Why Are Rottweilers Tails Docked?

From seeing Rottweilers in the media or even coming across them in real life, you may see that they have short stumps of what used to be tails.

We want to learn about tail docking if owning a Rottweiler, and whether it is ethical, or even needed for your pet!

In this article we will take you through the history of tail docking, why it may or may not be needed and what is best for your pet Rottweiler!

(Have you ever wondered who stacks up better between male and female rottweilers?)

Are Rottweilers Born Without Tails?

Rottweilers are born with tails, and it is usually up to the owner’s discretion whether they feel like the tail needs to be docked or not.

However, tail docking is illegal in England, Wales and Scotland and has been since 2007. There are exceptions to this rule, as a vet will perform tail docking if you can prove your dog is a working dog and it must be performed within the first 5 days of birth.

This is because the bone is still soft, and the nervous system is not properly developed yet in such a young puppy.

If you are looking to do it for cosmetic reasons, then this is illegal, and no vet will approve this without the right paperwork.

The circumstances that are the exception include:

  • Law Enforcement dogs
  • HM forces dogs
  • Emergency rescue dogs
  • Certified pest control dogs
  • Certified lawful hunting dogs

Why Do Rottweilers Get Their Tails Docked?

The History of Tail Docking:

Originally tail docking was meant for working purposes, but as people became used to the look of certain of Rottweilers would do it more for cosmetic reasons until 2007.

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Tail docking was used for Rottweilers originally so it would not come under injury whilst working, as they were cart pulling dogs, so as a safety precaution of them getting stuck. However, they were also used as rescue dogs, and the worry was that there was an uncertainty of safety to this particular part of the dog.

Another reason tail docking was undertaken was to stop from other dogs attacking this particular ‘weak spot’. So, if you had a working dog, it was less of a worry that the dog would be seriously injured. There is also a theory from back in the day that it would reduce the chances of your Rottweiler contracting rabies in their working environment if their tails were docked, however there is no proof that this is true.

Hygiene:

A reason that people decide to dock the tail now, is usually down to hygiene reasons and appearance. However, this may seem like a trivial reason, as most dogs have long tails so it should be something an owner is used to even if they are only used to seeing Rottweiler’s with docked tails.

There is also the case of when a dog wags its tail that it can knock over things within the home, or hit people, etc. Again, I feel like this is a trivial reason, and if you are worried about this, then I would recommend not getting a dog in the first place.

Rottweilers are big dogs, they require room. If you are concerned about this, then I would recommend getting a smaller breed of dog whose tails will not be an issue for you.

Ethically:

With my own Rottweiler and forgetting that docking is illegal within England, I did not even think about getting his tail docked in the first place.

He is a big dog, that requires a lot of room and having grown up with dogs and keeping them my whole life, I don’t see docking tails as even an option for a domestic pet.

I understand in some cases that it would be best for the dog, and I heard a certain theory that on pig farms, the pigs have a tendency to go for dog tails, so in those circumstances I can be complicit with the benefit of the Rottweiler.

Although, in my opinion I see the benefits of not docking the tail in domestic cases, purely for the fact that the tail of a dog can tell you so much about how the dog is feeling. I know that I have never been annoyed with a wagging tail even if it does knock stuff over, or repeatedly hit me, at least I know he is happy!

As a responsible dog over, we want to ensure that the dog is happy, but also if there is anything I would not have broken in my house, I make sure it is above tail wagging height! I would recommend this rather than the alternative route.

Obviously working dogs come with their own set of safety risks when working, however, within the home, as with all dogs, we know that the risks are far less albeit getting trapped in the door, although in all my years of owning dogs, have never had this happen.

(Have you ever wondered whether you should get a male or a female rottweiler?)

Should You Dock Your Rottweiler’s Tail?

As we have previously gone through, within the UK it is mostly illegal to dock your Rottweilers tail, unless you have supporting documents which identifies them as working dogs.

Outside of the UK in many places it is still legal to do so, as in America they have a special place in the kennel club for Rottweilers with docked tails. However, Rottweilers are from Germany originally and it is now illegal to dock their tails there, so I feel that should be an obvious indicator to not do it.

If you are getting a Rottweiler for working purposes, then I still feel like it would be a good idea to develop a pro and con list of how it would benefit the puppy overall. If you are using it in a circumstance where the threat of entrapment or that another animal could attack that particular spot, then by all means I feel it would be beneficial.

However, if you do choose to do it, ensure that you have the supporting documents and take it to a registered vet to do the docking, so it is as safe of a process it could possibly be for your Rottweiler.

The last thing we want when getting a Rottweiler is for it to go through any unnecessary pain, so if the benefits of a removal outweigh the alternative then it would be wise in doing so.

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What Are The Procedures For Tail Docking?

Now we know the reasons for tail docking, you should be aware of what the procedure entails. This is so you know whatever vet you choose is doing what is best for the puppy!

As previously stated, the vet should only perform the docking within the first five days that the puppy has been born, to decrease any risk of excessive pain, and the bone is still soft in this case.

If you see a vet and they agree to do it after the five days, you should be fully aware that this is in fact illegal, and you should not trust this person with your Rottweiler (within the UK)!

When the docking is performed it is done without anaesthesia, which seems in itself a rather cruel way to do it, hence why it has now been made illegal.

The vet will them amputate the tail to an appropriate length depending on the dog, and then dissolvable stitches will be used, or a use of wound glue which will disintegrate with the healing of the wound.

Due to the nature of this process, we can clearly understand that the procedure can be classed as inhumane, especially as the puppy will feel the pain of it, and even lead to incontinence problems, not to mention that it is a traumatic experience. So, unless it is absolutely necessary, I would not advise this, and thankfully is illegal in most cases.

In Conclusion

Ethically speaking tail docking is not necessary unless you have risks related to your working dog. As I already stated I have a now three-year-old Rottweiler who has a tail that is permanently wagging, and I could not imagine him any other way!

We see so much emotion from our dogs through their use of their tails, and I feel it would be a shame to take that away! A wagging tail is a wholesome component of any dog, so I feel that even if it was legal in any other case than for working dogs, I would not recommend it at all.

Aesthetically you may prefer a dog with a docked tail, but then I would recommend a breed with a shorter tail, to not cause any harm to a Rottweiler! From my own experience this breed is a gentle one contrary to popular belief, and a cosmetic adjustment would be unnecessary.

However, as we have stated if it is fundamental for the role you want the Rottweiler to play within your life, then I would seek advice from a good vet, that will outline the procedure as we have in this article. You will then have the right information on how to go out the tail docking if absolutely necessary.