To Dock or not to dock!!

The AKC breed standard for tails reads "Tail set high and carried erect. It is docked only long enough to be clearly visible over the backline of the body when the dog is in proper length of coat. Fault - Tail set too low." (from American Kennel Club Miniature Schnauzer Breed Standard)

Hundreds of years ago, tail docking was performed because it was thought to prevent rabies, strengthen the back and improve speed and agility (1). In some cases it was done out of the desire to protect the dog from injury. Schnauzers were intially bred as ratters and docking the tail prevented bites on the tail from the vermin they were hunting.

Today, tail docking is done because it is traditional for the breed. It is purely cosmetic surgery. Countries such as Norway, Sweden, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, and parts of Australia have banned tail docking.

Tail docking is done when the puppies are 3-5 days old. It is thought that the nerves in the tail are not fully developed at this age so the puppies complain more about cold hands and being held down than they do about the pain of the actual docking. No anesthetic or freezing can be given as the puppies are so young, it could jeapordize their life. Tails are usually docked at the hand of a vet although some breeders will do it themselves.

Until now, all our schnauzers and our puppies have had their tails docked before they were 4 days old by our vet. Effective, January 1, 2007, anyone buying one of our puppies will have the option of choosing to keep the tail on their puppy. Ask me about this option when you put down a deposit.

Where possible, we will keep the tails natural on any puppies we keep for our own breeding program.

This page contains some pictures of schnauzers with a natural tail. Some natural tails will stand straight up behind the dog, some will curl up and over the back. The more you look at them, the more "normal" they seem. Most people have only seen a schnauzer with a docked tail.

Don't you just love having that lovely tail communicate your dog's emotions to you? Of course, I don't really like to have it sweeping the items off my coffee table either!!

Thank you to Pat of Alpats Miniature Schnauzers for the lovely pictures of schnauzers with natural tails. You can find her web site here -

(1) Tail docking info taken from Animal Wellness Series Brochure #4 - Tail Docking and Ear Cropping -

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