Editor’s Note: This is a touchy subject, so please read the article before sending along hate mail. As you will see, we are not exactly pro-tail docking. Our cockapoo’s tail was already docked when we purchased him, and we didn’t know until months later that it was not that way naturally. If someone had given us an option, yes…we’d have wanted a long, wagging tail. However, be aware that this article has not been written to demonize or protest tail docking, it is here to educate readers on the practice so that they can make an informed decision.
As cockapoo owners know, the cockapoo breed is a mix of cocker spaniel and poodle. These are both purebreeds and have been held to breed standards over the years for showing. Both the poodle breed and the cocker breed typically have cropped or docked tails, although neither of these breeds are actually born with short tails. As a matter of fact, there are fifty or more breeds that are born with long tails and then docked, although some short tails can occur through breeding and birth defect.
So why might your cockapoo have a short tail? In some countries, the United States included, there is no regulation on whether a cockapoo should have his tail docked. While some breeders may be continuing the tail docking practice out of an idea that a longer tail could be less sanitary or a danger for possible tail damage, many believe that it is simply a standard to meet for the cockapoo breed. Yet the majority of owners who are aware of the practice prefer the long tail, in our experience.
Since there are so many dogs with docked tails, several important questions arise, such as: What exactly is tail docking and how is it done? A cockapoo puppy is born with a full length tail and depending on the breeder may have its tail docked. There are two ways that the tail may be docked. Some breeders use a veterinarian. The puppy will be put under anesthesia and the tail cut to a length of a couple of inches. The puppy would then be stitched up as necessary and go home the next day. As with any practice where an animal undergoes anesthesia or surgery, there is some risk to the dog, however small.
Many breeders, possibly due to having such long experience with the practice, choose to remove the tail on their own. They usually do this be done within five days of birth, because proponents of tail docking believe that the puppies nervous system is not fully developed until five days of age. By this theory, the puppy does not experience intense pain, although we have not found definitive proof and are not sure that it is possible to prove this notion.
One way breeders tail dock is to cut off the circulation to the end of the tail by tying it off with a strong band, and letting it develop what is considered dry gangrene. The end of the tail turns black and falls off after about three days of no blood flow. The other way to dock the tail is to clamp it off above where the tail is to be shortened to, and then using surgical scissors or a scalpel, to cut off the remaining length of the tail. The end would then be stitched up and, according to many breeders, the puppy cries for most of the day. Usually it shows little discomfort after that.
This sounds quite unpleasant to most people who research it, but please remember that you do not have to get a cockapoo puppy or any other dog with a docked tail! This is a cosmetic surgery, and it has not been proven to be necessary in any way.
Unfortunately, many prospective owners in America have no idea that cockapoos even have long tails! Therefore, the procedure may have already been done before they had a chance to view their puppy or adopted dog. If you know you want a new cockapoo puppy and that you want his tail intact, contact the breeder of choice and tell them you do not want your puppies tail docked. They will usually be more than happy to comply, and if enough people are asking for puppies with full tails, the practice of tail docking may cease due simply to demand.
In many countries, Australia and the United Kingdom included, tail docking has been banned. Several states in the US have considered a ban, but legislators would need to see a strong interest in banning the practice to put a bill foward. If you have an interest in seeing a ban on tail docking, the most practical way to approach it might be to start a petition or write a letter to your congressional representative.
Every owner I have talked to is happy with their long-tailed cockapoos. No evidence has been found that would show significant need for having a docked tail on a cockapoo. In countries where the practice is restricted, it is a moot point. In places where tail docking is unrestricted, it becomes a matter of personal choice. As always, for sanitary reasons, you should keep your pup’s fur clean and well groomed, no matter what length of tail he has. This will help him remain happy and healthy for many years to come!