Elective surgical procedures for shortening the tail in some breeds are the source of numerous controversies, conflicts, and debates, both in scientific circles and among the owners, veterinarians, animal rights activists, and traditionalists.
Why are Weimaraner tails docked? Their tails are docked for practical reasons, especially if the dogs are used for hunting and are not just pets. With a shortened tail, their hunting performance increases, and the possibility of injuring the dog decreases.
Today, they are mainly related to breeds such as Doberman, Great Dane, Schnauzer, German Shorthaired Pointer, Pinscher, Boxer, Staffordshire Terrier, Cane Corso, Pit Bull, Weimaraner.
At the global level, the legal regulations of the procedure are very diverse and even unregulated.
But, unfortunately, such procedures are still done illegally in some veterinary clinics, as well as in completely non-sterile conditions, in the houses and garages of the owners, which makes the intervention itself – which already brings a lot of suffering for the animal even more uncertain and risky.
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How did it all start?
Tail docking has been a routine intervention in certain races that have usually been used for hunting, guarding and fighting throughout history, since Roman times.
However, nowadays, with the advancement of veterinary medicine and science in general, and especially with the invention of vaccination and antibiotics as a method of protecting animal health, this surgical intervention is considered outdated and unfounded.
Tail docking in dogs
The excuses for why this seemed to be varied:
– for hunting dogs, less possibility of ear injury in the fight with a wild animal, and thus infection with rabies, as well as less probability of picking up parasites, thorns, or plant seeds while running for prey.
The absence of a tail was also thought to improve the speed of running and holding the spine.
– energetic breeds of dogs have their tails shortened so as not to injure them by waving and tapping their tails against the wall of the box, or a small space.
– in the 18th century in England, a special tax was paid on the tail of a working dog, and their tails were cut off for purely economic reasons.
What exactly does tail docking involve?
Tail docking is very often done by the owners themselves with surgical scissors, or a scalpel, often without anesthesia, in puppies only 10-14 days old!
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The justification for the absence of anesthesia is that the dog at that age “does not remember” the enormous pain inflicted on him.
Shortening is especially common among breeds: setter, English pointer, English fox dog, and dogs that serve to keep cattle.
This cruel procedure, done in such a way, is absolutely unacceptable and highly risky from several aspects.
Shortening the puppy’s tail
Today, no distinction is made at shows between dogs with docked and undocked ears and tails, so exposing a dog to these procedures for the sake of breed recognition has no basis.
Consequences and health risks of tail docking
The first and most important is to inflict unnecessary pain on the animal.
Unlike humans, who consciously and voluntarily undergo corrective surgery, animals do not have this choice.
Also, the owners themselves are often not sufficiently, or even at all, informed about all the possible side effects and consequences of the actions they take on their pet.
Shortening the tail carries a high risk of creating a benign tumor of the nervous tissue – traumatic neuroma, on the dog’s tail.
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There are no less serious consequences: infection, gangrene, heavy bleeding, injury of the tail spinal structures, paralysis, incontinence, chronic pain, tail deviations, etc.
Special attention should be paid to the psychological aspect because the dog experiences great and painful trauma at an early age.
This can be reflected in his future behavior towards people and other dogs, as well as the communication aspect – because dogs communicate with each other the most and express their mood with their ears and tail.
If they are missing, they can create a problem for individuals in interacting with others and certainly leave consequences on behavior that can be manifested by withdrawal, distrust, and aggression.
The most common tail problems in Weimaraners
Bite wild animals in the hunt
The tail can often be killed in hunting activities. Injuries can occur at the base of the tail but also at any part along the tail.
Each wound should be examined by a veterinarian and an assessment made of what treatment should be used.
Sometimes it is enough to clean the wound, use analgesics and antibiotics, but depending on the type and size of the wound, sometimes more complicated interventions are needed.
Allergic reactions or secondary infections associated with trauma and scratches can often cause skin infections.
The tail is also covered with skin, so reactions occur here as well. In general, all skin infections require long-term treatment.
If your dog has problems with skin infections, we recommend Arava Natural Medicated Dog Shampoo, which will have antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Sometimes they are complicated by scratching, licking, or nibbling the tail.
Putting on a Victorian protective collar will prevent licking and biting to some extent, but the dog can still wave, which can cause new injuries and skin irritation.
Tail sprain in Weimaraners
Believe it or not, that is also possible. Tail sprains occur most often in dogs that swim more.
The tail is used as a rudder. As the muscles get tired, the small joints and ligaments suffer a lot of strain and sprains occur.
Owners in such situations notice that the tail is completely flabby and the dog feels pain when moving the tail. Treatment includes restriction of tail movement (very difficult to implement) and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Injuries due to tail wagging
Whenever he wants to show his good mood, the dog waves its tail. He doesn’t care about the space in which he does it.
Injuries are common because they hit the sharp edge of furniture, a wall, or other solid objects with their tail while waving.
Sometimes there is the erosion of the skin and even injury of blood vessels.
If these injuries are not repaired in time, sometimes it is necessary to resort to surgical amputation of the part of the tail that was injured.
Injuries to the nerve of the tail
Damage to the nerve fibers in the tail can occur as a result of trauma, most often in traffic accidents.
Signs of nerve damage are reduced or complete lack of mobility as well as tail laxity. These conditions can also be caused by problems with the discs in the spine.
Accumulation of fecal residue on the tail
Some breeds, such as the pug, may have problems with insufficient bowel movements due to the anatomy of the tail.
The remains of feces cause irritations and infections. Of course, this is not reserved only for dogs with this tail shape.
Other dogs, especially those with longer hair, may have this problem. Regular cleaning with wet wipes of the region around the anus will reduce the risk of developing infections.
Of course, it is possible to solve the problem by regularly shortening the hair around this region.
Tail fracture and dislocation
Breaking or dislocation occurs when hitting or jamming the tail, e.g., in a door and the like.
This problem is quite complicated to solve because it is difficult to wrap or immobilize the tail to cause adhesions.
If there is no self-healing (although the consequence is usually a crooked tail), it is necessary to perform surgical removal of the injured part.
The presence of fleas in the dog’s tail
Fleas often settle at the base of dog tails. The bites cause itching, so the dogs scratch and bite their tails.
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Very often to skin injury and it is an excellent basis for the development of secondary bacterial or fungal infections that are treated for a long time.
The best prevention is the regular use of flea preparations.
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Tail docking in Weimaraers has excuses if it is a dog that is an active hunting dog.
You still have a Weimaraner and are considering tail docking to have this medical procedure done by a qualified veterinarian so as not to endanger your dog’s health.
After all of the above, one should ask whether something that used to be the norm is essentially right and right today, as well as whether the risk and pain that such dogs can experience was really worth it.