How and when to have a puppy's tail clipped

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Although some people disagree with clipping dogs' tails others feel the procedure should be done for the sake of some dogs.

Over the years animal rights activists have become increasingly uncomfortable

with the fact that some dogs have their tails clipped by their owners. Is the docking of animals’ tails and ears purely cosmetic? Some say yes while others disagree. Tail clipping, or docking, is done by thousands of people each year to some particular breeds of dogs as well as other animals. As a dog owner, you’ll have to make the ultimate decision of whether or not to have the dog’s tail clipped.


The procedure is done by many dog owners at home without the help of a veterinarian. When the puppy is a few days old a rubber band is wound tightly around the dog’s tail to cut off circulation. After awhile the dead portion of the tail will drop off. The procedure causes an unpleasant odor on the animal until the tail is gone. In a similar method, the dog’s tail is clamped a short distance from the body and is cut off or clipped. Both procedures are generally done without anesthetic and are sometimes painful to the pup. The surgery usually heals well by itself, even when performed at home, but there is some risk of infection and permanent disability to the dog. Some vets say that if the procedure is done during the second day after birth the puppy’s nervous system has not fully developed and the pain is not intense. The fact that some owners are amateurs and may clip the dog’s tail too closely can cause negative results in some instances.

Although the practice of clipping a pup’s tail dates back to Roman times some animal activists are now stepping forward to denounce the practice claiming it to be cruel and uncalled-for at the very least. Although the reasoning for the tail clipping, according to owners, varies from enhancing their looks to improving their maneuverability activists claim that the clipping is purely cosmetic.


It’s true that many dog owners feel that clipping of the tail is particularly attractive in certain breeds of animals such as Doberman pinchers. Other dogs, such as tracking dogs that work in thick brush, are more subject to tail injuries and this is the reason their owners have their nails clipped. Dogs like rat terriers normally have their tails clipped because the dog is small but its tail grows very long. For some owners this makes the dog look awkward.


In some countries which have banned tail cropping reported injuries to particular breeds have risen considerably tending to back up the argument that the clipping is done for the sake of the dog.


Having a dog’s tail clipped is completely up to the owner of the dog. The owner should speak to a veterinarian about having the procedure done rather than perform the surgery at home brutally. Some vets no longer agree to perform the surgery forcing the owners to go elsewhere. Many veterinarians still perform the service and can prescribe medications to prevent infections and pain. This choice is the most humane and is the most likely method to prevent complications.