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Tail Docking of Dogs

The Prohibition on Tail Docking explains in what situations this procedure it may be allowed, and what time frame it is required to be preformed. Pointers, Spaniels and Terrier puppies may be docked before the age of 8 days old, but only in specific situations and it has to be preformed by a veterinary practitioner. Tail docking is defined as removing the tail or part of the tail of a dog. It is legally required to be performed by a trained professional e.g. a licensed vet (veterinary practitioner or a veterinary nurse) and when it’s foreseen that the puppy will likely work in lawful pest control or the lawful hunting or shooting of animals.

More information can be found http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2014/si/125/made/en/print S.I. No. 125/2014 – Prohibition on Tail Docking (Dogs) Regulations 2014, from Simon Coveney the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Note: Ads on dogs.ie, if a tail docking has been preformed, evidence from the seller needs to be submitted before an ad is approved. This document should also be provided to the new owner should they be questioned about the procedure in the future.

This declaration from a vet outlines the reasons, and other information about the procedure. Special records of these sales are also required to be retained by the breeder.

Example tail docking attestation

Tail Docking and Dew Claw Removal Declaration example

This document should be kept with the dogs’ records for the life of the dog, should you be asked to show proof that the docking was performed legally.

Example attestation form

The certificate as published in March 2014 we do recommend you check check the Department website for the most up to date version.

Example of cropped / docked tail

dog with cropped tail due to injury

Cropped tails have an abrupt, almost square like end to them, compared with a natural taper.

Breeds that can be legally have their tails docked

Generally the tail is docked to prevent it from getting in the way or getting injured while the dog is working. Only certain breeds can legally have their tail docked, these are:

  • Pointers
  • Spaniels
  • Terrier

All other breeds such as boxers, dobermans and bull breeds are not included on this list, and performing this is illegal, unless it’s medical required.

Why was a tail docked?

There are a few reasons why you may see a dog with a docked tail on the streets, some of these include:

  • Tail was docked because of breed and work area and performed under Prohibition on Tail Docking (Dogs) Regulations 2014.
  • Tail was docked outside of Ireland, where it’s legal to perform the procedure on dogs.
  • Tail was damaged and needed to be surgically removed by a vet.

If you are buying a dog with a docked tail it’s important to ensure that it was done legally, and you have the evidence to prove it. It is not allowed to remove a tail for purely aesthetic reasons.

Further reading

Updated on September 19, 2023
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