Updated: Mar 25
The practice of docking the tails of Standard Poodles has a long history dating back to the 18th century. Docking, the surgical removal of a portion of a dog's tail, was originally done to Standard Poodles to improve their appearance and make them more desirable for the show ring. The practice was also believed to improve the dog's swimming ability, as it was thought that a shorter tail would make the dog more streamlined in the water.
In the early days of the breed, Standard Poodles were used as water retrievers and were often used for hunting. The theory was that docking their tails would make them more efficient swimmers, allowing them to retrieve game in the water better. However, it's now known that a dog's tail serves an important purpose in balance and communication; many animal welfare organizations have criticized the practice of tail docking.
There are some arguments in favor of tail docking. Proponents argue that it can prevent tail injuries in working dogs, such as those used for hunting or herding, as a docked tail is less likely to get caught or injured. Tail docking can also prevent certain medical conditions, such as tail infections or injuries.
However, there are also many arguments against tail docking and whether or not it is cruel or necessary. The procedure is done when puppies are only a few days old, so it is unlikely that they remember the pain of the procedure, however, it isn't to be discounted that it is indeed a painful procedure. The instance of tail injury due to a hunting accident is very low when real data is studied. So in our current day in age, the procedure is mainly done for looks rather than to improve function.
Many countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and parts of Canada, have banned tail docking as it is considered inhumane. In the United States, tail docking is legal. Some states have banned the practice altogether, while others have put restrictions on when and how it can be done.
At Rebecca Creek Retrievers, we do not condemn the procedure completely. We have chosen to dock tails on some of our Standard Poodle litters because some puppies would be selected to compete in dog shows. Having a docked tail gives a Standard Poodle a competitive edge in the show ring when up against other Standard Poodles with docked tails.
We typically choose to leave natural tails on our Standard Poodles. The brown and white part poodle pictured above has a natural tail. Natural tails are beautiful and fun! Dogs use their tails to express emotion and help with balance when running and swimming. We love our Standard Poodles' natural tails!
In conclusion, tail docking is a controversial practice that has a long history in the Standard Poodle breed. While it was initially done to improve the dog's appearance and swimming ability, it is now known that tail docking is primarily a cosmetic procedure. Many animal welfare organizations and countries have banned the practice, while others have regulated it. If you are considering a Standard Poodle, it is crucial to consider the pros and cons of tail docking before making a decision.