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Docking of dogs' tails


Regulations for tail docking were debated in both England and Wales as a part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into effect on 28th March in Wales and 6th April in England. Scotland implemented a complete ban on all tail docking which came into force on 30th April 2007.

Key England and Wales:

  • The docking of dogs’ tails for cosmetic reasons is banned (as is the showing of cosmetically docked dogs who have had their tails docked after the relevant legislation came into force and where members of the public have paid an entrance fee). 
  • There is an exemption for 'working dogs' as defined by the English and Welsh regulations to include those used by the police, armed forces, search and rescue, and gun dogs and dogs used for pest control purposes. (See table below for a list of exempted breeds) 
  • Only a vet can dock the tail of a puppy that is covered by an exemption. He must see the puppy’s mother and must carry out the procedure before the puppy is five days old (although the vet's decision to dock is entirely at his discretion). 
  • If the vet decides to dock the puppy’s tail, he must certify that he has seen specific written evidence that the dog is genuinely likely to work in one of the permitted areas of work. 
  • The owner must also make a declaration that the dog is likely to work.  A false declaration is an offence. 
  • The dog must also be permanently identified by a microchip before it is three months old. 
  • It is intended that the certificate of exemption will follow the dog throughout its life. 
  • Vets are permitted to dock a dog's tail for medical reasons at any age.

Table comparing differences in exemptions in England and Wales

Type England Wales
NB. No crossbreeds are allowed
Terrier Any type or combination of types Jack Russell
Spaniel Any type or combination of types English springer
Welsh springer
Hunt-Point Retriever Any type or combination of types Braque Italian
German long-haired pointer
German wire-haired pointer
German short-haired pointer
Hungarian vizsla
Hungarian wire-haired vizsla
Italian spinone
Spanish water dog
Korthals griffon
Slovakian rough-haired pointer
Large Munsterlander
Small Munsterlander


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