Docking refers to the removal of a part of an animal’s tail. Sometimes, the procedure is performed using either a pair of surgical scissors or some other tool. Other times, the procedure involves the use of a ligature, which is meant to cut the supply of blood to the pit bull tail until it falls off after a few days’ time. Whichever the case, it should come as no surprise to learn that docking is a rather controversial procedure, which has contributed to it becoming less and less popular.
Why Do People Sometimes Dock a Pit Bull’s Tail?
There are various reasons why dog owners sometimes choose to dock their dogs’ tails. For starters, people used to believe that it provided a number of important health benefits. One example was a reduction in the chances of a dog getting rabies. Another reason was an improvement in a dog’s speed. However, it is important to note that a lot of these beliefs have been disproven. For instance, we now know that rabies is caused by a virus that spreads from animal to animal through biting. It isn’t a coincidence that its victims are often depicted as slavering from their jaws. Rabies increases the production of saliva so that the rabies virus can spread through it. As such, the docking of the tail doesn’t have much effect on a dog’s chances of getting rabies because it doesn’t have much effect on a dog’s chances of being bitten by a rabid animal.
Having said that, it is important to note that the dog’s health is still one of the more common justifications that get brought up for the docking of the dog’s tail. Essentially, the idea is that the undocked tail of a working dog has a higher chance of becoming injured. For example, a working dog’s tail might be targeted when it enters into a conflict. Similarly, a working dog’s tail might wag with such enthusiasm that it becomes cut and bruised when it smacks into something that is either hard or otherwise problematic. This may or may not have been a serious issue in the past. There was a time when the poor understanding of hygiene meant that even a simple wound could become infected. Something that could result in amputation or worse. Nowadays, the evidence for this argument is unconvincing. Working dogs don’t seem to have much higher chances of getting tail injuries than their non-working counterparts. Furthermore, tail injuries just aren’t that common. Specifically, there is a 0.23 percent chance of tail injuries happening, which in turn, means that about 500 dockings would need to be performed in order to prevent a single tail injury. That means a lot of suffering to prevent not a lot of suffering. Something that makes no sense.
In any case, there is one last reason why dog owners sometimes choose to dock their dogs’ tails. Simply put, a lot of dog breeds are supposed to have a short tail. As a result, if the dogs born into those dog breeds aren’t born with a short tail, well, suffice to say that it is still possible for them to have a shortened tail. An effort is being made to change the standards for these dog breeds. In some places, that effort has succeeded in changing the law of the land; in other places, that effort has made much less dramatic progress. Thanks to that, there are still places where dog owners dock their dogs’ tails because that is what the standards set by their kennel clubs say they should be doing. For that matter, there are also dog owners who choose to dock their dogs’ tails because they think that their dogs look better that way. Pit Bulls are one of the dog breeds that are particularly prone to this. Apparently, some people think that the docked tail makes them look fiercer and more formidable, which plays into the popular image of the dog breed.
Why Is Docking Such a Huge Problem For Pit Bulls and Other Dogs?
There are parts of the body that feel no pain under normal circumstances. To name a human example, the brain itself feels no pain, though it is very much possible for the protective tissue between the brain and the skull to feel pain. Unfortunately, a dog’s tail isn’t one of those parts of the body. As a result, the pain of having their tail removed is one of the main reasons why more and more people are seeing docking in a very negative light. On top of that, it is very much possible for docking to cause long-term issues in this regard, which further strengthens the sentiment. Of course, a dog doesn’t have the words needed to communicate exactly what they feel because of the removal of their tail. Still, it seems safe to say that it is very unpleasant. In any case, there are other issues caused by the docking of the tail, which makes sense because dogs get quite a bit of use out of their tails. For instance, they are reliant on their tails for balancing purposes, which makes it rather ironic that some people used to believe that docking would make dogs both stronger and faster. Likewise, chances are good that interested individuals are familiar with how dogs will use their tails for communication purposes. A wagging tail is one of the most famous examples of non-verbal communication that can be found out there, though it isn’t the only way that dogs can communicate by using movements of their tail. Thanks to this, it is no exaggeration to say that a dog without their tail is handicapped when it comes to communication. Something that has a very real effect on their well-being for the worse. Besides these, different dog breeds have also been known to use their tails in different ways. Some have been known to use their tails as a way of keeping their noses warm during cold weather. Meanwhile, others have been known to use their tails for everything from steering when swimming to facilitating a change in direction when running at high speeds.