Dogs will have another thing to wag their tails about next year! Prohibition of tail docking, except in the case of medical necessity by a veterinarian will come into effect from October 2018. This is great news for dogs and dog lovers alike in New Zealand, and has been a long fought out battle. Every dog has a tail to tell and we, as responsible pet owners, know that it is up to us to fight for our pet’s right to a safe and pain free existence. Great stuff New Zealand!
Tail docking is the removal of an animal’s tail and is often done without anaesthesia. It is a procedure that is frequently performed on puppies of certain breeds in order to meet “breed standards” and is not a necessity, nor condoned by many vets here in NZ. This is not the same as tail docking or amputation (WITH anaesthesia) performed by a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons such as the treatment of an injury or disease, which is a necessity for the animal’s health and well-being.
One suspected origin of tail docking is from early Gregorian times in the United Kingdom, where a tax was put upon working dogs with tails. People would try to avoid this tax by removing the tail, however even after the tax was repealed, people continued docking. It also continued to be performed on working dogs in order to avoid accidents occurring, such as hunting dogs getting their tails caught in bushes and broken.
Currently, the following breeds of dogs have docked tails as a breed standard, though these are only a select few of the many breeds that fall into this category:
Dogs use their tails for a multitude of things, particularly balance, scent spreading and communication. A frightened dog may hold its tail down low or between its legs, while an alert or potentially aggressive dog may hold its tail high and erect. It’s always important to read every part of a dog’s body language in order to decipher what he or she is trying to tell you, as a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog. At least from October 2018, we will be able to decipher their tails a little easier!
If you would like to read more about the impending law changes, have a look at MPI’s Animal Welfare Regulations here https://www.mpi.govt.nz/law-and-policy/legal-overviews/animal-welfare/animal-welfare-regulations/