Pitbull Tail Docking 101: An Unbiased Look Into This Controversial Topic

🦴 Updated on January 11th, 2023

pit-bull-with-docked-tail-posing

Often dog owners are divided on the practice of Pitbull tail docking. However, if you are adding this breed to your home, Pitbulls with docked tails could be one of your choices. Some breeders automatically dock the tails early, while others leave them intact. 

This comprehensive guide goes over the pros and cons of this controversial procedure. Read on to see what option works best for you and your beloved Pitbull. 

Do Pitbulls Have Long Tails At Birth? 

A Pitbull’s appearance will differ greatly, depending on its parents and generational breeding lines. While there is not one specific Pitbull breed, many breeds fall under the Pitbull category umbrella, including: 

Generally, Pitbull dog breeds will have one of three types of tails at birth. Their tails can be: 

  • Long: longer and more flexible, can also have a built-in wave to it
  • Straight: shorter length and hangs low
  • Wrapped: shorter length, similar to a corkscrew, tightly curls downward and inflexible 

Do Pitbulls Have Curly Tails? 

Because genetics play a significant part in how much a dog will grow and its features, not all Pitbulls will have a tail exactly like these. For example, if one breeding parent has a long tail while the other has a wrapped tail, the resulting litter could be a mix of either or a hybrid tail of both.

So, if you are interested in a Pitbull puppy, researching the breeding parents can help indicate what type of tail it will be born with. 

What Is a Tail Docking Procedure? 

Tail docking is a procedure for removing a portion of a dog’s tail early in life for various reasons. On average, docking will occur between day two and day five of a puppy’s life.

This timeframe is known to be the best time. Many believe that it will not cause as much pain to the animal as waiting until it is older, and the younger the puppy is, the faster it will heal. 

There are two distinct ways to dock a Pitbull’s tail that includes: 

Surgical Removal 

Surgically removing Pitbull tails requires a professional veterinarian or trained breeder to use a scalpel or surgical scissors to sever a portion of the tail. This process is done by cutting between two vertebrae, then stitching the end closed to heal naturally. 

Because this procedure often happens at a veterinarian clinic, there are costs associated with it. Some vets will charge between $10 and $35 per puppy, depending on the litter, supplies necessary, and the animal’s age. 

Ligature Banding 

Ligature banding is a common practice with many Pitbull breeders to remove part of the dog’s tail effectively. A tight band is tied around the puppy’s tail at the spot where the docking should occur. This band will restrict the blood supply to the tail’s end portion, effectively starving the tissues so they die off. 

This process is often the go-to method since it doesn’t involve a costly trip to the vet’s clinic. It is simple to do but does require continuous monitoring while waiting for the tail to fall off, leaving the stub. 

If you are interested in a new Pitbull, ask the breeder if they cut their Pitbull tails. Some breeders will perform this procedure automatically on all litters, while others give the potential owners the choice of a Pitbull with docked tail or left natural. 

Why Do Pitbulls Get Their Tails Cut So Early? 

Many dog lovers new to owning a Pitbull may question why do Pitbulls get their tails cut so early in life. Although tail docking can happen at any age, generally, it is a process puppies will experience within the first ten days of life. 

Performing this procedure on an extremely young puppy is due for two reasons: healing faster and causing the dog less pain. Pitbulls who wait until they are much older to receive docking will need an anesthetic and pain medication after the procedure, which can present risks to the animal. 

So, although a Pitbull typically undergoes this procedure in the first week or so of life, it can happen later with veterinarian assistance and monitoring. 

Do Pitbulls Get Their Tails Docked By a Professional? 

Because there are two different ways to dock a Pitbull’s tail, both do not require a professional veterinarian. However, the average dog owner should not attempt a Pitbull tail cut procedure without proper training.  

Reputable breeders undergo specialized training and guidance to perform at-home docking themselves on new litter. You risk infection, improper healing, and even nerve damage without knowing precisely where to band or cut a puppy’s tail. 

Pros and Cons of the Pitbull Docked Tail Procedure

Of course, with any modification on a pet, like tail docking, there will be benefits and disadvantages. This procedure is less common for dogs than it once was, making many new pet owners search for reasons for and against it. 

Here are some main pros and cons of having a Pitbull cropped tail. 

Pros 

  • It helps prevent skin infections with wrapped tails 
  • It can minimize injuries during hunting, working, or guarding property 
  • It is necessary to register as a breed standard with some kennel clubs 
  • It will maintain a breed’s traditional appearance

Cons 

  • It can cause nerve damage or tumors 
  • The procedure is painful for the animal
  • It is unnecessary unless for specific medical reasons
  • It can inhibit communication with other animals and people
  • It is illegal in some regions 
  • It can produce ongoing pain or discomfort 

Before choosing a Pitbull without a tail, you must understand the reasons why you want your pet to undergo docking. More pet owners are beginning to turn away from the traditional Pitbull with a cropped tail and leaving it in its natural state. 

Do Pitbulls Get Their Tails Docked Legally? 

In some regions, there are no laws or regulations surrounding tail docking. However, other countries have strict guidelines regarding breeding Pitbulls without tails. So, it’s best to check your local rules to see if tail docking is allowable if this is a procedure you want your new puppy to have. 

For example, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in the United Kingdom restricts tail docking for any dog breed unless it aligns with specific situations.

In contrast, several regions in the United States don’t have any set governing rules on this procedure, leaving the choice up to breeders and pet owners. 

Of course, there may be specific medical reasons why a veterinarian needs to remove a portion of your Pitbull’s tail. Although it is docking, these situations are legal even in areas that don’t allow tail docking. 

However, the instances where a vet will have to remove your pet’s tail for medical reasons are extremely rare. 

The Final Verdict on Pitbull Tail Docking 

Docking the tail on a Pitbull puppy can bring up various opinions, depending on who you talk to. However, this controversial procedure has been completed with dogs since Roman times, giving it significant historical meaning for many dogs. 

Generally, more pet owners are beginning to navigate away from Pitbull tail docking and leave their new puppy in its natural state. 

Therefore, before you choose to have a dog with a cut tail, you must understand the pros and cons and aftercare this procedure brings. This way, you can provide a healthy environment for your new pet. 

Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Our resident DVM helps review every article to ensure we always provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information. She’s proud to help provide pet parents everywhere with the info they need to keep their pets safe, healthy, and comfortable.