Rottweiler Tail Docking vs Natural Tail: Which One is Better For Your Rottie?

One of the most commonly recognized characteristics of the Rottweiler breed (Rottie) is the docked tail.

However, you might be surprised to learn that in Europe, Rottweilers have long tails and that the docking practice is forbidden. 

A Rottweiler standing in a field
A Purebred Rottweiler with a docked tail

If you’re getting a Rottweiler puppy, you might be wondering if it’s better to leave your new dog’s tail natural or if you should get it docked.

There are pros and cons to each side of the argument when it comes to docking your dog’s tail. 

In this article, we will examine some of the benefits of docking your dog’s tail, as well as some of the reasons why you might consider leaving your puppy’s tail in its natural state.

Are Rottweilers Born with Tails?

Even though Rottweilers are known for their small, almost non-existent tail, all Rotties are born with a tail, just like other dogs.

The docking practice involves removing a dog’s tail when they’re still a puppy, and this is why most people associate this breed with having no tail. 

The Rottweiler’s breed standard

A six-month-old Rottweiler puppy with a docked tail
Meet Tanke, a six-month-old Rottie pup with a docked tail – Image source

Rottweilers should have docked tails according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standards. This means that dogs without a docked tail cannot enter dog shows.

Even if your local breed club does not insist on docked tails, they may reward it, which means your dog isn’t likely to win a dog show without it.

On the other hand, the United Kennel Club (UKC) does not distinguish if a dog’s tail should or shouldn’t be docked, and thus you can enter dogs of both variations into shows run by this organization.

Bobtail Rottweiler: A Rottie without a tail

A Bobtail Rottweiler puppy
Meet Hugo, a Bobtail Rottie puppy – Image source

Some breeds of dogs are born without tails, although the Rottweiler is not one of them.

On the rare occasion that a Rottie is born without a tail, he will be known as a Bobtail Rottweiler.

A gene mutation in these dogs causes a naturally occurring stumped tail. 

In some places where tail docking is illegal certain breeders breed their Rotties specifically for this gene. 

Top Reasons to Dock a Rottweiler Dog’s Tail

A black-and-tan Rottweiler with a docked tail
A black-and-tan Rottie with a docked tail

A breeder or a vet typically performs the docking process before you even get your Rottweiler dog and is done for a few reasons, mainly for aesthetic purposes.

However, there are some functional pros to removing a dog’s tail. 

1. Functionality

Historically, working Rottweilers had their tails removed for functionality.

Dogs used to pull carts or herd animals would have their tails removed so that they would not get painfully stuck in the cart, be pulled on by animals, or get stuck in bushes and undergrowth.

Docking the dog’s tail would help protect these Rotties from any unnecessary pain. 

2. For Show or Aesthetics

As most Rottweilers are no longer used for working purposes, the other main reason to dock a dog’s tail would be for show or aesthetic reasons. 

As this is the breed standard, most breeders dock their puppy’s tails before they are available for purchase, even if their new owners don’t plan to show their dogs.

Thus, it can be hard to find purebred Rotties without docked tails.

3. Convenience in the home

Some dog owners may decide to dock their Rottie’s tails so that they don’t knock things over around the house or make a mess.

The tail could also pose a risk to small children or precious items, so docking the tail eliminates some of this concern.

4. Guard and attack dog

Rottweiler dogs used as guardians or attack animals will frequently have their tails docked to minimize any potential weak or vulnerable points. 

Guard dogs can have their tails grabbed by other dogs trying to stop their attack, which can put them at risk of getting injured or not being able to fulfill their job effectively.

Some say that docking a dog’s tail can also increase its speed.

5. Generally avoiding injury

Rottie dogs with docked tails are less likely to be affected by tail-related injuries. Working dogs, in particular, could injure their tails in the bush. 

In addition, some dogs experience an injury at home and vets recommend docking the tail to prevent any further damage or pain.

If this is the case, your adult dog will likely be put under anesthesia before the procedure occurs, which will limit the pain. 

Benefits of Keeping Your Rottweiler’s Natural Tail

A Rottweiler running in the snow
A Rottie running in the snow

The most common argument for not docking a Rottweiler’s tail is that there is no fundamental necessity.

If your dog is naturally born with a tail and docking serves a minimal purpose in a companion animal, except aesthetics, is it essential to put your pet through the pain of docking?

1. Aesthetic Tail vs. Without Tail

Primarily tail docking is performed today for aesthetic purposes, but some people prefer the look of a dog with a long natural tail rather than a dog without one. 

2. Expression

A dog with a wagging tail is one of the quintessential definitions of happiness.

Dogs with tails are better able to express themselves, and it makes it easier for us humans and other pets to pick up on their emotions.

3. Agility

Rotties with a tail can be more agile than those without as they use their tail as a counterbalance when trying to balance.

Thus, if you want your dog to compete in dog sports or agility challenges, you may consider keeping his tail long. 

A long tail can also help dogs stay agile when herding, keeping them fast and well balanced as they pivot and change directions quickly.

4. Cost

Keeping your dog’s tail in its natural state is also a way to save money. Getting an entire litter of puppies docked may set a breeder back between $300 and $600.

Thus, selling Rottie puppies with their tails undocked can save a breeder quite a bit of cash. 

How Much Does It Cost to Dock a Rottweiler’s Tail?

A Rottweiler with a docked tail lying down outdoors
A Rottweiler with a docked tail resting in the forest

As mentioned above, docking the entire Rottweiler puppy litter’s tail may cost around $300 to $600 from a professional vet.

Be warned off using any vets that might offer it for cheap as this will likely cause your dog even more pain.

Getting a non-professional to dock your dog’s tail can even put your dog’s life at risk.

Rottweiler with Tail vs. Without Tail

As you can see, there are various pros and cons to both docking a Rottweiler dog’s tail and keeping it in its natural state.

The primary reason to dock a dog’s tail nowadays is to meet the breed standard for aesthetic purposes. 

Working or guard dogs might also have their tail docked to prevent injury, while some families may also decide on a pet with a docked tail to prevent damage around the home.

On the other hand, pet owners who decide not to dock their pet’s tail will save themselves money and their dog any pain.

Their dog might also be better balanced and more agile, and they will be able to read their pet’s expressions easier. 

Purpose of a tail

A Rottweiler standing in a field
A purebred Rottweiler flaunting its natural tail

As the tail of the Rottweiler is so commonly docked, you might think that these dogs don’t need a tail, but this isn’t the case.

Nature gave dogs a tail for a reason, the main ones being a form of communication and to help keep your pet balanced

Dogs communicate their emotions through their tail, wagging them when they are happy, excited, or pleased to see another human or dog.

On the other hand, they may be scared or anxious when their tail is hanging down between their legs. Where their tail sits will help you as an owner better judge your dog’s mood.

In terms of balance, the tail helps a dog remain upright when walking, running, or hunting.

How the dog behaves without a tail?

Removing a Rottie’s tail can have specific implications for a pet’s behavior and communication skills.

Docking a dog’s tail removes the way your pet naturally communicates and can make it harder for other dogs or even humans to pick up on social queues. 

This can result in your Rottweiler becoming aggressive to dogs or humans that approach him when he is in an anxious state, which can cause fights and behavioral issues.

Rottweilers with a docked tail may also struggle with balance and agility, affecting exercise.

Is it Cruel to Dock a Rottweiler Dog’s Tail?

A Rottweiler puppy lying down on a couch
A sleepy Rottie pup – Image source

There is much debate on if docking a Rottweiler dog’s tail is a cruel practice or not.

Unfortunately, when performing the tail docking procedure, very few vets or breeders offer any aesthetic because of the risk of anesthetizing your dog. 

This means that the puppy will feel every cut through the skin, muscles, bone, and nerves, and some people believe this to be exceptionally cruel. 

Does docking a Rottweiler’s tail hurt?

A Rottweiler’s tail should only be docked when he is a few days old.

While the process does likely hurt, at least a little, a puppy’s nervous system isn’t as developed as an adult dog’s, and so the theory is that it will hurt less. 

Ethical breeders who dock their dog’s tails will do so as early as possible to limit the pain and ensure that their puppies are strong enough for the operation.

Is Rottweiler Tail Docking Illegal?

A Rottweiler puppy lying down and looking up
A cute Rottie puppy

It’s not illegal to dock your dog’s tail in the United States; however, this practice is banned in many other countries worldwide.

In these countries, such as Germany, where Rottweilers originate, docking a dog’s tail could result in fines or jail time.

Other countries that have banned tail docking include Turkey, Norway, and the Netherlands.

The Rottweiler Tail Docking Procedure

Only authorized veterinarians should perform the Rottweiler tail docking procedure. The procedure is essentially an amputation of the dog’s tail.

The tail is docked to be only one vertebra long in the Rottweiler breed. 

There are various methods for docking a tail. The first one includes constricting blood flow to the tail through a thick rubber band. The end of the tail will eventually fall off.

An alternative method uses a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut the tail off which is the more usual procedure.

Some other, less common methods of tail docking include laser surgery and electrosurgery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Newborn Rottweiler puppies
Newborn Rottie pups – Image source

At what age do Rottweilers get their tails docked?

Tail docking should be done within the first two to three days of your Rottweiler dog’s life.

During this time, the tail is not fully developed yet, and it’s believed to be a less painful experience.

As a dog gets older, the tail becomes stronger, and the nerves are fully developed, making the experience very painful. 

How long does it take for a Rottweiler to heal from tail docking?

If the tail docking area is kept dry and clean, your Rottweiler puppy should quickly recover from the tail docking procedure.

Most pups will need to go back to the vet within five to seven days to have their stitches removed, and then it will take a few more weeks for the tail to heal completely.

You may need to apply iodine to the tail docking area daily to help prevent any infections from occurring. 

What do veterinarians say about tail docking?

A Rottweiler puppy being carried by a veterinarian
A Rottweiler pup being hugged by a caring vet

Every vet will have their own opinion on tail docking. As it’s not a necessary procedure and is banned in many countries, many vets choose not to dock any dog’s tail.

That said, some reputable breeders do offer tail docking, although they can be pretty expensive as they are becoming rarer to find.

Finding a good veterinarian to do the tail docking

You must find a good vet to perform the tail docking procedure to prevent any unnecessary pain to your pup and ensure that you prevent any health problems in the future. 

Most reputable tail docking vets will have good relationships with Rottie breeders and provide a history of past clients.

They will also provide you with details about how the procedure is performed and even show you their surgery where the procedure will take place.

Vets that offer tail docking may require certification to show that your dog is eligible to have his tail docked.

Conclusion: Should I Dock My Rottweiler’s Tail?

Considering all the arguments above, only you can decide whether or not you should dock your Rottweiler’s tail. 

Unless you plan to show your dog at an AKC sanctioned event or your Rottie is a purely working farm dog, there isn’t any reason why you need to put your dog through the pain of having his tail docked.

There can be some benefits to keeping your Rotties tail long and left natural.

If you decide to get your Rotties tail docked, be sure to have it done by a professional that knows exactly what he’s doing to limit the pain. 

Does your Rottie have a docked tail, or is it left natural? We would love to know more about your puppy in the comments below.

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