting through muscles, tendons, nerves, bones or cartilages, would result in intense pain to a level that would never be allowed to be inflicted on a human being!