Tail docking ban in Scotland

BBC News reports that tail docking will be illegal in Scotland from the end of April 2007.

Ross Finnie, Scottish Animal Health and Welfare Minister, said:

“Tail docking of dogs involves the removal of most or part of the tail, severing muscles, tendons, nerves and sometimes bone or cartilage.

“That cannot be justified because of a possibility that the dog may injure its tail in later life.

“A ban on tail docking is not a step which we have taken lightly.”

Alex Hogg, Chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association argued that not docking the tails of working dogs actually caused more harm:

“The minister has failed in his obligation to protect the welfare of our working dogs and condemned many breeds to a life of pain in his attempts to curry favour with animals rights activists.”

He added, rather menacingly:

“The countryside will not forget.”

The Conservative party suggested that the ban was against all reason but, last I heard, most members of all the UK’s political parties were without tails and so, probably, are unqualified to be quite so forthright on the issue.

So, tail docking: is it a cruel and arbitrary mutilation of a defenceless animal in order that they’re more convenient for human beings, or are we towny-animal-loving-workshy-do-gooders just making a fuss about nothing?

  • Angie Leach

    I worked for a long time in boarding and quarantine, and the number of vunerable breeds with injured tails that I saw, and the suffering they endured as they spent anything up to a year, being “docked by degrees” because of tail-damage, frankly appalled me. I have bred, for nearly 40 years, a breed that is customarily docked, and which I firmly believe would be “at risk” if their tails were left long. After the docking ban I will no longer breed these dogs. I will not deliberately subject a vunerable animal to the possibility of a lifetime of pain, simply because a bunch of uninformed urbanites prefers to take the word of an irresponsible, politically-minded organisation like the RSPCA.

  • david stuart

    Anyone who has seen the result of an undocked tail bieng damaged by working in the field would not support Ross Finnies rediculus stance .The suffering is inexcusable .Docking for working dogs must continue. I have seen both sides ,my cocker was docked as a pup in my presence and did not even yelp. M7y friends springer was not docked and suffers terribly and often. to close any man who has had a vasectomy , are you still suffering ,Ithink not

  • Hollie

    i agree with all of you. i own a weimaraner and i have seen photos of them with tails and they look long and thin! very easy to break if they hit it against something. i have seen before dogs like this where the tail just keeps breaking so it has to be docked anyway!.

  • julie

    I’ve owned both docked and undocked breeds and would never willingly now own a docked breed, the simple joy of seeing a dog wag it’s tail is enough to convince me all dogs should have tails. In undocked breeds strong tails have been bred into the breeds and that is what will now need to happen to tradionally docked breeds I’m slightly shocked that it hasn’t already been happening as the docking ban has been on the cards for several years !

    I have a yorkie at the moment with a lovely tail albeit a bit thin and in the 4 years he’s been alive it’s the only part of his body he hasn’t managed to injure at some time or other – but we don’t advocate docking of legs just in case they get an injury !

  • Penny

    I agree that dogs are born the way they are and you should not
    alter their appearance. I do believe that altering their appearance
    effects their natural beauty. I totally agree with this ban.

  • kandis

    I have a 10 month old cocker. he has had his tail docked since he ws a new born, his tail waggs non stop and at some speed. If he were to have a long tail he would get a serious injury.

    I do not agree with the ban.

  • jimmy

    i have a springer that i rescued and then trained as a working dog. The dog never had her tail docked but now endures pain and suffering on a regular basis. Even just by walking her her tail splits by going into cover as spaniels do. Am i supposed to lock her up and never take her out in case she splits her tail? Her tail bones are regularly visible due to the extent of the damage. Had her tail been docked there would be no problem as with my other two dogs. Had her tail been docked she would have endless enjoyment, as any dog owner knowes they never complain even when there tails do split but it is distressing to see the mess it leaves. The other option is of course to walk my spaniel down mayfair way, where it is a fasion icon, where the dog never sees the countryside and of course with a full tail. I ask you who is the cruel one?

  • jimmy

    Further to my last. Nobody is shouting and balling about the thousands of lambs that have been born this month and last that are all having there tails removed not by a surgeon but by a farmer putting an elastic band on them till they drop off, only to be taken to the slaughter house in 5 months time. Where are the politicians on this one????

  • hii evry one
    i hve 2 dogs.. which is doked and its name is junior baba and shakih baba…
    I will not deliberately subject a vunerable animal to the possibility of a lifetime of pain.

  • Clive

    Half way there but the campaign must continue to have all tail docking banned.

    If having a long, bushy tail was a hindrance to chasing prey through thick undergrowth then foxes and wolves would have lost their tails through evolution. Mother Nature knows far better than man.

    There is no credible scientific evidence to suggest that undocked dogs are any more likely to sustain injury than docked dogs.

    If a dog has a weak tail then that is probably due to years of manipulative breeding.

  • Billy

    If nature had wanted undocked tails it would never have allowed breeding which changed the parameters of tails away from bushy ones like foxes and wolves which incidently do not hunt prey like Springers so do not get caught up in gorse and barbed wire fences.
    When are the SNP going to allow the docking of working dogs in Scotland like they promoised in their manifesto.
    I have 3 Springers and to see their little docks tails wagging furiously is a joy to behold.

  • Donna

    I don’t agree with the docking ban at all my family and I have owned and showed bobtails ( old english sheepdogs ) for years and breed many litters hows tails have been removed and I have never heard a puppy cry from the moment the band is put on until the tail falls off and we have never had any health problems with our litters after having its tail docked.

    The removal of dew claws on the other hand is what causes pain and suffering to puppies as not only is the nail removed but the whole toe itself has to be removed to prevent the nail from growing back so if anything should be banned it shold be that not tail docking.

  • Penny

    hello to all my fellow dog lovers. My message to
    everyone is please get your dogs from shelters
    or rescue leagues. It is so very important. Their
    are to many dogs that need homes. please don’t
    buy pets at pet stores or from puppy mills.
    So if you know anyone who is considering a dog
    please have them check out other avenues.
    Some of the best dogs come from shelters.
    Thank you.

  • Dennis Camblin

    A hunter, I have neverr owned a docked dog. I have neither seen not heard of a broken tail in my 40 years of ownership of hounds. Why is it that only a few, specific breeds have their tails lopped off? Am I to understand most hounds (and other) are not hunting dogs?

    If God had intended dogs to have have docked tails, he would have so ordained. If Evolution had so intended, they would not have had them long ago. Docking is a perversion insisted upon by humans, Show Clubs, not animal lovers. Dockers are intellectually ridiculous. Never mind their ilk. God bless Scotland and all other nations that ban this silly, prancing and effete, practice.

  • hellen

    Hiya, I dont agree with the ban @ all, its rubbish, ive seen working dogs in agony because they werent docked, Ive also seen pups being docked & they’re in no pain, surely they would yelp if that was the case but they never made a sound, the mother was more distressed by a human interfering! The point made about men being ‘done’ at birth hits the nail on the head! DO YOU REMEMBER? DEFINATLY NOT! Ive just brought a patterdale pup & it has been docked, I wouldnt have purchased it any other way, not just for it to injure its tail & suffer later in life. The remark about removing legs incase of injury is pathetic, are the bones in the leg has thin has a tail bone?Did you ever consider that? Whats frustrating is that REAL BREEDERS never had a choice but to wait & see what ‘politics’ decided. Surely the RSPCA see the the dogs suffering from injured tails, They wont have seen many cases of dogs suffering from docking, that im positive about because they cant even remember any of it by the time they’re weaned off their mother! This ban is more pathetic than the smoking ban!

  • Maurice McPhillimey

    I’m truely fed up with Scotland, I was born in Scotland but moved to England when I joined the army, for the last 15 years I have been working and Breeding working ESS. So when I retired my wish was always to return to Scotland and carry on with my dream of breeding the best working spaniels with outstanding Pedigrees, but I have been here 3 years now hoping for the promise that the SNP would over turn the Labour ban on working dogs. but it seems they are as ban as Labour, now I have stopped Breeding Spaniels and my Pedigree is gone never to return. I’m so fed up with Scotland that I’m now thinking to pack up and move back to England, where there they have a grasp on what working dogs do. I too have seen the horror of a non docked Spaniel with the skin of its tail ripped off whilst working.

  • Ewan

    Interesting the amount of English based people commenting on the situation in Scotland (the use of RSCPA is a bit of a give away).

    I’m glad the Scottish Parliament implemented the ban in a sensible way which penalises the owners of dogs who get their dogs’ tails docked or allow it to happen without penalising potential rescue dogs, unlike the situation in England.

    The Animal Welfare Act 2006 as well as banning the above also bans people from showing dogs that have had tails docked where that show has entry paying for spectators, this means that anyone re-homing a dog that had a tail docked prior to arriving at the rescue centre now cannot take part in agility, obedience or flyball at the likes of Crufts or similar shows. Likewise anyone wishing to enter these events at these shows and looking to give a rescue dog a home will avoid dogs that have already suffered.

    A poor decision by the House of Commons which penalises the dogs for the idiocy of humans!!

  • Val Mcilreavy

    I had no strong feelings either way on tail docking; I abhor anything which would cause a dog to suffer and I do like to see boxers and the like now with their long waggy tails. HOWEVER, last year I purchased an undocked Working Cocker pup and it grieves and upsets me so much to see him coming out of thick undergrowth whimpering and turning in circles because he has hurt his tail; it happens time after time and I now have to steer clear of these areas, which isn’t easy. All I can say, as a non-expert, with no ‘axe to grind’ is that his life and his natural instincts have been truly spoiled and curtailed by this legislation. . . . it is VERY sad.

  • Denise

    Of course we can’t go cutting bits off our dogs to make them look better, it’s cruelty in the highest extreme. Labs, retrievers, munsterlanders etc all manage to work perfectly well with full tails. Once everyone gets used to how they look the fuss will die down.
    As for the argument about lambs, have you ever seen a lamb or a sheep half eaten with maggots because the flies have laid eggs on their dirty, long tails? There is no similarity, it’s not for looks, it’s a basic health and hygiene issue.

  • wendy

    Last year I had my cocker bitch s tail amputated as an adult, due to serious injury in the field. This year I have had my cocker dog s tail amputated due to serious injury in the field. The ban is ridiculous ! The suffering from adult docking is so much greater. I hear you ask why have them done as adults? I answer because they were suffering day to day and it solves that problem! At a cost of £160.00 a time! one has recovered and is back in work the other is still bandaged up! so much less suffering if they were done as pups. I rest my case!

  • Silver

    I went to the Vet yesterday, in another country, not the UK and he lectured me on the cruelty of tail docking. I do not have any particular view point, I only requested the docking due to the breed standards. However, it seems from the comments there are many people for and against tail docking. It seems that it should be evaluated on a breed by breed basis, rather than a swept ban. I am sure some breeds have more of a propensity for tail damage than others. They should allow docking, in some cases, to prevent pain to the dog later on, as many people have mentioned. I do know that if my dog gets a tail injury later in life, I will not be happy at all that she has to suffer for no reason, due to the righteous attitude of a vet. At the same point, when she passes on, God willing with no injuries or suffering then I will be really glad I did not dock her tail. Hindsight is always 100%. Right now, I am hoping the ban on tail docking is the correct decision, as I would prefer such an operation is pointless. Then again, hundreds of years of experience with breeds says there is some point, why else would they do it….

  • i have two dogs called molly and scamper scamper is a huskey and molly is a jack russel i love them to bits

  • penny i dont think its a good idea to get dogs from shelters or rescue leages because dogs from every place are so cute and there safe

  • i think its not nice tail docking a dog its not fair on the dog and i think they look better with a longer tail it dose not matter about what they look like its what there personality is like thats what really county so why should they do it

  • tracy

    I didn’t really have a true understanding of docking or not docking! i have recently been reading up on it becuase i brought a 10 month old cocker and as i ran my hand down his tail i noticed it was bent! almost like a (W) shape right at the end, i have only had him a few days and he’s got it caught twice in somthing and it really hurts him 🙁 i think that becuase some dog’s (all dogs i don’t know) tails brake so easy then maybe it’s best to be docked. i am unsure of what will happen with my cocker i am going to take him to the vets and see what they say. but i think it would be unfair for him to be left the way he is.

  • kay

    anyone that says tails being docked does not make a diffrencce obviously has not had a dog with a damaged tail, and cant really comment i have 3 spaniels 2 with docked 1 with end only off and im now left struggling trying to prevent tail damage to my bitch after every time we take her out we have problems. and my bitch is the only one of my 3 dogs that doesnt work so i even disagree with only working dogs should be docked. after you see my spaniel in pain with a blood splattered tail and body im sure you wpould agree with me