• Guardian Rottweilers takes FIRST PLACE KENNEL at the 2013 ADRK Klubsieger in Rottweil, Germany!!

Tale of Tails

Close your eyes for a moment and picture a Rottweiler.  Not the typical, poorly bred, probably mixed dog that most associate as a Rottweiler, but a real Rottweiler.  A strong, proud, muscular dog with a well sprung chest, heavy bone, large powerful head with a heavy top skull, deep stop, and full, short muzzle.  Picture in your mind the power, beauty, athleticism, movement and carriage of the dog.  See him with your family, diligently and loyally protecting your loved ones, playing ball with you, swimming, or sharing a picnic.  Do you have a good idea of your best friend?

Open your eyes and answer me one question.  How important was his tail to you in the image you had of him, and the role he will have in your family?  Would he perform his job any differently with or without it?  Would he be less loyal, less affectionate, less courageous, less loving with his tail?  When you think about a beautiful correct in form and function majestic Rottweiler, is it his head piece, his bone and muscle substance, his movement, his character that you focus on, or is it what God put just above his butt that makes him a Rottweiler?
“Ocho” Guardian Warrick Von Gottschalk


          I’m sure you have noticed that our German and European Imports have their tails.  As well, if you have seen any German or Sieger style shows/events in the last decade you will also notice that these beautiful Rottweilers have their tails.  In 1999, Germany made the cropping of ears and tails of ALL BREEDS illegal as it was deemed inhumane.  The FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale- the World Canine Organization and governing body for nearly all Canine organizations in the world, including the ADRK) put into effect the new published standard on April 6, 2000 the for the Rottweiler which abolished the tail docking.  As a result any Rottweiler born in Germany or Europe after this time or any Rottweiler born outside of Europe desiring to compete in German events must have the tail intact.  Although it might catch you off guard at first, once you have grown accustomed to viewing the Rottweilers with their tails intact, it almost seems like something is missing when they are docked.  (Imagine a Labrador without it’s tail–you would wonder what had happened!)
Guardian Ikon Von Gottschalk

          Because nearly every other country other than the US has gotten on board with the animal cruelty issue of hacking off body parts (the AKC is not a member of the FCI and therefore does not adhere to their regulation governing the breed standard, Code of Ethics breeding, temperament testing, health clearances, correct confirmations, etc.) puppies with their tails still intact have much greater options open to them.  Not only can a puppy with its tail still compete here in the US in any Sieger style show and most AKC events, but the puppy can also be shown internationally.  A puppy with a docked tail is much more limited in his options.  For this reason, you will see that most breeders producing quality pups are leaving the tails.  Nothing is worse that docking the tail of a pup at 24 hours of age, only to see at 6-8 weeks of age the quality in confirmation and drive and that the puppy could have been the next Auslandsieger or Auslandsiegerin!

          On a personal note, because of all the events and shows we have attended abroad, and been able to see the extremely high quality that Germany and Europe has to offer (and of course all with tails), I have come to see the tail as a status symbol.  Usually, if there is an amazing block head, a deep chest, heavy bone and excellent temperament– there is a beautiful tail arched over the dogs back!  And nothing is more adorable that a little puppy running around with his little tail up in the air like and an antenna!   

          Surgically docking of the tail by a licensed veterinary of the pup just after birth (24-48 hours) is the only “humane” (if chopping off a part of an animal just for looks can ever be humane) method for removing the tail.  When the puppy is born, he is not full developed–eyes and ears are still sealed, and most of his bone is still cartilage.  HOWEVER, pain sensors and nerve ending are already developed, so do not be fooled into thinking the puppy does not feel the operation!  Docking the pups tail later in life is even worse- it is more painful as it is a full amputation, but it also carries a much great risk and a prolonged recovery.  All puppies imported to the US will have the tail intact.  Some breeders offer the options of “partial docking” or leaving some of the puppies with their tails in tact on a litter and docking the rest of the puppies.  Be aware that regardless of whether your puppy is show or pet quality, you will not be permitted to show in conformation events as partial docking is not permitted (you must either dock the entire litter or leave the entire litter intact- if 2 pups from the same litter compete in a conformation event with different tails, both pups will be disqualified!)  If the puppy is show/breed quality, you may still breed the dog and you may still compete in field and working events (tracking, Sch., PSA, agility, herding, etc.)

Here is a shocking video that shows the ignorance and arrogance of man and first hand the BARBARIC practice in bloody detail of a puppy getting his tail cut off and then sew up- fully conscious.  WARNING!  It is graphic.  

Few things… FIRST, he is not “trimming the toenails” on a dew claw removal, he is amputating the whole toe-yup, chopping it off!! Ok, on the rare pup that has a rear dew claw, because of the way the Rottweiler digs in when he runs, I can see the medical need of getting that removed to prevent injury; but front dew claws do not pose any medical risk, so it is pointless pain; Not to mention that the Rottweiler actually USES his front dew claws when climbing much the same way we use our thumbs!
Second, YES, he did just cut the pups tail, rip out nerves and then sew the puppy up ALL WHILE the puppy was FULLY conscious and only a couple days old. He says the stitches will be removed by mom- not always; often because of how crazy fast the puppies grow, they outgrow the stitches and the growth of their skin rips the stitches out leaving a larger scar or forcing a new set of stitches to be put in. This ripping often exposes the bone (see photo further down on this page)- does anyone HONESTLY think for a moment that this is not EXTREMELY painful for the puppy??  
Honestly, I appreciate this vet making the video to educate people a bit more on how truly barbaric the practice is, but I am frustrated that so many people like him OPENLY admit their disdain for this torturous procedure, yet STILL willingly participate!!! If he and everyone like him would find a pair and make a stand, then there would be no breeders offing hacked up puppies and no vets willing to chop off body parts needlessly. We are NOT the minority who feel this to be a horrible idea, we are just TOO QUIET or in some cases too greedy!!  The vet admits that he only does this because he is paid too, and breeders say time and time again that they do this because they can sell the puppies for more… REALLY??  the bottom dollar??  That is why we are mutilating newborn puppies??  This poor baby does not even have its eyes and ears open yet.  He cannot walk or give sweet puppy kisses.  He has not even had a chance to greet the world.  What a welcome gift we have planned for him.  But no worries, now he will fetch more money, has made the vet more money, AND, BONUS, now he looks meaner too because no one can see him way his tail!  I have really tried very hard, believe it or not, to keep this page informational and not editorial, but it is just so bloody hard to NOT have a strong opinion on this subject!  

All puppies produced by Guardian Rottweilers will NO LONGER have a tail-dock option unless there is a medical reason to dock (tail injury, birth defect of the tail, etc.)  I have seen way too many pups suffer and even die from this barbaric practice and refuse to participate any longer.  If you truly believe that a Rottweiler is not just as intelligent, affectionate, loyal, courageous, regal, majestic and gorgeous with his tail, then I am sure you can find many back yard breeders that are not only oblivious to the correct FCI and ADRK recognized breed standard, but also indifferent to the true suffering or well being of their dogs and pups that will be happy to chop the tails off of their newborn puppies for you.  Guardian Rottweilers was started with the philosophy of preserving and bettering the ROTTWEILER BREED, and frankly, I do not see how mutilating helpless puppies accomplishes this gual.  I now live on 10 acres, so if keeping my puppies tails means they never sell, YIPPEE!! I have always wanted a herd of Rottweilers!

          All the puppies we sell that come with their natural tail MUST remain with their tail intact.  Failure to leave the tail without clear medical reason will result in a breach of contract and be considered abuse/ neglect on the puppy.

                                                        Guardian Link Von Gottschalk
If done “correctly,” the puppy is taken to the vet at about 24-48 hours of age.  The reason it is done this early is because
1) it can minimizes the scarring as the pup’s tail is still very small at this age,
2) the pup’s bones are still mostly cartilage rather than calcified bone; and
3) When done this early, the pup is not put under anesthesia which minimizes trauma to the heart, etc.                                   

          So, this newborn, tiny pup just hours old is taken to the vet where it is held down while her tail is clamped and then the tail is sliced off while the puppy is fully awake and screaming.  The surgical knife cuts through skin, muscle, sensitive nerves and the cartilage that would later become the tailbone.  The raw, open tail is then stitched up, again, without any anesthesia.  The poor helpless puppy will continue to scream until it is too exhausted and then just whimper for the next 3-4 day.  Because the raw, open wound of the chopped off tail is right at the anal opening where the feces will come out and be licked all over by mom, the risk of infection that, in such a young puppy, could become septic and life threatening quickly and easily, is high, so the puppy is put on antibiotics for the first week or two of life.  Now, a helpless newborn puppy who is in so much pain that if does not feel like nursing and on antibiotics that can reek havoc on a digestive system that has just developed and only been functioning days, now has to fight for its life and what little it does eat, its tiny body uses  to heal itself rather than grow.  We used to offer an option of having your pup’s tail docked even if the litter was left with the tail in tact.  I cannot tell you how many times I would dock the largest, heftiest pup for a customer and later see it be so significantly behind on growth from his/her siblings that at 3 weeks of age, they do not even appear to be from the same litter!!  Weighing as little as 1/4 the size and weight of their siblings!!  Breeders who dock the entire litter WILL NOT SEE this as ALL the pups are behind, so appear to be “normal”.  

This puppy grew too fast and ripped the stitches out. What is the purpose of putting a puppy through all this trauma?

Why were the tails of Rottweilers originally docked?
There are many myths surrounding the origin of tail docking on Rottweilers.  Some believe that because one of their initial jobs was to work as herding and drover dogs, working with the cattle, docking the tail prevented the tail from becoming full of the mud and feces of the cow and becoming infected or injured.  As the Rottweilers tail is generally carried over its back when working, and the tail is such a strong and powerful part of the dogs body, it is difficult for me to visualize how an intact Rottie tail could become so full of mud and feces that it would get weighed down enough to result in injury, especially as the Rottweiler is a short coated dog.

Another belief is that because they were used as draft dogs and pulled carts, the tails were docked to prohibit injury while pulling the carts.  Again, nearly all of my dogs cart pull and most have their tails and it does not get in the way of even our little dog cart, not to mention a correct cart built specifically for the dog that could be made at any length to accommodate the dogs tail.

One of the theories that for me holds the most merit is that it was done to avoid taxes.  The docked tailed dogs were considered to be working dogs and were therefore not subject to the luxury taxes.  

Regardless of the reasoning, docking is obviously no longer necessary for any of the jobs we ask of the Rottweiler.  It is obvious that their tails are of no hindrance- Malinois and GSDs (German Shepherds) are the most common military and police dogs, both breeds with tails, the best agility breeds have their tail (and are the best because of the tails- they are used as a rudder and critical in balance), competition cart pullers compete with their tails, Border Collie’s, long thought to be one of the best herding dogs have their tails, and of course, the most important job ever give to a Rottweiler, a highly valued and protective member of his family, is also enhanced with the tail.  He is much more capable of showing emotion.  Dogs do nearly all of their communication with body language with a great deal of the expression in the tail.  The manor in which it is wagged is extremely important as a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog.  A tucked tail is a nervous dog, even if the tail is wagging- perhaps one of the most dangerous mindsets and most likely to bite!; and a tail help up and erect with stiff movement is a dog that is not at all happy about something and should not be challenged; none of this will be apparent with a docked tail!

Why should I leave my puppy’s tail intact?
         Besides the obvious reasons (I’m pretty sure that God probably did not put it there on accident, and as stated you have much more options open to you for showing), there are also health risks to consider.
          The American Veterinary Medical Association takes a strong position on tail docking stating that “ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient.  These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss and infection.  The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.”

          Cutting a puppy’s tail off, even when performed by a veterinarian,  is very painful to the young puppy.  Although the puppy is not fully developed, all medical research suggests the central nervous system and pain sensory are fully developed.  Skin, sensitive nerve endings, cartilage and bone are cut through then stitched up all without any anesthesia.  Then, the exposed, raw bone and meat are in such close proximity to the anal opening that there is no way to avoid contamination with the puppy’s own excrement.   Antibiotics will often help prevent infection, but not always.  And because of how fast a Rottweiler puppy grows, the stitches, and consequent scabs are ripped off every couple of days due to growth, causing the healing process to take weeks or even months.  Many docked puppies will bet  “failure to thrive.”  This is where (presumably because of the pain) the puppies do not eat enough, and sometimes have no will at all to eat and must be force fed or have a tube put in through the mouth and into the stomach.  What a horrible way to start out life- only a few hours old and already someone has hacked off part of your body, and caused so much extra stress to your body when it is already so fragile and struggling to finish developing… and why? because it look cool.  Hmmm… wonder of humans would look cooler with only one arm… then it wouldn’t get in the way when your trying to get comfortable on the couch… maybe we should chop the arm off someone’s baby and see if it really hurts or it the baby looks any cooler later…

          Ok, so your puppy “survived” getting part of his body chopped off, what now?  Sometimes the stump can get what is called neuroma, or nerve scar tissue.  This happens in human amputees as well.  I have friends who have lost an appendage, and I can tell you the pain and discomfort is very real.  It is just not as well know in dogs because, anyone who has ever owned a Rottweiler can tell you that they do not let pain stop them from doing their job, even if it is a significant amount of pain.  They do not sit around and wallow in self pity (that’s a human thing) they simply suck it up and drive on.
          The dogs use their tails constantly.  Even if you do not believe in God, then surely your evolution theory would suggest that if the dogs have evolved to have a tail, then it is for a reason.  It is used in balance, swimming (like a rudder) agility and aerial movements, and of course in expression.  I can tell a lot about my dogs out in the garden just by their tails.  Is it stiff and rigid?  Wagging, but very stiffly? Straight in the air?  Wagging freely?  Wagging excitedly?  Tucked under?  Not only do we humans rely on the tail to communicate how our dogs feel, but other dogs do as well.    

          I cannot tell you how many people have bought a puppy with the tail left intact and been apprehensive only to later say that they could not imagine their puppy without it.  I have NEVER had not even one person purchase a puppy with the tail and regret it later.  Your Rottweiler will love you completely and unconditionally regardless of what you look like.  Do you really need to cut part of him off to love him back?

Comments are closed