Natural Tail vs. Docked Tail

To keep a tail or to dock a tail… that is the question. Breeders can debate over and over whether or not a Rottweiler should have a tail. There is no real “correct” answer to this question, only a preference. People can prefer one over the other based on their lifestyle or purpose for their Rottweiler, but there is no long term health benefit by doing one or the other. There is only cosmetic, financial, and social differences.

DKV’s Preference…

I wanted to let everyone know DKV’s position on Rottweiler tails. At the current time, we follow AKC standards and dock tails on all our Rottweiler litters. Until AKC changes our standard, we will continue to dock tails. We get calls all the time from customers asking if we would be willing to keep a puppy with a tail for them to purchase. The answer is no. We dock all puppies. It is what it is. There are many breeders out there who keep natural tails if that is what you prefer.

DKV does have a waiting list for our puppies. We sell our puppies to all 50 US States as well as internationally. When we receive multiple international customers, we keep them together until we are able to fulfill all of them from one single litter. In this scenario only, we will keep the entire litter with tails for the sole purpose of our international clientele. If our international buyers wanted to compete with their Rottweiler, they would be unable to compete with a docked tail in their country. This is the only scenario where we keep tails on a litter.

As I stated above, DKV’s overall preference is a docked tail. DKV Rottweilers is located in the United States and we follow the AKC standards. We fell in love with the Rottweiler breed and its docked tail. This is simply our personal preference. We have several other reasons for this preference as well. This does not mean that we are against natural tails. There are many scenarios where a natural tail may benefit an “uneducated” owner. I am going to share some of these different views below.

Is It Cruel…

People can debate the cruelty factors of docking tails forever. There is tons of literature out there that is used to persuade the reader to believe one way or another. We have read articles that said cropping a Rottweiler’s tail is cruel and painful to a Rottweiler puppy at any age. Other articles will say the complete opposite, stating cropping a Rottweiler puppy’s tail is painless because puppies do not have any nerves in their tail during the first week of life. What we do know is when a Rottweiler puppy’s tail is clipped, yes, he or she does holler. We do notice that puppies cry minimally at 2-3 days of age as opposed to 4+ days of age. Some breeders many choose to dock a puppy’s tail several days later due to a particular puppy’s strength or overall health. Puppies may cry when their bottom is bumped by another puppy. A good mother does lick the area regularly, keeping the wound clean. As a result, the docked tails do heal very quickly. From our experience, we have learned that tail docking is not 100% painless. However, it tells us the earlier a tail is docked, the less pain the puppy encounters. As a result, we make it a point to have our puppies tails docked within the first 72 hours after birth.

Better Balance…

There are many breeders in the USA who now keep natural tails exclusively. Many breeders claim a natural tail improves the Rottweiler’s overall balance. I can tell you this; the Rottweiler has always been a working breed. Rottweilers have been able to perform services since the breed was created. Over the past twenty plus years, we have owned many Rottweilers with docked tails and with natural tails. We can honestly say that keeping a tail does not improve overall balance. We have noticed no difference at all when it comes to overall daily life, running, working, showing, or providing services. This is a myth that was created to help convince a customer to purchase their pup with a natural tail over another breeder’s puppy with a docked tail. It is that simple. If we are going to be 100% honest, there are many breeders who keep natural tails for the sole purpose of saving money. An entire litter can easily cost $400-$800 to have their tails and dew claws removed. We have seen veterinarians charge even higher in some places.

Let Me Stress…

Just as DKV prefers a docked tail, there are professional breeders who prefer natural tails. For those breeders, they are choosing to keep tails because that is their personal preference. We respect that. We only have a problem with the breeders who are keeping tails for the sole purpose of saving money, and then try to educate customers with false physical and health benefits of a tail.

Amputation…

As we explained above, there are many breeders in the USA who keep natural tails on their Rottweiler puppies. We are aware of breeders informing their customers of the option to dock their puppy’s tail after 8 weeks of age, if they prefer the docked look. We have heard this fact from both customers and breeders themselves. If you are unaware, there are many vets in the USA that will remove an 8 week old puppy’s tail. Personally, Angel and myself both think this is extremely cruel and pointless. At this age, removing a tail is major surgery. As a result, we personally visualize this procedure as an amputation and we think it should not be allowed. That is just our opinions. If you do not want a tail, please purchase a puppy with a docked tail. We do not put all of the blame on the customer, because it is usually the breeder who suggests this option to push a sale. This is what is most disturbing. If you choose to keep natural tails, you should only sell your puppies to homes that are looking for a natural tail. We do not believe any breeder should ever encourage an amputation. This is a sick and cruel example of putting a puppy’s life at risk for no medical purpose, but for the purpose of cosmetics only. This is what we do not agree with.

Natural Tail…

What I want to discuss is a scenario where a natural tail would benefit a person, due to their lack of knowledge on the Rottweiler breed. Unfortunately, the beautiful Rottweiler breed has had a very bad reputation in the past, especially the last twenty years. I am proud to say that people are now seeing the true beauty of the Rottweiler breed, due to responsible breeding. However, you will always have those few who simply know nothing about the Rottweiler breed and still choose to breed Rottweilers for a quick buck. Occasionally, you may hear of a Rottweiler bite and/or attack on the news. This is very disturbing to Angel, being a responsible Rottweiler breeder, and to me, for being a Rottweiler enthusiast. It has brought us to the point of local governments deciding whether or not to ban specific dogs breeds indefinitely in their specific states. That is ridiculous, but that is yet another argument for another day. But consider the following… Rottweilers attack for two reasons primarily. First, a Rottweiler can attack simply because he is aggressive due to a lack of socialization or poor breeding. Second, a Rottweiler can attack because he is scared, again, due to a lack of socialization or poor breeding. Now, if you were approaching a dog and he was snarling and barking at you, you would walk away right? It would be clear to you that this dog was aggressive. Well, what if you approach a dog and he is scared? Would you be able to tell? Let’s say he is bowing down and lowering his head. You might think he is inviting you to pet his head. So you reach out your arm to pet him or her and OH MY GOODNESS, you get bit or possibly attacked. What happened? Maybe you did not see it because he did NOT have a tail. If he had a tail, you could see it curled in between his legs and you would have known he was scared, and feeling very threatened. Instead, this dog attacked you to protect himself, because HE was scared. Now I know this is not the case in all bite cases, but I think a tail might have helped prevent SOME bite cases. I also think we all agree, some is better than none.

Can our loved look of a docked tail be hurting the breed? It can only hurt the breed if they are in the hands of uneducated owners. Is the breeder responsible? I would like to think that the majority of Rottweiler breeders are professional and do their best to produce well tempered, sound Rottweilers. However, it is not only our job to produce sound Rottweilers, but to find the right home environment for each puppy. This includes screening families, having phone interviews, and making sure each customer is educated about the Rottweiler breed. Or, should buyers be more responsible? Nobody should have a dog if they cannot put the time into socializing and training their dog. This is important to both the dog’s health and to others. Even a perfectly bred puppy can attack as an adult if they are scared and never received any form of socialization or training as a youth. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to provide the necessary training to make your dog a social and well tempered citizen of the community. The breeder is simply providing a solid foundation for you to build on.

Dock Please…

As a pet owner and a professional breeder, there are other reasons for us preferring a docked tail. As pet owners, we personally love the look as I have already stressed above. Angel and I think it gives the Rottweiler a clean and distinct look. Being dog lovers in general, we have both owned Rottweilers that have had natural tails. As you may know, those things can be a weapon, especially if you have a happy dog. LOL. Now imagine how that feels to a toddler. So as a parent, I can tell you my three sons also benefited from the docked tail. As a person who likes to display knick-knacks on my coffee table, I can tell you that I have had a few fly balls across the room when my dog started swinging his furry baseball bat. From a breeder’s perspective, Angel will be the first to tell you a tail can be very disgusting during whelping, to put it lightly. The last thing you want is bodily fluids flying around the room. So for simple hygiene and cleanliness reasons, the docked tail continues to tip our scale of preference.

Who Knew…

We have many people who come by and look at our dogs. Most people are amazed with their personality and beauty and completely overlook whether or not our dogs had a tail. We have had numerous people say, I didn’t even notice their tail. Personally, I think too many first-time Rottweiler owners dwell on the tail debate way too much. When they actually receive their puppy, the type of tail they have is not as big of a deal as they originally imagined, if any.

Conclusion…

We think natural tails are great and are excellent for showing an inexperienced person a dog’s emotion. However, Angel and I still love the look of the docked tail on a Rottweiler. That is one feature that made us fall in love with the Rottweiler breed over 20 years ago. We are not trying to persuade you one way or another. We are simply sharing our thoughts and trying to shed light on the pros and cons of the Rottweiler tail, that you might not have thought of.

The law banning all forms of docking and clipping was passed in Germany in 1999. Now in 2017, the majority of countries follow FCI standards. Angel does believe all forms of docking or clipping of all breeds will eventually be banned across the globe, including the great USA. Whether it does or not, we hope people can learn to accept the Rottweiler with or without a tail. Tails do not affect a Rottweiler’s beauty or personality. If you are basing your purchase on whether or not a Rottweiler has a tail, this is ridiculous. Base your decision on the Rottweiler’s pedigree, Sire and Dam, temperament, personality, beauty, but NOT their tail. We simply love the Rottweiler breed unconditionally, tail or no tail, and hope you can too.

~ Written by Liz Gutierrez

4 thoughts on “Natural Tail vs. Docked Tail

  1. I am so happy to hear your love of the docked tail. 20 yrs ago I feel in love with the breed and love the docked tail look. I do believe it distinguishes the Rottweiler. After loosing our 4th Rotti that we had over the years to cancer, we are in search of our 5th Rotti to welcome into our family. It is a lot more difficult to find them with docked tails. I appreciate your blog educating me on docked or natural tail. Some breeders are offended by my asking if they docked their puppies tails. You have made me feel better that it is ok for me to like docked tails on my Rottweiler. Thank you

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog. We like both, natural and docked tails, but we do favor the docked tail more. Yes, it is hard to find breeders who still dock the tails in the USA because everyone wants to follow the FCI standards in Germany. However, our dogs are registered with AKC and a docked tail is AKC’s Rottweiler breed standard. So until AKC changes their Rottweiler breed standard, we will continue to offer docked tails. Thank you for your comment. LG

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  2. If I may, another positive advantage of a docked tail is if you plan to use your Rottweiler as a Service Dog. Our first Service Dog was a Golden mix. Fantastic dog, easy to train. However, teaching a dog to always tuck their tail when laying down while working can be challenging. Obviously, with a docked tail, one less item to train, and one less risk to your dog to get stepped on.
    My wife has trained and used Service Dogs for over 10 years.

    Jim and Brenda Sleasman

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    1. Excellent point Mr. Sleasman. That is something I was not aware of. We have had several Rottweilers trained for service, but none had tails, so I never realized that was an issue. Thank you for the comment. LG

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