Injuries of docked vs. intact tails - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

Below is an interesting study out of the UK on tail injuries.


Dogs with docked tails significantly less likely to sustain tail injuries says Veterinary Record

Dogs with docked tails are significantly less likely to sustain tail injuries, finds research published in this week’s Veterinary Record.

Among the 138,212 dogs seen by vets at the 52 practices during the study period, 281 were treated for a tail injury.

The owners of 224 of these injured dogs, as well as a random sample of 799 owners whose dogs had not been treated for tail injury were sent a questionnaire on dog tail injuries and docking.

Only 97 of the owners whose dogs needed treatment and 227 of those whose dogs had not been injured replied.

But their responses indicated that around one in three tail injuries (36%; 35 cases) had occurred at home as a result of the dog knocking its tail against a wall, kennel wall or other household object.

A further 17.5% (17 cases) were sustained outdoors, while 14.4% (14 cases) were caused by the tail being caught in a door. In 15 (15.5%) other causes were cited; and in 16 (16.5%), the cause was unknown. Almost half of the injuries (44%) were recurrent.

Over half the cases were treated with drugs and dressings, but in almost one in three cases, amputation was required. Eleven dogs did not need any treatment.

Certain breeds seemed to be more at risk, with springer and cocker spaniels almost six times as likely to sustain a tail injury as labradors and retrievers.

Greyhounds, lurchers, and whippets were almost seven times as likely to do so, possibly because of the lack of protective hair on their tails, say the authors. Dogs with a wide angle of wag were also almost four times as likely to be injured in this way, while dogs kept in kennels were more than 3.5 times as likely to sustain a tail injury.

Only 35 owners said their dogs had had their tail docked, and on the basis of their overall findings, the authors calculated that tail docking would reduce the risk of injury by 12%.

PLEASE REMEMBER that the 281 dogs with damaged tails were from just 52 veterinary practices. According to the RCVS there are 3000 verified vet practices in the UK. If these 52 were representative of them all, then circa 16,000 dogs would have suffered tail injuries in the UK for that 12 month period and circa 5,000 would have undergone adult tail amputation! Even if it were 50% of this figure, this is nothing short of a scandal, resulting from an Act of Parliament that was designed to protect the welfare of animals.

The CDB responded as follows;

The Council Of Docked Breeds would like to congratulate the team on undertaking what appears to be an excellent study. We ourselves appreciate that collating worthwhile data from dog owners who are experiencing tail damage is not a simple task, due to their minds being concentrated on getting the dog well again and not on filling out paperwork. The data available to the research team is impressive.

Having said that, the timing of the research seems to be too early to establish the true effect of the tail docking ban which came into force early 2007. The research was carried out during March 2008 and March 2009 and tail damage cases were defined as any dog presented to veterinary practices within the previous 12 months (just as the ban had begun). The mean age of the controls was 4.2 years old and of the tail damage cases 3.8 years old, so the majority of dogs recorded were born before the ban came into force, when tail damage cases are expected to be far lower than since the ban.

It is our experience that damage is less likely to occur in undocked dogs before they have reached the age of twelve to eighteen months. Traditionally docked breeds ceased being docked early 2007 and the number of undocked examples being born slowly increased initially. At the time of the research, the new influx of previously docked breeds were still too young to add to the number of tail damage cases to get a true picture. The study accepts that it does not reflect differences in the risk due to the legislation.

We also note that there were 281 tail injuries recorded from a population of 138,212 dogs attending the 52 participating practises. From this it was deduced that the risk of tail damage was just 0.2% or that 500 docked dogs would only prevent 1 tail damage case. Unfortunately, this simply shows the risk as a percentage of the total dog population and does not represent the risk to undocked dogs in previously docked breeds. Conversely, a number of breeds shown to damage their tails were breeds which have NOT historically been docked.

We read with interest that undocked dogs were most likely to damage their tail in the home and that dogs which were NOT worked would be just as likely to damage their tails, both points have been put forward by the CDB for many years.

To gauge the full effect of the legislation, a repeat study would be required comparing only dogs in those breeds which were traditionally docked before the ban, were born AFTER the ban and the percentage of those that required veterinary attention to their new long tails.

This study was a giant leap forward but unfortunately, not breed specific and too early to evaluate the extent to which tail docking reduces the risk of tail damage in Great Britain, one of its primary aims.

"I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life." - R. Reagan
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 03:02 PM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

RDB, you do find interesting reading material.

All my setters have lost some protective hair on the tips of their tails, but fortunately, no damage to the tail itself. Fortunately none of them beat their tails raw during hunting season.

Looks like one more benefit to a V .... less grooming and less chance of damage to the tail.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 06:45 PM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

Yes, it sure was interesting, although I'm not quite sure what to make of it all.

For purely selfish reasons, I like the look of an undocked tail. To me, it seems more expressive. Willie is the first dog I've ever had with a docked tail. So he can be just a-waggin' away, but that short tail is not quite as theatrical as a full tail. Willie seems to compensate for that by wagging his whole body. HA-Ha-ha!

Really, though, if docking prevents future injuries and discomfort for the dog, I'm all for it. If it's just a cosmetic, vanity kind of thing, well of course not. I do kind of wish Willie had a full tail... but then I would have to keep my coffee tables cleared off so he wouldn't do it for me.

Have you ever seen a Doberman without cropped ears? It's a whole different look, and very beautiful.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 11:38 PM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails


Jasper's breeder does a very nice dock, IMO, but I've seen some Vizslas with really very short tails--barely longer than a Weim's tail, for example. Too short for me. Because it's such a funny length to dock, I know there can be quite a bit of variation in the final length of the tail, but I'm sometimes very surprised by how much tail a breeder might remove.

I prefer the length of Jasper's (he looks more balanced)--that thing is like a whip, sometimes! I would be interested to hear if any V owners here with undocked tails have noticed a higher propensity towards tail injuries.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 12:01 AM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

Originally Posted by redrover
I'm sometimes very surprised by how much tail a breeder might remove.
Maybe they were drunk and estimated poorly how much tail is removed. Sam's breeder mentioned how unpleasant the experience is. Dew claws included

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 08:26 AM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails


There is a thread about tail injuries here

Update on Stella's tail....the hair has still not grown back and the end of her tail is hard scar tissue which is even more painful to be whipped with !
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 08:28 AM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

Interesting. Keep your sources as the fight here in the USA is well underway. I have spoken to a breeder, Westminster entry last year, who said in 10yrs it will be widely accepted (if not law) for dogs to show with no tail docking. One of the reasons the practice started with Vs is for benefits in the field, certainly injury. We can all debate the benefits of tail docking in non working/sporting dogs, but the good intentions of animal rights (just like "free" insurance for all) can have serious unintended consequences. Thanks, Rod.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 11:47 AM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

Honestly when my Fiance' told me the our breeder had the tails docked,
I wasn't happy, Actually I was pissed. lol However, I was under the impression it was a "knub" like smaller dogs get leaving a mere inch...

When I realized it was a "Long" dock I was much happier. I think it's a great look, Even though I know it's more functional than for looks. For refrence, Here's our docked 6month Di Vinci. I can easily see it providing a safer future with less chance of injury to the tails end.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-12-2011, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

The discussion is old and there are members here on this forum that have both docked and undocked Vizslas.

Is PETA and other "animal rights" groups correct that docking is a cruel act on dogs? I don't think they are. The article able shows why not.

Enjoy your weekend with your dogs. Off hunting for pheasant.



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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 04:15 AM
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Re: Injuries of docked vs. intact tails

I know this is an old thread, but I don't know if it's bad forum etiquette to wake it back up again. Please tell me if it is!

Morris wagged the tip of his tail bare by banging it off things, now the raw part has a little hard pad on it, just recently he's got a little cut on it which is decorating our house nicely for us. The OH is concerned people are going to wonder what we get up to if they come over before we've noticed it and run around with a cloth!

I was anti-docking because of the stories you hear and I also love the look of the long tail, but I'm starting to see why it could be beneficial to a non-working dog, as the strength of his wag means I wince when he walks around the house. It sounds like a drunk percussion section.

Any tips on how to heal a tail tip once damaged? We're putting plasters around it for a bit of protection, but I think it needs more than that. A mixture of oil and something? Any suggestions?

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