In Part 1 I wrote about the history of tail docking of dogs and why this outdated practice needs to be stopped. It is illegal in other countries, and the USA needs to follow suit. Tail docking can lead to chronic pain and misery for some dogs. Pixel Blue Eyes is one of those dogs. She is a Miniature Schnauzer, but there are many other breeds that are still having their tails docked when they are puppies; this amounts to nothing more than a cosmetic procedure that people think is necessary to make that breed “attractive”. I think I can pretty much guarantee that no dog has ever had an inferiority complex because of its looks! This is a situation where humans are imposing their own misguided notions of beauty on dogs.
You can see a full list of dogs with typically docked tails at this link. (Disclaimer: this is a pro-docking website, but it was really the only place I could find a good comprehensive list.) You may have been unaware of this when you brought one of these breeds into your home. Some dogs are born with stubby tails, such as French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers.
If you are not sure if your dog’s tail has been docked or not, and you got it from a breeder, they should be able to tell you. If you adopted or rescued, you may not ever know. The time to be concerned is if your dog sometimes acts strangely, or you suspect that your dog is in pain from the tail. I included a video in Part 1 of Pixel when she was having a bad time with her tail. Here are some things to look for, in Pixel’s own words from her blog:
“There are many symptoms and behaviours that a dog can exhibit when they are
having docked tail pain. Here are just a few signs that a puppy or adult dog is
having pain, irritation or difficulties with a docked tail:
- Biting, licking, ‘chasing’ or whining at the tail or back end.
- Hiding under a bed, or in a crate. Isolation from the family or laying alone in a back room.
- Difficulty potty training, either on paper or outside. Often difficulty
having a normal BM, including running away from a BM as it is
- Unexplained potty accidents, even if they are potty trained.
- Redness, inflammation or scaling at the tail nub tip. I am 4.5 years old and mine still gets red and inflamed at times.
- The dog acting like they are in trouble or are being punished, including crying out, yelping, or even nipping at someone who tries to pick up the dog, or touch the back end near the tail.
- Getting excited over a loved one coming home or a fun play time, and then suddenly yelping and ‘going after their tail. Whenever I get excited to see Mommy my tail gives me a fit. I can’t even show how happy I am to see her without my tail stinging and hurting me. Excitement runs through the nerves in my tail nub as I wag with joy.”
If any of this describes your dog, Pixel also tells that there are things you can do to help him or her:
“Things you can do to help ease the stress from the stabbing and stinging nerve pain of a docked tail include:
- Setting up a ‘safe place’ where the dog can go to such as a crate, or a bed
that is just theirs. Make sure you can easily access them if needed. I used to
go under the bed, now I have a little crate I can run to if need be and Mommy
can come comfort me.
- Putting a sweater on the dog (amazingly this distracts me from biting at my
- Help your dog snuggle into a comfy bed and gently wrap them in a blanket if
possible. Sit and comfort them.
- Talk to your vet about your concerns. I am on Neurontin for the nerve pain and I
just started taking a natural supplement called ‘Composure’ that has Colostrum,
the natural occurring hormone that puppies get from their mother when nursing.
Mommy saw a marked difference in me on the very first day.
- Corrective surgery is an option, and one that my family is now going to do for
me. We’ve tried every other avenue and now we must take this final step to make
my quality of life better. Make sure your vet takes you seriously, and if you feel your concerns are not being addressed…go talk to another vet. Docked tail issues are real and valid, and you owe it to your dog to do all you can to help them.”
Note: Pixel has had the above mentioned surgery, and it has improved her condition, but she will still have bouts of nerve pain, and have to deal with other issues such as going to the vet to have her anal glands expressed.
Let’s help to put an end to this practice. Please join Pixel’s Facebook Page No Tail Left Behind. Share this with others. Don’t ever buy a puppy with a docked tail from a breeder, and let them know why. As always, we can speak loudest by not contributing financially to those that are involved in practices that are detrimental to a dog’s welfare.
For more information and to support Pixel, please visit the following sites: