Tail docking, also called a canine caudectomy, is a procedure whereby part of a dog’s tail is cut off so that it’s short and stubby.
The procedure has been practiced for over two thousand years, commonly on herding or hunting dogs, but is currently illegal nearly everywhere, with the most noticeable exceptions being the United States and parts of Canada.
Just like some medical procedures done on humans, docking is a bit controversial and many owners today consider it inhumane.
The History of Tail Docking
There are two types of Welsh corgis: the Pembroke corgis, which normally have docked tails, and the Cardigan corgis, which normally do not have docked tails.
That being said, the reason why Pembroke corgis have docked tails is because it is necessary for them to be accepted into the AKC (American Kennel Club). If their tails are not docked, they cannot hold an AKC certification.
The practice of docking started in Roman times and was begun because they thought that the procedure would prevent the dog from getting rabies.
It was also used as a way to protect hunting dogs because it was believed that having long tails would make it easier for the dogs’ predators to catch them. In the 1950s in the U.S. the procedure began for cosmetic purposes.
In the 1800s, numerous countries imposed a special tax on any dog that wasn’t a “working” dog, and a docked tail normally meant that they were a working dog.
In fact, many owners started having their dogs’ tails docked even if they weren’t “working” dogs, since that’s how people could tell a working dog from a non-working dog. This way, they weren’t required to pay the tax.
Corgi Tail Docking: How it’s Done
Once you learn about the tail-docking procedure, you’ll understand why it’s so controversial and why some people are against it.
When the dog is around three to five days old, part of their tail is removed either by a vet or the breeder. They use surgical scissors but they do not give the dog any anesthesia. This is because they believe that the puppy is too young for the pain to bother them.
Most people, however, disagree and believe that this is very painful for the puppy, even though the tail is very soft at that point.
Also called tail bobbing, the process still goes on in the United States, which doesn’t control the practice but doesn’t regulate it either. Again, the AKC requires the procedure be done in order to comply with their rules, which is why it’s still occurring in the U.S.
This is why tail docking is banned in Switzerland, Australia, the U.K., and numerous other parts of Europe.
Some of them have banned the procedure since 1998, so it’s been banned for quite a while in most parts of the world. There is no indication that the U.S. is going to ban it anytime soon, particularly since you cannot have show dogs or AKC certification without it.
Corgi Natural Tail vs. Docked Tail
While it does seem that the habit of docking corgis’ tails is unlikely to stop anytime soon, just know that there are both pros and cons to this procedure.
While many of today’s owners and animal lovers consider tail docking to be a negative thing, there are a few positives as well. Let’s take a look at them.
- The dogs are more aesthetically appealing in dog shows
- There is less likelihood of rabies after a fight
- It is easier to remove dead tissue
- Injuries to the tail can be avoided
- The procedure is painful and can cause an infection
- It can cause self-mutilation in the dogs
- Other dogs are more likely to attack them
- The procedure is a complex one
- The dog can have locomotion and socialization issues
- The dog can become more aggressive
- It can make the dog nervous and anxious
Unfortunately, if you live in the U.S. and parts of Canada, you may not have a choice to purchase a Pembroke corgi that does not have a docked tail.
In the vast majority of cases, this is your only option. The process of tail docking doesn’t kill the dog, but it does cause them some pain and, let’s face it, it isn’t exactly necessary.
Nevertheless, all pet owners have to decide for themselves whether tail docking is something that they approve of or reject altogether.
You’ll have to do your due diligence and get the facts first before you decide one way or another. It’s really up to you.
Why Do Corgis Get Their Tails Docked? Why Dock Corgis’ Tails?
We’ve already mentioned some of the reasons why owners believe in docking their corgis’ tails.
Keep in mind that as a general rule, Cardigan Welsh corgis were bred to herd sheep and their owners thought that having a long bushy tail helped pick out the dog when they’re in the middle of all those sheep in the field. It was simply easier for shepherds to see the sheep in the field this way.
With sheep, it was thought that accidentally stepping on the corgis’ tails was very unlikely; therefore, docking the tails seemed unnecessary.
On the other hand, Pembroke Welsh corgis were bred to herd cattle, which are bigger and can be dangerous for the dogs to be around as they do their job. Pembrokes therefore had their tails docked to prevent this from happening.
Even though corgis are no longer used for herding cattle or sheep, the procedure of docking the tails of the Pembroke corgis continues to this day, partly for cosmetic reasons and partly because it is necessary for their tails to be docked if they want to be officially recognized by the AKC.
No one knows if or when this procedure is ever going to be discontinued in the future.
Are Corgis Born with Tails?
Yes, all corgis are born with long, fluffy tails. Many people assume that the Pembroke corgis are born without tails, but this isn’t the case.
While Cardigan corgis have tails that have been left alone and are therefore long and fluffy, Pembroke corgis have tails that have been cut off by either the breeder or the vet. This is why a lot of people assume that some corgis are born with short stubby tails.
In fact, this is such a prevalent practice that if you decide you want the tail on your Pembroke corgi to be left alone, you’ll have to contact the breeder before the pups are born.
Otherwise, it is standard for breeders to arrange for the procedure anyway. In fact, some breeders won’t offer the option to customers and will automatically dock the corgis’ tails within a few days of their birth.
Pembroke Welsh corgis usually have docked tails, while Cardigan Welsh corgis don’t.
This is because the Pembrokes were originally bred to herd cattle and the owners wanted to protect the corgis’ tails from potentially dangerous cattle that might step on them. The procedure is also required if you want the dog to be AKC-certified and approved.
There are numerous pros and cons to dogs having docked tails, and only the U.S. and parts of Canada still allow the procedure to take place. This is why you see more docked tails in these countries than you do in others.