Tail Docking: Why Would Anyone Mutilate a Dog?

Some people think the practice of tail docking of dogs happened for three reasons at different points in history. Ancient Romans believed amputation could prevent a dog from contracting rabies.
Tail Docking: Why Would Anyone Mutilate a Dog?
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 22 December, 2022

Tail docking is a practice that’s been around for a long time, there’s evidence as old as the beginning of the Gregorian calendar.

In that era, the excuse was that it was the best way to remove some white worms supposedly lodged in the animal’s tail. The idea was that it would, in turn, prevent rabies in a dog. A little later, someone determined that the “white worms” were mere tendons.

There are many excuses for all sorts of outrageous behavior. So, let’s stop and think, why would anyone think it a good idea to mutilate an animal? Whether it’s tail docking, ear cropping and even human “circumcision” (still a popular practice in the USA). Let’s find out.

Over the centuries, there have been many excuses used for the mutilation of animals and yet every single one of those theories has been refuted every time.


One of the most persisting myths throughout the years is that long-tailed hunting dogs can’t do their job properly.

Another myth is that animals with naturally long tails are more likely to suffer fatal injuries when fighting with other dogs, or other larger animals.

However, there’s no doubt that the main reason why anybody thinks it acceptable to cut a dog’s tail these days is (allegedly) aesthetic purposes. So, according to this myth, dogs like Boxers, Dobermans, Pit bulls and even Poodles are ugly au naturel. Are they serious?

As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, these dogs are even feared by some people because they may be “demonic” when their tail is whole and their ears aren’t cropped. You can thank the Omen for that.

The American Veterinary Medical Association released the following on July 9, 1999:

“Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic purposes are not medically recommended nor of benefit to the animal. These procedures can cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries.”

Unfortunately, although this procedure may constitute cruelty under many American statutes, successful prosecutions of tail dockers or ear croppers are still unlikely.

Reasons why you should NOT cut a dog’s tail

An American Cocker Spaniel walking while holding a ball.

Many experts say that any amputation will cause a lot of permanent collateral damage. Unfortunately, dogs are quite stoic and seldom complain, so their owners are clueless about it. This, of course, in no way implies that animals are constantly in pain or even just uncomfortable with it.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution demonstrated several times that when a species no longer requires a specific trait then it’ll gradually disappear until no one remembers it. For example, human beings were once quite hairy as during the stone age we needed protection against the weather. Now look at us.

Taking that into consideration, how many dog ​​breeds have you seen evolving into tailless, short-eared animals? Regardless of the many years of systematic mutilation of their tails, whiskers, and ears, these are still present in these breeds of animals. All to the annoyance of proponents of “canine aesthetics.”

Dogs use their tail to communicate. When they don’t have it, they lose a vital tool with which to interact with other dogs and human beings.

This is because the animal expresses most of their feelings through the posture or movements of their tails and ears. So, their sense of balance and, in some cases, their mobility are, indeed, affected.

Are there still arguments in favor of tail docking?

A dog standing on the lawn.

Veterinarians truly believe that dogs still feel pain long after having this kind of surgery. Fortunately for our furry friends, more and more of them are refusing to perform them. Some are more categorical in stating that neither the dog’s health, nor their quality of life, improve in any way by using this procedure.

Also, many of them continue to provide reasons why it shouldn’t be done. For example, mutilated dogs are more likely to develop perineal hernias.

Why do people think tail docking is a good idea?

There’s a lot of evidence that mutilating animals is dumb and cruel. In fact, it’s only about whims and the fulfillment of beauty standards by the of humans. There’s already legislation in several parts of the world that expressly bans tail docking and ear cropping. It’s also illegal to submit an animal to any surgical intervention that’s not specifically for health purposes.

In spite of all that, people still consider cutting their dog’s tail. It seems the only possible way out is to set strict regulations in place. It would be nice if every country in the world updated their legislation. Not only that, but to also provide legal instruments to protect all life from human harm.

So, should you cut your dog’s tail? For those seeking a definite and forceful answer, the answer is: No way! N-O, you should NOT cut a dog’s tail and you shouldn’t mutilate them, nor any other animal, in any other way.

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