We Love Our Aussie's With Tails!
A 2020 Maverick Baby
Our WYATT at 6mo. old!
PURPOSE: Dog's tails, and their dew claws, are designed with great purpose. They express their emotions with their tails, and communicate to other K-9s. A tail is a dog's rudder while swimming, and warmth when curled up at night. Their tails aide them in jumping, running, and balance. Depriving a dog from their God given tail hinders them in multiple areas... like amputating the humans big toe to prevent it from being stubbed in the future. Front Dew Claws provide extra traction, stabilize the 'wrist' joint and act as a thumb when they are holding a toy or a bone and it is literally like removing their thumb. Rear dew claws, when present, however, do not appear to have any purpose, they are not attached to a joint and are usually hanging by skin. These REAR dew claws can be safely removed during the Neuter/Spay procedure if you ask your veterinarian to do so.
We have personally reared pups in the same litter, some docked, the rest natural, and the docked tail pups showed signs of additional stress for over 2 weeks. As mom does not stop licking at the sites of removal. Over the course of about 12 litters and 5 years, we've seen a correlation of these specific Aussies, show more tendencies towards nervousness or anxiety when they underwent the procedures in a veterinarians office (not sure if that is more, or less, stressful than breeders who do it themselves at home.)
Read or watch below if you're interested in the history behind the amputation of tails and dew claws in Aussies, it really is quite foolish for us to continue this 'tradition'...
Do Australian Shepherds Have Tails?
Bobbed Tail vs. Normal Tail
Written by John Carter in Dog Breeds
Have you been spending time looking at delightful pictures of Aussies online and noticed something strange about their booties? Are you curious to know whether Australian Shepherds are naturally tailless?
Australian Shepherds definitely have tails! The only question should be whether they’re visible or not. Almost 30 countries have already banned procedures resulting in docking of tails, declaws and the cropping of ears.
Australian Shepherd Tail Docking: Why Do Breeders Dock Aussie Tails?
First, let’s define docking as the surgical removal of several portions of an animal’s tail. Traditionally, farmers and ranchers cut off the tails of their Australian Shepherds to make them pass as sheep-dogs and reduce tail injuries during herding or hunting.
However, as the kennel club was established in the mid-1880s, tail docking among Aussies has been done more often to meet this breed’s standard and for cosmetic purposes.
Here is a list of the common reasons why breeders dock Australian Puppies’ tails:
To meet Kennel Clubs standard of the breed which indicates that purebred Australian Shepherd tails should not exceed four inches.
Undocked tails can be too long and messy that it can easily get matted and tangled.
Although tail docking has long been a practice for most Australian Shepherd enthusiasts and even accepted as the standard for kennel clubs for purebred Australian Shepherds, there have been rising oppositions to this practice recently.
For instance, the American Veterinary and Medical Association (AVMA) strongly opposes cosmetic tail docking because they believe that the practice is not medically indicated. Rather, it’s simply performing an unnecessary surgical procedure for appearance purposes.
The History of Tail Docking
Tail docking is believed to have originated from the Romans. They believed the muscles in the dog's tail were the cause of Rabies. This belief has obviously been proven a myth, yet tail docking continues.
In 1970, tax laws on dogs were created to aide funding of the French War. Working dogs were exempt, and to signify their status the tails of working dogs were removed. These taxes are no longer in place, and yet tail docking continues.
The herding industry claims the practice of tail docking is followed to avoid injury. Herding is risky, however its clear that the whole dog is at risk, not only their tail. Should pain be inflicted now by removing the tail, in order to avoid a possible painful injury in the future?
Herders may argue that the tails collect burrs and foxtails, which can later cause infection and removing the tail reduces the risk. A good grooming will achieve the same results, and doesn't involve amputation of an appendage. One can not claim that herding dogs shouldn't have tails when the number one herding dog is the Border Collie (which have tails), yet Aussie tail docking continues.
Tail Docking Procedures: How and When Tail Docking Is Done on Australian Shepherds?
So, when is the perfect time to dock the tails of an Australian Shepherd?
Most Aussies would get their tails docked within three to five days of post-birth. To further explain this, there are actually two methods of tail docking and these are:
Banding: The most recommended technique which uses an orthodontic band to effectively cut off the blood supply at the end of an Aussie’s tail, constricting its potential to grow.
Surgery: Most veterinarians and reputable breeders use this method to cut off tails using surgical scissors. Sutures are common for larger breeds and are necessary for adult dogs.
Before you choose to dock the tail of your Australian Shepherd puppy, gather in-depth knowledge and remember to always put the health of your Aussie pup over aesthetics.
Is Tail Docking Painful to Australian Shepherd Puppies?
While some believe that tail docking isn’t painful due to the young age at which it is performed, there have since been many studies proving that pups already have pain receptors from birth. And due to the fact that no anesthetic is given, many consider the procedure cruel, and unnecessary.
Tail docking procedures can cause temporary discomfort to Australian Shepherd puppies even though their nervous systems are not quite fully developed yet. While the wound in the tail is healing, minor inflammations and damage to the tissues can cause them pain.
Australian Shepherd With a Bobbed Tail
Aussies with a bobbed tail can either be natural or manufactured. Rare Australian Shepherds born with this feature can have ‘absent’ tails.
For Aussies with natural bobtails, 47% of them are indicated to have tails that are quarter-length based on 2009-2010 ASHGI health survey data.
Additionally, keep in mind that it would be difficult to distinguish Australian Shepherds with a naturally bobbed tail from Aussies that have undergone a docking procedure because they look the same.
Australian Shepherd With a Normal Tail
For Australian Shepherds with a normal tail, it’s fairly easy to distinguish them from Aussies with ‘very short’ natural bobbed tails.
Again, full-length normal tails usually exceed the kennel clubs’ traditional length standards of four inches. Prior to instituting docking bans, Aussies with normal tails traditionally undergo a docking procedure.
Australian Shepherd Genetics: What Creates the Natural Bobbed Tail?
Like the merle gene, an incomplete dominant gene has been found to cause bobtails in Australian Shepherds. To simply put, a naturally occurring mutation in the T Locus gene can result in a ‘short’ naturally bobbed tail in Aussies.
The Controversy About Breeding Naturally Bobtailed Australian Shepherds
As mentioned in the summary earlier, having two copies of the dominant T-gene can result in fetal deaths in Australian Shepherds.
In fact, about 2% of Aussies born with natural bobtails developed NBT-related defects that are bad enough to require euthanasia.
Breeding bobtail Australian Shepherds can result in serious health defects such as spina bifida or other lower spinal cord defects.
This controversy gives a strong reminder to breeders to never mate two Australian Shepherds with naturally bobbed tails as this will likely result in severe health-related issues or fetal death.
By now, it should be clear to you that Australian Shepherds do have tails and they can differ between a bobbed tail and a normal full-length tail.
Whether you choose to keep your dog’s full-length normal tail or manufacture its bobbed tail, keep in mind that there’s really not much of a difference between the two as they’re both beautiful in their own ways.
Also, Australian Shepherd tail docking can be a much safer way to achieve a bobbed tail instead of purposefully breeding them. However, this should not mean that you’re supposed to easily conform to trends and standards.
Your Australian Shepherd’s overall wellness and welfare should always be your priority over aesthetics. After all, Aussies are sweet-natured, loyal, and hardworking whether they have bobbed tails or not.