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Is the tail docking of dogs legal?

Article ID: 277
Last updated: 26 Jun, 2015
Revision: 3
Views: 29291

In 2004, the cosmetic tail docking of dogs was banned nationwide. This means that a veterinary surgeon must not dock a dog’s tail unless it is for a therapeutic purpose or in the dog’s best interests to do so. The relevant provisions are set out in the table below:

 State

 Legal?  (Yes/No)

 Relevant Provision

 Australian Capital Territory

 No

Section 19A of the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT) provides that a veterinary surgeon must not carry out a medical or surgical procedure on an animal solely for cosmetic purposes. Furthermore, it specifically provides that a veterinary surgeon must not dock a dog’s tail for a purpose other than for a therapeutic purpose. 

 New South Wales

 No

Section 12 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) provides that a person shall not dock the tail of a dog. However, if the person who docked the dog’s tail was a veterinary practitioner and was docking the tail in the interests of the dog’s welfare, then the person is not guilty of an offence under section 12. 

 Northern Territory

 No

Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act (NT) provides that a person commits an offence if the person is cruel to an animal. Amongst other things, cruelty includes causing an animal unnecessary suffering or failing to take reasonable action to mitigate an animal’s suffering after the person caused it unnecessary suffering, even if the suffering was caused by accident.

 Queensland

 No

Section 24 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) provides that a veterinary surgeon must not dock a dog’s tail unless the surgeon reasonably considers it to be in the interests of the dog’s welfare.

 South Australia

 No

Section 13 of the Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA) provides that a person who ill-treats an animal is guilty of an offence. Regulation 6 of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) states that unless a veterinary surgeon has certified in writing that the tail docking of a dog is necessary for the control of disease, a person who tail docks a dog has ill-treated the dog.

Regulation 6 also provides that a veterinary surgeon may dock a dog’s tail if they are satisfied that the procedure is required for therapeutic purposes.

 Tasmania

 No

Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas) provides that a person must not do an act which causes or is likely to cause unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering to an animal. Under regulation 6 of the Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2013 (Tas), such acts include docking all or part of a dog’s tail, or causing or permitting the docking of all or part of a dog’s tail.

Regulation 6 does not apply where a veterinary surgeon uses anaesthesia to dock all or part of a dog’s tail for therapeutic purposes, and it also does not apply to a person who causes or permits a veterinary surgeon to perform the docking in the aforementioned permissible manner.

 Victoria

 No

Under section 9 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic), a person who carries out a prohibited procedure on an animal commits an act of cruelty upon that animal and is guilty of an offence.

Under section 3, “prohibited procedure” includes docking a dog’s tail unless the procedure is done by a veterinary practitioner for the purpose of having a therapeutic effect on the dog.

 Western Australia

 No

Regulation 14 of the Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2003 (WA) states that a person who is not a registered veterinary surgeon shall not carry out the tail docking of a dog. A registered veterinary surgeon is only permitted to dock a dog’s tail if it is clinically indicated for the purpose of curing or alleviating disease or injury from which the dog suffers.


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Attached files
file Tail docking legislation in Australia.,.pdf (107 kb)

Also read
document Why is the RSPCA opposed to the tail docking of dogs?

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