Poodle Tails – Docked or Natural?


Poodle Tails – Docked or Natural?

Poodles look more or less the same across the world, with one big difference: Some countries dock the tails while others leave them natural. Why is docking done? Should you choose to have your Poodle’s tail docked? Should you dock the tails on Poodle mixes? Today we talk everything about tail-related!

Table of Contents

Origin of Poodle Tail Docking

The custom of docking dogs’ tails is very old. There are reports referring as far back as the ancient times in which Romans docked their dogs’ tails in order to prevent them from contracting rabies. 

Around the 17th century, dogs in England were taxed if they were kept as “pets” or companion dogs. Working animals and farm dogs however were not subjected to the tax. Many working class dog owners and farmers started to dock their dogs’ tails in order to not be taxed for them.

Even though nowadays many breed registries claim that their dogs (primarily hunting dogs) need to have docked tails in order to prevent injuries, this was less common in the past.

In fact, it was seen as a sign of wealth if dogs did not have their tails docked (meaning that their owners could afford to pay the “companion dog tax”). Only dogs with unusually long tails or previous tail injuries had them amputated for medical reasons.

 The AKC (American Kennel Club) was formed in 1884.

They established the so-called “breed standard” for all dog breeds registered with them, including notes on the desired tail appearance. Some dogs, particularly many working dog breeds, were required to have docked tails by this breed standard. All Poodles (Standard, Miniature and Toy Poodle) fall under this rule.

In the European Union tail docking has been banned since 1998. All Poodles coming from Europe have long, natural tails.

white show poodle

Why Do Poodles Get Their Tails Docked?

The reasons for tail docking are purely cosmetic. There is no physical benefit for the dog in having a docked tail. The AKC does not permit Poodles with natural tails to be shown, so owners of show dogs dock their dogs’ tails in order to be able to participate in dog shows.

At this point many Poodles get their tails docked simply because “it has always been done this way”. It is important to evaluate if there is really any point in docking the Poodle’s tail – especially for pet dogs there is no reason to do it.

Docked Tail In Pet & Sports Dogs

If you want to keep your Poodle as a companion animal or you do dog sports with him, consider picking a dog with a natural tail. For dog sports such as agility or dock diving it is actually an advantage if your dog has his tail – he will use it like a rudder for keeping balance, jumping and making tight turns. Below is a picture of a Poodle skillfully using his tail to run across a narrow dogwalk.

If you pick a type of Poodle that will not be a show dog, such as the Parti Poodle or a mix like the Bernedoodle, there is also no reason to not leave the tail intact!

poodle running agility long tail

Are Poodles Born With Tails?

Yes, Poodles give birth to puppies with long, natural tails. In litters where docking is performed, it happens at 1-2 weeks of age. The procedure should preferably be done by a veterinarian to ensure a sanitary process. Owners who attempt to dock their puppies’ tails at home can put the pups at risk for infection and long-term complications.

Regardless of your Poodle’s color and size, consider leaving a natural tail on him.

How Do You Care For A Natural Tail In Poodles?

If you have a Poodle or Poodle cross with a natural tail, you will need to apply the same grooming regimen to their tail as to the rest of their body.

Poodles’ hair grows long and it will mat and tangle if not shampooed and brushed regularly. A Poodle with a well-maintained natural tail looks beautiful – but so do the many different cuts that groomers can give him.

You need to keep in mind that the tail tends to mat easily and will get dirty quickly, so pay extra attention to it when you are brushing your Poodle.

brown poodle running in the snow

The Bottom Line

The practice of tail docking dates back to old conventions that do not have a use or application anymore. Unless you are planning on showing your dog in AKC shows which require a docked tail, you can pick a Poodle with a natural tail.

Make sure to pay attention to grooming your dog’s tail! It can mat easily.

If you are trying out dog sports or your Poodle is an active companion dog, he will benefit from having a tail for staying balanced and turning tightly.

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