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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure there's some great reason, but as a n00b dog owner I've got no idea why they dock tails in some breeds. The best I've read is something about them waging it so hard that they'd break it if it was there.

The main reason it bugs me is because I have a hard time reading unknown dogs without tails. It's hard enough to read them as they close in on you, but tailless makes it near impossible in the few seconds it takes to close in on us.

It's a very odd thing to read your dog reaction to an unknown dog in order to discern intent, especially since I don't want to be rude by taking an unnecessarily defensive posture.
 

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Most of the breeds who are traditionally docked, are working dogs, sporting gundogs, herding dogs, etc. I know with my breed, their tails are thin (at least the part that gets docked is) and can break easily, so they were docked to prevent injuries in the field, and my breed is still worked today. There is also the problem of "happy tail" which can cause painful hematomas from the dog constantly hitting hard objects at fast paces, you can't fix a tail, you either bandage it up and hope for the best or you amputate.

Go look up pictures of dogs who were not docked, who got injured in the field, it's not a pretty sight.

Terriers- Most terriers were go to ground dogs, meaning they went into holes after vermin or other quarry. If something went wrong and the dog panicked or was getting hurt, you needed to get them out quickly, and a limp tail just wasn't going to cut it. So they docked to provide a sturdy handle for getting dogs out holes quickly.

Working dogs- Docking tails on guarding type dogs, gave one less thing an intruder could grab onto to get the upper hand.

You look at the breeds that are not docked, they either have very thick tails, have naturally short tails, or they have lots of feathering to protect their tails.

Oh and I can read my weimaraners just fine with their docked tails.
 

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Although for the most part, tails today are docked for cosmetic purposes, originally tails were docked and ears were cropped to help lessen the chance of injury whilst the dogs were doing their jobs.

I too can read my pinscher just fine.
 

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Most of the breeds who are traditionally docked, are working dogs, sporting gundogs, herding dogs, etc. I know with my breed, their tails are thin (at least the part that gets docked is) and can break easily, so they were docked to prevent injuries in the field, and my breed is still worked today. There is also the problem of "happy tail" which can cause painful hematomas from the dog constantly hitting hard objects at fast paces, you can't fix a tail, you either bandage it up and hope for the best or you amputate.

Go look up pictures of dogs who were not docked, who got injured in the field, it's not a pretty sight.

Terriers- Most terriers were go to ground dogs, meaning they went into holes after vermin or other quarry. If something went wrong and the dog panicked or was getting hurt, you needed to get them out quickly, and a limp tail just wasn't going to cut it. So they docked to provide a sturdy handle for getting dogs out holes quickly.

Working dogs- Docking tails on guarding type dogs, gave one less thing an intruder could grab onto to get the upper hand.

You look at the breeds that are not docked, they either have very thick tails, have naturally short tails, or they have lots of feathering to protect their tails.

Oh and I can read my weimaraners just fine with their docked tails.
This. I have had rottweilers and can read their signs, really well. My labs have tails and it is hard telling from just their tails. You can learn by other body parts, also. It just differs dog from dog. You got to learn on how to read a dog, not just the tail ;) Most days today though it is for the show ring. I know for rottweilers they are "getting there tail back", although most prefer the docked look.

I am not sure about other breeds though.
 

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I agree with Chaos, adding that:

Some Herding breeds - Docked tails because the tail could be stepped on and broken.

I read my Aussie (docked) and my ACD/Stumpy (natural bob) just as well as I can read the schnauzer/poodle with a tail.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To be fair, I'd presume that most of us can read our own dogs regardless of tail. My concerns with reading dogs come to light when I'm out and about and spot an unknown dog (or dogs) approaching us. Sure I can still read them, but without a tail it currently takes me so long that they close the distance on me by then. I just feel luck that out of the dozens of dogs to run towards us, only 3 seemed less than friendly & that was indicated to me by my dogs body language.

Ok, I guess I can understand herding and working dogs being docked just as some have dew claws removed too. I guess I was referring mainly to dogs without jobs (family pet).
 

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To be fair, I'd presume that most of us can read our own dogs regardless of tail. My concerns with reading dogs come to light when I'm out and about and spot an unknown dog (or dogs) approaching us. Sure I can still read them, but without a tail it currently takes me so long that they close the distance on me by then. I just feel luck that out of the dozens of dogs to run towards us, only 3 seemed less than friendly & that was indicated to me by my dogs body language.

Ok, I guess I can understand herding and working dogs being docked just as some have dew claws removed too. I guess I was referring mainly to dogs without jobs (family pet).

Most likely, it is because it has cosmetically become the norm for the breed standard and most people want their dogs to resemble the breed standards as closely as possible. For others it is unfortunately, done so that they can be used as a status symbol. And then there are those that are done for medical purposes.
 

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Docking and Cropping started out as a function. It was to help the dog in the long run.
Now, it's in the standard, so for dogs showing, it should occur.
For pets, I believe it's purely cosmetic. And for me I believe there's two sides to this one. It's either just for cosmetic purposes, they want their dogs to look like their standard says, or, in the cases of people with big egos, it's for status. And this is mostly for cropping, I believe.
As far as dewclaws go, from what I understand a dog can easily get them caught on things and be injured. I know Aleu has done this before. .-.
 

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The main reason it bugs me is because I have a hard time reading unknown dogs without tails. It's hard enough to read them as they close in on you, but tailless makes it near impossible in the few seconds it takes to close in on us.
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Really, every part of the dog's body is "readable" The lips, the eyes, the skin around the eyes, the ears, the body posture. As Brenda Aloff says, trying to acess body language by looking at one thing is like trying to make sense of a sentence by a single word. I have no more trouble reading a dog with a short tail than a dog with a long tail. Frequently people who try reading a dog by the tail alone really misinterpret what they are seeing. For instance, the dog is not wagging its tail because it is happy to see you, but because it is thinking how good you're going to taste. Also, physical charateristics sometimes have as much to do with tail carriage as emotion. (A somewhat tucked tail in a sight hound may be normal, while a nor**** dog who carries the tail over the back may have a lowered tail if the tail is straight out.
In my breed, tail docking has a couple of reasons - one is that the breed has a strong natural bob tail gene, and can have tails of any length. Many long bobs look quite funny. Another reason is to keep them from being injured doing pen work on stock. Shoot, around here most of the working ACDs/Heelers are docked, despite it not being to their breed standard.

Okay, that was weird. I used a description for a dog from northern areas of the world, (which I should have spelled "nordic" and the list apparently thought it was a cuss word. I wonder what they do with a guy named Richard?
 

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Some dogs used for pulling carts also have docked tails so their tails aren't injured while they work.

If you are only looking at a dog's tail you are missing a lot of body language. It's just that- BODY language. You have to look at the whole thing. Are the ears up? Back? Down? Is the dog stiff and standing tall? Standing forward on its toes? Or is it loose and wiggly and relaxed? Is is cowering down? Is the mouth open and relaxed? Or is it closed and tense? Are the corners of the mouth drawn back or pushed forward? None of those have anything to do with the tail. Tail can be stiff up, straight out, tucked, and it could wagging during any of those postures even though one indicates tension/aggression/simply being alert, and one indicates submission/fear. A wagging tail does NOT mean the dog is happy and the tail alone tells you almost nothing about how the dog is feeling.
 

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Many European countries have finally banned tail and ear cropping; areas of Australia have, as well - show dogs are required to be undocked, as well. It will take me awhile to wrap my head around that (especially with boxers' tails - uncropped ears don't bother me, for some reason). The dogs look so different!

Some cropping has also changed over the years. For example, poodles' tails are now cropped much longer than when I was young. Potsie's tail is copped "the old fasioned way" - short (he came that way), but most are much longer now.

The docked tails still wag! Just look at a boxer wagging its tail - of course, they tend to wag their whole rear end too (hence, many calling them "wiggle butts" - lol).
 

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I have a natural/floppy eared boy with a docked tail. I think some Boxers just look ridiculous with a tail. I ruins the seriousness of the working Boxer sometimes, not to mention they get in the way. Duke does show and it's hard without cropped ears, even though it's allowed. He's only not cropped because we didn't know how to take care of them and he didn't come from a fantastic breeder. And yeah we get tr waggling butt all the time, I love it! I'd miss that with a tail possibly.

For me part of docking and cropping is honoring the breed history. I don't know of pet owners think like that, but I do.
 

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Here in the UK docking became almost a necessity with many dogs because of tax. During the 1700's when the ruling class objected to income tax
- taxes became very imaginative so things such as windows, hats and dog's tails were taxed. So a lot of dogs tails were docked to avoid it. Maybe they worked better without their tails but more likely people became used to seeing them docked... With guarding dogs tails are very vulnerable by being grabbed.
 

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Tradition, plain and simple. most people are able to choose not to chop off ears, because its done later, but chopping off tails is done so young thats buyers pretty much get what they get.
 

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To be fair, I'd presume that most of us can read our own dogs regardless of tail. My concerns with reading dogs come to light when I'm out and about and spot an unknown dog (or dogs) approaching us. Sure I can still read them, but without a tail it currently takes me so long that they close the distance on me by then. I just feel luck that out of the dozens of dogs to run towards us, only 3 seemed less than friendly & that was indicated to me by my dogs body language.

Ok, I guess I can understand herding and working dogs being docked just as some have dew claws removed too. I guess I was referring mainly to dogs without jobs (family pet).
In other words, by your last sentence, I would assume you are one of those who thinks docking tails is "mean?" That's not even worth answering. And, if you can read dogs, it's not just your dog that you can read. And if all you are looking at is the tail, you can't really read dogs.
 

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Many European countries have finally banned tail and ear cropping; areas of Australia have, as well - show dogs are required to be undocked, as well. It will take me awhile to wrap my head around that (especially with boxers' tails - uncropped ears don't bother me, for some reason). The dogs look so different!

Some cropping has also changed over the years. For example, poodles' tails are now cropped much longer than when I was young. Potsie's tail is copped "the old fasioned way" - short (he came that way), but most are much longer now.

The docked tails still wag! Just look at a boxer wagging its tail - of course, they tend to wag their whole rear end too (hence, many calling them "wiggle butts" - lol).
In FCI countries, many NBTs who have shortened or kinked tails are disqualified, despite the fact that they might be the best dog. In a breed where tail lengths are inconsistent, the breed is benefitted more by docking than not.
 

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I don't think it is mean just maybe unnecessary. Vets here (and in other countries) just didn't want to do it anymore. Aren't resources better spent somewhere else - my vet set up a free examination health check in areas that don't bother taking their dogs to the vets from the income that she would have had from tail docking.
 

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I don't think it is mean just maybe unnecessary. Vets here (and in other countries) just didn't want to do it anymore. Aren't resources better spent somewhere else - my vet set up a free examination health check in areas that don't bother taking their dogs to the vets from the income that she would have had from tail docking.
I think it is up to the breeder (who will be doing the docking at about two days old) to decide how to spend their money. I know it was never an issue for me whether I would pay for tail docking or other medical considerations. If I couldn't afford both, I wouldn't have been breeding. I think the last litter I had done was about $5 per puppy (and that included lidocaine to numb the tail). Hardly a hardship. As to necessity, no, it's not necessary, but in some cases it's better for the breed. It's not necessary that I teach my dogs to sit pretty, spin, wave, etc. It 's a choice.
 

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It really isn't about money. What I have become aware with is it's about time with vets - they would rather spend their time doing something more meaningful than docking. Time and money could be spent in more worthwhile causes. Not only here in the UK I think a lot of US vets are feeling the same.
It's not necessary to teach any of our dogs to sit pretty and beg, roll over and wave, crawl and bark, and sit up and give me five but yes it is a choice... and they do it!
 
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