Scotland’s ban on shortening of puppy dog tails to be examined


Should it be legal to shorten a puppy’s tail to prevent painful injury? This is one of the questions a Holyrood Committee will ask as it launches a call for evidence today.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee wants to hear from the public on whether or not Scotland should lift the current ban on tail shortening.

This would allow two breeds of working dogs – Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers –to have their tails removed by up to a third within five days of being born.

The shortening or ‘docking’ of dogs’ tails has been banned in Scotland since 2007.  However, if changes to legislation are approved, puppies could have their tails shortened where a vet believes they are likely to be used as a working dog and are at risk of serious tail injury in later life.

Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Graeme Dey MSP said:

“Scotland is a country of dog lovers and we know that there are many people out there with strong views both for and against the shortening of working dogs’ tails.

“We’re keen to hear the thoughts of the public, interest groups and dog owners across Scotland on the specific provisions of the draft Regulations to help us consider whether or not changes to tail docking laws should be made.

“For example, do you think the pain of docking is outweighed by more serious injuries or even tail amputation in later in life?  Or do you think this would cause undue distress and pain to a puppy? Tail wagging is also an important way for dogs to express themselves - could shortening impact on a dog’s ability to communicate with its owner?”

There is currently an exemption on tail docking in England and Wales for certain working dogs if carried out by a vet. It is also permitted in Northern Ireland for the strict purposes of medical treatment or dogs that are intended to be used for work in law enforcement, pest control or lawful shooting of animals.

The proposed changes are contained within the Prohibited Procedures on Protected Animals (Exemptions) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.


The deadline for responses is 12 noon on Thursday 1 June 2017. Find out more about the Committee’s work here.

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