The Boxer and Tail Docking

Have you ever wondered why the tails of certain breeds-including the Boxer-are shortened? Here's the long and short of it.

Historically, tail docking was thought to prevent rabies, increase a dog's speed, and prevent injuries. For hunting and herding breeds, tails could collect burrs and foxtails, causing pain and infection. The longer tails of herding dogs could also be caught in gates behind livestock.

In 18th century England, a tax was actually levied upon working dogs with tails-so dogs were routinely docked to avoid this tax. But even after the tax was lifted, the practice continued.

Differing opinions about docking

Today, the docking of the Boxer's tail continues to be done for health and cosmetic reasons. Yet, the practice is not without controversy. Proponents argue that the procedure is not painful and can prevent future health problems. It should be noted that tail docking is not a surgical procedure in the typical sense of the word. In fact, the procedure-which requires no anesthesia or sutures-is done before the puppy's cartilage is fully formed, usually between 3 and 5 days of age.

Those who oppose tail docking say the procedure is cruel and unnecessary. They contend that dogs use their tails to communicate with other dogs-as well as people. So a dog without a tail might be less able to convey fear, aggression, playfulness, and other emotions. In addition, certain dog breeds use their tails as rudders when swimming, and even for balance when running. In this case, active docked-tail dogs can be at a physical disadvantage.

In the end, it doesn't really matter whether your dog's tail is docked-unless he's competing in an AKC event. Odds are what you love most about your Boxer is that he's an energetic, loyal, and loving companion.