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Do Springer Spaniels Have Tails? Purpose and Arguments for and Against Docking (2024)

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do springer spaniels have tailsDid you know that the docking of Springer Spaniels’ tails has been debated for centuries?

The practice, once widespread, is now controversial, with proponents citing tradition and safety, while opponents argue it’s cruel and unnecessary.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • The history of docking Springer Spaniels’ tails
  • The purpose of docking Springer Spaniels’ tails
  • The arguments for and against docking Springer Spaniels’ tails

Providing a comprehensive overview of this complex issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Docking was historically done to prevent injury in working Springer Spaniels.
  • Arguments for docking include conforming to breed standards, aesthetics, and reducing risk of tail injury.
  • Arguments against docking include that it is an unnecessary procedure that causes unjustifiable pain.
  • The practice aligns with historical breed standards but is controversial today due to ethical concerns regarding cosmetic docking.

Do Springer Spaniels Have Tails?

Do Springer Spaniels Have Tails
Springer Spaniels may or may not have tails.

Traditionally, their tails were docked to prevent injury while working in the field.

However, leaving tails intact is becoming more popular due to ethical considerations about altering dogs’ natural appearance without medical necessity.

While the breed standard calls for a docked tail, breed evolution and owner preferences are leading more people to favor natural tails.

There are good arguments on both sides:

  • Docking may reduce tail injuries and health risks.
  • Natural tails align with changing ethical views on canine appearance and welfare.

As perspectives shift, it’s likely there will be increasing acceptance of undocked tails in Springer Spaniels.

Purpose of Docking Springer Tails

Purpose of Docking Springer Tails
The original purpose of tail docking in Springer Spaniels was to prevent injury in working dogs.

Hunting breeds like Springers can damage their tails while working in thick brush, leading to painful injuries that struggle to heal properly.

To reduce the risk of chronic issues, docking became standard for sporting breeds, even as many transitioned to being pets and show dogs rather than hunters.

Prevent Injury in Working Dogs

Since Springer Spaniels were originally bred as hunting and working dogs, tail docking helped prevent recurring injuries and discomfort to their tails when working in dense brush and thickets.

Docking reduces risk of:

  • Tail damage from undergrowth
  • Reopened wounds
  • Surgeries for injured tails

Hunting breeds prone to tail injuries.

Docking minimizes pain from damaged tails.

Conform to Breed Standards

You’d see docked tails also persist to conform to established breed standards, even without a functional purpose for pets and show dogs.

Breeders may dock for aesthetic reasons when conforming to the breed standard or owner preferences.

Ethical considerations remain about performing therapeutic docking given limited tail functionality and potential health problems from the historical evolution of practices.

Arguments for and Against Docking

Arguments for and Against Docking
You’re bound to hear passionate views on both sides of the tail docking debate for Springer Spaniels.

Proponents cite historical reasons, aesthetic standards, reduced risk of injury during exercise, and reinforcement of breed identity as benefits. They may argue young puppies experience minimal pain and docking is therefore ethical.

Opponents counter that docking is an unnecessary procedure and public perception has shifted. They believe docking causes unjustifiable pain and mutilation simply for looks. Common beliefs include that docking should only be done when medically needed, not routinely for show dogs.

While practices persist, the ethical considerations and evolving public attitudes are fueling calls for change.

Regardless, Springer Spaniels do naturally have long, lively tails when left undocked.

What Does the Breed Standard Say?

What Does the Breed Standard Say
The English Springer Spaniel breed standard describes the ideal tail as docked and carried horizontally or slightly elevated.

Docking aligns with historical breed type and reinforces the breed’s moderate, balanced outline.

An undocked tail may deviate from the standard but isn’t overly penalized. Judges consider overall merits and correct carriage when evaluating undocked tails.

This statement reflects ethical considerations regarding cosmetic docking balanced with preserving breed traits optimized for game shooting. Conformation remains tied to historical breed function. Judges apply criteria viewing each dog wholistically within the standard’s parameters.

Judging Undocked Springer Tails

Judging Undocked Springer Tails
You’ll consider the overall positive characteristics of a dog with an undocked tail when judging an English Springer Spaniel.

While a natural tail may deviate from the breed standard, it should be weighted appropriately against the dog’s total merits.

Judges should look beyond the tail itself to the animal’s conformation, gait, temperament, and hunting ability.

The standards for correct carriage apply equally to docked and intact tails.

Both should be carried near horizontal and exhibit a lively, merry action.

Fault a limp, clamped tail or one curved over the back, not the mere presence of a tail.

Allow some leniency for Tail Evaluation based on Aesthetic Considerations, as an undocked tail is increasingly Natural Tail Deviations from tradition, not inherent Judging Criteria.

Correct Tail Carriage in Springers

Correct Tail Carriage in Springers
As we’ve covered, undocked tails are becoming more prevalent in the breed.

However, correct tail carriage remains an important evaluating criteria according to breed standards.

The ideal tail carriage is horizontal or slightly elevated, displaying a lively, merry action when the dog is working.

Faulty carriage includes a clamped tail, indicating poor temperament, or a tail held upright like a Terrier.

When judging, emphasis should still be placed on positive breed attributes over tail carriage alone.

While trends may be changing, longstanding ethical breed standards aim to preserve ideal structure, health, and temperament in Springers.

As natural tails gain acceptance, preservation of correct carriage protects the breed’s working abilities.

Statement on Docking From Breed Club

Statement on Docking From Breed Club
Since the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association approved a statement on tail docking and natural tails in May 2014, you’ll want to review their official position as the Parent Club of the Breed in guiding judges and exhibitors.

The statement represents Ethical Considerations regarding traditional Breeder Practices of docking, balancing different Cultural Perspectives on the practice.

It provides guidance on Alternative Practices judges should apply when evaluating English Springers with natural tails, while also acknowledging that Future Legislation in different locations may impact docking.

Overall, the breed club aims to promote the correct evaluation of English Springer Spaniels whether tails are docked per tradition or left natural.

Adopting a Springer Spaniel

Adopting a Springer Spaniel
One place you want to check first when looking to bring home your own Springer is rescues and adoption resources. Many loving Springers end up needing new homes due to unforeseen family changes. Connecting with breed-specific rescues can help you find your perfect match while saving a life.

Should you decide to go through a breeder, carefully research and ask for proof of health clearances for both puppy and parents. Reputable breeders invest in genetic testing while puppy mills cut corners, so beware of red flags like multiple litters or anxious parent dogs.

Finally, don’t forget to tap your local shelters and adoption groups too – you never know what special Springer may be waiting for you there!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What percentage of English Springer Spaniels have docked tails today?

Unfortunately, I don’t have precise statistics on the percentage of English Springer Spaniels with docked tails today.

This breed has historically had docked tails, but leaving tails intact is becoming more popular.

Without specific survey data, it would be speculative to state a percentage.

I can say that both docked and natural tails are commonly seen in the breed now.

How long should an undocked English Springer Spaniel’s tail typically be?

The typical length of an undocked English Springer Spaniel’s tail is 20 to 25 centimeters, or about 8 to 10 inches.

This moderately long tail allows correct carriage as described in the breed standard, carried horizontally or slightly elevated with a lively, merry action.

Without excess length that could risk injury while working in the field.

Does leaving a Springer’s tail undocked cause any health or medical issues?

No, leaving a Springer Spaniel’s tail undocked does not inherently cause health or medical issues.

Their tails are anatomically normal, so leaving them intact is not problematic in itself.

Focus on providing proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care.

What is the process and typical cost for getting a Springer Spaniel’s tail docked?

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough information to provide a detailed 35-word response on the process and cost of getting a Springer Spaniel’s tail docked.

More context would be needed regarding:

  • Where the procedure would take place
  • Who’d perform it
  • The specific Springer pup in question
  • Other relevant factors

I’d be happy to revisit this question with additional background details.

Does docking a Springer Spaniel’s tail require anesthesia or is it done without?

Tail docking in Springer Spaniels is typically done without anesthesia when the puppies are 3-5 days old.

The procedure involves cutting off part of the tail with scissors or a scalpel.

Though brief, it does cause pain.

Consider the ethics carefully before choosing this elective procedure.


Righteously resolving the rancorous row over rear removals requires recognizing the raisons d’être.

Tradition and safety stand staunchly on one side; cruelty cries out on the other.

Yet springers sport signature silhouettes, so thoughtfully adjudicating docking remains judicious.

Discerning the differences means deliberating details.

Ultimately, understand all aspects before deciding if your springer should surrender its spaniel tail.

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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.