Docking refers to the practice of removing portions of an animal’s tail. Strong feelings surround the choice whether or not to dock a poodle’s tail. Historically, a variety of conflicting rationales have been used to justify tail docking. Some believed that dogs with long tails may injure their tails while hunting or running through brush. However, others claim that long tails may help a dog hunt. Long tails can help a dog to balance when running and jumping and work as a rudder in the water. Two conflicting ideas: a long tail hinders a dog by getting easily injured and a long tail helps a dog to hunt. Neither reason is applicable to the majority of standard poodles today.
Another historic reason to dock tails was for easy identification; while wealthy owners often had dogs with undocked tails, poor owners were often made to dock their dogs’ tails. Differentiation between dogs belonging to wealthy versus poor owners ensured these dogs would not hunt on the same land. Two conflicting ideas: a long tail hinders a dog by getting easily injured and a long tail helps a dog to hunt. Neither reason is applicable to the majority of standard poodles today.
Currently, the primary reason for docking a dog’s tail is entirely cosmetic. The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard describes a standard poodle with, “Tail straight, set on high and carried up, docked of sufficient length to ensure a balanced outline. Major fault: set low, curled, or carried over the back.” Yet, in contrast to the AKC, other countries and registries have banned the docking of tails and dogs are shown with a natural tail. Docking of tails is a choice and we as breeders are responsible for making the best choice for our poodles.
Tail docking occurs commonly in puppies younger than 5 days old. While some sources claim that very young puppies do not experience pain, this is inaccurate. Puppies are born with fully functioning nervous systems and are able to feel the pain of tail docking.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards used by kennel clubs and canine registries.
We strive to make the best decisions for our poodles here at Heart Song Standard Poodles, and, therefore, we do not dock the tails of our animals.