Why Do They Cut Pitbulls’ Tails? Tail Docking & Should You Do It?

Pitbulls vary in appearance when it comes to the size and shape of their tails. You might see some Pitbulls with natural straight or wrapped tails while others have their tails cut off.

The procedure of cutting off a pitbull’s tail is known as tail docking. It goes back to a century-old fad and it’s still done even in the modern age.

So, why are pitbull tails cut off? Pitbull tails were cut off in the past to show the status of the dog, whether it’s a pet or a working dog. In the present time, the tails are mostly cut off at the recommendation vet to prevent or treat some health issues the dog might face because of its tail. There are also some who cut off their dog’s tail for cosmetic purposes. 

Keep reading to learn more about different kinds of pitbull tails as well as the origin of the tail docking procedure and why it’s done.

What Kind of Tails Do Pitbulls Have?

Pitbulls are born with different kinds of tails depending on their bloodline.

Some Pitbulls have straight tails which are characterized by being relatively short, broad at the base, and tapering down to a point to give off a triangular shape. They are highly sought after as they fit the official breed standard of Pitbulls and qualify the dog for shows and competitions.

Oher Pitbulls have wrapped tails that slope down into a corkscrew shape at the base. They are flexible in nature for newborn dogs but will stiffen into a hard fixed shape as the dogs get older. They are very common in Pitbulls and they are often considered the most adorable. 

It’s very rare for Pitbulls to have long or way tails and they are even considered to be faulty by some breeders as they don’t fit the breed standard. However, these tails can be healthier for the dog as they are the most flexible and allow the dog to wag them a lot easier.

What Is Tail Docking?

Tail docking is a medical procedure in which the dog’s tail is either cut short or completely removed.

According to various historical documents, tail docking began way back in the age of Rome as a way to prevent rabies in dogs. In the 1800s, it was done to show the dog’s status as dogs with docked tails were considered work animals while dogs with undocked tails were considered pets.

In the present time, tail docking is mostly done at the recommendation of a veterinarian to prevent or treat some of the health issues the dog might face because of its tail. There are also some breeders or owners who choose to dock the dog’s tail for cosmetic purposes. 

How Is the Tail Docking Procedure Performed?

The tail docking procedure is extremely painful and can be very stressful as it will affect the dog’s mood and sense of balance.

It’s done by using surgical scissors to cut off the dog’s tail or by tying a rubber band around the tail’s base to stop blood flow so that the tail would fall off.

This can happen right after the dog’s birth or when it’s older in case any health issues arise. The recovery time for the procedure will mainly depend on the reason why the tail was docked.

Is Tail Docking Legal?

Docking a dog’s tail is illegal in the United States if it’s done for cosmetic purposes. Since this procedure is very painful and stressful for the dog, it should only be performed for medical purposes and at the recommendation of an experienced veterinarian.

If your dog is suffering from health problems because of its tail, it’s recommended to take it to a veterinarian in order to assess the dog’s condition and discuss all the pros and cons of performing a docking procedure.

Why Are Pitbull Tails Docked?

As mentioned before, tail docking is now done for medical purposes. So, pitbull tails are mostly docked to treat or prevent some health problems related to the dog’s tail.

One of the common health problems Pitbulls might suffer from because of their tail is tail pocket infection.

A tail pocket is a wrinkled flap of skin that exists underneath the dog’s tail. This area can be very difficult to keep clean causing dead skin, dirt, and bacteria to build up which eventually leads to an infection.

Symptoms of infection include red, swollen, and itchy skin around the tail area which causes the dog a lot of pain and a distinctive bad odor.

The infection can be prevented by keeping the tail pocket area clean and dry but if the problem persists, most vets would recommend a tail docking procedure.

Another common health problem Pitbulls might suffer from because of their tail is hemivertebrae which is a hereditary condition that causes spine issues and impacts the dog’s ability to function.

Symptoms of hemivertebrae include weakness in the dog’s back legs which makes it very difficult for them to walk and causes a lot of pressure on the spinal cord. It might also cause loss of the dog’s bladder functions.

This condition is especially common in Pitbulls with wrapped tails and can only be prevented through responsible breeding. It’s usually be treated through a tail docking procedure at the recommendation of a vet.

Related Questions

How Much Does Tail Docking Procedure Cost?

Tail docking procedure costs between $10 to $20 on average when the dog is young. The cost might increase up to $100 as the dog gets older. There are also additional costs for check-ups during the dog’s recovery. It’s highly recommended to consult an experienced vet before performing the procedure.

How to Take Care of Your Pitbull’s Tail?

To take care of your Pitbull’s tail, you need to clean off any dirt that accumulates on the tail area using wipes or a soft wet cloth. Make sure to lift the dog’s tail to reach the tail pocket area underneath and clean thoroughly it as well. You can also apply a soothing balm to prevent dry skin.

Helpful Resources 

Canine Tail Docking FAQ

animal welfare issues with docking dogs’ tails

Cosmetic tail docking: an overview of abuse and report of an interesting case

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