CanineTail Docking – A Dog’s Perspective

Baylie Dog here. It is a sensitive subject but there comes a time in a young pup’s life that it has to be discussed.

In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have much of a tail.    The verdict is still out as to whether it was docked, intentionally, or if it has something to do with genetics.  Bobbed tail is not a trait  usually associated with       my breed;  Great Pyrenees/Border Collie mix.   It’s difficult to know because I was rescued and my humans didn’t meet my canine mom and dad.  Nevertheless, I don’t miss it.  Mom says she doesn’t either.  It’s just less of me to get dirty! However, she hopes that it wasn’t intentional because she is not a fan of cosmetic tail docking and neither am I.

[stextbox id=”custom” color=”000000″ cbgcolor=”e1f68d”]According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, tail docking is painful.  The intensity or duration of the pain under ideal or typical circumstances is difficult to quantify.  Pain procedures, conducted in the neonatal period when the nervous system is vulnerable, have a propensity for negative long-term changes which affect how pain is processed and perceived later in life.[/stextbox]

Over the last few years, docking the tail of dogs has been a matter of great debate. Tail docking initially evolved as a safety measure for working dog breeds on farms or in other environments in which their tails may become injured and not as a cosmetic preference. Did you know that some pups experience pain throughout their lifespan due to a botched docking procedure? Some endure pain throughout their lifespan, like our friend, Pixel Blue Eyes, a miniature Schnauzer of the popular blog, Pixel Blue Some puppies even lose the use of their tails after a botched docking procedure. Can you imagine a pup trying to express excitement without being able to move his/her tail?  It’s the equivalent to humans not being able to smile.  Fortunately, I have full use of mine and show no signs of pain.

It is said that our tails can be the most correct expression of our feelings. Tail shaking indicates joy even with us short-tailed pups.  My mom says when I am really happy, my tail spins around like a helicopter rotor; round and round in tight circles. You can tell a lot about how we are feeling by watching our tails.

 We dogs use our tails for communicating. We express happiness, aggression, stress and many other emotions with our tail. I’ll let you in on a little secret. By looking at the position and movement of our tail, you can often tell what we are thinking. When we wag our tails back and forth, we’re usually feeling pretty good. When we are really concentrating on something interesting, our tail is usually horizontal to the ground. A tucked tail indicates the we are frightened or perhaps being submissive.  I tend to tuck and wag my tail when I bow down to my feline sister, Smoki; hoping to avoid a hiss or quick slap.  When our tail goes from horizontal to upright and becomes rigid, we may feel threatened or challenged. A tail that is low and wagging indicates we may be worried or insecure.  I tend to wag my tail a little low when the yard man comes wearing his mickey mouse ear protectors; riding on his big spooky mower.

Three month old Baylie

Baylie at three months

The tail is also important as a means of counterbalance when we carry out complicated movements such as leaping, walking along narrow structures or climbing.    Dogs that run at great speeds often have thin tails that are very long in proportion to the rest of their body, and they use their tails as a counterbalance when making turns.  Mom says that explains why I’m rather clumsy. Like she has room to talk; as she is well known for being clumsy. I don’t seem to have the agility of dogs with long tails.

We all have our shortcomings but, tail or no tail, my humans love me just the way I am.  They say it only adds to my uniqueness along with my irresistible charismatic personality.  And for us doggies,  we play the hand we are dealt. That’s just how we roll.


  • Baylie, it is so nice learning new things about dogs from you! Thanks for sharing. And if it matters, I never noticed you were missing your tail!! Glad there is no pain and that you can still wag it with the best of them! :>) Pats from Denver! aunt barb

  • katboxjanitor

    Baylie, you look good with your tail as it is. Like you, my foster dog Pumpkin is short most of her tail.
    She has almost no wag function and she does not wag her hips either. I think that is why a lot of humans are worried when they see her coming toward them. That or its the fact she appears to be a pitbullEnglish bulldog cross. Thus her funky tail. It looks like a 1/2 inch tail tip stuck into a big belly button.

    If people would like to learn about the indicators of botched or poorly done docking, check out Pixel Blue Eyes on facebook.

  • katsrus

    I did not know they even did this to dogs. Sounds awful to me. Glad your tail is working good and no pain. You are a cute one.
    Sue B

  • Lindsay Stordahl

    Glad you are doing just fine without much of a tail. My parents have a springer spaniel and her tail was docked as a puppy before they brought her home. She doesn’t seem to miss her tail either.

  • Baylie my friend, what a fantastic article you wrote!! I am going to share this on my No Tail Left Behind Facebook page. That is my campaign to educate about the painful truth of tail docking. Having your wonderful support means so much!! What do you think of this poster about it. I appreciate your thoughts on it! Hope to talk with you soon. (by the way, that’s my Mommy Jenny in the profile pic here)
    Your friend, Pixel Blue Eyes

    • Thank you Pixel and Jenny! We had you in mind when we wrote it! And, thanks for sharing. Woof and love, Baylie and mom (Malia)

    • Sorry, I missed the poster earlier, Pixel and Mom. Love it!!

  • mitzi frank

    So glad you don’t have trouble with your “short” tail….I know Pixel suffers a great deal from hers…it is a practice that is unnecessary and needs to be stopped…

    • Thank you, Mitzi. We agree….totally unnecessary. Thanks for reading our post!