NATURAL ROTTWEILER TAILS
What is tail docking?
Tail docking today is the amputation of a dog's tail at varying lengths to suit the recommendations of a breed standard. Docking involves the amputation of the puppy's tail either with scissors, a knife or with a rubber band (called banding). The cut goes through many highly sensitive nerves in the tissues including skin, cartilage, and bone. This procedure is usually performed without any anesthetic at between three to five days of age. The procedure can be performed by either a registered veterinary surgeon or by an experienced dog breeder. In many countries veterinarians are declining to perform this unnecessary procedure, meaning that breeders are now docking more dogs
What is a Breed Standard?
For every breed of dog, there is a 'breed standard'. A breed standard is a written description of what the 'ideal' specimen of that breed should be. The standard describes the dog's physical characteristics such as physical appearance, structure and movement, as well as acceptable temperament. The standards also describe the function for which the breed was originated which gives breeders a large clue as to why their chosen breeds look and act as they do. The standard is what keeps a breed looking and acting like what we enthusiasts have come to love! Without this blueprint, these breeding guidelines that tell us what our dogs should look and act like, our Rottweilers could look like Doberman, Labradors or Mastiffs or have the personality of a Greyhound! Breeders use this standard as a 'blueprint' for the dogs they breed, much as builders follow blueprints for a building that they are constructing. They attempt to produce a dog that most closely conforms to the 'ideal'...the dog that the breed standard describes.
Who is the Guardian of the Breed Standard?
The FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) is the World Canine Organization. Founded in 1911 by Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, the aims of the F.C.I. are to encourage and promote breeding and use of purebred dogs whose functional health and physical features meet the standard set for each respective breed and which are capable of working and accomplishing functions in accordance with the specific characteristics of their breed; to protect the use, keeping and breeding of dogs in the member countries; to support free exchange of dogs and cynological information between member countries and initiate the organization of exhibitions and tests.Today the FCI has 80 member countries. There are 335 dog breeds recognized by the FCI. Each breed is owned by one member country. The owner country writes the standards of the breed. As the Rottweiler breed originated in Germany, they are the 'owner country' of the Rottweiler. As a result, the ADRK (Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub), has the sole right and responsibility to set, maintain and revise the breed standard for the Rottweiler worldwide. Each national kennel club for each country, issues their own registration papers, certified pedigrees and trains/licenses their own judges. The FCI also mandates breeding rules and a Code of Ethics to be followed by breeders of each member country. The FCI is responsible for translation and updates of standards. The standards as well as the international regulations are available in four languages (English, Spanish, German and French). Dogs are shows are judged based upon their written standard.
Why do Rottweilers now have natural tails?
In 1999 the country of Germany passed a federal law that made it illegal to dock a dog's tail or crop a dog's ears. The basis for this law was the fact that the practice of docking and cropping was deemed to be inhumane. In order to comply with the new federal law requiring tails to be left in their natural state, the ADRK (national breed club in Gemany) revised their breed standard for the Rottweiler to reflect the required natural tail. The FCI translated and adopted the new breed standard and gave all FCI member countries several years to comply with the new breed standard. ADRK TAIL STANDARD A docked Rottweiler does not conform to the current FCI breed standard. As each FCI member country finalizes their adoption of the new breed standard, Rottweiler breeders in those countries will no longer be allowed to dock and docked Rottweilers will be disqualified at shows and prohibited from breeding. The AKC (American Kennel Club) is not a member of the FCI. AKC does not follow any of the rules and regulations set by the FCI for the rest of the world and they do not follow the breed standards set by the countries of origin...in this case the ADRK in Germany. The AKC Breed Standard for the Rottweiler has always deviated from the FCI standard and they are currently struggling to deal with the breed standard regarding the tail. Also as a result, if the American Rottweiler Klub (AKC parent club for the Rottweiler in the US), does not comply with the new FCI standard for the Rottweilers requiring the tail by the year 2011, the ARC will lose its membership status with the IFR (International Federation of Rottweilerfriends). There are a number of Rottweiler breeders in the United States, including Germanenstolz Rottweilers, that follow the FCI Standard for the Rottweiler.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Associations position on tail docking 'The WSAVA considers amputation of dogs' tails to be an unnecessary surgical procedure and contrary to the welfare of the dog. The WSAVA recommends that all canine organizations phase out any recommendations for tail amputation (docking) from their breed standards. The WSAVA recommends that the docking of dogs tails be made illegal except for professionally diagnosed therapeutic reasons, and only then by suitably qualified persons, such as registered veterinarians, under conditions of anesthesia that minimize pain and stress.'
Is tail docking painful for the puppy?
Yes, there is strong evidence that this is the case. The puppy has a fully developed nervous system and a well-developed sense of pain. Puppies scream during the procedure and they whimper, whine and cry for 2-3 days following docking. During the recovery stage they do not eat well and tend to gain weight at a slower rate than undocked puppies. Many veterinarians condemn the practice and refuse to perform the procedure because it is totally unnecessary and can lead to serious complications. Some veterinarians continue perform tail amputation reluctantly in order to keep the procedure under professional supervision, please their clients and to minimize the risk to the pups.
Does tail docking prevent tail injuries?
The vast majority of dog breeds have natural tails. There is no movement in natural tailed breeds to remove the tail in order to prevent injuries. When tails remain intact, there are no more tail injuries in breeds that were customarily docked than in other breeds of dog.
Can docking cause health issues?
There is considerable scientific evidence that docking can lead to complications, including hemorrhage, infection and occasionally death of the puppy. In later life the stump of the tail may be painful due to the formation of neuroma (nerve tissue scar) in the stump. This also occurs following amputation of limbs in people and causes considerable discomfort. Dogs have evolved into their current shape over many thousands of years. If a tail were not useful to a dog, natural selection would have eliminated it long ago. Indeed, tails have many useful functions and are important for balance and body language among other things.
Are tailed Rottweilers different?
Absolutely not! In fact once people get used to seeing dogs with their naturaltails, they often forget the Rottweiler was a docked breed in the first place. Once you own a tailed Rottweiler it is hard to understand why the tails of this breed were ever amputated in the first place. They use their tails constantly for balance, agility, expression and communication. What we find is a very good difference is the public perception of the breed! Awagging tail in and of itself lends to a much friendlier picture of the breed in general. In a day and age where this breed faces severe discrimination by insurance companies and local, city and state governments and the ever devastating breed bans that are plaguing us here in the US, the tail precipitating a friendlier look can only reflect positively for the breed!
American Veterinary Medical Association Position Statement on Tail Docking (as of June 2005)
'This procedure is typically done on puppies between 3 and 5 days of age. No anesthetic is involved, and the tails are docked to an appropriate length for the breed. Some of the breeds normally docked include the Rottweiler, Doberman pincer, Boxer, Schnauzer, Miniature pincer, Toy Fox Terrier (amongst other terrier breeds), Corgi, Poodle, and Sckipperke to name a few.This procedure is much preferred done while the puppies are less than a week of age. Afterwards, the puppy has to wait until it is of age appropriate for anesthesia, which is much more involving a procedure, with a much longer healing process. There is also associated pain with the procedure when done on an older animal, and complications include bleeding, premature stitch removal by the dog, poor healing of the area, spinal and rectal complications and more chances for scarring to occur. Docking is best left undone if beyond the age of 5-7 days. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has recently made a statement with regards to cosmetic tail docking in the dog. Essentially, and ultimately the AVMA would like to see this type of cosmetic procedure discontinued for cosmetic purposes only.'
*Courtesy Von Den Dreibergen Rottweilers.