Rottweiler Tail Docking: Everything You Need to Know + FAQ

Rottweiler tail docking Rottweiler with a docked tail

A tail is always a good indicator to understand if your Rottweiler is happy, alert, threatened, or is just simply showing friendliness through a wag. A Rottweiler has a long tail naturally, but several owners of this breed still opted to have their dogs’ tails docked.

Tail docking is very common to this particular breed and people got so used to it that seeing a docked Rottweiler during a daily jog in the park won’t make anyone notice the absence of its tail right away.

Aside from the desirable temperaments of this dog such as fearlessness, confidence, and loyalty, it cannot be denied that it really has outstandingly attractive physical characteristics.

If you are about to get your Rottweiler puppy in a few days or so, you may have already thought about whether you should keep its tail’s natural look or not.

Honestly, the fate of its tail relies best on what you think is more beneficial without risking its health. To dock or not may be worth it or it may also turn out to be an inconvenience both for you and the dog, so deciding over it is certainly not an easy thing to do. 

Being well informed before making a big decision is important, but there is nothing to worry about! This article will help you by laying out a wide range of information regarding this controversial topic. So let’s go ahead and check out all the necessary details.

Why Is Tail Docking Carried Out on Rottweilers?

Tail docking is performed on several breeds, but this is done more popularly among Rottweilers. In this modern age, the main reasons for this are the owner’s preference and for cosmetic purposes. 

There are also widespread myths on tail docking which includes lower risks of getting rabies. Some owners also believe that Rottweiler docking would make it more agile and have stronger backs.

Considering that this is a medium to large dog, its size could mean that it can easily knock things over. Moreover, if the Rottweiler has been raised up to become a guard dog, the absence of its wagging tail would make it more threatening.

The Origin of Tail Docking on Rottweilers

Originally from Germany, Rottweilers have been classified as working dogs. It is historically bred to assist farmers in carrying carts filled with goods until they gradually become trained to do police work, hunting, and guarding.

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Rottweiler with its tail docked
Photo from sniperrott (IG)

The picture above may be an example of a working Rottweiler. If the dog offers services, then the tail would be reasonably docked to avoid impeding police or military operations.

This dog’s working nature caused breeders to dock the tail to avoid injuries such as getting caught by thorns during hunting, getting easily bitten by other animals during a fight, or interfering during the pulling of carts.

The ideas that support the docking culture were sufficiently backed up by researchers in Scotland. There is indeed a higher case of injury among working dogs whose tails are kept.

As a result, the Scottish government became lenient when it comes to tail docking working dogs. This could be the reason why Rottweiler owners in other countries have followed the culture of tail docking despite not raising a working dog.

Below is a link to a video showing two docked Rottweilers. You may observe that a docked tail is an advantage when moving or running inside the house:

8 WEEK OLD ROTTWEILER PUPPY | FIRST DAYS HOME

Since docking was originally done to avoid traumatic experiences to working dogs, owners of non-working Rottweilers still resorted to letting their dogs undergo the same practice. This is to ensure their dogs will not encounter the same risk experiences the working dogs usually get.

What these owners don’t realize is that the injuries only occur to dogs that provide services. Also, some just simply wanted to conform to the standard appearance of the breed.

Benefits of Docking Your Rottweiler’s Tail

Female Rottweiler with docked tail

Rottweiler docking remains to be a delicate topic that causes a division among dog lovers even if it has been widely recognized by reputable kennel clubs such as the American Kennel Club (AKC).

To simply help you understand as to why this is common, I have listed down below its advantages:

  • It gives the Rottweiler a distinct appearance.
  • Being a guard dog, a threat wouldn’t be able to seize it by the tail.
  • Less hair to wash and less shedding.
  • Fewer chances of knocking things over inside the house.
  • Shows off a more intimidating appearance.
  • If a Rottweiler is raised to become a working dog, there would be fewer chances of getting its tail caught in the wheels or harness.

Notice that some of the merits of Rottweiler docking are significantly useful only if it has been bred to work. However, since this is no longer the case nowadays, docking has mainly been done for cosmetic purposes.

Benefits of Keeping Your Rottweiler’s Natural Tail

Rottweiler puppy with natural tail

Even though docking is a popular practice, it must be known that it is completely okay not to conform to the standards if you perceive it to be the best option for your dog. After all, keeping your Rottweiler’s tail offers practical advantages which are cited below:

  • It is a less expensive choice.
  • Lesser chances of health risks when done by unlicensed or inexperienced individuals.
  • Clearer communication if the dog is happy, aggressive, anxious, etc.
  • Keeping your puppy from experiencing the unnecessary pain of getting docked. 
  • Having an improved counterbalance.

Below is another picture that shows how a Rottweiler puppy looks with its natural tail:

Tail Docking Procedures: How Tail Docking Is Done

Tail docking is simply referring to the amputation of a dog’s tail. The length of the remaining vertebrae will always depend on the breed. Specifically, the Rottweiler tail is ideally docked to one vertebra long.

The procedure can be performed in several ways. First is through the use of a tight rubber band to constrict the flow of the blood on the tail which will eventually fall off.

The knot should be firm enough but not too tight. Daily application of iodine will help ensure that the surrounding area is clean which can avoid infections. If any concerns arise, contact your vet immediately.

The second one is a severing method that uses surgical scissors or a scalpel. This is oftentimes performed without anesthesia which may seem too cruel for a puppy. However, this is a more trusted and common procedure.

In some places, veterinary clinics will require certifications that prove that your dog is eligible for docking. A microchip will then be inserted under the pup’s skin before it is eight weeks old. This is done so your pet will have information in the database in case it gets lost.

Other options include laser surgery which basically uses a laser beam to cut tissues, and electrosurgery that uses electricity to vaporize or dehydrate tissues.

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At What Age Should Rottweiler’s Tail Be Docked?

Docking must be immediately done between the first 2 to 3 days. During this time, the tail is believed to be not fully developed yet. After this point, the tail bones become stronger and the nerves start to develop.

It is highly advised to have a veterinarian do this procedure instead of using bands or any unsterilized equipment.

If docking is done later in a dog’s life, it becomes an amputation. This would be an extremely painful experience for adult dogs as their tails would not properly heal anymore due to lack of growth.

Here is a picture showing no protruding tails behind the adult Rottweiler and the Rottweiler puppy.

Finding a Good Veterinarian to Do the Tail Docking

The long-term health of your Rottweiler if you choose to have it docked will always start with choosing the right veterinarian to perform the procedure.

The most suitable vet will save you from any future cost hassles as well as unnecessary health risks that can be experienced due to any mishandling or malpractice.

There are a few things to consider when looking for the vet who will dock your dog’s tail:

  • One of the things to be done when looking for a vet to dock your Rottweiler is by asking other reputable breeders where they usually have their dogs docked. A vet that has long-term services with Rottweiler breeders is a good sign.
  • When visiting the vet, make sure you ask probing questions regarding your objective such as the length of experience in tail docking Rottweilers and knowledge of the possible methods to be taken. Also, a good indicator of tail docking experience is through a vet’s portfolio.
  • If you have a preferred method on how your Rottweiler should be docked, let’s say through the use of a scalpel, ask the vet about the step by step process on how it will be done. You may ask if you can take a look at the equipment as well as the area where the surgery will take place.

It is important to always come prepared when checking potential veterinary clinics for the docking of your Rottweiler. Know what to ask, what to check, and what to expect.

Is Tail Docking Legal?

Even though Rottweiler docking is highly recognized by the AKC, certain associations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association frown upon this practice.

These associations fight to stop the habit of docking dogs entirely by proposing that it should be illegalized.

Despite the opposition, docking remains to be legal in all states in America. The only two states that have provisions and regulations are Pennsylvania and Maryland. Meanwhile, Alaska and Louisiana legislated that tail docking must be performed in a way that minimizes the dog’s pain.

The popularity of practice does not always get legalized. Several countries have already banned tail docking and that includes the whole of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, and Greece, to name a few.

Some others such as Brazil, Israel, and Serbia only prohibit tail docking if it is for cosmetic purposes. Morocco seems to be the only country that has no laws for animal protection. 

Should You Dock Your Rottweiler’s Tail?

It is important to look into all the benefits you can get if your Rottweiler gets docked. You must also assess if the puppy is capable of enduring the pain and, most of all, if it needs it. The most acceptable reason for this is if there are health risks that would require your dog to be docked. 

After all, the health status of the dog will always determine its lifespan, so if there are cancerous tumors on the tail, docking will surely prevent further complications.

If you want to achieve a distinct and standard appearance for your dog, then you need to check first your dog’s health condition and then look for trusted veterinarians that have adequate experience in docking Rottweilers.

As mentioned earlier, tail docking is usually done without anesthesia, so if you can withstand seeing your dog undergo such an experience, think about as well if your dog can tolerate the pain.

Rottweiler owners that truly care would try to avoid major health damages at all costs, including traumatizing experiences for their Rottweiler puppies. Make sure you carefully research first, as docking can greatly impact the life of your dog.

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Commonly Asked Questions

Rottweiler with docked tail playing at the beach

Tail docking remains to be a very controversial issue. If you are anticipating the arrival of your Rottweiler puppy and you still have a lot of questions about docking, then below are the frequently asked questions that will answer your inquiries about it:

A. Is Tail Docking Painful to Rottweilers?

Despite the common belief that newborn puppies don’t feel pain, studies have shown that they actually do experience the opposite. The immaturity of the myelination would mean a slower time for its body to react to pain and a delayed supply of white cells which are essential to healing.

Also, it is commonly believed that a puppy that goes back to nursing after being docked feels no pain. However, this has been invalidated by a notable veterinarian explaining that the act of suckling is a means of finding comfort.

Endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, are released and this is what a puppy would usually look for after experiencing pain from being docked.

B. Is It Cruel to Dock a Rottweiler’s Tail?

This depends on what your purpose is. If your Rottweiler needs it due to health reasons such as growing tumors or to avoid injury, then docking is necessary. It will not be deemed cruel since the dog would benefit greatly from it especially if it is a working dog.

However, if docking is done mainly for aesthetics, many dog lovers and owners find it cruel and unnecessary. Remember that earlier, puppies will still feel pain even if it is done in a timely manner.

C. How Long Does It Take for a Rottweiler to Heal From Tail Docking?

The length of healing depends on certain factors. Fast recovery happens when the environment is dry and clean and the tail has been properly taken care of during the entire healing period.

Ideally, Rottweiler puppies need to be taken back to the vet after five to seven days for the removal of stitches. A few weeks time of rest is enough for the tail to completely heal.

Final Thoughts

Rottweiler docking is not a breed requirement and it only becomes necessary when there are health risks involved.

Even if docking is permitted in your area and even if your puppy is healthy enough to undergo such a process, it should not automatically mean that you follow the trend right away without gathering in-depth knowledge about docking.

Your puppy should always be the main priority over aesthetics. Nevertheless, docked or not, that should not matter at all for there is not much difference.

What is more important is to create a loving environment for your dog and ensure that the best for its welfare is sufficient. The relationship between you and your Rottweiler is far more important than anything else!

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially 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.

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