Tail docking

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, docking was banned in England and Wales. However an exemption was put in place for Spaniels, Terriers and Hunt, Point and Retrieve breeds that are used to work. Under the Regulations, a dog is officially a working dog if a vet has certified that the dog is likely to be used for work in connection with the following:
(1) Law Enforcement
(2) Activities of the armed force
(3) Emergency Rescue
(4) Lawful pest control
(5) Lawful shooting of animals.


Puppies of these types of dog may be docked by a veterinary surgeon providing this is done within the first five days of life, and that the owner (breeder) can prove that the puppies have been bred to work i.e. they must be able to show the vet either a gun licence or a letter from a land occupier which verifies that the owner's dogs work on his land. The puppies must also be microchipped by a veterinary surgeon. Following both of these procedures, the veterinary surgeon must sign certificates to say that the puppies were both docked and microchipped in accordance with the law.


Legally docked dogs may not be shown at events to which members of the public are admitted upon payment of a fee. Docked dogs from overseas may also not be shown at events in England or Wales to which members of the public are admitted upon payment of a fee, if they were born after the date that the law came into force (April 6th 2007 in England and 28th March 2007 in Wales). However, dogs docked before April 6th 2007 may continue to be shown at all events throughout their lives, as can all puppies born with naturally bobbed tails.


In Scotland, docking was banned completely as of 30th April 2007, unless in relation to a procedure which is carried out for the purpose of medical treatment of an animal. However these regulations were changed in June 2017 so that working dogs can now be docked, and that legally docked dogs can be shown in Scotland. 


In 2010, the Northern Ireland Assembly introduced the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) which bans the docking of dogs' tails and includes an exemption for certified working dogs of the Spaniel, Terrier and Hunt Point Retrieve Breeds. The Kennel Club believes the showing ban on dogs which have had their tails amputated in the best interests of their welfare is unfair and unnecessary, and has lobbied strongly against this. However, we are obliged to follow Defra regulations.

Last updated - May 2018

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