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Why do some dogs still have docked tails?

Tail docking is the surgical removal (amputation) of a dog’s tail for cosmetic purposes. Tail docking has been illegal in Australia since 2004, as it is an unnecessary surgical procedure associated with significant acute and chronic pain and is detrimental to the welfare of the animals concerned.

Adult dogs with short tails

An adult dog may have had a tail amputation performed by a veterinary surgeon for medical reasons.

Puppies with docked tails

You should never buy a puppy with a docked tail.

If you get a puppy from a breeder, make sure that they do not dock tails. If you suspect that tail docking is still taking place, please report it to your state or territory RSPCA.

Dogs born with stumpy, short, and corkscrew tails

There are a few breeds which carry genetic mutations that lead dogs to be born with stumpy, short, or corkscrew or screw tails. Be aware that these inherited defects are undesirable from an animal health and welfare perspective because they can be associated with health problems such as spina bifida, spinal malformations, and slipped discs.


Bennett PC, Perini E (2003) Tail docking in dogs: A review of the issues. Aust Vet J 81:208–218

Mansour, T. A., Lucot, K., Konopelski, S. E., Dickinson, P. J., Sturges, B. K., Vernau, K. L., Choi, S., Stern, J. A., Thomasy, S. M., Döring, S., Verstraete, F. J. M., Johnson, E. G., York, D., Rebhun, R. B., Ho, H.-Y. H., Brown, C. T., & Bannasch, D. L. (2018). Whole genome variant association across 100 dogs identifies a frame shift mutation in DISHEVELLED 2 which contributes to Robinow-like syndrome in Bulldogs and related screw tail dog breeds. PLOS Genetics, 14(12), e1007850.

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Updated on May 9, 2024
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