Weimaraner long tail

General info, Health

Do Weimaraners Have Long Tails?

Yes, Weimaraners are born with long tails. In some countries it’s allowed to dock (shorten) the tail on short-haired Weimaraners for hunting/medical purposes. The American Kennel Club considers docked tail to be the breed standard and long tails are penalized. Long- haired Weimaraners don’t have their tails docked.

Weimaraners are beautiful dogs initially raised to be hunting dogs. Tail docking has been a very common practice for many years when it came to this breed. Docking Weimaraner tails was primarily done for practical reasons, to avoid injury, and to prevent performance inhibition, as their long tails could get in the way during hunting.

If you’re not familiar with what docking is, the practice simply refers to removing a portion of the tail from a puppy. Some breeds more than others have their tails traditionally docked. Weimaraners are one of such breed.

However, times are different now, and today, in most parts of the world (including the UK and Australia, but also some countries in Europe) tail docking is illegal. However, tail docking is still part of the AKC (short for American Kennel Club) breed requirements in the US, and the majority of pure breed Weims are indeed docked. (source)

The FCI standards don’t penalize for natural tail length. (source)

Where it is possible to undergo the procedure, it needs to be carried out by qualified veterinary surgeons. But why are Weimaraner tails docked? And what should you know about the procedure? Keep reading to learn all about it and to clarify all of your doubts.

Why Are Weimaraner Tails Docked?

The real reasons for Weimaraner tails to be docked all come down to functionality. Although many still think that cosmetics and aesthetics play a role in docking, the reality is that tails are docked because they can get caught up into brush or get broken, for example.

Docked tail Weimaraner

Weimaraners are versatile dogs, developed to hunt and to track their prey. To prevent injuries the Weimaraner Club of America (WCA) supports tail docking and dewclaw removal in puppies, with the justification that it can produce long-term health benefits and maintain the integrity of the breed.

How Is The Docking Done?

Docking is usually carried out by the breeder for puppies between 3 to 5 days old or by veterinarians up to 14 days of age. This is because their nerve endings haven’t fully developed by then, meaning that the process will be much less painful than you might think.

Can I Get An Undocked Weimaraner Puppy In The US?

As I mentioned above, the breed standard according to the AKC is to have all puppies docked at the appropriate age, whether or not they are a hunting dog, show dog or merely a companion.

Usually at the time of docking the prospective buyer hasn’t had a chance to choose a puppy, therefore the docking is made automatically by the breeders in the US. If you wish for your puppy not to be docked, it might be very difficult. I’d contact your chosen breeder ahead of time before the puppies are born and discuss your options.

Weimaraner Tail Injuries

Weimaraners have naturally long tails, but if you decide to let it the way it is, you might have to deal with several injuries or even with the amputation of tails, which can be very painful procedures.

Most common tail injuries in Weimaraners include:

  • abrasions – simple scrapes
  • lacerations – more serious, cut open wounds
  • “happy tail” – constant wagging and hitting against walls and furniture may cause the tip of the tail to cut open and it’s difficult to heal as the tail is never still
  • fractures
  • nerve damage
  • degloving – when the skin is stripped off, usually at the tip

What length should a Weimaraner’s tail be?

According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standard, a Weimaraner’s tail should be around 6 inches long as an adult. Many Weimaraners in the US have their tails docked to meet such requirements, but also to prevent some injuries.

The tail should be long enough to cover the dog’s genitalia but not shorter than 6″.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Docking Weimaraner Tails?

As with everything, there are some drawbacks to tail docking. First of all, while the procedure is not considered to be extremely painful, that doesn’t make it completely painless. In general, there is a lot of controversy on whether tail docking should be followed as a procedure or not.

If you think about it, if a dog has a tail, it’s there for a reason. Tails are an important channel for dogs to communicate with humans and with other dogs. A dog’s tail position can indicate friendliness, submission, or communicate a warning signal. Dogs use them as a protective mechanism, to communicate with other dogs and to establish boundaries.

Docked tail Weimaraners

Without a tail, dogs might suffer from important miscommunications problems which might even lead to fights between individuals. For this reason, most countries have banned the practice of docking tails in Weimaraners.

Also, tail docking should not be conducted for cosmetic reasons, but it can only be justified for medical reasons. This is also what the Weimaraner Club of America states. While the practice is not considered “cruel”, some consider it unnecessary for most dogs, especially the Weims that are not used for hunting but rather as simple life companions.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is against docking tails or cropping the ears.

Docking should always be done by a professional. I’ve seen many people reporting that their breeder didn’t do the docking right and now the tail is too short or it has other issues. Some people report that their Weim is really sensitive about his docked tail if people touch it, some even compared it to the missing limb syndrome.

What Are The Benefits of Tail Docking?

There are really no other benefits other than preventing a possible future injury.

Personal Experience & Opinion

In our country it is allowed to dock the tails but only by a veterinarian on puppies up to 3 days of age. The breeder we got Nelly from didn’t dock the tails. Not all people use Weims for hunting here, some use them for shows and tails can’t be docked for those.

Nelly hasn’t had problems with her tail except one time. She somehow scratched the tip of her tail and it bled (not much but still) and since her tail is always on the move, the wound would reopen and there would be blood splatters on the walls and furniture.

Nelly and her undocked tail

It didn’t take long to heal though. And while it might be painful for us when she’s all excited to see us, it’s totally worth it. Or when she’s sleeping on the ground, wakes up and sees us, the little happy ‘thump thump’ is very sweet.

We’ve also never had a problem with her knocking stuff of the coffee tables

While I don’t mind docking for puppies which are going to be used for hunting, I do find the AKC standard pretty ridiculous. Why should the dog be penalized for having a natural tail? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Countries Which Ban Tail Docking

Here is a list of countries which banned tail docking, either completely or with some restrictions for working breeds and/or medical purposes:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • England
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Ireland
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Scotland
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain (some autonomies)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wales

The Bottomline

Some breeders decide to maintain the breed’s standards by docking the puppies’ tails. On the other hand, undocked tails are gaining popularity. With European countries and the UK banning docking, the move appears to be towards undocked tails even in the US.

It’s possible that standards will change and even American clubs will start to accept undocked Weimaraners as pure breed. It’s hard to justify tail docking or to promote the practice of undocking.

Ultimately, the choice of tail docking comes down to the dog’s owner and your veterinary’s position, if docking is allowed by the law of course. It’s a matter of individual opinion but also your own and your dog’s lifestyle. However, tail docking should not be carried out purely for cosmetic reasons.

Unodcked tail Weimaraner puppy

Keep in mind that the absence of the tail might cause some problems in dogs’ communication and expression, but if you are planning to spend time outdoors with your dog, you might want to consider docking to avoid having to amputate the dog due to accidents in the field in the future.

Chances are that in near future there will be more and more undocked Weims available from breeders and undocking will become the new standard.

For now, consider the information provided in this essential guide about tail docking and make up your mind on your position about Weimaraner’s tail docking.



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