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So I bought an Aussie doodle a few years ago when he was a pup. I remember them telling me that these dogs were born without tails. I was fine with it but now I realize he doesn't like to be touched near his tail. He gets startled on his back side and after trying to calm him down I think that he might have some kind of PTSD. I'm wondering if he was docked, and if so why? And if so...how can I take legal action to make sure this stops? No one deserves to have their tail cut off! Looking for help and suggestions....
 

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Aussies can have natural bobtails, but the dogs have to have two different versions of the gene for it to happen. So they need to inherit a 'normal' tail gene (t) from one parent and a 'bobtail' gene from the other (T). Embryos that get two bobtail genes (T/T) die in utero and never develop into viable puppies. Because of this, it's impossible to breed so that every Aussie will always have a natural bobtail.

The reason behind docking can be varied, much of which is tied to the breed standards and the dogs' original working purpose. In some cases (eg Rottweilers) the reasoning is that as cow herding dogs, their tails are vulnerable to injury by being stepped on. In others (various setters), the tail can get caught on brush while hunting. Still others (boxers) you might hear that their natural tails are thin and fragile and prone to breakage/injury that will be more traumatizing to treat than a neonatal dock is. Docking has a long, long history (in ancient Rome they believed it'd prevent rabies). For most pet/show dogs who will never be doing their original breed 'job', it's cosmetic. You'll find a lot of arguments about whether any/all of the claims are actually valid (the rabies one is definitely not) and whether neonatal docking (done usually 3-5 days after birth) is traumatizing or has long-term consequences.

It is possible your pup has a natural bobtail and just is sensitive to having their tail touched - some dogs are - but it's equally possible they were docked. If the tail tip has scar tissue or a bald spot then it's more likely he was docked. Docking is 100% legal in the US, so you are unlikely to be able to take any legal action here, especially if there's not written record of the breeder promising you the puppy will be a natural bobtail and you have veterinary proof your boy was actually docked. It is now banned partially (exceptions to working dogs) or completely in much of Europe, and there's certainly efforts to make that happen in the US too, but it's a long process with a lot of debate on both sides.
 

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My first step would be to visit a vet to make sure something in that area is not paining him. There are lots of things in that general vicinity that can cause a dog discomfort or pain...hip problems, impacted anal glands, whatever.

Poodles have full tails and about a third of Aussies have full tails, so your puppy very well could have had a full tail. It'd be a lie to claim to produce only guaranteed bobtail Aussies even before you add in the poodle component. So, they lied to you. Your pup in particular could be a natural bobtail but that's not universally true of the dogs.

That said, who are you going to complain to? The dog is a mutt, so there's no parent breed club to contact to report misconduct, and tail docking is legal in the US.

If it makes you feel any better, while I am opposed to tail docking myself, tail docking is common and negative outcomes (other than the loss of a tail) are uncommon. It's possible to botch a docking in a way that causes long-term problems (like cutting too short or cracking a bone) but the vast majority of dockings are routine and the pain is fleeting (it's done when the tail is so tiny that the wound site is also tiny and heals rapidly). I've owned plenty of docked dogs over the years and never had one that was wary about his or her tail nub. PTSD would be a stretch IMO. If you think the dog is anxious about contact with the tail, again, you'd want to see a vet about possible issues there that could be causing current pain or discomfort.
 

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If you are in the US you have no legal claim. As you note you have had the dog "a few years." That time span in and of itself indicates no recourse. If the dog was docked, it is unlikely the issue of touching hind quarters is associated with docking.

Some dogs do not like to be touched around their hind ends whether they were docked or not.

After going to the vet and making sure your dog doesn't have a different (pain related) issue such as impacted anal glands or something else, being able to touch a dog's hind quarters then becomes a training issue.
 

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Another vote for taking the dog to the vet to make sure there isn't something physical going on. I'd specifically ask about a possible tail dock neuroma, but their are other issues that can cause problems in NBT dogs.

Just as an aside, NBT dogs still wind up getting docked sometimes, if the tail is too long, kinked, or otherwise deformed.

And since docking and cropping are legal in the US, there isn't a whole lot of legal recourse if he was docked and not NBT. I mean, you could try suing the breeder for misrepresenting a docked puppy as an NBT, but I doubt you'd get anywhere with it.
 

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We had a miniature schnauzer who came to us with natural ears on a docked tail. (I eventually came to love that little wiggle butt, though I'd normally had dogs with long, lethal, coffee table clearing tails (tree trunks.)

That docked tail never seemed to give him any discomfort, so I'd agree that a vet check is in order to see if there might be another, possibly unrelated issue.

Our current mutt doesn't like anyone or anything going near his butt, which is unfortunate because he brings in lots of dingleberries from his trips outside.
 

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Yup, for sure a good point about talking to the vet if his discomfort is new or severe. I happen to have a dog who DOES have an obviously botched dock - maybe a quarter inch of no hair and scar tissue at his tail tip - and he is definitely sensitive about it being handled. He doesn't have trouble with the rest of his back end or even the base of his tail, and he's extremely tolerant to all kinds of uncomfortable handling so the fact that he actively pulls away or turns to lick our hand (a very clear "I don't like that please stop" signal from him) when we try to touch his tail tip is pretty telling. I don't think it's a constant or severe pain, because while he'll occasionally chew at it like it's twinging or bothering him, he never fixates on it obsessively or to the point of self-injury. But I definitely think he does have some lasting physical side effects from the docking. If it seemed to be impacting a larger area of his backside/hips, his discomfort around that area was becoming more severe, or he was constantly chewing/licking/scooting/any other behavior that indicated it was impacting his quality of life, it would definitely be worth talking to a vet about.
 

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It's sometimes possible to do a surgical revision of a bad docking to make the dog more comfortable.
 

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Yeah, in our case it's never been a big enough bother for him for the surgical risks to be worth it, we just leave it alone beyond the occasional visual check to make sure nothing's obviously changed. It's sad/frustrating he has to deal with any discomfort because of a cosmetic procedure, but currently manageable. If MelzTales' pup turns out to have a more significant docking-related problem that's definitely something worth looking into though.
 
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