Do You Dock Tails on Aussiedoodles?

Aussiedoodles, the friendly designer dogs that are the result of crossbreeding between a Poodle and an Australian Shepherd, will inherit multiple traits, both physical and temperament characteristics from their parents.

Of course, the genetic roll of the dice is exactly that, a roll of the dice. So, it is impossible to predict exactly how a puppy will turn out or which characteristics it will inherit from each parent.

Among the many physical traits that these puppies inherit will be the size or length of their tails. Whether they have a tail, and what kind of tail will depend on a number of factors, but as a relatively new hybrid breed, there are no specific hereditary patterns that tail development follows.

Do You Dock Tails on Aussiedoodles

Aussiedoodle Tails

Aussiedoodles tend to have shorter tails than other breeds due to their Australian Shepherd parent. Tails may be docked immediately after birth due to tail standards for the Aussidoodle breed. In fact, most Aussiedoodles do not have tails.

Tail Docking

Aussiedoodles have no tail or very short tails due to the practice of tail docking. Tail docking or cutting off the tail is practiced on newborn Aussiedoodle puppies when they are 3 to 5 days old.

Breeders will dock the puppies’ tails for reasons that can include value, aesthetics, safety, or breed standards. It is common to find Australian Shepherds and Poodles with docked tails.

Australian Shepherd Dog Standards

The practice originates with the parent Australian Shepherd dogs. The American Kennel Club standards for the Australian Shepherd refer to a tail naturally bobbed, straight, or docked and that should not exceed 4 inches in total length. 

Nowadays, Australian Shepherds undergo tail docking primarily for cosmetic purposes.  

The Natural Bobbed Tail

The AKC refers also to a naturally bobbed tail. This is because one in five Australian Shepherds are born with a tail that is naturally bobbed and does not require docking.

Naturally bobbed tails will contain only one or two vertebrae inside the tail and are the result of a genetic mutation. 

The C189G recessive gene is responsible and can be inherited from any Australian Shepherd. Two natural bobtail Aussies should never be bred together due to the potentially negative effects on offspring.

Two copies of the recessive gene can cause birth defects in litters as well as reabsorption of the fetus into the womb.

Puppies born of two dogs carrying the recessive gene often have defects so severe that they must be euthanized. Some breeders believe that natural bobtail Aussies should never be bred to avoid this risk.

Unless a breeder specifies that a puppy’s tail has been docked, an owner will not be able to tell if the tail was docked or not.

How Tails Are Docked

Tail docking is meant to shorten the tail, not remove it entirely so that it meets a signature cosmetic breed standard. Tails are shortened to fit that standard.

Tail docking is performed usually immediately following birth without the benefit of general anesthesia. A vet will remove a portion of the tail by cutting it off with surgical scissors or by blocking blood supply for several days so that a part of the tail dies and will eventually fall off.

When performed on older dogs, anesthesia is used, and the procedure is treated as surgery with follow-up antibiotics and pain medication.

Once a puppy’s tail is docked, it should not grow during maturation. This is a controversial practice so not all veterinarians will be willing to perform the procedure.

The History of Tail Docking

The first indications of the practice date back to ancient Rome. It is believed that the ancient Romans thought a longer tail put a dog at risk for contracting rabies and so tails were snipped. While this theory most likely outran its course, tail docking was associated with dogs being able to run faster.

In working dogs, like the Australian Shepherd, long tails in fields can attract injuries of various types so docking was practiced on working dogs to prevent potential injuries that would have reduced the dog’s utility.

The Why Behind Short Tails

The principal reasons that you may see an Aussiedoodle with a short tail include:

1.) Inherited Trait

If any Australian Shepherd transmits the recessive gene mutation to a future generation, puppies may be born with naturally short tails.

2.) Injuries

If a dog’s tail is injured for some reason, a veterinarian may opt to amputate the tail or a portion of it to avoid further health issues for the dog. Rescue dogs may often be seen with shorter tails due to injury.

3.) Reduced Risk of Damage

Most of today’s canines are not raised in or exposed to hazardous conditions that warrant docking. Australian Shepherds were raised in the past in rugged environments filled with hazards while Poodles were hunting dogs are were exposed to risks during hunting.

4.) Selective Breeding

A breeder may choose to breed two dogs to obtain desired physical traits. Australian Shepherds with a naturally bobbed tail can pass the gene onto offspring, so breeders may select to breed a dog specifically with this in mind.

5.) Tail Docking

A breeder chooses to have a puppy’s tail docked immediately after birth. This is to adhere to a breed standard such as AKC standards for what is considered to be the perfect exemplar of a specific breed. Some breeds may not participate in dog shows if they have their natural tails.

Why a Tail Is Important for Your Dog

1.) Communication

A tail is just as important to your dog as any other part of its body. A canine communicates probably more with a tail than through barking.

The tail will communicate to owners and other canines, the emotional state of the dog.

How a dog moves its tail, with what amount of speed, and the positioning of the tail, whether high or low, all communicate important signals.

Dogs with naturally bobbed tails or those with docked tails are unable to communicate as well as pups that benefit from having a full-sized tail.

2.) Physiological Reasons

The tails in our canine friends host supracaudal scent glands or Violet glands that are utilized in scent marking and signaling among canines.

Above the 9th caudal vertebra, the canine has these glands, so that when amputating a part of the tail you also amputate you are removing these important glands. This will inevitably influence canine communication patterns.

A canine tail also assists a dog in maintaining its balance during running and especially when turning at high speed. The dog will use it as a counterweight to maintain balance. It is also employed in swimming.

Do You Dock Tails on Aussiedoodles?

There is no medical requirement to dock tails on Aussiedoodles. This is generally a choice of the breeder and purely in the function of meeting cosmetic standards.

Susan R Elliston
I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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