The Truth About The Corgi With Tail – Should You Dock It?

Corgis are small fluffy family dogs and many of them don’t have tails. Many people wonder if the Corgi with tail is a normal thing, or are Corgis simply born without tails.

All Corgis are born with a tail. The Pembroke Welsh Corgis have their tails docked at an early age, and the Cardigan Welsh Corgis retain theirs throughout their lives. Some Pembrokes can have very short bobtail tails. There are benefits and drawbacks of having a tail.

Key Takeaways

  • It is considered a breed standard to dock the tail of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis get to keep their tails.
  • A gene mutation known as the C189G gene causes a natural short bobtail.
  • You can dock a tail by banding or by cutting it with a scalpel or scissors.
  • Tail docking is a practice that exists since Ancient Roman times.
  • Corgis are docked around the first 2-7 days after birth.
  • There is evidence to show that tail docking is painful.
  • The tail docking procedure is banned in many countries around the world.

Are Corgies Born With Tail?

All Corgies are born with a tail. Both the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi have their tails from birth. But it is a tradition and a “breed standard” to dock the tail of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. 

Because the no-tailed Pembrokes are more desirable, people have exploited the genetic mutation of “bobtails” to have Corgis that are born with “no tail”.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi vs Cardigan Welsh Corgi

An interesting thing to know is that the Pembroke and the Cardigan Corgi dogs are two separate breeds. Both Corgis have short legs and long bodies but they both come from different types of dogs.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi comes from the Nordic Spitz breeds. The AKC states that this Corgi should have its tail docked as short as possible. The Pembroke Corgi tail can be short from birth. This is called a “bobtail” and it is a desired trait for the breeders. The normal Pembroke tail is usually fluffy and shorter, carried upright or above their backs.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi comes from the German Teckel breed. The AKC states that this Corgi should have a tail set low from its body line, reaching below the hock. There are some breeders who decide to dock the tail of the Cardigan Corgi but this is rare. The normal Cardigan tail is usually longer than the Pembroke and they are carried low from their backs.

The Natural Bobtail

Some Pembroke Welsh Corgis have evolved a genetic mutation that makes them look like a Corgi with no tail. This mutation causes the formation of a “bobtail”.

A bobtail is made of only 1 or 2 vertebrae making them short enough so the Corgi is considered to not have a tail at all. Some of these bobtails grow too long so they need to be docked.

The secret behind this bobtail lies in the gene mutation known as the C189G gene. This is an autosomal dominant gene, which means that only one is needed to pass on to the offspring so it will have a bobtail as well.

If the Corgi inherits two of these genes from both of the parents, abnormalities will happen. Those puppies will be born with conditions like spina bifida or other spinal cord defects and will need to be euthanized. They also might not be born at all.

Another thing to note is that Pembroke Corgis aren’t the only ones born with bobtails. Breeds like the Australian Cattle Dog, Austrian Pinscher, and Bourbonnais Pointer, also have this trait.

What Is Tail Docking?

A Pembroke Corgi docked tail is a breed standard and a lot of people do it. The tail docking procedure can be done in a few ways.

One is to use a pair of scissors, a scalpel, or a surgical knife, and just cut through tendons, muscles, cartilage, and every tissue in the tail. The docked tail needs to be bandaged and secured afterward so it can heal.

Another way is to use a rubber band to cut out the circulation to the tail. This prevents blood flow and causes the tail to fall off in time. The procedure is known as banding and takes much longer time than the first one. There is a risk of infection and deformation with this method.

Many countries ban this practice as it is seen as cruel. In the USA, most states still allow this procedure.

History Of Tail Docking

The Corgi tail docking is a practice that has existed for centuries. There are documented cases from Ancient Rome that explained why the Romans docked tails. It was so they prevented the spread of rabies in dogs.

Another well-documented case was in the 17th century in England. There, it was a practice to dock the working dogs because it was thought to prevent injuries. There was also a tax on having a companion dog, instead of a working dog. So people docked their dogs to escape this tax.

Even though the tax was repealed in 1796, and a rabies vaccine was discovered in 1885, the procedure still exists to this day. In modern times, tail docking is considered a cruel procedure and is banned in many countries throughout the world.

When Is It Done?

People get their Corgi puppies with docked tails as soon as possible. Around day 2-7 after birth is when most people do this procedure. It can be done by the breeder, or by a veterinarian, without the usage of anesthetics.

The thought of why this procedure is done so early is because people believe that the nervous system of the puppy is not fully developed. Therefore it is believed that it will not feel pain when the tail is docked. Corgis calm down at the age of 1-2 years and owners believe that the Corgi forgets about this procedure when it grows up.

Other people refute this claim as there is no actual scientific evidence that says that the nervous system is not developed. Therefore puppies may feel all of the pain during the procedure and after it.

Benefits Of Having The Corgi Tail Docked

The Corgi docked tail can be beneficial to the Corgi in some ways. There are a few reasons why the owners started this tradition.

Improves Hygiene And Performance

Docking was started by the Romans in order to keep up with the hygiene of the dog. They thought that by cropping the tail, the dog will be protected from rabies. Of course, we now know that that isn’t how it works. But fluffy tails are more exposed to getting dirty when your dog is outside compared to docked tails.

Another thing they believed was that a shorter tail increases the speed and performance of the dog. This made them better working dogs in theory.

Prevents Injuries

Because Corgis are herding dogs, their owners dock their tails so they can prevent injuries to the dog made from the cattle. Fluffy tails can also attract foxtails and burrs which can hurt the dog.

A Corgi with a long tail is also more exposed to the “happy tail syndrome”. This condition happens when the tail repetitively hits hard surfaces. In time bleeding and ulcers will form on the tail and cause pain. Such a condition requires treatment but it isn’t very common with Corgis.

Confirms To The Breed Norms

If you want to get your Corgi to a dog show, you need to dock it in order to conform to the AKC rules. Having a docked tail is considered a breed standard. The only exception is Corgis born with a bobtail that is short enough to look like the Corgi has no tail.

When it comes to just having a dog for the company and not for show, docking tails is not really needed. Some breeders will do it just to conserve the tradition or for aesthetics.

Drawbacks Of Having The Corgi Tail Docked

There are a few drawbacks to Corgis with no tails. These reasons might change your mind if you want to dock your Corgi’s tail.

It’s Cruel And Painful

Some people claim that docking a puppy’s tail is not painful at all. They say that the dog’s nervous system is not mature enough to let them feel pain. That is why docking is done so early in a puppy’s life. 

But there is no scientific evidence for this. In fact, some scientists and veterinarians are openly against this procedure because they feel it is cruel and needless. 

During the procedure, some puppies can be heard producing shrieks and other vocalizations like excessive barking that signal pain. The procedures are usually done without anesthetic and when the pup is asleep. Some puppies even cry days after the procedure.

Impairs Social Skills

Corgis have tails for a reason. Just like all dogs, they use their tail to socialize with other dogs. Dogs wag their tails in an effort to spread their scent around. This helps other dogs to pick up this smell and receive some information. 

On the other hand, dogs use their tails to communicate with people as well. A dog’s tail wagging gives us the information that the dog is happy. If the tail is tucked between its legs, it means that the dog is scared.

Dogs that don’t have their tails, might have a problem communicating with other dogs and people and become anxious or aggressive.

Impairs Balance And Agility

Another important usage of the tail in all dogs is for maintaining balance and agility. Dogs run very fast and use their tails to maneuver and change directions. The tail acts as a counterweight to help change direction when running while maintaining its balance.

The Pembroke Corgi with a docked tail will have problems moving on unstable and uneven surfaces. While the Corgi is young, the problem won’t be very obvious. Once it gets older and its muscles get weaker, it might start losing its balance easily.

Because it can’t maintain its balance when older, the Corgi will be more exposed to injuries.

Corgi with docked tail on a train looking at its family

So Should You Dock Your Corgi’s Tail?

The Corgi with tail can be a curious thing for some people as they are used to Corgi having no tails. But all Corgis are born with a tail. The Pembroke Welsh Corgis have their tails docked from an early age while the Cardigan Welsh Corgis get to keep theirs. Some Pembroke Corgis can be born with a naturally short tail called a “bobtail”.

Docking is a procedure that involves removing the tail of the Corgi. It can be done fast with a surgical knife or scissors, or it can be done slowly by putting a rubber band on the tail. Either way, the procedure is done at an early puppy age and involves no anesthetics.

There are benefits and drawbacks to this procedure. It’s beneficial for improving hygiene, preventing injury, and conforming to the AKC norms. But it also causes pain and impairs Corgi’s social skills and balance.


Do The Queen’s Corgis Have Tails?

The Queen had all her Pembroke Welsh Corgis with their tail intact. Some people speculate that before docking was banned, some of her old Corgis had their tails docked or were born with natural bobtails.

What is the Corgi tail docking length?

The breed standards set by the American Kennel Association ask that the full length of the Corgi’s docked tail must be up to 2 inches long. Corgis born with bobtails can be accepted if their bobtail is shorter than 2 inches.

How long does it take for a docked tail to fall off?

If you have a Corgi with tail and decide that you want it docked, you can try putting a rubber band on it. The tail will fall off in around 7-10 days from when you’ve put on the band.

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