Pennsylvania and Maryland are the only states in the U.S. that have restricted cropping a dog’s tail. However, in Pennsylvania tail docking can only be performed between 5 days to 12 weeks of a dog’s age if it is medically necessary. Meanwhile, in Maryland, a vet can only perform this procedure when it is appropriate and using anesthesia.

Despite the truth that several countries have restricted or banned the procedure of tail docking, it continues in the United States. [1] Why do countries like Israel, Norway, Australia, Iceland, Europe, and South Africa have banned tail docking, but America has not initiated any step?

What Is Dog Tail Docking?

Tail docking includes cutting off a part or complete tail with the help of scissors, or a tight rubber band is tied at the desired length, and the blood supply stops causing the tail to drop off. It is usually performed on puppies in their first five days when their tail is soft. This procedure is also called as “Bobbing.”

Tail docking includes removing only a part of the dog’s tail, and the desired length depends on the breed of dog. Docking of dogs is performed by a licensed vet, and this procedure is done without anesthesia. Although the puppy at this age is not fully alert, it can sense pain.

The vet would need to change the bandages every day and will be removed 2–3 days post the surgery.

How Does The Dog Tail Heal?

Usually, the bandages are removed after 2-3 days of surgery, but it takes a while to heal completely. You will have to take your pup to the vet 5-7 days after the surgery to get the stitches removed. [2]

You need to make sure that your dog’s bedding area stays clean. Keep a check on the surgical site until it fully recovers. Also, try to keep your pet’s area dry, clean, and there should not be any urine or feces.

Make sure that the surgical area does not have any swelling, redness, or discharge. If you suspect these symptoms, then it might be a sign of infection.


There is a potential risk of complications in this surgery like infection, necrosis, excessive bleeding, and delayed healing.

Is Tail Docking Painful?

Many advocates of dog tail docking state that it is not painful, nor it causes discomfort because a puppy’s nervous system is not completely developed. However, it is not true at all as the dog’s nervous system gets fully developed at their birth. There is another fact that puppies can feel the same pain as an adult dog. [3]

The tail docking involves the cutting of tendons, muscles, up to 7 groups of extremely sensitive nerves, and cutting bone and cartilage. Moreover, the tail docking is executed without analgesia or anesthesia.

Puppies can make several intense shrieking at the moment their tail is being cut off and also during the stitching process. It is a clear indication that they go through substantial pain during tail docking.

Damage to the tissues and inflammation can also cause severe pain as their wound heals. Effects of tail docking in dogs may include distress and long-term chronic pain.

List of Common Dogs with Docked Tails

  • Airedale Terrier
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Australian Silky
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Australian Terrier
  • Bouvier des Flandres
  • Boxer
  • Bracco Italiano
  • Brittany
  • Cane Corsa
  • Clumber Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dobermann
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Fell Terrier
  • Field Spaniel
  • German Short-Haired Pointer
  • German Wire-Haired Pointer
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • Hungarian Vizsla
  • Irish Terrier
  • Italian Spinone
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Large Munsterlander
  • Lucas Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Neopolitan Mastiff
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Patterdale Terrier
  • Parson Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Pinscher
  • Polish Lowland Sheepdog
  • Rottweiler
  • Russian Black Terrier
  • Schipperke
  • Schnauzer
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Smooth Fox Terrier
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Standard Poodle
  • Sussex Spaniel
  • Swedish Vallhund
  • Toy Poodle
  • Weimaraner
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Welsh Terrier
  • Wire-Haired Fox Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

States With Restrictions for Tail Docking In the U.S

  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland

In the U.S., both American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinarian Medical Association criticize this practice, but the American Kennel Club still needs to be convinced. [4]

Louisiana, Alaska, and West Virginia allow tail docking unless it is done with a proper sanitary method with less pain or distress and if completed at the appropriate time. [5]

According to AKC:

They Don’t Think Tail Docking Is Not That Painful And Bad For The Dogs

Pros and Cons of Tail Docking


  • Show dogs look better with docked tails.
  • Some breeds like Doberman look fierce with a docked tail.
  • For hunting dogs, having a docked tail is a huge advantage as there is no risk of getting caught and making a noise.


  • Removing a part of the dog’s tail could prevent your dog from expressing his happiness or fear.
  • Cutting the tail through a bone causes severe pain and could scar him.
  • It may cause your dog many infections.


You should never buy a puppy with a docked tail as this procedure is performed for the aesthetic look only. Puppies also feel pain when a part of their body is cut off brutally and is left to cry and suffer.