Cavapoos are designer dogs that are a cross between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Toy or Miniature Poodle. First bred in the 1990s, the kind, affectionate breed’s popularity skyrocketed in recent years and now costs a pretty penny.
Cavapoos have long, furry tails that can be left undocked. However, it is not uncommon to see Cavapoos with short, stumpy tails that the breeder has docked. Tails are docked when the puppy is about three to five days old, and some Cavapoo puppies are sold with tails already docked.
Tail docking, sometimes called “bobbing,” is a controversial subject with advocates on both sides. Although widely practiced centuries ago, more opposition has emerged recently than ever before. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the British Veterinary Association have spoken out condemning the practice.
Most veterinarians, humane societies, and animal rights advocates are campaigning to abolish the practice, while some owners and breeders approve of docking for aesthetic purposes and to meet breed standards.
Tail docking is the practice of removing a three to five-day-old puppy’s tail without an anesthetic. It is believed that puppies that young have undeveloped nervous systems and don’t feel pain.
Veterinarians worldwide have since disputed and proved that erroneous. It is banned in several countries but still prevalent in the United States and Canada.
The first record of docking tails dates back to Ancient Rome, where it was believed that removing most of the tail prevented rabies.
Later, the tails of hunting dogs were removed to prevent injuries like getting the tail caught in the underbrush. Docking the tails of working dogs then became common practice.
In the 18th century, a tax was implemented on all non-working dogs, which of course, led to all dog owners cutting their dog’s tail off to avoid paying the tax.
Today, owners dock tails primarily for aesthetic purposes and conform to pure breed standards if intending to participate in dog shows.
A small handful of dog owners dock their dogs to prevent potential injury. For example, protection dogs can have their tails grabbed to stop an attack while sporting dogs can injure their tails while dashing through the bush.
Is Tail Docking Painful?
According to both the British Veterinary Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association, tail docking is a painful procedure that some puppies go through as young as three days old.
In addition, instead of getting tails docked by a veterinary surgeon, some unethical breeders might take it on themselves to perform the procedure with no anesthetic. Tails are cut with a pair of scissors or tied up tightly with a rubber band, cutting off the blood supply and causing the tail to fall off.
Unsanitary conditions and lack of medical knowledge can lead to a docked tail getting infected, causing severe illness or even death.
In addition, the dog might suffer from lifelong nerve pain, similar to the phantom pain humans have when they lose a limb.
Docking a pup’s tail cuts through muscles, tendons, highly sensitive nerves, bone, and cartilage.
Advocates of tail docking insist that it does not cause pain or discomfort, as the nervous system of a young puppy is not fully developed.
However, it has been proven countless times not to be the case. Evidence indicates that a puppy’s nervous system is fully developed at birth, and they have similar sensitivities to pain as adult dogs.
A study conducted on 50 puppies by the University of Queensland confirmed that puppies showed signs of pain, with all 50 yelping when their tails were amputated. The American Veterinary Medical Association is concerned that pain this early in their lives could cause lasting damage in the perinatal period. (Source)
Dogs rely on their tails for many things, including being crucial in their non-verbal communication and body language. The loss of their tail will take away an important way for them to communicate.
In addition, veterinarians have suggested dogs use their tails partly for balance. In avid swimmers, dogs have been proven to use their long tails as rudders for tighter turns.
Are Docked Tails Illegal?
Many countries have banned the practice of removing a three-day-old puppy’s tail without any anesthetic. Australia, the UK, and most European countries have banned tail docking, while some countries have also banned conformation show dogs with docked tails.
However, tail docking is still legal and even necessary if competing in dog shows across the US and Canada. The AKC still has many breeds requiring docked tails like Poodles, Boxers, and Dobermans. However, in some breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, docking is optional.
Although the AKC states that it has no rules that require docking, traditional conformation shows severely penalize dogs with undocked tails, putting them at a severe disadvantage and pressurizing owners and breeders to dock.
Should Cavapoos Have Docked Tails?
Cavapoos are mixed breed dogs that do not conform to breed standards and cannot compete in pure breed dog shows. They do NOT have to have their tails docked.
The practice of docking a Cavapoo’s tail comes from the parent breeds. Both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle are breeds with tails commonly docked.
The docking of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s tail to participate in AKC shows is optional, while that of the Poodle’s is mandatory.
The only valid reason given to dock a tail is if there is an injury or a high chance of one in the daily life of a working dog. For example, a Pointer’s tail might be docked to prevent damage while running through the underbrush, or a personal protection Rottweiler’s tail might be grabbed and hurt while attacking the baddies.
Tail docking is an ancient practice that came out of the logical necessity of preventing injury. An overwhelming majority of docked tails are done for aesthetic reasons, and this practice needs to be looked at. Your Cavapoo most certainly does not require a docked tail!
More on Cavapoos
If you’re simply in love with Cavapoos and can’t get enough, then check out our other posts below:
- Are Cavapoos Hypoallergenic? [An Allergy Sufferers Guide]
- Do Cavapoos Bark A Lot? [What Owners Need to Know]
- How Long Do Cavapoos Sleep? [Sleep Habits + Training Guide]
- Are Cavapoos Good For Apartments? [Must Address This First!]
- Do Cavapoos Like to Snuggle? [Love Lives Here]