Although tail docking isn’t as common in border collies as in other breeds, it still happens. This article explains why some collies have their tails docked, the procedure, and why tail docking may soon be a thing of the past.
Border collies may have their tails docked to reduce the chance of injuries while working. However, tail docking is not a part of the official AKC breed standard for Border collies.
Why Do Some Border Collies Have Their Tails Docked?
For many breeds, tail docking is done primarily to conform to breed standards, but this isn’t the case for Border collies.
Tail docking isn’t that common in this breed, but you do still occasionally come across a collie with a docked tail.
Some farmers/breeders may dock a Border collie’s tail in order to prevent injury and improve working abilities.
According to farmers, long tails are vulnerable to speargrass (foxtails) which can get stuck and cause injury. Any kind of injury or pain would negatively impact the dog’s working ability.
Apart from this, there are no other main reasons why a collie would get its tails docked.
For other breeds, it could be their “original” look and may even be considered the breed standard. But this is not the case for Border collies.
Fun fact: Tail docking actually started during Roman times. The Romans believed long-tailed dogs were at greater risk of rabies. Thus, many dogs during this time had their tails docked.
Border Collie Tail Breed Standard
According to the AKC (American Kennel Club) there is no mention of tail docking. Meaning border collies can compete in shows with their regular tail.
Official Border collie tail breed standard:
“The tail is set on low and is moderately long, with the bone reaching at least to the hock. The ideal tail carriage is low when the dog is concentrating on a given task and may have a slight upward swirl at the end like a shepherd’s crook. In excitement, it may be raised, but the base of the tail should not curve forward over the back.”
When Would Border Collies Get Their Tails Docked?
The traditional age for Border collies to have their tails docked is 2-5 days after birth.
No anesthetic is given for the procedure when it’s carried out 2-5 days after birth.
This is where some moral issues arise, which we’ll explain later.
Border collies should NOT have their tails docked later than five days after birth as the nerves, tissue, and blood vessels are too developed by this stage.
As far as veterinarians are concerned, 2-5 days is the only window in which a tail can be docked.
How Short Is The Tail Docked?
If a Border collie is to have their tail docked, the typical length the tail will be docked to is 3-5 inches.
The tail usually doesn’t grow bigger after it’s docked.
Does Tail Docking Cause Pain?
Tail docking is a hot topic due to the controversial decision of using no anesthetic.
As no anesthetic is administered, many people, including expert veterinarians, state that puppies can feel the pain from the procedure.
Additionally, dog behaviorists claim that the pain caused can contribute to future trauma and behavioral issues.
Why isn’t an anesthetic given?
As the procedure is carried out so soon after birth, the puppy is not fully alert and will not remember the procedure shortly after it happens.
This is according to Emily Patterson-Kane, PhD (Animal welfare scientist at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Emily herself still does not support the procedure. Neither does the AVMA.
Are We Allowed to Dock Border Collie Tails?
As it turns out, tail docking isn’t something that can be done whenever, wherever…
Tail docking is a banned procedure in many countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, and most of Europe.
It is still allowed in the USA.
It is likely that the procedure will eventually be banned in America, and the AKC’s official breed standards for many breeds will change.
Can Border Collies Have Naturally Short Tails
On some rare occasions, a Border collie will be born with a naturally docked tail. The official term for this “bob tail”.
Due to a recessive gene mutation known as the C189G gene, a naturally bobbed tail can happen.
This is rare and does often occur.
Bobtail Border collies should never be bred with other bobtails. This can result in severe health complications in the offspring.
If you’ve rescued/adopted an adult border collie and do not know their true history, it’s crucial to verify that their short tail is not a bobtail if you are considering breeding them.