Natural Tail vs. Docked Tail

To keep a tail or to dock a tail… that is the question. Breeders can debate over and over whether or not a Rottweiler should have a tail. There is no real answer to this question. People can prefer one or the other based on their lifestyle or purpose for their Rottweiler, but there is […]

Natural Tail vs. Docked Tail
To keep a tail or to dock a tail… that is the question. Breeders can debate over and over whether or not a Rottweiler should have a tail. There is no real answer to this question. People can prefer one or the other based on their lifestyle or purpose for their Rottweiler, but there is no long term health benefit by doing one or the other. There is only cosmetic, financial, and social differences.




My Preference…


We wanted to let everyone know our position on Rottweiler tails. At the current time, we follow AKC standards and dock tails on all our Rottweiler litters. Until AKC changes our standard, we will continue to dock tails. I get calls all the time from customers asking if we would be willing to keep a puppy with a tail for them to purchase. The answer is no. We dock all puppies. It is what it is. There are many breeders out there who keep natural tails if that is what you prefer.


I do have a waiting list for my puppies. I sell my puppies to all 50 US States as well as internationally. When I receive multiple international customers, I keep them together until I am able to fulfill all of them from a single litter. In this scenario only, I will keep the entire litter with tails for the sole purpose of my international clientele. If my international buyers wanted to compete with their Rottweiler, they may be unable to compete with a docked tail in their country. This is the only scenario where I keep tails on a litter.


As I stated above, my overall preference is a docked tail. I live in the United States and I follow the AKC standards. I fell in love with the Rottweiler breed and its docked tail. This is simply my personal preference. I have several other reasons for this preference as well. This does not mean that I am against natural tails. There are many scenarios where a natural tail may benefit an “uneducated” owner. I am going to share some of these different views below.




Is It Cruel…


People can debate the cruelty factors of docking tails forever. There is tons of literature out there that is used to persuade the reader to believe one way or another. I have read articles that said cropping a Rottweiler’s tail is painless because they do not have any nerves in their tails the first week or two after birth. Other articles will say the complete opposite, stating puppies have no pain if their tails are docked within the first week of life. What I do know is when a Rottweiler puppy’s tail is clipped, yes, he or she does holler. I do notice that the puppies cry minimally at 2-3 days of age as opposed to 4+ days of age. Some breeders many choose to dock a puppy’s tail several days later due to a particular puppy’s strength or overall health. Puppies may cry when their bottom is bumped by another puppy. A good mother does lick the area regularly, keeping the wound clean. As a result, the docked tails heal very quickly. From my experience, I have learned that tail docking is not 100% painless. However, it tells me that the earlier a tail is docked, the less pain the puppy encounters. As a result, I make it a point to dock my puppy tails within the first 72 hours of birth.




Better Balance…


There are many breeders in the USA who now keep natural tails exclusively. Many breeders claim a natural tail improves the Rottweiler’s overall balance. I can tell you this; the Rottweiler has always been a working breed. Rottweilers have been able to perform services since the breed was created. Over the past twenty plus years, I have owned many Rottweilers with docked tails and with natural tails. I can honestly say that keeping a tail does not improve overall balance. I have noticed no difference at all when it comes to overall daily life, running, working, showing, or providing services. This is a myth that was created to help convince a customer to purchase their pup with a natural tail over another breeder’s puppy with a docked tail. It is that simple. If we are going to be 100% honest, there are many breeders who keep natural tails for the sole purpose of saving money. An entire litter can easily cost $300-$600 to have their tails and dew claws removed. I have seen veterinarians charge even higher in some places.




Let Me Stress…


Just as I prefer a docked tail, there are professional breeders who prefer natural tails. For those breeders, they are choosing to keep tails because that is there preference. I respect that. I have a problem with the breeders who are keeping tails for the sole purpose of saving money and try to educate customers on false physical and health benefits of a tail.






As we explained above, there are many breeders in the USA who keep natural tails on their Rottweiler puppies. I am aware of breeders informing their customers of the option to dock their puppy’s tail after 8 weeks of age, if they prefer the docked look. I have heard this fact from both customers and breeders themselves. If you are unaware, there are many vets in the USA that will remove an 8 week old puppy’s tail. Personally, I think this is extremely cruel and pointless. At this age, removing a tail is major surgery. I personally visualize this procedure as an amputation and I think it should not be allowed. That is just my opinion. If you do not want a tail, purchase a puppy with a docked tail. I do not put all the blame on the customer, because it is usually the breeder who suggests this option to push a sale. This is what disturbs me. If you choose to keep natural tails, you should only sell your puppies to homes that are looking for a natural tail. I do not believe any breeder should ever encourage an amputation. This is a sick and cruel example of putting a puppy’s life at risk for no medical purpose, but for the purpose of cosmetics only. This is what I do not agree with.




Natural Tail…


What I want to discuss is a scenario where a natural tail would benefit a person, due to their lack of education of the breed. Unfortunately, the beautiful Rottweiler breed had a bad reputation ten to twenty years ago. I am proud to say that people are seeing the true beauty of the Rottweiler breed, due to responsible breeding. However, you will always have those few who simply know nothing about the breed and choose to breed anyhow for a quick buck. Occasionally, you may hear of a Rottweiler bite and/or attack on the news. This is very disturbing to me as a Rottweiler breeder. It has brought us to the point of local governments deciding whether or not to ban some breeds indefinitely in their specific states. Now this is another argument for another day. But consider the following… Rottweilers attack for two reasons primarily. First, a Rottweiler can attack simply because he is aggressive due to a lack of socialization or poor breeding. Second, a Rottweiler can attack because he is scared, again, due to a lack of socialization or poor breeding. Now, if you were approaching a dog and he was snarling and barking at you, you would walk away right? It would be clear to you that this dog was aggressive. Well, what if you approach a dog and he is scared? Would you be able to tell? Let’s say he is bowing down and lowering his head. You might think he is inviting you to pet his head. So you reach out your arm to pet him or her and OH MY GOODNESS, you get bit or possibly attacked. What happened? Maybe you did not see it because he did NOT have a tail. If he had a tail, you could see it curled in between his legs and you would have known he was scared, and feeling very threatened. Instead, this dog attacked you to protect himself, because HE was scared. Now I know this is not the case in all bite cases, but I think a tail might have helped prevent SOME bite cases. I also think we all agree some is better than none.


Can our loved look of a docked tail be hurting the breed? It can only hurt the breed if they are in the hands of uneducated owners. Is the breeder responsible? I would like to think that the majority of Rottweiler breeders are professional and do their best to produce well tempered, sound Rottweilers. However, it is not only our job to produce sound Rottweilers, but to find the right home environment for each puppy. This includes screening families, having phone interviews, and making sure each customer is educated on the Rottweiler breed. Or, should buyers be more responsible? Nobody should have a dog if they cannot put the time into socializing and training their dog. This is important to both the dog’s health and to others. Even a perfectly bred puppy can attack as an adult if they are scared and never received any form of socialization or training as a youth. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to provide the necessary training to make your dog a social and well tempered citizen of the community. The breeder is simply providing a solid foundation for you to build on.




Dock Please…


As a pet owner and a professional breeder, I have other reasons for preferring a docked tail. As a pet owner, I personally love the look as I have already stressed above. I think it gives the Rottweiler a clean and distinct look. Being a dog lover in general, I have owned dogs in the past that have had natural tails. As you may know, those things can be a weapon, especially if you have a happy dog. LOL. Now imagine how that feels to a toddler. So as a parent, I can tell you that my three sons also benefited from the docked tail. As a person who likes to display knick-knacks on my coffee table, I can tell you that I have had a few fly balls across the room when my dog started swinging his furry baseball bat. As a breeder, the tail can be very disgusting during whelping, to put it lightly. The last thing you want is bodily fluids flying around the room. So for simple hygiene and cleanliness reasons, the docked tail continues to tip my scale of preference.




Who Knew…


I have many people who have come by and looked at my dogs. Most people are amazed with their personality and beauty and completely overlook whether or not my dog had a tail. I have had numerous people say, I did not even notice the tail. Personally, I think too many first-time Rottweiler owners dwell on the tail too much and when they actually receive their puppy, it is not as big of a deal as they imagined.






I think tails are great and are excellent for showing an inexperienced person a dog’s emotion. However, I still love the look of the docked tail on a Rottweiler. That is one feature that made me fall in love with the Rottweiler breed over 20 years ago. I am not trying to persuade you one way or another. I am simply trying to let you see pros and cons of the Rottweiler tail.


The law banning all forms of docking and clipping was passed in Germany in 1999. Now in 2017, the majority of countries follow FCI standards. I do believe all forms of docking or clipping of all breeds will eventually be banned across the globe, including the great USA. Whether it does or not, we hope people can learn to accept the Rottweiler with or without a tail. Tails do not affect a Rottweiler’s beautiful personality. If you are basing your purchase on whether or not a Rottweiler has a tail, this is ridiculous. Base your decision on the Rottweiler’s pedigree, Sire and Dam, temperament, personality, beauty, but NOT their tail. We simply love the Rottweiler breed unconditionally, tail or no tail, and hope you can too.


Written by Liz Gutierrez