Dog With A Tail

Why do they Cut Off Pit Bull’s Tail

If you are like me you are probably wondering why some pit bulls have tails and why some have docked or small tails. This goes back to a century long fad that has kept in even the modern age.

Why do they cut off pit bulls’ tails? In the 1800s you were taxed for not having a dog’s tail docked and ear cropped. These were a way to determine if the dog was a working dog or a pet. This fad has kept up through the modern age enough, though the process is now illegal and serves no purpose to the dog.

If you are wondering why tail docking is against the law, let’s look at what it involves and why it started. Once you have this information, you will see why tail docking is now illegal but wasn’t in the past.

A history of tail-docking

Pit With Ears And Tail Docked
Dog has cropped ears and docked tail

Tail docking began way back in the age of Rome according to historical documents. Back then it was a way for people to prevent rabies in dogs.

Fast forward to the modern 1800s and people docked tails as a way of showing the status of a dog. In fact, dogs with undocked tails were considered pets and not work animals. Dogs with docked tails often had their ears cropped too.

This was a way for the owner to not only show the status of a dog but protect the animal from being bit on the ear or tail, which could lead to a severe infection. These types of infections were often fatal to the animal, as modern medicine was not advanced back then.

This has to lead modern people to still continue to dock tails to this day due to the look. However, tail docking became an illegal act in 2006 with the Animal Welfare Act except for those used for work.

If you have a work animal, you can dock the tail to prevent damage or infection.

Check out our article on Why do they cut pit bulls ears

Tail docking or Caudectomy

Young Puppy Being Held
Tail docking typically happens with very young dogs

Caudectomy is the official term when a dog has to have its tail removed through a medical procedure. Regardless of the reason, be ready for an uphill battle as only a vet can make this decision since that act is now illegal.

If there is a medical reason, it’s highly recommended to remove the tail when young rather than old because of complications that the dog can face.

The cost for tail docking will range from $10-$20 when young to $100’s when they are older. The price increase comes from general anesthesia and blood work which must be completed before the dog can have the procedure done.

Recovery time will depend on how old the dog is and what the reason behind the tail docking is. Obviously, if it’s done for medical reasons, you should consult a vet before deciding to dock your dog’s tail.

Complications of docking a pit bull’s tail

Hurt Dog In Cone

Besides, the general risk of the dog being under general anesthesia which can cause nerve damage because of the area that it’s in. You also have several problems that can take place especially for older dogs which include:

  • There is pain associated with this procedure, more so than in very young puppies
  • There may bleeding
  • Premature stitch (as the dog will try to chew on the area that is irritated)
  • Poor healing of the area
  • A greater chance for scarring to occur.

Dogs that have the surgery also have the potential of chasing their tails after and biting on them. This type of behavior can open the wound and lead to big problems later on. If you have this procedure done and your dog does this, it’s highly recommended that you stop them from hurting themselves.

Pit bulls with undocked tails

If you are someone who has a pit bull with a docked tail, you might fall in love with the little numb that is left and think it’s cute. However, there are many people on the other side of the fence who hate docked tails and think that it’s not fair for the dog.

Either way, only you can decide if docking your dog is the correct solution for you. I personally would not dock a dog’s tail until that dog had a medical condition that required the tail to be removed.

Related Questions

How do I take care of a dog with a docked tail? If the procedure was cared out by a reputable vet, then you should have a set of instructions. You will have to monitor your dog’s condition and make sure that they don’t get an infection or open the wound.

Why are docking tails allowed for work dogs? Because a work dog can have its ears cropped. Science now tells us that this process is strictly cosmetic, meaning it offers no benefit to a “pet”. A work dog however may hunt other animals, and the tail is a sensitive spot on a dog.


Fiona Laid Out

I personally will never dock Fiona’s tail. She has the tendency to chase it but she is still a small puppy and I love her tail so I would never have this done. I think society has a way of following trends with things like that just because they want their dog to look the same. 

I hope this article has helped walk you through what docking is and how you can make sure you keep your pet safe. If you want more articles on pit bulls and want to learn more check out our website for more information.

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  1. Hey! This post didn’t mention strong pitties with whip-like tails that injure themselves due to lack of tail control when excited. My sister owns a big (but young, 2 year old) pit bull who as of late has been having a bleeding tail issue from the places where his tail is whacking in the house when he’s excited.

    He’s 2, so I wouldn’t personally dock it unless absolutely necessary, but would you consider it? Have you heard of this before?

    He is a very strong dog (named Leon because he looks like a lion), and his tail is strong. Lol you will always hear a trail of “Awww… ouch!” from anyone nearby him as they greet him and then get whacked by the tail.

    1. I have not heard or seen one. But I have to think you would have to weigh the consequences of your actions. Our dog does not have a docked tail and she doesn’t have any of the problems mentioned. You just have to decide for your situation.

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