Hardrada Rottweilers on Tail Docking


  Tail docking is legal in New Zealand



Tall Tail: Have you ever wondered why Rotties have docked tails?

Although several theories surround the origin of docked tails in Rottweilers, most of these only stem from misinterpretations and misconceptions about this powerful breed of dogs.

Rotties have been an integral part of human life since the early days of the Roman Empire when they were commonly used as working dogs to herd cattle. They were primarily used to safeguard cattle from robbers and wild animals. Consequently, the dogs grew up mainly in pastures, which exposed them to mud, debris and waste left behind by the livestock.  Often, the encrusted debris weighed down their tails. This left the Rotties prone to infections and injuries as cattle and other livestock trod on their tails.

It became a common habit to dock the tails of the Rotties as a preventive measure against injuries and infections, especially in the absence of adequate veterinary care in those days. The docked tails of the Rotties were also considered to be advantageous since farmers could avoid a ‘tail tax’, which was a method of counting livestock by counting the number of tails.

Rotties have also been used as police dogs by the military during World War I. This has led people to misconstrue that tail docking came into practice to give the breed a fiercer appearance that suited its role of a watchdog. However, this explanation has now been proved wrong and it has been established that the Rottweiler was originally a working dog.

The practice of docking the Rottie’s tail continues in New Zealand, but has been made illegal in Australia, Mexico, and a few European countries.  


The New Zealand Animal welfare act allows the docking of tails, key points are listed below.

The Animal Welfare (Dogs) Code of Welfare 

Minimum Standard 17 states:

(a) Tails may only be shortened or removed by using a tail band—

(i) in puppies that are less than four days old in which the eyes have not started to open; and

(ii) by a person who possesses the appropriate knowledge, training and

competency necessary to do so effectively, and who is acting under a

documented quality assurance scheme that assures compliance with this

minimum standard; and

(iii) the remaining length of the tail must be sufficient to avoid compromising health and welfare when the dog is mature.

(b) Tails that need to be shortened or removed to manage existing injury or disease, must only be shortened or removed by a veterinarian using appropriate pain relief.

Please note the following:

·         Surgical shortening or removal can ONLY be used under clause (b) i.e. to manage existing injury or disease, NOT for cosmetic or prophylactic docking. 

·         Anyone (including veterinarians) shortening tails for non-therapeutic purposes can only do so in puppies that are less than 4 days of age and ONLY tail bands may be used.

·         Please note that clause (a)(ii) in terms of the requirement to act under a documented quality assurance scheme that assures compliance with the minimum standard applies to anyone banding tails, including veterinarians.

·         Anyone can set up an assurance scheme but must satisfy themselves that they meet the requirements for knowledge, training and competency in tail banding and that any scheme meets the requirements of the minimum standard. 



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