Is it legal to dock my dog’s tail?

dock a dog tailWe’re all used to seeing particular breeds of dog with their tails docked. Jack Russells, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and Bulldogs would seem strange to the casual observer had they been wagging a full tail, and a docked tail can make dog grooming that little bit easier. However, in recent years, legislation within the UK has changed with regards to the docking of dogs’ tails.

Docking was actually banned within England from April 2007, and in Wales from March 2007. As is often the case with legislation like this, there are several notable exceptions.

The first exception to the ban on docking dogs’ tails is for working dogs. If the dog has a degree of probability of performing specific types of work when it matures, it can have its tail docked by a vet. It must be less than five days old, and the vet must be able to certify that he (or she) has seen specific evidence that the dog is likely to work within a particular field. These fields include work with the Armed forces, law enforcement, pest control, emergency rescue, or the lawful shooting of certain animals. Also, the pup must be micro chipped when it has its tail docked, or when the vet considers it to be old enough for the procedure to be carried out.

In England, the following breeds can have their tails docked:

Hunt point retrievers of any breed

Spaniels of any type

Terriers of any type

The list that applies to Wales differs somewhat:

Welsh Springer spaniels, English Springer spaniels, Cocker spaniels (but no crossbreeds)

Cairn Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Lakeland Terriers (but no crossbreeds)

Hunt Point retrievers

Scotland has a complete ban on docking. If you’re a dog breeder who is in doubt as to whether you can dock you new pup’s tail, it’s best to seek advice from your vet.