Aside from being the royalty’s pet and excellent herding breed, Corgis are also famous for their unique and adorable appearance — elongated body, short legs, pointy ears, and their round butts accentuated by their docked tails.
But hold up! Are Corgis really born tailless?
Well, most people assume that all Corgis are born without tails. But that is not the case. Some have their appendages surgically removed.
Interestingly, docked tails and bobtails are actually exclusive for a specific type of Corgi.
If you are interested in finding out more, you should keep on reading as I explain the things you need to know about the tailless Corgis, including their appearance, genetics, history, and more. Let’s get started, shall we?
Are Corgis Born With Tails? Which Corgi Has a Tail?
It depends on whether they are a Pembroke or Cardigan. Most Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with tails that are docked off after birth, although a few can also be naturally born without tails. On the other hand, Cardigan Corgis are born with tails which they get to retain for their lifetime.
Between the two types of Corgis, only the Pembrokes have short or docked tails. Breeders intentionally dock off the tails of Pembroke Welsh Corgis to either conform to the breed standard or for herding purposes.
Interestingly, some Pembroke Corgis can also be naturally born without tails due to a genetic mutation called “natural bobtail.”
Meanwhile, Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppies can enjoy their long fluffy tails for a lifetime.
But, how come Cardigan Corgis can have tails while Pembroke Corgis cannot? Well, it all boils down to the breed standard.
The lineage of the Pembroke Corgi (the younger breed) can be traced from the Nordic Spitz breeds.
On the other hand, Cardigans descended from the German Teckel bloodline. Hence, their breed standards ask for totally different traits and conformity.
The AKC standard of the Cardigan Corgi (the older breed) suggests that they should have a tail set fairly low from their body line, and it should reach well below the hock.
Meanwhile, the breed standard for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi specifically asks for tails that are “docked as short as possible.”
Nevertheless, it is not impossible to see an adult Pembroke Corgi happily wagging its tail. Likewise, you might also see Cardigan Corgi with their docked tails and accentuated butts.
It all depends on genetics as well as the breeder’s preference — whether they choose to have their puppies’ tails docked or not.
Why Don’t Corgis Have Tails?
Breeders do not dock their Corgis’ tails for no reason. Docking of Corgis’ tails has been practiced for over a century; hence, it has become a tradition.
Aside from historical relevance, it turns out that most Pembroke Welsh Corgis have docked tails either due to conformation issues or herding purposes.
It is believed that the docked tails are integral to the functions of the breed per se. Let me discuss each reason in a more detailed way.
Conformation to the breed standard is probably the leading reason why most of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi that we see are tailless.
Breeders purposely cut off the dogs’ tails to conform to the rules set by major kennel clubs such as the AKC.
The AKC breed standard also accepts Pembroke Welsh Corgis that are born with bobtails as long as the tails are sufficiently short.
Preferably, the length of the bobtail should not exceed two inches long. If the bobtail exceeds the desirable length, you’ll see them with tails docked for conformation.
This means that if you buy from a Corgi breeder who religiously follows the rules and guidelines set by the AKC or other major kennel clubs, you’ll probably get a tailless Pembroke Corgi puppy.
Watch these tailless cattle herders perform on the conformation ring:
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi belongs to the canine herding group. Dogs in this category are bred to help in protecting, gathering, and herding livestock which in most cases are significantly larger in size.
Hence, breeders develop specific traits in herding dogs that are useful in performing their herding duty.
The small stature of the Pembroke Corgi breed is a great example. They are bred to be short so they can easily dodge the dangerous kicks of the cattle they herd.
Their small and agile body allows them to maneuver behind and below the herd safely.
It is for the same reason that their tails are also docked. Breeders in the past saw the Pembroke Corgi tails as more of a liability than an asset for herding.
They feared that the tails could be stomped by cows while herding. Thus, they decided to cut it off instead, which resulted in the traditional docked-tail Corgis that we have today.
While it might sound surprising, there are actually Corgis born without tails! Yes, you read it right. This phenomenon is called a natural bobtail.
A natural bobtail is a genetic variation that affects the growth of a Corgi’s tail. However, natural bobtail Corgis are not always born tailless.
Some can still have tails, although shorter than the tails of Corgis without the natural bobtail gene. The length of the appendage of natural bobtail Corgis varies for each dog.
This trait has been recurring in the Corgi breed for a long time. Some suspect that this phenomenon inspired the intentional docking of tails that is still practiced in some countries today.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the natural bobtail mutation is not exclusive to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed.
It also manifests in other canine breeds such as Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Austrian Pinscher, Bourbonnais Pointer, to name a few.
Pembroke vs. Cardigan Welsh Corgi: What Do Their Tails Look Like?
Most of you have probably seen a bobtail or tailless Pembroke Corgi. But how about a Pembroke Corgi with an intact tail?
Apparently, most Pembroke Corgis bred and born outside the United States can retain and enjoy their tails due to laws prohibiting docking practices.
It is pretty easy to spot a Pembroke Corgi among Cardigans because the former usually have a docked tail while the latter does not. But will you still be able to distinguish them apart if both of them have intact tails?
It’s actually pretty easy. You just need to know the differences between a Pembroke and Cardigan tail!
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Tail (Intact)
The intact tails of Pembroke Corgis are usually fluffy but shorter compared to the Cardigan Corgi’s tails. They are also carried upright or high above their backs. Some can even have upright curled tails.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi Tail
Meanwhile, the tails of the Cardigan Corgi are longer than the intact tails of Pembroke Corgis. They are carried low from their backs.
The standards allow their tails to be carried high only when they are excited, but they should never curl to the back.
Bobtail Corgi Genetics: Why Are Corgis Born With Short Tails?
As mentioned earlier, some Pembroke Welsh Corgis are naturally born with either short or no tails at all. This condition occurs due to a genetic mutation.
A natural bobtail is the result of the alteration in the T locus that results in a short, if not absent, tail. It is an autosomal dominant gene which means only a single copy is needed to exhibit the trait.
The T locus has two alleles: the N allele (no natural bobtail) and the BT allele (natural bobtail).
A Pembroke Corgi with an N/N genotype will have a normal tail since it doesn’t have the natural bobtail variant. On the other hand, a Corgi with the N/BT genotype is expected to have a natural bobtail.
Unfortunately, Corgis carrying two dominant alleles (BT/BT) are not expected to live nor to be born at the very least.
Puppies that inherited these genotypes will most likely be terminated early on in the embryonic stage. Those that managed to be born will display developmental defects and other deformities.
In terms of length, the effect of the T gene mutation may vary for each dog. Some may have nearly full-length tails or relatively short appendages. Meanwhile, others can have completely absent tails.
The bobtail gene mutation is not exclusive to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed. It also commonly occurs on canine breeds such as the:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Austrian Pinscher
- Bourbonnais Pointer
- Brazilian Terrier
- Brittany Spaniel
- Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Croatian Sheepdog
- Danish/Swedish Farmdog
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Karelian Bear Dog
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Pyrenean Shepherd
- Savoy Sheepdog
- Swedish Vallhund
Nowadays, a lot of breeders are opting to breed natural bobtail Pembroke Corgis to reduce, if not totally stop, the need to surgically dock off the dog’s tails.
Kennel Club Breed Standards: Do Kennel Clubs Recognize Corgis With Long Tails?
With the current debates about the practice of tail docking and cropping procedures for many dog breeds, the canine community in America is in turmoil.
Some major kennel clubs have already responded to the call, while others stood firm in their convictions to continue the traditional practices.
In terms of conformation, none among the major kennel clubs (UKC, AKC, and CKC) explicitly penalize or disqualify a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a full-length tail.
Thus, it is safe to say that all purebred Pembrokes are recognized by these kennel clubs regardless of whether they are docked, bobtail, or with a long tail.
However, Corgis with long tails are at a disadvantage in conformation events because they do not adhere to the “ideal or desirable” appearance written on the breed standards.
United Kennel Club (UKC)
Among the three major kennel clubs in America, only the United Kennel Club (UKC) has explicitly acknowledged the movement for the abolition of docking and cropping.
Hence, you can register Pembrokes with full-length tails on the UKC and register your dog for their conformation events.
UKC doesn’t penalize a Corgi puppy with a full tail in any of their sponsored events. As an international kennel registry, they are mindful of the canine-related practices that are upheld and abolished in different countries.
American Kennel Club (AKC)
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for Pembroke Welsh Corgi does not penalize full-length tails. However, it explicitly suggests that the tail should be docked as short as possible.
While you can register your Corgi with a full-length tail on the AKC, you might be at a disadvantage if you join AKC-sponsored conformation events.
The AKC stands firm on its view that the tail docking process and other anatomical alterations (declawing and cropping of ears) are acceptable practices as they are integral to preserving the breeds’ character and enhancing their health.
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) recognizes Pembroke Welsh Corgis with full-length tails.
Apparently, the CKC breed standards do not require any dog breed to sport a docked tail. However, the Pembroke Corgi breed standard considers a short tail as a desirable trait.
In the issue of tail docking, the CKC affirms that such practice is a matter of freedom of choice. Breeders and Corgi owners have the free will to decide whether to dock or retain the tail of their dogs.
However, the procedure should be administered by a veterinarian in a humane and ethical way.
Docking a Corgi’s Tail: Corgi Tail Docking Procedure and FAQs
Curious about how experts conduct tail docking? Lucky you! I’m just about to present the various techniques in docking a Corgi’s tail.
Some of the frequently asked questions about the legality and ethicality of the practice will also be discussed. Let’s start!
How and When Tail Docking Is Done on Corgis?
Breeders usually dock the tails of Pembroke puppies two to five days after birth. Advocates suggest that the procedure should take place immediately a few days after birth to save the puppy from excruciating pain.
According to an AKC article, the puppy’s nervous system is still not fully developed at such time, so they will not feel extreme pain during the docking procedures.
There are two common ways in which the docking procedure can be done: using sharp objects (scalpel or a pair of scissors) and using a rubber band (banding).
Among the two ways I mentioned, many breeders and veterinarians prefer using a surgical knife, scalpel, or a pair of scissors in cutting the muscle, cartilages, and tendons of the Corgi’s tail. The docked tail is then bandaged and secured until it heals.
The second method involves cutting off the blood circulation in the dog’s tail by using a rubber band or banding as famously known.
The goal of banding is to cut off the blood supply to the tail to cause muscle necrosis until the tail eventually falls off. Nevertheless, there is a high risk of infection and deformation if this method is not done correctly.
Do All Corgis Get Their Tails Docked?
Not all Corgis get their tails docked. Between the two Corgi breeds, only the Pembroke Welsh Corgi usually have their tails surgically removed for various reasons.
Meanwhile, some Pembrokes are really born with naturally short tails called “bobtails.”
In the United States, the majority of Pembrokes probably have docked tails. This may be due to breed confirmation or the lack of laws prohibiting such practice.
However, this is not the case for Corgis residing in other countries, especially in Europe and Canada.
Most of the countries in the said regions have already banned docking and cropping practices on animals. Hence, their Pembroke Corgis can enjoy their tails for a lifetime.
Is It Cruel to Dock a Corgi’s Tail?
Globally, the docking of tails is a controversial topic that has left the canine community divided.
Advocates of tail docking argue that the procedure isn’t painful or uncomfortable since it is done while the puppy’s nervous system is still underdeveloped.
But of course, owners who oppose are quick to disagree with the proposition, saying that puppies, even after birth, can already feel pain as much as adult dogs do.
In the context of Pembroke Welsh Corgi tail docking, the historical function that AKC refers to is herding.
The tails of Pembroke Welsh Corgi were said to be originally docked to prevent them from being stomped on or stepped on by the cattle they herd.
However, many people are not amused by the justification. They argue that if docking was historically done for herding purposes, then why is it still practiced today when most Corgis do not herd anymore.
Is Docking a Corgi’s Tail Legal?
In the United States, most states allow the docking of Corgi tails except in Maryland and Pennsylvania. By far, these are the only states with specific provisions restricting the docking of dog’s tails.
Meanwhile, countries in Europe and some provinces in Canada have already outlawed the docking of tails, deeming it as unnecessary and inhumane animal mutilation.
But of course, docking of tails for medical purposes is allowed as long as a veterinarian administers it.
Should You Dock Your Corgi’s Tail?
Docking your Corgi’s tail is purely a personal choice. Owners must weigh and justify the pros and cons of docking the tail.
If you are not a herder or you are not after joining conformation shows, then there’s no apparent reason for you to dock off the tail of your Corgi unless it is for medical purposes.
But if you decide to proceed, you should first find out if your community or state allows tail docking practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do the Queen’s Corgis Have Tails?
Most of the Corgis that Queen Elizabeth II owns today have intact tails. You can see the royal Corgis happily wagging their tails in recent pictures and clips online.
However, some of her Corgis that were bought before tail docking was banned have docked tails.
How to Get a Corgi With a Tail?
You can get a Corgi with a tail in two ways. The first option is to ask a breeder to reserve a Corgi puppy for you that has an intact tail.
You should talk to the breeder before the puppies are born because they usually dock a Corgi’s tail a few days after birth.
The second option is buying a Corgi puppy from breeders residing in countries or regions that prohibit tail docking.
Do All Cardigan Welsh Corgis Have Tails?
Yes. It’s normal to see a Cardigan Corgi with a tail. In fact, all of them have one. Their breed standard does not require them to have docked tails. Unlike Pembroke Corgis, their tails are left to be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Now that you are already well-informed about the justification and procedures behind the docked tail Corgis, I trust you can already make a sound decision.
If you opt to buy docked tail Corgis to join conformation shows, make sure that the breeder follows a humane and safe procedure in practicing docking. It is much better if docking is done by a veterinarian.
On the other hand, finding a breeder that offers Corgi with intact tails might be difficult.
It is, however, worth it in the end when you see your Corgi happily wagging its tail while running towards you. They are one of the best companion dogs out there and the queen agrees!
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.