• 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 all of our gorgeous Rottweilers have their tails.  As well, if you have seen any German or Sieger style shows/events in the last 2 decades 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, you can feel that 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, puppies with their tails still intact have much greater options open to them.  Unfortunately, and in my humble opinion one of the main reasons for the degradation of the breed here in the United States, 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 screenings, correct conformations, etc.  However, any breeder here in the US that competes internationally or produces pups of high enough quality to be desired by owners/handlers/breeders outside the US should still heed the FCI recognized ADRK regulations concerning docking their tails.  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, and as consumers become more educated on the correct breed standard as well as start to sort out breeders of merit from back yard breeders who, rather than compete or cultivate the breed, seek only to mass produce puppies, the docked puppies and breeders that continue with this barbaric, antiquated practice become less desirable.  Some breeders try to allow for the pups to be ‘custom ordered’ docked or not docked.  However, this method, aside from promoting the continued mutilation of a puppy for the sake of fashion, is inherently flawed.  You are forced into the arbitrary selection of a newborn puppy and obligated to that puppy without he/she being old enough for conformation and character evaluation.  Once he/she is of age for the personality to present and aspects of the character such as drive, confidence, focus, workability, intelligence, affection, etc. to be apparent, you are already obligated to that puppy even his character is not at all what you were hoping for (i.e., you were looking for a working dog, and he/she does not possess the confidence or drive, or you wanted an affectionate ‘shadow puppy’ that stayed with you, and the puppy you are obligated to is independent).  Even the conformation of the puppy (physical correctness) could be a problem.  If you wanted a show/breed prospect, and the puppy you are obligated has ears that are not set correctly, a malocclusion (bad bite), poor angulation, etc. now you are obligated to that puppy as an expensive learning lesson and pet.  Nothing is worse that docking the tail of a pup at 24 hours of age, only to see at 6 weeks of age the quality in conformation and drive and know that the puppy could have been the next Auslandsieger/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 conversely, more often than not, if the tail is not there, the probability that the puppy came from a back yard breeder and is consequently lacking in one or more aspects of character, health or conformation, can be inferred.  Besides, 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, HOWEVER, sensory (tough, response to pain) and smell are already very well developed and are the puppies only defense mechanisms at this young age.  He/she uses these 2 senses alone to navigate their world- find mom, feel when they are too hot or too cold, etc.  Their pain response is very acute and they will yelp loudly if mom steps on them, so do not be fooled by the very false myth that 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 sewn 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 and to grip toys, etc. much the same way we use our thumbs!
Next, what an absolute shame and pity that these pups came from a breeder and the vet is having to FORCE the owner/breeder to purchase frontline for the mom because the pups, even though they are newborn, are already INFESTED with fleas.  So many things wrong with that- I do not even know where to start.  I have taken in rescued pups and kittens that DIED from exsanguination from the fleas- meaning the fleas literally drank too much of the hosts blood for the host (the newborn baby) to live.  Even when the flea infestation does not result in death, they can still lead to anemia and there are so many diseases (and tapeworm!) transmitted by the fleas.  Why any vet would elect to do an unnecessary surgery on a newborn puppy that could very likely already be anemic and cause even more bloodless is beyond me.  When you get that bargain deal on a “full blooded german rottweiler” for just a few hundred dollars, you can absolutely bet that monthly flea/tick and heart worm meds are one of the first “unnecessary expenses” that are skipped.  All of those internal and external parasites mom has will be passed to those pups.  The irony of how the breeder sees vaccination, deworming and parasite prevention as an unnecessary expenses but paying to have the puppies mutilated as a compulsory expense– all about the bottom line- they can sell the pups on craigslist so much easier if the tails are docked and no one will be the wiser if they skip on any of the fundamentals.

Now lets address the actual docking.  YES, he did just cut the pups tail, and then jam a needle repeatedly through skin, nerve and muscle to sew him up ALL WHILE the puppy was FULLY conscious and only a couple days old.  Although, I do feel obligated to point out here that, at a minimum, the breeder is at least taking the pups to a vet and not doing it in their kitchen with an old pair of scissors (happens so much more often than you realize!)  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??  And how about his response when asked if he used a tourniquet?  “No, I never did that… Never had one bleed to death yet.  I’m arrogant.”  (Couldn’t tell that all all when he decided to cut the tails all different lengths and said, “They’re not all going to be the same length.  I didn’t guarantee that, did I?”).  For anyone that is not in the medical field, when doctors, vets, medics, etc. wear gloves, that is not just for their protection, it is for yours as well- it is to prevent the introduction of bacteria which could lead to infection.  So as he is cutting, handling the wound and needle and stitching, all without gloves, he is constantly introducing bacteria.  We all have bacteria- they are a normal and healthy- often necessary- part of just about every biological function.  These bacteria are called normal flora.  However, if these normal flora end up somewhere other than where the are supposed to reside (like ingesting bacterial from feces) then you end up with an infection.  We all have normal flora on our skin.  So even if your hands are clean and free from- say e. coli, you will still have normal flora which can have devastating consequences if introduced to the open wound of the puppy.   

Honestly, I appreciate this video to educate people a bit more on how truly barbaric the practice is, but I am frustrated that so many people OPENLY admit their disdain for this torturous procedure, yet STILL willingly participate!!!  If everyone 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 NOT 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.  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) When done this early, the pup is not put under anesthesia, saving a lot of money on anesthetizing and reversal.                                   

          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, cartilage and 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 it 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.  I know many breeders who will partially dock- meaning dock some of the pups in a litter and leave some with their tail in tact.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the largest, heftiest pup docked 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”.
Also important to note, that if infection does happen, the infection is right there ready to head into the spinal column and central nervous system. 

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.  I would also think that if the mud/feces were significant enough to injure a tail that the entire dog’s coat would be an issue.

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.

Other complications no one wants to talk about.  
Because the tail is an extension of the central nervous system, sometimes, even when the tail is docked “properly” by a veterinarian, the puppy can later experience incontinence (failure to hold the bladder when they have to pee) as well as inability to control their bowels (cannot hold it when they have to poop).  There can also be damage to the nerves in the hindquarters causing everything from difficulty with coordination to complete paralysis.  Any breeder familiar with the FCI recognized ADRK breed standard will know docking has been abolished for more than 20 years by both the FCI and ADRK.  Further, any breeder that has any amount of love or respect for the breed or their pups would never deliberately and willingly cause trauma and pain to a soul they love and treasure.   Only someone whose “breeding goals” revolve around financial gain would even contemplate something so barbaric, so thankfully, tail docking is done almost entirely by back yard breeders and puppy mills anymore.  Unfortunately, because of this, the same person that is willing to mutilate a newborn puppy for profit is equally willing and able to euthanize a “problem.”

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?

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