All puppies are born with tails, but some breeds have them cut off or shortened – docked – when they're a few days old. It's done purely for cosmetic reasons and tradition. Dogs need their tails to communicate and to balance, so why do we insist on altering their appearance when it has no benefit to them?
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), its Companion Animal Veterinarians (CAV), the Royal New Zealand SPCA (SPCA) and the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) are 100% opposed to docking dogs' tails purely for cosmetic purposes.
Help dogs keep their tails
Tail docking is already banned in 33 countries around the world, including Australia and the UK.
Reasons against tail docking
- Tail docking does not prevent tail injuries. The vast majority of tail injuries in dogs can be treated by a single visit to a veterinarian and do not require amputation to resolve.
- There's an increased risk of incontinence (faecal and possibly urinary) plus perineal hernias due to lack of use of tail and pelvic muscles.
- Docking of tails is a fashion statement and is performed for cosmetic purposes only. It does not improve the wellbeing of the dog.
- Tail docking of dogs can't be compared to welfare issues like tail shortening in sheep to prevent fly strike, which is done to prevent suffering and even death.
- The choice of dog breeds to be docked is based on tradition rather than any safety or welfare concerns for those breeds.
- There is scientific evidence to suggest that dogs with tails docked as newborns may be over sensitive to pain for the rest of their lives.
SAY NO! to tail docking
Cosmetic tail docking constitutes an unnecessary mutilation that is unethical, compromises the dog's welfare and offers no clear benefit to its wellbeing. Tail docking should only be performed by a veterinarian for medical or surgical reasons.
NZVA, CAV, SPCA and NZCAC advocate for primary legislation which would result in the prohibition of cosmetic tail docking of dogs in New Zealand.
What you can do
If you're thinking of getting a puppy, check if it's one of the docked breeds. If it is, ask the breeder to leave its tail intact.
Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter
Click here for downloadable Tail Wagging Campaign images.
More information about tail docking
- Dr Catherine Watson, President, Companion Animal Society of the New Zealand Veterinary Association
- Dr Kate Hill and Amber Wells, Massey University, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences
- Amber Wells, Massey University, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Science
- Dr Craig Johnson, Massey University, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences
- Dr David Morton, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS
- New Zealand Veterinary Association - Animal Welfare Act submission 2012
- No conviction for pair who chopped off puppies' tails with knife - New Zealand Herald, 15 May 2013