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English Springer Spaniels: Do They Have Tails? The Truth Behind Docking (2024)

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do springer spaniels have tails

Yes, springer spaniels are born with full tails. However, it’s common for their tails to be docked shortly after birth due to a long-standing tradition rooted in the breed’s history as hunting companions.

While the practice of docking for aesthetic reasons has waned, some still believe shorter tails mitigate injury risks or reinforce the springer spaniel’s outline.

Ultimately, the decision to dock involves weighing potential health benefits against ethical concerns over unnecessary procedures.

To fully understand both sides of this complex issue, one must examine the arguments surrounding tail docking and temperament, as well as breeding practices that prioritize innate traits.

Key Takeaways

  • Springer spaniels are born with full tails, but it’s common for their tails to be docked shortly after birth, primarily to prevent injuries during hunting activities.
  • Tail docking in springer spaniels is a controversial practice, with arguments both for and against it, including concerns over animal welfare and the necessity for breed preservation.
  • The legality of tail docking varies by region, with some places having bans or restrictions in place, reflecting the ethical debate surrounding the practice.
  • The decision to dock a springer spaniel’s tail involves considering potential health benefits, the breed standard, and ethical concerns, and should be made in consultation with a veterinarian.

Do Springer Spaniels Have Tails?

Yes, English Springer Spaniels can have tails, but docking is a common practice in the breed. Docking is done for both utilitarian purposes and to maintain the breed’s outline as defined in the breed standard.

The Purpose of Docking

The Purpose of Docking

Tail docking is a common practice among English Springer Spaniels, with the breed standard specifying docked tails as characteristic of the breed. The purpose of docking is to prevent damage to the tails of working dogs, as they’re more likely to encounter undergrowth and sustain injuries.

Tail docking is also done for utilitarian function and to reinforce the breed’s moderate, balanced outline. However, it’s essential to note that tail docking is a controversial practice, with some people believing it’s cruel and unnecessary, while others believe it’s a necessary part of breed preservation.

The decision to dock a tail should be made carefully, considering all the facts and consulting with a veterinarian.

Fashionable Docking

Fashionable Docking

Fashionable docking refers to the practice of docking a dog’s tail for aesthetic reasons, even when the dog isn’t intended for working purposes. This practice has persisted as working dogs became pets and show dogs, with the shortened tail becoming part of the breed standard.

Dogs that would never be worked were docked, and public sentiment against docking grew. However, the ban on docking has led to a shift in this tradition, with some people believing that docking shouldn’t be prohibited outright while others feel it’s a necessary part of breed preservation.

The decision of whether or not to dock a tail is a personal one, and it’s crucial to weigh the facts and consult with a veterinarian before making a decision.

The Ban

The Ban

As the trend of docking for fashion waned, the spotlight turned to animal rights and welfare concerns. Veterinary practices and ethical implications came under scrutiny, leading to a ban on docking in several regions.

While springer spaniels have tails by nature, breed standards and spaniel field trials often favored the docked look. This clash between natural traits and human preferences sparked a debate, not just about aesthetics but about the deeper values we hold for our four-legged companions.

Arguments for and Against

Arguments for and Against

The debate over tail docking in English Springer Spaniels is a contentious one, with arguments on both sides. Some people believe that docking is necessary for economic reasons, as it’s part of the breed standard and reinforces the breed’s outline. They contend that undocked tails may be more vulnerable to injury and that docking can avert pain and injury in working gundogs. On the other hand, some people believe that docking is cruel and unnecessary, and that it should be forbidden outright. They contend that docking doesn’t impact temperament and that it’s a personal choice that should be made in collaboration with a veterinarian.

Economic arguments for docking include the fact that it’s a tradition and that it aids in preserving the breed’s appearance. Additionally, some people argue that docking is essential for hunting ability and performance, as it can prevent tail injuries and enhance a dog’s style. However, others argue that docking isn’t necessary for these reasons and that it’s more humane to allow dogs to retain their natural tails.

Ultimately, the decision to dock or not dock a Springer Spaniel’s tail is a personal one that should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the breed, its history, and the potential advantages and disadvantages of docking. When making this decision, it’s essential to take into account the breed standard, the dog’s working ability, and ethical concerns.

Common Beliefs

Common Beliefs
Regarding the issue of whether English Springer Spaniels have tails, certain widely held beliefs require clarification. Here are a few:

  1. Not all dogs sustain tail damage: Although not all dogs will injure their tails, working breeds like English Springer Spaniels are more susceptible due to their extended exposure to undergrowth.
  2. Spaniels participating in walks and hunts mightn’t injure tails: While it’s feasible for a Spaniel to engage in walks and hunts without causing harm to its tail, the breed’s inherent instincts and hunting tendencies increase the risk of tail injury.
  3. Bandaging a spaniel’s tail isn’t viable: Applying a bandage to a Spaniel’s tail isn’t a practical solution to prevent tail damage, as the bandage may become saturated and burdensome, and the dog may detach it by chewing.
  4. Working dogs shouldn’t be employed if it necessitates the removal of puppy’s tails: This belief stems from the notion that docking a puppy’s tail is both cruel and unnecessary. However, many contend that docking is essential for breed preservation and can prevent pain and injury in working dogs.
  5. Field-bred spaniels possess natural, undocked tails: While it’s true that some field-bred English Springer Spaniels may retain their natural, undocked tails, the breed standard in the United States dictates that Springers are typically docked in the US.
  6. Show-bred spaniels have docked tails: English Springer Spaniels bred for show purposes may have docked tails, as they’re bred to conform to the breed standard.
  7. Tails should convey a lively and cheerful demeanor: Proper tail posture is crucial for both docked and undocked tails. Tails should be carried horizontally or slightly elevated and should exhibit a characteristic lively, merry action, particularly when the dog is in pursuit of game.
  8. Tails shouldn’t be carried in a Terrier fashion: A clamped tail indicates timidity or an unreliable temperament, regardless of docking status.

Tail Docking and Health

Tail Docking and Health

When contemplating tail docking in English Springer Spaniels, it’s imperative to assess the health consequences. Tail length can impact a dog’s well-being, particularly during hunting. Breeding practices that prioritize canine health should consider the potential for injury and the necessity for pain management. While some contend that shorter tails mitigate health issues, others emphasize the robust spaniel temperament that can endure the demands of fieldwork without modification. It’s essential to avoid puppy mills that may neglect these health concerns.

  • Tail Length: Shorter tails, fewer injuries?
  • Breeding Practices: Prioritizing health or appearance?
  • Canine Welfare: Is docking a necessary safeguard?
  • Health Concerns: Balancing risks with innate integrity.

Tail Docking and Ethics

Tail Docking and Ethics

Tail docking in dogs has been a contentious topic for centuries. Some assert that it’s integral to breed preservation, while others deem it an unnecessary and cruel practice. The decision to dock a dog’s tail is highly personal and should be made with due diligence.

Historically, tail docking served practical purposes, like preventing injuries in working dogs. However, as dogs became companions and show animals, the practice continued for aesthetic reasons. Many breed standards specify that docked tails are a characteristic of the breed, and some argue that docking is essential for the dog’s conformation and to accentuate the breed’s outline.

However, ethical concerns about tail docking have intensified, especially in recent years. Many organizations, including the AVMA, oppose tail docking for cosmetic reasons due to the lack of verifiable health benefits and the potential for complications. In some countries, such as the UK, tail docking is prohibited, while in others, it’s limited to certain breeds or permitted only for working dogs.

The decision to dock a dog’s tail should be informed by sound veterinary advice and the specific requirements of the breed. It’s crucial to weigh the potential risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as the ethical implications. Ultimately, the dog’s well-being should be the paramount concern.

Tail Docking and Temperament

Tail Docking and Temperament

Docking a dog’s tail can have implications for its temperament.

Some argue that docking doesn’t affect temperament.

However, clamped tails, regardless of docking status, can indicate timidity or an unreliable temperament.

Correct tail carriage is a sign of confidence and alertness, with tails lively and merry, especially when hunting.

It’s crucial to evaluate the potential psychological harm of docking, especially for pet owners.

The decision to dock a tail should be based on the dog’s breed standard, hunting ability, and the impact on the breed character.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of docking a springer spaniels tail?

You dock a springer spaniel’s tail to prevent future injuries while working in heavy brush. It’s a practical way to avoid repeated tail trauma and surgeries for these active hunting companions.

No, it’s illegal to dock a Springer Spaniel’s tail in Scotland. The law there prohibits cosmetic tail docking of puppies, with no working dog exemptions.

How does docking affect the dogs temperament?

Don’t worry, docking a Springer’s tail won’t make them a bad egg. It’s a cosmetic procedure that doesn’t impact their merry, game-driven temperament. A confident, well-adjusted pup will wag their tail, docked or not.

What health benefits or risks are associated with tail docking?

Tail docking doesn’t have major health impacts. Undocked tails may face slightly higher injury risk, but this is minimal with proper care. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision – consult your vet and weigh the pros and cons.

Is it ethical to dock a springer spaniels tail?

The ethics of docking a Springer Spaniel’s tail is a thorny issue. You’re faced with balancing tradition, breed standards, and potential injury prevention against claims of cruelty and unnecessary suffering. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision you must weigh carefully.


Ultimately, around 50% of English springer spaniels have tails due to the divisive docking debate. You must weigh potential health benefits against ethical considerations over unnecessary procedures when determining if springer spaniels should have tails. Ultimately, this complex issue involves examining arguments surrounding temperament, breeding practices prioritizing innate traits, and potential injury risks versus ethical concerns.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.