DewClaws & Docked Tails

What Are the Indications for Dewclaw Removal?

Dewclaw removal is most often performed in puppies around 2-5 days of age to comply with specific breed standards or to prevent the loosely attached dewclaw from catching on furniture, carpet, etc. resulting in damage to the toe. Some pets have dewclaws only on the front feet and some have dewclaws on all four feet. Some have multiple dewclaws. Dewclaw removal may also be performed in older dogs if the toe becomes injured or damaged.

Why Are Dog’s Tails Docked?

1. To avoid tail damage
A number of working gundog breeds have to hunt game through heavy vegetation and thick brambles, where their fast tail action can easily lead to torn and bleeding tails which are painful and extremely difficult to treat. Docking the end of the tail eliminates the risk of injury. Working terriers are docked for the same reason. In addition, terriers which are bred to hunt below ground for purposes such as fox control, have their tails docked to a length which is more practical when working in a confined space.Other non-working breeds which have an enthusiastic tail action, are also liable to damage their tails, cause harm to small children, clear coffee tables in the home.

2. For reasons of hygiene
Long haired, thick coated breeds are docked to avoid the hair around the base of the tail becoming fouled by feces. Even with constant grooming and washing, such fouling is unpleasant. If allowed to get out of hand, it can lead to severe problems of hygiene, or even flystrike and subsequent infestation by maggots.

Hygiene problems can be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether by docking.

3. To maintain breed standards

Breeds such as the Poodle, which have been docked over many generations have been selected for specific qualities of build and conformation, but not for tail length, shape or carriage.

Is docking cruel?

Docking is carried out when puppies are tiny. Their eyes are not yet open and long experience indicates that carried out correctly, the procedure causes no pain or discomfort. Indeed, some puppies which are docked whilst they are asleep, do not even wake up. After docking, puppies will immediately return to their dam to feed, and there is no evidence that development or weight gain is in any way arrested by the docking procedure.

Nor does a dog which has been docked as a puppy have any problems with balance or communication.

How is docking carried out?

I use the technique known as “banding”, in which a ligature, normally an orthodontic band, is placed over the end of the puppies tail at 24-72 hours old. This effectively cuts off the blood supply to the end of the tail, which comes away within 3 days. Docking tails is a practice which has been carried out for centuries in order to avoid tail damage, for hygiene and other reasons. Today there are over fifty traditionally docked breeds which are recognized by various Kennel Clubs. Docking, they say, is a perfectly humane procedure when properly carried out, and one, which prevents far more distress than it causes. It is, like neutering, simply a practical animal management technique.