A:  The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes.  They encourage the elimination of tail docking from breed standards.  Nevertheless, there are many breeds where this procedure is still commonly performed.

When performed, tail docking should be done before the cartilage turns to bone – usually at 2 to 3 days of age.  Once the tail bones form, the procedure is significantly more complicated, traumatic, and expensive.  At this point, it would require general anesthesia – something that most veterinarians would prefer not to do to a three week old puppy.  My suggestion would be to allow them to keep their natural tails.  If the tails absolutely must be docked for show reasons, I would suggest waiting until they are several months old.

Q:  No, I don’t want to do that!  I need to sell them and don’t want the tails on them.  I could wait until they were 6 weeks, but then it has to be done.  Just how expensive is the docking?

A:  Personally, I would not agree to do them at six weeks of age.  I do not believe it is right to put an animal at increased risk of death or infection for cosmetic purposes.  If they are not done at 2-3 days, I will not perform the procedure until at least four months – and then only for a dog that is intended for showing in a breed where standards require it.