Yes!!! Just like any other dog breed, English springer Spaniels are born with a beautiful tail. But if you are getting a pup from a breeder known for their selective breeding, chances are you might get a puppy with a very short tail. Similarly, some other breeders also believe in docking their tails from a very young age for some ‘so-called’ aesthetic reasons, which I personally, as a pet parent, definitely frown upon.
Unlike other Spaniel types, the English Springer is an active, sporty breed with a sleek tail that acts as a pointer. The tail is often associated with voluminous hair towards the end, with little hair down the waist. Such feature allows these breeds to make swift turns quickly and were used chiefly for hunting rabbits, rodents, and other small creatures. While the steep part helped them navigate better, the voluminous part protected them from injuries diving into deep forest covers.
So, why do breeders dock their tails??? Let’s have a look at this weird and brutal Spaniel rearing method that has been continuing for decades.
What is the benefit of docking Cocker Spaniel tails?
Docking!!! A barbaric tradition of docking a purebred dog’s ears and the tail is no recent occurrence. The procedure has been operational for ages, the first being initiated for breeds mainly used for dog-fighting and hunting. Given their risky jobs, docking ensured lesser injuries at sensitive places.
Additionally, a vet will advise cutting off parts of the tails or ears that are infected and untreatable. Although the sudden docking may induce severe pain in the woofers for some days, it aids in better health conditions.
What happens when an English Springer is undocked?
When undocked, your English Springer Spaniel lives happy, healthy, and without the traumatic memory followed by severe pain and restlessness. The tail grows in its natural way, gradually growing to be a fluffy, voluminous one.
Given the intact tail, your pup will also be able to communicate efficiently with other animals that he might come across when going on a walk or during a trip to his favorite dog park. And who knows, his tail may also work as a fan to ward off pesky insects or offer some coolness amidst scorchy summer days.
How is it done?
A terrifying process, docking, and cropping are two different terms with different meanings attached to them. So, never be confused by these two terms.
Thus, while docking Cocker Spaniel tails refers to removing a part or the whole tail in English Springers, cropping is the cutting of the floppy part of their ears.
The process, also known as ‘bobbing,’ is usually performed by a professional vet. However, nowadays, even experienced breeders also do the same when the puppies are 3 to 5 days old without anesthesia. They might clip the tail using a sharp object such as a scalpel or tightly wrap rubber around the tail length. This, in turn, stops circulation to the part leading to an eventual fall-off.
The fluffy part of the Spaniel’s ears is cut to give them a so-called ‘show’ appearance in cropping. This is followed by taping the ears to a hard surface for weeks, creating a straight, pointed-ear appearance. This procedure requires the pups to be put under anesthesia and is generally done when they reach 6-12 weeks of age.
Are there any side effects to docking Cocker Spaniel tails?
Apart from the two reasons mentioned above, docking Cocker Spaniel tails is nevertheless unnecessary. Generally, dogs communicate using their voice and tails. Hence, when a pup is irrelevantly docked, it creates communication barriers between them and other dogs that they might come across.
Every tail wag has a different meaning to it, ranging from expressing curiosity to warding off strangers. So, when they have no tail to express their emotions, dogs get conveniently handicapped in portraying their feelings in that particular situation.
For instance, their tails stop making any movement when sensing threats and are often stifled, with ears perked up. This allows the dog optimal balance for any rapid movement and serves as a warning for the approacher. But, in the case of docked Spaniels, it becomes much harder for both the pet owner and stranger to reciprocate any such warning displays, risking the safety of everyone included.
Even Prof. Chris Zink, a renowned Canine pathologist and sports medicine expert, has stated his criticism in this matter. He has noted that cutting off a Spaniel’s ears and tails imposes more significant pressure on their joints, attracting joint-related problems early. Such a dog is hence not able to enjoy its life as correctly as its intact counterparts. Robert Wansborough also condemns this practice, as you can see here.
What are the most common side effects of docking Cocker Spaniel tails?
Depending upon the area, age, health conditions, and other essential factors, commonly reported side-effects of the procedure includes:
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive bleeding
- Delayed healing
- Neuroma, also known as a nerve tumor
- Chronic pain
- Severe scarring
A docked English Springer Spaniel will stop eating and playing given the pain, resulting in death in extreme cases. Thus, unless medically required, having your new pup docked just for ‘show’ is similar to gambling with their life.
Similarly, although many breeders argue that the process is done when the puppy is still weaning, i.e., at 3 to 5 days old, as their neuro sensors are not appropriately matured, it is undoubtedly a painful experience. So why deter their normal body when they come so adorable and ‘Paw-fect’???
Is the process legal?
Unfortunately, to our dismay, there have been no strict regulations banning the procedure until medically required in many major countries. This has led to an increase in kennel clubs maiming their puppies either early or pressuring their pet owners after taking the Spaniel puppy home.
While the American Kennel Club doesn’t mandate docked puppies for show rings, they are put up at disadvantageous spots. Some regions also severely penalize owners of English Springer Spaniels and other dog breeds if they are not maimed according to the breed standards.
However, thanks to the conscious efforts of pet lovers and global non-profit organizations, the procedure is now banned in many regions. Ear cropping is banned in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Canada, while tail docking is vetoed in Australia, Iceland, South Africa, and Israel. The same is also opposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
Even recently, BTS Golden maknae, Jeon Jungkook, sent netizens into a frenzy when he introduced his adorable son, Bam, the Doberman. The first episode of “In the Soop 2,” which aired at 11 PM KST on August 19, was heavily admired by pet enthusiasts worldwide.
The South Korean vocalist was praised for his head-strong decision against cropping or docking his adorable Dobie. And look just how happy the baby is!!!
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