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Discussion Starter #1
My husband and I found a puppy we like and plan to bring him home mid-January. He has a docked tail, and I'm wondering if there are any possible complications that come with that. The tail was docked at 4 days old, and per the breeding standards. I've never had a dog with a docked tail, so I'm not sure what to look for if something was not done properly. Any advice? Thanks!
 

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I assume it was done by a vet? What breed?

If it was done by someone who knows what they're doing, I honestly can't think of any complications. We've had docked Aussies for years and never had a problem. Some traditionally docked breeds will actually run into some issues if they're not docked, particularly working dogs.
 

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I assume it was done by a vet? What breed?

If it was done by someone who knows what they're doing, I honestly can't think of any complications. We've had docked Aussies for years and never had a problem. Some traditionally docked breeds will actually run into some issues if they're not docked, particularly working dogs.
He is a miniature schnauzer and the docking was done by a vet. I wanted to know if anyone had any experience with a dog who was not docked properly, as I've heard that sometimes there can be issues with the nerves, or something of the like.
 

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Also have a docked dog, haven't seen any problems. I've heard that breeds that are traditionally docked that don't have docked tailed (left by the breeder) can suffer from issues with not having feeling in the end of the tail which leads to injury because they don't feel it.

I've never heard of problems because of docking. Docking is done before the tail hardens into bone so usually isn't painful. If anything I would just check to make sure it's healed when you get him. Other then that, enjoy having a nubby butt!
 

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Docking tails is purely cosmetic and is certainly NOT a painless procedure nor is it usually necessary (breeds that normally have docked tails rarely if ever have problems from a tail NOT being docked... not sure where that myth arose). Puppies are born with bones so there is no stage of their life when their tails have no bones in them. Most purebred dogs, if docked at all, are docked at 2-4 days of age and without any anesthesia. That being said, most get over it very quickly and the tails tend to heal with the minimal amount of surgery (though sometimes healing poorly if too sloppy a procedure). Docking tails at an older age requires a full anesthetic and involves a LOT more potential bleeding during surgery. It also results in significant pain for the patient after the procedure is all over, though, again, once healed, should be fine. Not all docking of tails is cosmetic, however. Sometimes a tail injury (from trauma, or even self trauma (often called 'happy tail')) requires the tail being cut back, even in breeds that don't normally get their tails docked.

There certainly are a number of complications that can arise from tail docking, though most usually involve a poorly done procedure. Note that MANY breeders feel they are the best and cheapest at doing this procedure to young puppies and I have seen plenty of horrific docking done by non-veterinarians. Though I have to say I have seen plenty of poorly docked tails by vets, too (though the percentage is better of being done well if by someone with veterinary experience).

The most common and least serious complication is the naked tail tip, resulting for a poorly sutured tail tip. This is cosmetic mostly (though can predispose the tail tip to future injuries that may heal poorly).

Another common but far more serious complication is from doing puppies quickly and with minimal sanitation, resulting in infection that can quickly spread up the tail into the rest of the body and result in severe illness and chronic pain, and sometimes death.

Bleeding excessively is another fairly common result of tail docking, though usually at an older age. There are very large arteries in the tail and these are well protected by the vertebrae making their ligation tricky sometimes. I have near seen a dog actually bleed to death, but I would not doubt it could happen.

Some tails in some breeds are docked too close to the body either resulting in poor healing, infection or even neurologic damage to the anal sphincter or possibly the back legs. An overzealous dock can remove to much spinal nerve and cause permanent neurologic disabilities. Sometimes a 'medical' docking (non-cosmetic) has to be performed very near the body due to some sort of tumor, non-healing cyst or injury, and these can also result in neurologic complications.

Last be least problematic from the dogs point of view are the tails docked the wrong length (pretty common 'problem' actually) resulting in owner dissatisfaction and sometimes getting rid of the pet or a medical lawsuit.
 

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Our dog a poodle/bischon mix had her tail docked when we found her at about one year of age. I can only hope it was done shortly after she was born, by someone competent. I would never have allowed it, had I been involved in her life then, but she is now just about eight years of age, and there have been zero problems or issues related to the tail docking. She doesn't miss it, and we love her just the way she is. Actually its kind of cute, we let the hair grow on the stub, and it looks almost like a snowball and fluffy.
 

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Thank you all for the comments. What prompted my question is a woman I know has a dog who has a docked tail, and he seems to miss it. She says that he is constantly whipping around to look at his bottom, almost like his tail is hurting, but he can't reach it. If something like that happens, what is the corrective course of action? The puppies in the litter I chose from had their tails docked by a vet at 4 days old. I would have preferred to not have a docked tail, but we found our puppy a few weeks too late.
 

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Thank you all for the comments. What prompted my question is a woman I know has a dog who has a docked tail, and he seems to miss it. She says that he is constantly whipping around to look at his bottom, almost like his tail is hurting, but he can't reach it. If something like that happens, what is the corrective course of action? The puppies in the litter I chose from had their tails docked by a vet at 4 days old. I would have preferred to not have a docked tail, but we found our puppy a few weeks too late.
Is she sure that he does not have a pinched nerve somewhere in his spine?

I ask because Zody's tail has never been docked but earlier this year I spent a couple months trying to figure out why he was always whipping his head around to stare at his butt like something had stung him back there. The vet kept insisting it was his anal glands, but it turned out it was not, it was the harness I used to walk him pressing on his spine and causing a nerve to be pinched. Once I changed the type of harness I walked him with the pain vanished.
 

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Echoing what Rain said, there could be a medical issue. My non docked dog did the same thing and it actually was her anal glands, so it's worth mentioning.

From what I've seen, a lot of breeders who dock do so for working/show purposes so they don't really let people choose whether or not to have it done as they don't assign pups to specific homes until far too late (hard to tell at 4 days old which pups will be good show or work prospects).

I'm not antidock personally, I have actually known individuals who have obtained undocked working dogs (both hunting and herding breeds) who later had to have their tails amputated anyway. You might be able to make the case that it's cosmetic now but it was once done for a reason and thankfully some people do still work their dogs in their intended fields.

Once you see that little wiggly bum wag though, you'll love your pup regardless :)
 
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