Why Do Dobermans Have Docked Tails? 5 Things You Should Know


There are five reasons why Dobermans have docked (or sometimes called cropped) tails. 

  1. To conform with AKC Doberman breed standards
  2. Cosmetic Reasons
  3. If your Doberman is a working dog
  4. If your Doberman is a guard dog
  5. To prevent any future injuries

This article will talk about why you would want to dock your Dobermans tail, how long it takes to heal, and whether it is illegal here in the U.S.

Let’s talk about some common reasons people often choose to get their Doberman’s tails docked.

1. To Conform With Doberman Breed Standards

One of the main reasons people dock their Dobermans tail is if you want to show your dog. The Doberman breed standard booklet is a blueprint of what a Doberman is supposed to look like. It is also relied on as a reference by Doberman breeders for dog shows.

The Doberman breed standard booklet has been used for years by breeders. So, in theory, a Doberman Pincer twenty years ago and a Doberman today should look the same.

This document is also relied upon heavily by the American Kennel Club (AKC) conformation judges to determine which dogs will be the champions of the breed. 

2. Cosmetic Reasons

Another common reason is cosmetic reasons. Quite simply, many people like the way it looks, and in the united states, it’s so incredibly common

for a Doberman to have a docked tail. You rarely see a natural Doberman with that curly tail. As a result, they often don’t get recognized as Doberman, especially if it’s got the natural ears. 

There is a little bit of social pressure too. If you have a Doberman, you’re expected to have the tail docked, at least here in the united states.

In fact, it’s so common for them to dock their tail; many people didn’t know a Doberman didn’t come naturally with a short tail and upright ears.

That’s how common it is here in the united states, and tail docking is even more common than ear cropping, so that just shows you how common it is.

3. Working Dog

Another reason is if the dog is a working dog. Many Dobermans are bred and used for a specific working purpose. And such as if they’re a search and rescue dog maybe they’re flying through tight places very quickly, or maybe they’re out doing some work out in a brush and going through a very tight dense brush from time to time.

If that’s the case, these working dogs will often have their tail docked to prevent injury. This is especially true in Europe, where there are exceptions in the laws, and tail docking for working dogs specifically.

4. Guard Dog

Another common reason is if the dog is going to work as a guard dog, which is one of the reasons that carl Frederick Lewis Doberman, the creator of this breed, originally had his dog’s tails docked.

It’s simply to provide for one less handhold for an attacker to grab hold of the dog and control the dog with. So if the dog’s going to be doing protection work, its tail might be docked. 

Also, it helps identify the dog quicker as a Doberman, especially in the U.S. Often, people know it’s not a dog they want to mess, preventing a lot of problems before they even start.

5. Medical Reasons

The last major reason a Doberman’s tail is docked is future proof and potential injuries and pain. If the dog gets his tail cropped when they’re only a couple of days old; it’s a very simple, quick procedure taking a couple of minutes. 

If it’s done when the dog’s older because their tail got broken or because there’s a serious injury and a vet tells you that it’s necessary to dock an adult dog’s tail.

For example, it’s now considered an amputation where it’s considered a lot more serious with a procedure, so when it’s only a few days old, it’s docking or a bobbin. Still, it becomes a lot more serious as an adult.

That can cause a lot more discomfort, even a family Doberman with that thin dense tail whipping around real fast, playing and wrestling can get a broken tail from time to time.

This would necessitate an amputation and that is what a lot of people try to avoid. Keep in mind; these dogs are not the product of natural evolution over generations.

Humans created these dogs, and sometimes they have weak points. Many people argue that that tail is one of those weak points that can easily break and cause pain for the dog.

While these are the common reasons people choose to get their Doberman’s tails docked or bobbed, there is a lot more to this.

Do Dobermans Have Curly Tails?

This is probably one of the earliest decisions you’re going to have to make when it comes to your Doberman’s care because this decision is usually made before the dog’s even born.

And that’s because the tail docking process usually happens when the dog’s only a few days old.

When you decide if you want a doc-tailed dormant or not, make sure you communicate that with your breeder before the dog is even born. If you wait, it could easily be too late.

How Long Should a Docked Doberman Tail Be?

The Doberman breed standard booklet for the Doberman pitcher says that the dog is supposed to have a docked tail at approximately the second joint. 

Although it’s not an automatic disqualifier, conformation shows it is a fault, making winning a breed conformation show much more difficult if your dog is not docked.

I don’t believe there’s ever been an AKC conformation champion Doberman that had a natural tale, but it could, in theory, happen.

If we just want a family pet, and we’re not into showing our dogs, then maybe you don’t need to crop your Dobermans tail. 

That depends heavily on where you live in the United States and Mexico. It is legal in some places in Canada, but that’s not the case everywhere, so make sure that you check your local laws before you decide.

Here is a map from Wikipedia that may show where it is legal and where it’s not legal. I say it may show because I have noticed some inconsistencies with this map.

For example, this map shows that it’s legal in all of Canada. While it is legal on the federal level, there are some provinces where it is illegal, so even if this map says you’re okay, make sure you check your local laws.

As you can see from the map, there are still many areas where it is illegal, or it may be mostly banned, but there may still be exceptions.

Even in those areas where it’s banned in the law for specific reasons, such as if the dog is a working dog or if there’s a medical reason for the docking.

How Do You Dock A Puppy’s Tail?

Docking or cropping your dog’s tail is done using one of two methods. The first method is called the banding method, which is where something called a ligature (a small rubber band or even a real tight o-ring) is wrapped around the dog’s tail to cut off circulation. Then, a few days later, the tail drops off. 

The second method is the surgical method, where a vet clamps the tail, usually with a special tool, and then they either use a scalpel or surgical scissors to remove the tail.

The vet will either put a little dot or two of surgical glue to prevent any bleeding. They might throw a stitch or two to help prevent it from opening up. It’s typically a quick process if the surgical method or a few days if the banding method is used.

Can I dock My Dog’s Tail At Home?

In the United States, it’s illegal to do this at home without sterile equipment and without anesthesia, which is, of course, is very controversial. Maybe there are breeders out there who do this at home themselves, but I would never recommend it. 

However, if you have puppies that you want to get docked, I urge you to take them to an experienced vet who knows what they’re doing. There’s a smaller chance of complications; it’s inexpensive at most vets

and it’s a whole lot safer. 

Do Puppies Feel Tail Docking?

Many professionals will tell you that when it is done soon after birth, the Doberman’s nerve endings haven’t even grown in the tail yet, which is why they believe that the dog does not feel any pain, but this is not true.

A puppy has a fully developed nervous system from birth. This is why you should trust a professional vet to use an anesthetic before commencing a surgical procedure.

At What Age Can You Dock A Dobermans Tail?

Typically it’s done between one to seven days old, and most professionals will tell you that the earlier, the better. When it comes to discomfort, if you go much later than that, or even worse as an adult dog, it’s equivalent to amputating a limb and comes with a lot more discomfort and trauma.

If it is done later, anesthesia is usually used together with stitches. A lot of times, it’s an overnight stay at the vet. It’s a lot more traumatic, and at that point, it is officially an amputation and no longer just a docking or a simple bobbin.

How Much Does It Cost To Dock A Dog’s Tail?

The average price across the U.S is between $20 to $40 per newborn puppy. The procedure only takes between 10 to 20 minutes, so you can normally wait. After the procedure, you can normally take your dog home if there are no complications.

If you take an older dog, the procedure can cost between $500 to $900. As I said previously, cropping an older dog’s tail is an amputation, so it is a much more serious procedure that requires anesthesia. A lot of times an

overnight stay is required, or you bring them in the morning take them home in the evening because the vet would want a longer observation period.

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