Natural vs. a Docked Tail Entail?

The Truth About Rottweiler Tails: What Does Having a Natural vs. a Docked Tail Entail?


Close your eyes and imagine a dog. Now, make a mental note of every part you remember in your mind. We’d bet one of them is definitely their tails, right?

Understandable. It is no secret that our dogs use their tails as a way to communicate with us and with other dogs or animals. A dog wagging its tail is one of the most common images used in media to depict the friendliness and loyalty of dogs.

Now close your eyes again. This time, imagine a specific dog breed, a Rottweiler. Make a mental note of its appearance. Can you describe how their tails look like? Is it long or short? We’d bet you’re having a hard time remembering especially if you’re not a dog breeder or expert. Looking back in your mind’s eye, you’ve probably realized how you’ve seen both Rottweilers with tails and Rottweilers without tails.

And the fact that you found this article is a giveaway that you’ve been asking yourself which way is better or if keeping or docking a Rottweiler’s tail makes a big difference at all.

To be honest, we can’t answer that for you. There are perks and downsides of both types of tails. And your decision will rest upon your own judgement of you and your dog’s situation.

However, what we can do here is lay down some relevant information for you to be able to make an informed decision.

So, to begin let’s find out…

Why tails are docked

If you’ve done prior research on the Rottweiler breed, you already know that the American Kennel Club includes a docked tail in their breed standards for Rottweilers.

Tail docking is a way of altering the length of a dog’s tail for a variety of reasons. Historically, Rottweilers’ tails were docked for practical reasons like preventing tail injuries as the breed is a working type which sees a great deal of rigorous physical activities. Fighting breeds also used tail docking to reduce weak points in a dog. There was also a time when tail docking was thought to improve a dog’s back strength, speed and to avoid the risk of rabies. Most of these beliefs have been dispelled though.

A lot of people still practice tail docking today. Some for the reasons mentioned above, most for cosmetic purposes. Hey, some people really like the look and we respect that.

Now a lot of debate has been going on for years regarding tail docking and the ethics that surround it. One side feels like some breeders and owners cause their dogs unnecessary pain by subjecting them to the operation especially if docking is done solely for cosmetic purposes. Meanwhile, the other side stands by following the breed standards. A lot of articles are going around in the Internet defending one side or the other. Germany, the Rottweiler breed’s country of origin, has even banned all forms of tail docking.

As long-time breeders, we see the merit in both keeping a Rottweiler’s natural tail and docking it. What we are against is the improper way of doing it. Which brings us to the question…

Is tail docking cruel?

This is a hard question to answer. What we can tell you for sure is that while tail docking can never be 100% painless, there are some methods which would result in the least amount of pain to puppies.

For one, getting a puppy’s tail docked as early as possible will result in lesser pain inflicted on it. Some even recommend that puppies should be docked not more than 72 hours after their birth. However, it should also be noted that breeders should evaluate a certain puppy’s overall health and strength before doing the operation. And, of course, the operation should only be done by a veterinarian.

Now, here’s some bad news. Since some think paying a veterinarian for docking tails on puppies is too expensive for some breeders, some may resort to having non-professionals do it. Thus, putting a puppy’s life at great risk. So, if you do choose to buy Rottweiler with a docked tail, make sure that the breeder you’re buying from had it done by a professional.

As for the American Kennel Club’s side, it still sees tail docking as an acceptable practice in preserving a breed’s character and enhancing their good health. However, plenty of other dog organizations in other countries think otherwise and have consequently banned all forms of tail docking whether for routine, preventive and especially cosmetic purposes.

Countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Turkey have banned tail docking. Others have made exceptions for certain breeds (working dogs). People believe that more and more countries will eventually implement laws against tail docking in the future.

Reasons to dock your Rottweiler’s tail

As previously mentioned, there are people who simply like the look of a docked tail on a Rottweiler and we respect that as long as the operation was done under proper circumstances. For decades, Rottweilers have had their tails docked making it an identifying feature of the breed until today. A Rottweiler with a tail is simply not the same for some.

Meanwhile, other owners choose to dock their Rottweilers’ tails in order to avoid and reduce injury. This assumption has been proven correct by a study conducted by the University of Glasgow. According to the results, dogs whose tails were docked at a young age were at a smaller risk of being affected by tail-related injuries. It is important to note though that the study only focused on working-type dog breeds. For example, guard dogs may be vulnerable to having their tails grabbed to stop its attack. Meanwhile, hunting dogs may injure their tails while in the under bush. There are also some people who believe that working dog breeds who don’t necessarily work physically-demanding jobs can suffer from similar risks and thus, opt to dock their dogs’ tails as well.

Another reason why people dock their dogs’ tails is due to hygiene issues. If you’re a dog owner, you know how animated a dog’s tail can get. Thus, it becomes a part of the body that’s constantly getting into dirty places or knocking over things around the house. Add that to a household with plenty of small children and you’d have a constant mess that will need to be cleaned up. As a busy parent, you certainly won’t have the time for that and might choose to opt for tail docking instead.

For argument’s sake, there are also people who believe that dogs aren’t put at a disadvantage by losing their tails. Some have gone far enough to say that dogs don’t really need their tails as docked dogs seem to have no problems with communicating and going about their normal activities. However, these largely remain unproven by research and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Of course, there are breeders who want to follow breeding standards. The American Kennel Club still includes a docked tail in their official description of the Rottweiler breed. However, this is frowned upon by critics as this reason ends up being for cosmetic purposes alone.

Reasons to keep your Rottweiler’s natural tail

Now, let’s see what the other side has to say about the perks of keeping your dog’s natural tail.

Perhaps the best argument against tail docking non-working Rottweilers is that having a full tail does not make much of a difference in their behavior or physical abilities at all. Thus, subjecting them to the tail docking procedure may just be for nothing.

Although some claim that a docked tail increases a Rottweiler’s speed or strength or balance, we can tell you from experience that that is not the case. We have noticed no difference at all between Rottweilers with docked or natural tails when it comes to running, working, daily and even showing.

Such claims are just misconceptions that some breeders might have propagated in order to sell a puppy with a natural tail over one with a docked tail and vice versa. The truth is that, if you’re looking to buy a Rottweiler puppy as a pet and companion, its tail shouldn’t be much of an issue at all.

Another argument for keeping a Rottweiler’s natural tail is that they use it, like other dogs, to communicate with you and other people. It’s a convenient way for both of you to communicate emotions like happiness, excitement or distress. Although you can still decipher these through their body language, a way a dog’s tail moves or is positioned will make it easier.
For example, some people believe that a good deal of Rottweiler attacks is just a result of miscommunication between a tailless dog and another person. A person might mistake a Rottweiler’s fear as aggression and respond accordingly putting the Rottweiler from a defense mindset to an attack one. If the ‘aggressive dog’ had a tail, a person would be more equipped to know that a lowered tail is a sign of fear instead of aggression.

Keeping natural tails may also be a way for breeders to save on some money. Getting an entire Rottweiler puppy litter’s tails docked may cost around $300-$600 (including declawing). It may even easily cost more depending on the veterinarian that will do the procedure.

Having read all these arguments favoring one tail over the other, we would like to reiterate that the final decision is still up to you. But should decide on keeping your puppy’s tail, check out our policy below.

Our tail docking policy at King Rottweilers

As a rule, we follow the American Kennel Club’s breed standards and dock our Rottweilers’ tails. But we can still accommodate clients who request that their dog’s tail be kept. Just be sure to follow these conditions:

  • You are pick of the litter or the reservation above you also reserves a tailed puppy
  • Your First deposit is $500.00
  • Final Payment is due BEFORE we dock tails on the litter

However, be warned that it will be your responsibility to send your payments in on time. Failure to do so will result in your puppy having their tail docked. This serves as a reminder for us as well as ensuring you still want your puppy with a tail.
Also, be reminded that you are NOT paying any extra for a tailed puppy, it is the same price as all our other puppies. You are paying for the picking order, the pedigree and everything else that everyone else is paying for.
Should you have any questions regarding our tail docking policy, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

In conclusion

Tail aren’t as important as we think in the greater scheme of things. Perhaps what we should be focusing more on is getting to know the Rottweiler breed in order to make us more equipped with caring for them. Research about its history, learn about its temperament, how to properly raise and care for them, among other things.

In the end, tail or tailless, we should love and care for our Rottweilers (and dogs in general) as unconditionally as we can.