Tail docking is believed to have started for a few reasons at different points in history.
In Ancient times Romans believed that amputation of the tail tip and/or parts of a dog's tongue could prevent rabies. Rabies, however, was not the only reason that a dog's tail was cut during these times.
The Ancient Romans docked canine tails in an attempt to increase the strength of their backs and increase their speed, so they would be more efficient at ratting, fighting, and baiting. For the Romans, barbarism was a sport, and the dog's well-being was secondary.
The United Kingdom levied a tax to any owner that had a working dog that still had his tail. Many people viewed tails as unsanitary unnecessary, and even unnatural.
Books from different periods openly refer to docking of some breeds to create a pleasing appearance (e.g. The American Book of the Dog, 1891 (,p.619,669;)
Proponents of the procedure say tail docking is not just an aesthetic preference but prevents the dog's from injury. They propose for guard dog's, a longer tail could be grabbed to thwart and attack and for hunting dog's a longer tail risks getting caught in the underbrush, herding dog's stepped on or caught in the fence.
The rationale seems to be that you can't injure a limb you don't have?
The largest study to date (2010) of 138,212 dog's in Great Britain, not only was there a negligible difference in tail injuries his/her tail was only 0.23%. That means that 500 dog's would have to be docked in order to prevent 1 tail injury.
Tail-Docking deprives dogs of one of their key ways of communication. Evidence shows that dog's communicate with their tails. For example, a study at Canada's University of Victoria observed a robot dog equipped with either a long or short tail at an off leash dog park. Their findings proved that dogs were processing visual cues from the dog with a longer tail much faster and more easily than the dog with the short tail, whose cues were much more of a mystery for many of the dogs at the park.
Unfortunately, in some registries Aussies cannot be shown with his or her natural tail. We are hoping to see that change sometime in the near future. Fortunately, for ASDR (America Stock Dog Registry) allows long tails and you can show your Aussie in all ASDR shows with their tails left intact.
It's interesting that some of the best dogs in agility and in the herding world (i.e. Border Collie, Golden Retrievers, Shelties etc..) have tails. The tail acts as the dogs rudder, helps with balance by cutting sharp corners and walking on high platforms. I don't choose what puppy gets to keep his/her tail based on markings, all my puppies get to keep their tails. I absolutely have nothing against breeders who dock tails, as some of my good friends, fellow breeders dock tails. This is a personal choice I have made not to do so.
Last but certainly not least, they wag that tail every time they see you.
Please look at pictures online of Aussies with their natural tails, that way you can see for yourself if it is a look you prefer.
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