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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Unfortunately you can still see docked dogs. Many of us are not even aware that the docking of tail and ears is a disadvantage for our valued pets. Why is docking still done and is it actually legal?

What is meant by docking?

The word docking comes from the french and means translated “to cut off”. Yes, you have heard correctly, tail and ears of certain dog breeds are (especially in puppyhood) cut off/amputated completely or only partially. But why do you ask yourself? The reasons for this are unfortunately anything but animal-friendly.

The question why?

Proponents have the opinion that docked dogs have advantages regarding their freedom of movement. For example, hunting dogs could allegedly move better in the undergrowth. The risk of injury should also be reduced by amputation. Docked ears are said to improve the sense of hearing.

In some countries, docking was and still is used in dog fights in order to have less room to attack in a fight. Because a long tail or floppy ears were injured quickly.

In most cases, however, the aesthetics play a major role. Especially breeds such as Rottweiler, Doberman, Boxer, Bull Terrier etc. with cut off ears and amputated tail are apparently supposed to correspond more to the questionable “ideal of beauty”. Many people no longer know that the Doberman has floppy ears and a long, narrow tail.


What once happened with full consciousness is nowadays mostly done by veterinarians under anesthesia. 

The once hanging ears are stretched over the head for several weeks after being “cut to size” and glued up. This is because the cartilage is not stable enough to keep the ear in the desired standing position. Often, additional muscle tightening is performed or silicone sticks are inserted to keep the ear standing. 

The tail is either tied off so that the blood supply is interrupted and the tail falls off after dying, or the tail vertebrae are surgically severed.

All techniques are associated with great pain and suffering! 

Current Legislation

In the german-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) the docking of dogs is now illegal and is rightly called cruelty to animals by law. This also includes the pulling of teeth and claws and the cutting of the vocal chords.

In austria and switzerland it is also not allowed to import, acquire, mediate or exhibit dogs which have been mutilated (mostly abroad). In germany it is unfortunately still allowed to bring docked dogs into the country. This law is valid since 01.01.2008. So if you have a dog, which is born and docked after this date, you make yourself punishable. Open your eyes when buying a dog!

Exception: Only after veterinary indication, if an amputation is medically necessary, such an intervention is legal.

Docked dogs are strongly affected

Communication: The tail is an important part of communication for dogs. If this is missing, problems in communication with humans and conspecifics can arise, which can have serious consequences. Quite often docked animals get into quarrels more often, because they are misunderstood by conspecifics.

In the movement restricted: The rod serves for stabilization and balance during jumps and curves. A docked dog will therefore have problems in its agility.

Pain and subsequent complaints: Cutting off the tail and ears is a surgical procedure that is associated with severe pain and possible subsequent complaints. An unnecessarily large suffering is done to our pets.

Hund ohne Ohren


The docking of dogs is fortunately already forbidden in german-speaking countries. The agony is too great and the consequences too restrictive. From an animal welfare point of view this was another big step. Hopefully many more will follow.