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The Campaign Against the Docking of Dogs' Tails


A.D.A  -  The following report  has not been  peer reviewed and therefore has no scientific merit.

ADA reviews the misleading statistics as follows:-

The survey seems to apply to “working” dogs and not pets. 
Working dogs may have been worked in non-welfare friendly conditions. It appears that some were sledding dogs.    

 Page 2 (highlighted paras) from which the figure below was  cited. 

There was a 26 litter cohort group who answered the questionnaire both in 1990 and 1991 (191 dogs).

(In 1991 TWELVE of these young dogs were DEAD! why?   (6.3%))  leaving a total of 179 dogs in cohort group

In 1990 72 dogs had tail injuries  (38%) =  51%

In 1991  20 dogs had tail injuries  (13%)

i.e. There was a cumulative increase over 2 years (51%) 

A total of 7 dogs had tails amputated in the report; less than the amount of dead dogs.

If all these dogs had been docked as neonates that would have equated to a 100% injury rate! We cannot separate the act of docking (so called prophylactic) from injuries (to the tail) caused to the dog in other possibly preventable circumstances.

Statistics might show similar results with those of breeds with undocked tails used for field work such as English Pointers, Retrievers, Labradors, Setters etc.  but no docking has been mandated for these breeds.




The Breed Council - German Short-haired Pointer

The Agricultural Advisor,

Graduate of Agricultural College

Gunilla Strejffert

Nybybagen 14

781 96 Borlange

23 February 1992



      The German Short-haired Pointer is a pointing gundog of continental type with Germany as its country of origin. In the background of these dogs there is
Spanish, German and English blood. 
The German Short-haired Pointer in its present form received its written standard description at  the end of the 19th
In body construction, the German Short-haired Pointer is somewhat heavier and more substantial than English pointing gundogs such as Pointers and
Setters. The German Pointer is
very happy and very lively, both in body and in soul. It usually moves in a very fresh, even abrupt way, especially in hunting situations.     

      The GSP was mainly used as a pointing gundog. It was also used as a retriever both on land and  sea, as a tracking/search dog, as a flushing dog etc. It has become popular as a sled dog. Many of those who have chosen to acquire a German Pointer, have done so because of the dog’s versatility, especially as a hunting dog. Another very strong reason is that the German Pointer is  very hardy and robust.   Up until 31 December 1988, the German Pointer could have a docked tail, whereupon one half to two thirds of the tail was saved. From 1 January 1989 the docking of dogs tails in Sweden was banned. It had already become apparent during 1989 that the long-tailed German Pointers had acquired a good few injuries on their long tails. In some individuals, it was even necessary to amputate the tail before one year of age, as a result of extensive tail injuries which did not heal easily. The incidence of tail injuries seemed to increase in 1990. The Swedish German Pointer Club therefore decided to investigate how common and how serious a problem were tail injuries in the long-tailed German Pointers. An interview investigation was carried out during the late autumn of 1990. This tail investigation was followed up by a questionnaire

investigation during the late autumn of 1991.  


      During the late autumn of 1990 an interview investigation was carried out amongst the 53 litters of German Pointers which were registered during 1989.
50 of these litters were long-tailed. The
other three litters were born during 1988 and were docked. Information about the long-tailed litters and their
breeders were collected from the Swedish Kennel Club’s annual register of
registered German Shorthaired Pointers for 1989. In the first part of the
investigation, we asked
the breeders;  

            How many dogs in the litter received tail injuries,  

            The type and seriousness of the possible tail injury,  

            Possible tail amputations,  

            "Degree of strain in terrain" that the dogs had been put through.  

      This investigation was followed up by a complementary interview investigation in the litters with tail injuries. The severity of the tail injuries
was set against the relevant German Pointers’
body constitution and temperament.  

      During the autumn of 1991 a further investigation was carried out (a questionnaire investigation) regarding tail injuries of those German
Pointers born during 1989. The breeders
then received the new questionnaire as well as their old statements about tails made in 1990 to

be able to follow up the changes. Replies were received from 26 breeders. To make it all more accurate, we picked out these 26 litters
from the 1990 investigation and collated the material 
separately. We were then able to compare the changes within one and same group
the years of 1990 and 1991.


       The tail injuries occur mainly during hunting. The injuries are then maintained during further hunting and also in the home. During
1991 approximately 15 dogs had injured their tails at
Some of the sledding dogs received tail injuries whilst being trained.


       During the autumn of 1990, when the dogs were between 12 and eighteen months old, we received replies to our interview
investigation regarding 44 litters. The investigation included
      299 individual dogs (142 dogs and 157 bitches). It then became
apparent that tail injuries had
occurred in 23 of these litters. 81 individual dogs had suffered from tail injuries. This compared

to approximately 27% of the whole investigated group. Dogs were somewhat more affected than bitches. In the autumn of 1991, the
same dogs were now 24 to 30 months old. This time we received
replies from 26 litters. To make it more accurate, we picked out
these 26 litters from the 1990
investigation, and collated the material separately. We were then able to compare the changes

within the same group between 1990 and 1991. In 1990, the group of 26 litters consisted of 191 individuals. In 1991, 179 of
these were still
alive. (What happened to the other 12?) Of the 26 litters, 16 had received tail injuries in 1990 and 23 litters in
1991. In 1990, we found 72 individuals with tail injuries, corresponding to 38%
of the group. In 1991 the number of tail
injured individuals had increased to 92, corresponding
to 51% of  the group. The number of tail injured dogs had increased by
more than 30%.
      It could now be established that the male dogs had received somewhat more injuries. If one were to transfer the above increase
of 30% of tail injuries into the larger investigation group,
the 44 litters from the 1990 investigation, we would end up with an
increase in frequency of tail
injuries from 27% in 1990 to 35% in 1991. This large group can be seen to be representative of

the population of German Short-haired Pointers born  during 1989. In other words, every third German Pointer with a long
tail has suffered from more or less serious tail injuries.


       The kind of tail injuries which occurred during 1990 and 1991 respectively were on the whole the same, for example: bleeding
and damaged tail tips, (the last 10cms of the tail) with light, medium and severe
injuries (on occasion it has been very
difficult for the injuries to heal),
infected and inflamed tails, lameness injuries and so called water tails and broken tails.


       The tail injuries were graded as light, medium or severe, for each individual dog in 1990 and 1991. It was established
how the tail injuries had changed between the two years:
15 had improved 37 were unchanged 47 were worse

       The degree of severity appears to be linked to:

           the liveliness of the dog and the tail,

           how much and how intensive the dog is used/hunted and the type of terrain where the dog is used/hunted

      When the bushiness (presumably of the terrain not the tail!) is increased, especially in wood and mountainous terrain, the number
of tail injuries increase and
the severity of the tail injuries increase

       AMPUTATION (known cases)

       In certain cases, the tail injuries of the German Short-haired Pointers born in 1989 were so extensive and difficult to heal that
the only solution was to amputate the tail.
In total, thus far, 7 dogs of the investigated group (10%) have had their tails amputated. In 1989

three dog tails (2 dogs and 1 bitch) were amputated. The dogs were only 6, 6 and 11 months old. In the later investigation it became
apparent that a further four dogs (3 dogs and 1 bitch)
had had  their tails amputated. The age of amputation was 21 months, 2, 3 and 3 years



       The German Short-haired Pointer is a pointing gundog of continental type. It is a heavy set dog with a lively temperament and very strong and
fast movements in the terrain.

       The German Short-haired Pointer could be docked up until 31 December 1988. From the 1 January 1989, the docking of dogs
tails was banned in Sweden.
It became apparent that the German Pointers with long tails born during 1989, received a fair amount
of injuries on their long tails already in 1989. It can be noted that the dogs had not
reached even one year of age. The tail injuries
continued to occur during 1990 and 1991. The
frequency and severity of the tail injuries increased.

      The Swedish German Pointers Clubs breeding council carried out investigations (interviews and questionnaires) during the late autumn
of 1990 and 1991 respectively, regarding the
incidence of tail injuries on long-tailed German Pointers born in 1989.

      In the autumn of 1990 when the dogs were 1 - 1.5 years old, 27% of the dogs had suffered from tail injuries. The investigated
group consisted of 44 litters, 299 individual dogs.       In the autumn of 1991 when the dogs were 2 - 2.5 years old,
35% of the dogs had suffered from tail injuries. In other words, every third German Pointer with a long tail had suffered from tail  injuries.

Types of tail injuries:

            bleeding and damaged tail tips, with sometimes difficult healing,

            infected and inflamed tails,

            lameness injuries and so called water tails and broken tails.

      The severity of the tail injuries: the tail injuries have in total increased in severity up until 1991. Up to now, 7 cases of tail
amputated dogs in the "more adult" investigated age group are
known. The severity of the tail injuries seem to depend on the
liveliness of the dogs and the
tails, how much the dogs are worked and what type of terrain they are worked in.
           The more lively the dog and the more abrupt the movement (breed characteristic), (male dogs somewhat
more inclined to injury), 
the more the dog is used (the German Pointer is a hunting dog) and the bushier and
thicker the terrain in which the dog works (mainly woodland in
mountainous terrain): then the more serious the injuries of the
dog’s tail and the bigger the risk of amputation.
The situation whereby every third German Pointer dog with a long tail is
suffering from injuries
and an increase of the frequency and severity of those injuries is unacceptable.

     The above investigation relates to German Short-haired Pointers. A similar investigation has been conducted for
German Wire-haired Pointers. It shows similar results. A return to docking of
these two German Pointer breeds at
the age of three days is necessary.

         Borlange, 23 February 1992


         Gunilla Strejffert

 A.D.A. review on the above:-




The Campaign Against the Docking of Dogs' Tails




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