Dog Magazine

Scotland Might Bring Back Tail Docking

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, has expressed its deep regret and disappointment at the Scottish Government’s announcement yesterday (December 10) that it plans to consult on the possible relaxation of current tail docking legislation for certain working dogs, namely Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers.

We are opposed to the docking of puppies’ tails, believing that puppies suffer unnecessary pain as a result of docking, and are deprived of a vital form of canine expression.

Dogs Trust lobbied heavily for a complete ban on tail docking in 2007 and cite Scotland’s current legislation as a key example of how the country has led the way on dog welfare issues. The legislation presently bans all docking, other than those conducted as necessary for veterinary medical reasons, for all breeds of dog.

We do not believe that there is an accurate means by which tail docking could be genuinely restricted to puppies that later go on to be working dogs. We would consider such an exemption to be a significant loophole in the legislation as it would be impossible to differentiate between genuine owners or breeders of working dogs and those who simply say that the puppies will go on to be working dogs, when in fact they just want the procedure performed on the animal.

From a welfare and ethical perspective, Dogs Trust continues to question whether the reduction in possible injury risk justifies the pain involved with tail docking. We have previously highlighted our concerns with the recent research carried out by Glasgow University and will draw on scientific evidence that proves that the act of docking causes pain and also the findings that pain in neonates is enhanced compared to adults.

Dogs Trust has grave reservations regarding the upcoming consultation and will be expressing these views and others to the Scottish Government.

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