Have you ever wondered why the tails of certain dog breeds, such as boxers, are shortened? This practice is called tail docking and dates back to ancient Rome. Whether you’re considering adopting a boxer, debating the pros and cons of docking your boxer’s tail, or curious about the practice in general, here’s the long and short of tail docking.
History of Tail Docking
Historically, tail docking was thought to prevent rabies, increase a dog’s speed and prevent injuries. For hunting and herding breeds, tails could collect burrs and foxtails, causing pain and infection. Herding dogs with longer tails risked being caught in gates behind livestock.
In 18th-century England, there was actually a tax on all dogs – with the exception of docked-tail working dogs. So, dogs were routinely docked to avoid this tax. But even after the tax was lifted, the practice continued, with a number of dog breeds incorporating docked tails into breed standards.
A number of veterinary organizations around the world oppose tail docking. Yet, the practice will be not without controversy.
Proponents argue that the procedure is not painful and can prevent future health problems. It should be noted that tail docking is not a surgical process in the typical sense of the word; the procedure – which doesn’t require anesthesia or sutures – is done before the puppy’s cartilage is fully formed, usually between 3 and 5 days of age.
Pros and Cons of Tail Docking
Today, tail docking is still common for boxers and other breeds for health and cosmetic reasons. Those who oppose tail docking say the procedure is cruel and unnecessary. They contend that dogs use their tails to communicate with other dogs, along with people. So, a dog without a tail might be less able to convey fear, aggression, playfulness and other emotions. In addition, certain dog breeds use their tails as rudders when swimming, and some dog breeds use their tails for balance when running. In cases like this, active dogs with docked tails can be at a physical disadvantage.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether your dog’s tail is docked, unless they’re competing in an AKC event. Tail or docked tail, boxers make energetic, loyal and loving companions that can be great friends to children and even cats (if your pet is properly socialized and introduced).