Should You Dock Rottweiler Tails: A Different Perspective

Rottweilers are big dogs known for their strong and frightening appearance. A lot of Rottweilers have short tails, which is why most people think that is how they look. However, Rottweilers are born with tails. 

Docking Rottweiler tails has become a very common practice because the AKC accepts these dogs with docked tails. This practice offers some benefits to the dog, but it also has its disadvantages. 

Key Takeaways

  • Rottweilers are born with a naturally long tail that hangs down.
  • Some Rottweilers can be born with a bobtail, because of a mutation in the T-box gene.
  • Tail docking prevents work injuries in dogs, is convenient, and fits the AKC guidelines.
  • The negatives of tail docking include problems with communication and agility.
  • Some experts suggest docking a tail in the first 2-5 days after birth.
  • Doing the procedure early is proposed to be painless due to undeveloped nerves.
  • Many experts argue that puppies do feel pain because they shriek during the procedure.
  • Over 40 countries around the world have made tail docking illegal.
  • Maryland and Pennsylvania are the only US states with restrictions to tail docking.

Are Rottweilers Naturally Born Without Tails?

Rottweilers are normally born with a tail. They have long tails that hang down. When the Rottie gets excited, its tail curves up and is used to express its emotion. Unfortunately, docking a Rottweiler’s tail became the norm. And this procedure began a long time ago.

There are records from the Roman Empire describing a dog like the Rottweiler that was used as a guarding and herding dog. The Romans docked these dogs’ tails to prevent injuries while herding. In the modern world, cutting Rottweiler tails is done to the working Rotties, but also to the non-working ones.

Do Rottweilers Have Natural Bob Tails?

Some Rottweilers have a specific trait that causes them to be born with a bobtail. A bobtail is a very short tail that does not need to be docked in order to conform to the breed standard. To get a bobtail, Rottweilers need to be born with a genetic mutation.

A naturally occurring mutation in the T-box gene is the one responsible for the natural bobtail of over 24 dog breeds. A lot of breeders are trying to breed more Rottweilers with this gene, in order to avoid tail docking. But breeding two dogs with this gene might end up producing a puppy prone to some spinal cord defects.

What Are The Benefits Of Tail Docking?

The main reason why tail docking was created as a procedure was the advantage it gave to working dogs. In modern times, tail docking is done for cosmetic purposes and because of dog shows. But there may be other benefits too.

Work Advantage

The Rottweiler was bred throughout history for different types of jobs and Rottweilers with long tails were not as useful as docked ones. 

At one time, the Rottweiler was a cart dog assigned to pull carts due to its large and muscular build. If it had a tail, it would get stuck under the wheels, causing it a lot of harm. When the dog was tasked to herd cattle, the cattle would bite or step on the tail of the Rottie hurting it.

Thus, Rottweiler owners decided to dock the tail of their dog and prevent it from getting hurt while working.

Dog Shows

Another benefit of cutting Rottweiler Tails is the ability to compete at dog shows. The American Kennel Club has specific breed standards for the Rottweiler. It says that a Rottweiler should have a short docked tail, kept close to the body, with one or two tail vertebrae left. When it is excited and active, it should carry it slightly above.

There are Kennel Clubs that do allow a Rottweiler with a tail to compete. That said, it might have a lesser chance of winning than a Rottweiler with a docked tail.

Convenience And Aesthetics

Rottweilers are notoriously big dogs and will make the room feel a bit too crowded. Because Rottweilers have tails that are naturally big, they might start knocking over things in the house accidentally. Besides destroying precious cutlery, the dog might knock over children or old people with its tail. Therefore, cutting it might prevent these accidents.

A cropped tail really looks good on the Rottweiler. So some people will do it just for aesthetics. People that get these dogs to guard their homes might feel the dog looks scarier if it has a short tail.

What Are The Negatives Of Tail Docking?

Docking a dog’s tail may cause a lot of pain to the dog. The procedure itself could lead to complications like bleeding and infection. After the procedure, the dog won’t be able to communicate and move around as well. But there are more negative things to have in mind.

Affects Communication

Dogs use their tails as a tool of communication between themselves and other animals. Tailed Rottweilers can express their happiness and excitement by wagging their tail. This is a universal sign that shows when a dog is happy. The AKC itself states that the Rottweiler should have its docked tail carried high when it is excited.

The tail can also drop whenever the dog is confused or scared. If the tail becomes stiff and straightened out, this means that the dog is angry. This could also be followed by the notorious growl of the Rottweiler. If the tail is docked, the owner and the Rottie might end up miscommunicating.

Impacts Agility

Docking Rottweiler tails will hurt the ability of the dogs to maintain balance properly. A longer tail helps the body to remain symmetrical and upright while moving. It serves to balance the weight of the body and not let it fall on the side. The tail also helps the dog to change directions quickly and more precisely.

Because Rottweilers need a lot of exercise and want to walk and run, they might have problems balancing themselves. If the owner plans to involve its Rottweiler in spots that require agility, they should consider leaving the tail undocked.


Rottweiler tails are docked often, but many owners don’t consider the price of the procedure. If you plan to buy a Rottweiler that has had its tail docked, you should expect a higher price. Some breeders may choose to leave the tail and these puppies will have a more affordable cost.

One important thing to mention is that some people simply prefer to have a Rottweiler with a long tail. Just as some find docked tails aesthetic, others think the opposite. So having a docked tail might make a Rottweiler unattractive for some owners.

Do Docking Tails Hurt Dogs?

Tail docking might bring some benefits to the dog, but it can cause a lot of damage too. Cutting the nerves of the tail will be a painful experience, even though some people claim that the nerves are not developed when the procedure is done. There may be other complications too. You may sometimes see the dog balls turning black, if they are injured during the surgery by accident.

If you don’t want a long tailed Rottweiler, make sure you get the tail docking procedure done by a vet. They will know exactly how to do the procedure will the least complications possible. The vets will use surgical scissors and snip the tail on the proposed spot and then close the wound properly. 

Before you take your dog to the vet, you can give a dose of valerian root to your dog. It will help calm it down if it feels scared to go.

Why Can’t Vets Use Sedation To Dock Rottweiler Tails?

Some vets will avoid giving anesthesia before doing the procedure. This is because there is a theory that puppies do not feel pain because their nervous system is not fully developed at an early age. Therefore, it is proposed that they shouldn’t be exposed to sedation to prevent complications.

This is not accepted by some organizations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The fact that the puppies shriek right after getting their tail cut might tell us that they do feel pain after all.

Some people choose to band their puppy’s tail and let it fall off on its own. This procedure is called banding and is proposed as a more humane option. But doing this without a vet might be dangerous.

Is Cutting A Dog’s Tail Illegal?

As of now, around 40 countries have made tail docking an illegal practice. Doing this procedure will result in fines or jail time depending on the country. In the US, only a few states like Maryland and Pennsylvania have imposed some restrictions on tail docking of dogs.

Pennsylvania prohibits tail docking on pups older than 5 days. Maryland only allows veterinarians to do the procedure. When it comes to Europe, Germany started banning docking Rottweiler tails in 2006. Countries that banned dog tail docking include Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, and Finland among others.

Another thing to mention is that many dogs besides the Rottweiler get their tails docked. English Bulldogs also have tails that get docked afterward. The same goes for over fifty other breeds.

When Should A Rottweiler’s Tail Be Docked?

This procedure should be done around 2-5 days after the puppy is born. Some experts propose doing the procedure in the first 72 hours after birth. It is done this early due to the belief that puppies still don’t have their nervous system developed to feel pain. But there is controversy here.

Many experts don’t agree with the theory that puppies don’t feel pain at that age. This is because the puppy will shriek when the procedure is done. If tail docking is done much later than the first few days, the dog will certainly feel a lot of pain.

Rottweiler with a tail

Final Thoughts On Rottweiler Tails

Rottweilers are big dogs known for their amazing guard dog abilities. Many people have these dogs in their homes as pets, but also as working dogs. But not many people know that these dogs are born with tails.

Tail docking is done around two to five days after the Rottweiler is born. Its purpose is to make the Rottie appeal to the official AKC standards and win at dog shows. Before, tail docking was done to prevent hurting the tail of the working Rottweilers.

Cutting off the tail can lead to complications like impacting the dog’s agility and ability to communicate. The procedure itself might also cause pain. Therefore, many countries decided to make this procedure illegal.


Why aren’t Rottweiler ears cropped?

Ear cropping was done only for dogs that were used in dog fights. It was believed that their ears and tails were a disadvantage. Rottweilers were rarely used for dog fighting so their ears weren’t cropped often.

How long does it take for a Rottweiler to heal from tail docking?

Docking Rottweiler tails will leave a wound that will need stitches. If the wound is kept clean and dry, you can plan to go to the vet after 5-7 days for the removal of stitches.

Should Rottweiler’s dew claws be removed?

Some experts suggest dewclaw removal of the hind claws in the first few days after birth. Most don’t recommend removing the front claws. However, some don’t agree with removing any claws due to complications.

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