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The American Kennel Club recognizes tail docking as an acceptable practice for dogs. A veterinarian should always perform the procedure, as it's painful and must be performed perfectly to avoid damage to the nervous system.
History of Tail Docking
Romans believed amputating tails would combat rabies. In ancient times, some poor people were not permitted to hunt so would dock their dog’s tails to prevent them from chasing animals. Conversely, other cultures believed tail docking made dogs faster and more agile. The most notable reason to dock a dog’s tail is to prevent working dogs from injuring themselves; long tails can get in the way, so must be shortened so the dogs can work safely. The AKC has recognized tail docking as a standard procedure since the organization was founded in 1884.
The AKC's Position on Tail Docking
The AKC considers tail docking an acceptable animal husbandry practice that preserves breed character and promotes optimal health. According to the AKC, tail docking is not animal cruelty, nor should it be banned. It's the organization's belief that the practice is not for aesthetic value, but rather allows the animal to perform its duties. They use police dogs as an example, stating that docking tails helps police dogs maneuver more easily.