Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reasoning for Vizsla Tail Docking

"Chilli has a full tail but unfortunately she hurt her tail while hunting... here is the result 6 weeks after..."
Interesting article about tail docking. 
 The rest of the article is located at the end of the excerpt. 
 This have been discussed on Vizsla Forum lately.  Below the except are some of the posts.

By Steve Peacocke
"...The SPCA have launched a media campaign with such emotive headlines as: "Every day helpless puppies lose their tails in the name of fashion."-"Some puppies tails are hacked off with a kitchen knife."-"Others are painfully docked with a tightly wound rubber band". The SPCA have certainly gained public support to outlaw this practice and even the veterinary profession has been vocal on banning tail docking except where a vet may decide that it is in the dog's interest to dock. So why don't we ban tail docking if it's such a barbaric practice? The answer is plain and simple, it is detrimental to the health and welfare of some breeds of dogs not to dock their tails - i.e. it is cruel not to dock. Let's examine the reasons behind why docking is done today. Let's examine each argument that I have heard to date…

Reason #1 Docking puppies is cruel and painful.
The tail bone of a pup at less than 3 days old is still soft and the nervous system undeveloped. Consider that a young lamb or calf is so developed at birth that they can stand and walk besides their mothers within minutes of being born; a human, although not able to stand for many months, is still fully formed at birth; a pup though is essentially still developing after birth, the eyes, for example, do not open for many days. The pup is still developing hearing, sight, and the nervous system for many days after birth. As a hunter and scavenger, the dog has developed the ability to carry pups for only 63 days before giving birth to allow to mother to venture from the den to obtain food. The pups are still forming after birth, docking at this age causes only a momentary discomfort that is almost instantly forgotten.

Reason #2: There is no reason to dock dogs’ tails.

The Hungarian Vizsla is a hunter, pointer and retriever with 1 third docked from the tail. Although the remainder of the tail is strong, the third docked is thin and whip-like and is open to damage in the field. The Vizsla holds it's tail horizontal to the ground and wags it forcefully while charging through rough scrub and undergrowth. The unprotected tip is docked to keep it from splitting and bleeding. Once damaged, the tail is extremely difficult to heal, sometimes requiring amputation later in life when the dog must be placed under general anaesthetic causing undue stress and pain.

Rest of article and arguments for tail docking at:

Posts from Vizsla Forum:,2999.msg20156.html#msg20156
"I was told by the breeder and then confirmed by my vet, the reason that they are docked is because their tails are brittle at the end. The breeder said once it takes a good hit on the tail it will crack and split. This being said while hunting if the tail hits a tree or any hard object the tail splits. Docking the tail of a Vizsla will prevent the dog going through any excruciating pain. Hope this is helpful. " -willbill59

"I read up a lot on this, and what I found is that the docking for Viszlas and Weimarinars are due to the tails being injured while hunting or just playing around. My WH-Viszla's tail is broken right at the spot where it should have been docked. The tail is so thin that a good whack against a corner of a door jam can cause dislocation and breakage. It doesn't bother him, but he has a very distinctive Check-mark shaped tail. Also, one day I left for a few minutes to run to the store and when I returned there was blood from one end of the house to the other where he clipped the end of his tail and started bleeding profusely. Anyway, there where dark brown spots on every wall at about the 26-30 inch mark which required every room to be repainted. This wound would regularly open up and bleed a lot, for about 3 weeks. I recommend docking if possible." - East0532

"My Vizsla also has a full tail. I got her in Canada, but the breeder used to live in the UK and still abides by their standard of not docking the tails.
The end of her tail unfortunately got jammed in a door 4 weeks ago and we are still trying to get it to heal. The accident caused a u-shaped cut that had to be stitched. The vet had to tape a hard plastic tube over the end of her tail to prevent her from whacking it on stuff and re-opening the wound. Tail wounds are particularly hard to heal as it is impossible to get a dog to stop wagging their tail. East0352...I can injured wagging dog tail does indeed send blood flying everywhere. What a mess!
The vet suggested they may have to remove the last 1.5 inches of her tail if this wound will not heal. I'm hoping that it will not come to that as the healing process for that would also be lengthy. I guess I am still on the fence about tail docking...but at this point if she had just come with a docked tail it would have saved me about $600 in vet bills due to this injury." - ms1234

"Interesting. Keep your sources as the fight here in the USA is well underway. I have spoken to a breeder, Westminster entry last year, who said in 10yrs it will be widely accepted (if not law) for dogs to show with no tail docking. One of the reasons the practice started with Vs is for benefits in the field, certainly injury. We can all debate the benefits of tail docking in non working/sporting dogs, but the good intentions of animal rights (just like "free" insurance for all) can have serious unintended consequences."- kellygr 

Another interesting article on docking of sporting breeds.


Anonymous said...

My Vizsla has a tail and is an excellent hunter and retriever. He has never had an injury and he is quite active in all kinds of unusual situations. I personally don't see why any dog couldn't get a tail injury and have these difficulties with it being hard to heal. I don't think it prevents anything. If we removed the puppies legs they would have fewer leg injuries. But I would guess that most people would object to protecting them in this way.

Rod Michaelson said...

"I personally don't see why any dog couldn't get a tail injury..."

The longer a very thin tail the more chance for injury. Given the choice I'd take the docked tail every time. The Vizsla has the best docked tail IMO. Not too short but a tail that can "get out of the way" easily.

Food Freak Frank said...

Thanks for this post. I think people need to be more informed on why dogs need to be docked. Especially on hunting dogs, who have very thin tips. I would not buy an undocked vizsla or weim.

Ken and Janet said...

"Anonymous" I'm glad that you have not experienced a tail issue with your one dog. If you had, and had to deal with it, you likely would have a different opinion. Of course being "anonymous" you might just be an AR plant so without identification I tend to dismiss your opinion. Aside from that,
as a sampling from a research standpoint, your one alleged dog is a very small sampling. As a very active trainer, Field trialer and breeder my experience over the past 35 years is different. I fully support "preventative" health docking of the Vizsla sporting dog tail at birth. If you have to do an amputation later in life as often happens with Vizslas who's tails are undocked and then broken it is a significant surgery with an equally significant recovery period.
You may choose to believe that it does nothing to prevent injury, but that is merely your personal bias from the AR propogand that it is "cruel" rather than based on fact born out every day in real life.
Finally, in response to your idiotic comment about amputating legs to prevent leg injuries, tail docking does nothing to limit the dogs mobility, performance ability and overall quality of life. I would think taking four legs off the dog just might.
By the way - my name is Ken Kuivenhoven. I'm not "anonymous".

Ken and Janet said...

I'll wager the vast majority of folks opposed to the "cruelty" of docking the tail as a preventative measure also fully support the gonadectomies and historectomies "aka" early spay/neuter of baby dogs... but that's not "cruel" at all, right?

Rod Michaelson said...

Jodi left this message:

Hi Rod - thanks for the informative blog! I'm friends with vizsla people throughout the world on facebook and I can't tell you how many posts I see about tail issues with vizslas in the UK (where they don't dock). I sincerely hope that this stupid campaign does not go through for our breed because vizslas DO definitely have more problems with splitting and breaking on tails when they are not docked.

Leann Oh said...

We got our puppy from Hungary and the breeders do not dock the tail. The sire and dam of the litter hunt on a regular basis but NEVER have these issues. In addition, both parents were European Champions. Our puppy is very active and we go to the mountains often. We never had any problems with her injuring herself. It's hard to convince me that this is a necessary procedure when the country of origin for this dog doesn't even dare do it.

Leslie Stacks said...

We have had one Vizsla litter, with 4 pups. We took them to the vet the day of their birth to have their tails docked. Two slept through the procedure, and the other two showed no evidence of pain or distress. The vet explained that this was thanks to the still undeveloped nervous system in such young pups.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, usually I am against tail docking. I actually didn't know docking PART of the tail was a common practice- I found this site while trying to figure out why one of daycare charges- Leo, the sweetest Vizsla you could imagine- has a short but still THERE tail.
I've feel sure after reading about why Leo's tail was docked that small amount, that the docking was most likely very good for him. I've met some dogs with excessively long thin tails- tails that hit the ground at every wag and strike anything else in a 2-3 foot radius, tails so thin it causes a red mark to form on any skin hit by the tail. If it hurts me to be hit, I am sure it hurts the dog's tail as well. My Labrador had a strong healthy Lab tail and they have some of the thickest tails, but hers still got fractured from a car ride even though we hit no bumps, so it must not have taken much. After it healed, it re-fractured in the same place much more easily, and happened twice. If this happened with her, I can only imagine how rough it would be with a dog with one of those long whip tails. I feel fairly certain a fracture like that for them could not heal, not ever, not with the constant smashing into everything so hard. And the fracture was painful for my dog, and we felt terrible for her.
Leo, on the other hand, with his adorable 3/4 length tail, has no tail issues. He always holds his tail completely horizontally, and for some reason I can tell he very much enjoys doing so (now that I've read this page, I understand why.) He can waggle and communicate with other dogs just fine, unlike dogs with fully docked tails. He and our other Vizsla's are extremely high energy dogs, and he insists on jumping over things (like us when we're bending down) and would surely catch his tail at some point if it was like the tail of some of our dogs.
My problem with docking is when it is done for glamour- a dog's tail is a VITAL communication device, and can be very useful in activities like swimming. However, for dogs with thin fragile tails, docking partway seems like it is the more humane option. Leo is certainly very pleased with his tail, and wouldn't be able to hold his tail the way he does if it was super long and thin. It may cause a small ouchie when young, but no more so than circumcision in males, which is a common practice in humans, and dogs with 3/4 tails enjoy all the same benefits as dogs with full tails. I don't however, see a point in docking a Lab's tail for instance, or fully docking a tail. I also think Leo's tail is rather adorable since it's the perfect length to hold the way he does.

Anonymous said...

Also, I have to say, it's great if these people have Vizslas with full tails who do just fine, but if their tails are the long whip ones I'm thinking of, there is still a fair likelihood of the tail snagging. Maybe only one in five whip tail dogs encounter problems- but those one in five could have a seriously rough go of it. I can't imagine a tail recovering from any injury alright if it is so long and thin. And tail docking in an adult is hard and painful, and used as a last resort. If my Lab hadn't needed her tail so much for swimming, and I could go back in time and get 1/4 of her tail docked, I might do so even with her thick tail, because it would have prevented her the pain of the recurring fracture, and isn't any pain saved worth it? I am still very against full docking, but partial docking in dogs with fragile tails DOES make sense.

Anonymous said...

We rescued a Vizsla last October. She was already three months old, and has a full tail. The only downside to her tail is that it can feel like a whip. Their tails are incredibly strong and powerful, and as puppies they can get very excited and show that through their tails.
There's nothing worse than getting lashed in the face with our dog's excited tail when we are playing with her.
Besides that, her tail doesn't appear brittle, but I can imagine how easily she may get it trapped or injured.
At this time, Lola is still crated when she is home alone so hopefully that keeps her safe for now.

Geo said...

We rescued a Vizsla last October. She was already three months old, and has a full tail. The only downside to her tail is that it can feel like a whip. Their tails are incredibly strong and powerful, and as puppies they can get very excited and show that through their tails.
There's nothing worse than getting lashed in the face with our dog's excited tail when we are playing with her.
Besides that, her tail doesn't appear brittle, but I can imagine how easily she may get it trapped or injured.
At this time, Lola is still crated when she is home alone so hopefully that keeps her safe for now.

Debbie Duty said...

I didn't know about the whys and wherefores of tail docking but have a German Shorthair Pointer and a Vizsla, both with the docked tails. I find the comments interesting and educational. I guess I looked at the tail docking the same way I look at the removal of the dew claws. I also have a Schnorkie with a full tail and the dew claws. Love her tail but the dew claws are a pain to keep the nails trimmed. I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts regarding the dew claw issues........

Denise Incandela said...

We have an undocked vizsla and I can't imagine 1/3 of his tail being gone. He came from Hungary where they don't dock tails and my husband and I have always felt incredibly lucky that he had his full tail when we got him. His tail reflects his mood and we love to see it wag like crazy. I can't speak to hunting in the field because, like many vizsla owners, we're not hunters. But I can say that for regular dog owners we don't believe in cosmetic surgery on tails, ears, dew claws, or anything else. We feel if the tail was so unnecessary it wouldn't be there in the first place.

Julie Ensby said...

I have a 10 mth old male Vizsla who has his original tail length and dew claws.
I have been trying to get his tail to heal for mths now it looks healed then he gets so excited wags it like mad and whacks it on the door frame splitting it again.
I also have a weimaraner whose tail is docked. The vet says if it doesn't heal it may have to be amputated which is more involved at his age.
My dog is my baby my friend not a fashion accessory and for him I wish his tail had of been docked like my weimaraner at days old. To save him from all this.

Julie Ensby said...

I have a 10 mth old male Vizsla he has his entire tail and dew claws. For mths now I have been trying to get his tail to heal as every time I come in he's so excited to see me he wags his tail like mad you try stopping him it's impossible, whacking it on the door frame splitting it again. I also have a weimaraner whose tail is docked. the vet says if it doesn't heal it may have to be amputated which is more involved now he's older than when he was days old. My vizsla is my baby and my friend he's certainly not a fashion accessory and I would rather him of had it docked back then than have this issue now.

turnipherder said...

Howdy all,
I often hunt with Vizslas in Scotland, sniffing / pointing - Deer, flushing birds and occasional retrieving especially when water is involved.. Understand reasons for docking but find that it's just not as common over here, I'm talking working dogs too.
The most common injuries I see with this breed involve deep cuts to the skin across forearms and underbelly as they move quickly through deep cover. 'Battle scars' are often very obvious with these dogs and can accumulate over the years.
Game Keepers I've spoken to over the years are probably 50/50 on this subject, it really comes down to where you're working the dog, the terrain etc. Personally I see no need to dock the tail, they are such beautiful dogs bred for agility and endurance, the long tail is very useful for balance and great for communication. My dogs point is a great directional tool that I couldn't imagine the dog without! (3/4 length or no).
I brought my last dog over from Hungary three years ago, have done a bit of hunting over there (they have quite a different attitude to dogs over there generally), for the most part they keep them un docked, As the tail is seen as an inherent part of the breed plus they have VERY open country.
I'd say the chances of a tail snagging are "fairly" unlikely as opposed to the opposite, I see a lot of these dogs on shoots and as I said before it's just not that common in Scotland, some people still do it but I'd say a minority.
Sorry to hear people have had tail issues, I don't see that as a reason to get in a huff about "AR Propaganda", just a discussion about the pros and cons of tail docking. Chill out.

WinstonCharles2010 said...

If the dog is a commodity to the owner then they will likely dock the tail... it would be a shame if all the other hunters laughed at them for having a long tail. If you love dogs as I do, and make them a family member, then you will be against docking... unfortunately there are two kinds of dog lovers. But in the end, the dog knows what it knows and is happy to work... we could likely have the same discussion about circumcision. ;/