How the ban on tail docking has affected the registrations

from the working group in the united kingdom


In 2006, the U.K. enacted an outright ban on tail docking. Over the course of the first decade since the ban was imposed, drastic declines in the registration of certain breeds could be clearly observed.


Working Breeds alone saw a loss of over 78% of their total registrations. In real numbers, this decline represents over 18,000 dogs comprised of 26 different breeds. Nine of the breeds which have been traditionally docked and/or cropped represented the largest share of the decline in registration - 13,975 in total. The remaining 17 breeds that were not traditionally docked or cropped saw a much less marked decline, with only 4,056 fewer registrations over the 10 year period.


Regarding the prevalence of tail injuries suffered in light of dog owners being barred from docking tails, some of the territories that have enacted outright bans on d/c/dc have made subsequent reversals in policy. This comes as an acknowledgment of both the negative implications outright bans have had on certain breeds, as well as the negative health consequences that have been experienced in some dogs.


As a result, certain exemptions have been made for specially designated working dogs. while helpful in part, this patchwork solution is highly problematic. According to research conducted by Drs. G. Diesel, D. Pfeiffer, s. Crispin, and D. Brodbelt in 2009 journal article titled " Risk Factors for Tail Injuries in Dogs in Great Britain", most tail injuries were suffered not by dogs performing working duties, but rather, by dogs in the home in the normal course of every day activity.


The aim of the aforementioned study was to "quantify the risk of tail injury, to evaluate the extent to which tail docking reduces this risk, and to identify other major risk factors for tail injury in dogs in Great Britain(GB)."


According to the research, thirty-six per cent of injuries were reportedly related to injuries sustained in the home, 17.5 percent were outdoor-related injuries. 14.4 per cent were due to the tail being caught in a door, for 16.5 per cent the cause was unknown and the remainder were due to other causes. Dogs with a wide angle of wag and dogs kept in kennels were a t significantly higher risk of sustaining a tail injury.


Listed were 281 tails injuries recorded from a population of 138,212 dogs attending the few participating practises. From this it was deduced that the risk of tail damage was just 0.2%, or that  500 docked dogs would only prevent 1 tail damage case. Unfortunately, this simply shows the risk as a percentage of the total dog population, and does not represent the risk to undocked dogs that belong to traditionally docked breeds. Conversely. a number of breeds shown in this study to injure their tails were breeds that have not historically been docked. In order to gauge the full effect of d/c/dc ban legislation , a repeat study would be required comparing only dog breeds which were traditionally docked before the ban and were born after the ban, as percentage of those that required veterinary attention to address tail injuries.

Although the study concluded that 500 dogs would need to be docked in order to prevent one tail injury. much of the data collected could not determine the increased risk of tail injuries in undocked dogs that belonged to previously docked breeds. This primarily because the 2009 study was conducted in too short a time span following the 2006 ban to allow for a comparison, as research has shown that age of one to one and half years of age is when tail damage is more likely to occur..


This study was a major leap forward. Unfortunately, the lack of breed-specific data, and the short period of study following the ban makes it difficult to fully evaluate the extent to which tail docking reduces the risk of tail injuries in dogs in Great Britain.

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Page updated: Oct 7,2018