As you care for your Poodle, you’ve got some important decisions to make. It’s up to you to choose how often you’ll take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. You choose what type of dog food to provide for them, and what its nutritional value is in the context of their overall diet. You get to decide how often you groom and brush your dog to keep their coats and fur looking their best. And, you’ll also get to make the call of whether to dock or leave your Poodle’s tail. While this may seem like a simple and straightforward decision, each route can come with its own list of pros and cons to consider.
Poodles have tails that can be as diverse as their overall appearance. Their tails can range in length and overall hairiness. Among dog breeds, Poodles are a fairly common breed that have their tails docked. However, not all Poodles get their tails docked.
To help you make the best decision for your dog, it’s important to know the difference between these two approaches as well as how to know what is right for your dog. Next, we share what docking or leaving your dog’s tail natural means and the implications of both choices. In navigating through this comparison, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision for your dog that supports their overall well-being and lifestyle.
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What Is Docking a Poodle’s Tail?
The practice of docking a dog’s tail has slowly become somewhat seen as unnecessary for dogs. In fact, some people consider it to just be a cosmetic procedure that does not add any significant value to the dog themselves. The origins of tail docking rest in an ancient Roman belief that doing so would eliminate the risk of rabies and improve their hunting skills, of which there is no scientific evidence. Poodles specifically were trained as water dogs. It was believed that they could swim faster and hunt better if they had shorter tails with the pom at the tip easier to see. Of course, there are mixed beliefs on this reasoning as well.
Docking a tail involves removing the end part of the dog’s tail. This is often conducted with scissors. This procedure also happens when the puppy is very young, often at just around five days old. The location of the cut is between two bones to prevent the tail from growing longer.
The procedure is most often done by a veterinarian, but can also be conducted by at-home, experienced and professional breeders. While it can be conducted on both newborn puppies and adult dogs, it is much less recommended for adults. The recovery period for docking a tail is about a week when performed on a puppy. They should not suffer from any scars or lingering pain after the procedure. The procedure is not intended to be painful, although some people suggest that it is very painful for the newborn puppy. Older dogs may experience more complications and difficulties in recovering from getting their tails docked.
Poodles have fairly long tails that can look quite different depending on the type of Poodle. They also have tails that can curl up slightly and can be covered in fur as well. This the case for all sizes of Poodles, whether Toy, Miniature, Standard, or Medium. Each size of Poodle has different guidelines, set by the American Kennel Club, of the length of the tail.
Despite what some dog owners may believe, docking their dog’s tail does not actually produce any physical benefits to their health or overall growth. The process has come under mass scrutiny. While some dog owners see no issue with shortening their dog’s tail as a puppy so as to not bring them harm, other puppy parents see it as a cruel and unnecessary process for puppies. Typically, Poodle parents have fairly strong opinions one way or another. But if you’re not sure what route is right for your Poodle, next we’ll explore some reasons why tails are docked and what that means for your next steps.
Dock or Leave Natural?
While the practice of docking a dog’s tail has slowed in popularity, there may be some key reasons why a dog should have its tail docked.
The Case for Docking
As you consider what is the right approach for your Poodle, here are some reasons why dog owners choose to dock their dogs’ tails and why others leave the tails in their natural state.
Some dogs have become accustomed to having shorter tails. In fact, the American Kennel Club includes breed standards that require Poodles to have their tails docked. They cannot even be shown in competition if their tails are not docked.
It may have just become accustomed to docking Poodles’ tails, as most breeders do it shortly after birth. People see other Poodles with docked tails and that’s what they assume a Poodle should look like. Traditionally, docking a Poodle’s tail even distinguished between the upper class and lower class Poodle parents. Certainly, those same factors are not relevant in today’s social setting.
Keeping up with these standards or pure cosmetics seems to be a popular reason for docking a Poodle’s tail. Especially if you are considering showing them in a competition, they are required to have a docked tail.
However, if you are not interested in showing your dog or putting them in competition, there really is no real reason for docking their tail just for appearance’s sake. These dogs are adorable and fun with both long tails and shorts.
Other dog owners may choose to dock the tails in an effort to prevent injuries with their tails. Dogs that have very long, flowy tails may end up hurting themselves if they hit their tail against a tree as they run or be tripped up by their tail in some other way. As dogs often express their excitement and emotion through wagging their tail, too long of a tail may bring on unintended pain for your dog in their tail area.
The Case for Natural Tails
Now that we’ve explored the reasons dog owners choose to dock their dog’s tails, let’s discover why docking tails may not be the best choice for you and your Poodle puppy.
Keep For Sports
If you have a Poodle that you want to keep active and always outdoors, keeping their natural tail can actually help their agility and overall coordination. Keeping their tail at its full length can help improve balance and help them swim more effectively. While there certainly is always the risk of them injuring their tail as they run and roam, keeping their natural tail can help them in overall performance.
Lingering Side Effects Following Docking Procedure
While most puppies recover quickly in a matter of a week or slightly more, others may have some lingering long-term effects related to their nervous system. Following the procedure, they may be tempted to chew on their tail due to a disruption in their nervous system. While this condition may only last a little while, it can also cause devastating long-term conditions. If the procedure is not performed perfectly, the gland that helps in signaling to the brain can be disrupted, leading to other effects throughout the body’s operations and functions.
Ease of Care
Should you decide to not dock your Poodle’s tail, taking care of it and ensuring they don’t injure their tail can be very easy. As their tails are typically very furry, you’ll want to be intentional about regularly grooming not just their head, body, and feet but also their tail. As the tail can mat much more easily than the hair on other parts of the body, it’s important to regularly brush their tail and wash it occasionally.
To Dock or Not To Dock? Do What’s Best For Your Poodle
While individuals may certainly have strong feelings one way or another of whether to dock a Poodle’s tail, it’s an important decision that you as the pet owner must make when a new puppy comes into your life. In most cases, particularly for dogs that are welcomed into family homes as pets and friendly companions, docking the tail has become a fairly unnecessary process. Especially if you plan on keeping your dog active, a full tail can help in a variety of ways in their mobility and agility.
The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend docking a Poodle’s tail for cosmetic reasons. They suggest that the process is painful and fairly unnecessary for a puppy to endure. There is also the potential for the procedure to go wrong, which can certainly add to the discomfort and difficulty of the docking procedure.
In any case, do what you feel right is for your dog when determining whether or not to dock their tail. Do your research about the overall pros and cons of your specific situation. Consider their future and the purpose of docking. With those key factors in mind, move forward in raising a happy, healthy Poodle puppy.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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