by Erika Butler - Dreibergen Rottweilers
What is a Breed Standard?
For each breed of dog, there is a breed standard which is a word
description of the perfect dog of that breed. Standards describe the mental and
physical characteristics that allow each breed to perform the function for which
they were originated. The standard describes the dog's looks, movement and
temperament. Breeders involved with each breed are attempting to produce a dog
that most closely conforms to the breed standard. In this respect, dog shows are
not unlike cat shows, bird shows, cattle shows, horse shows, etc. In fact, for
almost every species bred by man there are competitions among breeders.
Licensed judges examine the dogs and place them in accordance to how close each
dog compares with their mental image of the "perfect" dog as described in the
breed's official standard.
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) is the World Canine
Organization. It has 80 members, almost every country in the world has a Kennel Club that
is a member. One National Kennel Club is recognized from each country
(the AKC in the US) and that National Kennel Club issues their own pedigrees and trains
and licenses their own judges. The FCI also mandates breeding rules and
a Code of Ethics to be followed by breeders of each member country.
The FCI recognizes 337 breeds, each of them is the 'property' of a specific country
(normally the country of origin). The 'owner' countries of the breeds write the
breed standard for their breed and the adoption, translation and
updating of the standards is carried out by the FCI. The Rottweiler originated in
Germany and the ADRK
(Allgemeiner Deutscher Rottweiler Klub has the right and
responsibility to set, maintain and revise the breed standard for the
Rottweiler for the rest of the world.
Why do Rottweilers now have natural tails?
In 1999 the country of Germany passed a law that made it illegal to dock a
dog's tail or crop a dog's ears. The basis for this law was the fact that
the practice of docking and cropping was deemed to be inhumane treatment of animals.
In order to comply with the new law, the ADRK revised the
Standard for the Rottweiler and this new breed standard required a natural tail.
The FCI translated and adopted the new breed standard and gave
all FCI member countries several years to comply with the new breed standard.
A docked Rottweiler does not conform to the current FCI breed
standard. As each FCI member country finalizes their adoption of the new
breed standard Rottweiler breeders in those countries will no longer be allowed to dock and
docked Rottweilers will be disqualified at shows and prohibited from breeding.
The AKC (American Kennel Club) is not a member of the FCI. AKC does not follow any of the
rules and regulations set by the FCI for the rest of the world and the AKC breed clubs do not
always follow the breed standards set by the countries of origin. The AKC Breed Standard
for the Rottweiler has always deviated from the FCI standard and they are currently struggling
to deal with the breed standard regarding the tail.
There are a number of Rottweiler breeders in the United States that
follow the FCI Code of Ethics for breeding and strictly follow the FCI/ADRK
Breed Standard for the Rottweiler and those breeders will all leave natural tails
on their dogs. The United States Rottweiler Club prohibits it's members from docking.
||American Veterinary Medical Association Position Statement on Tail Docking
(Current as of June 2005)
Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated
nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all
surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and
infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before
agreeing to perform these surgeries
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s position on tail docking
The WSAVA considers amputation of dogs' tails to be an unnecessary surgical procedure
and contrary to the welfare of the dog. The WSAVA recommends that all canine organizations
phase out any recommendations for tail amputation (docking) from their breed standards. The
WSAVA recommends that the docking of dogs’ tails be made illegal except for
professionally diagnosed therapeutic reasons, and only then by suitably qualified persons,
such as registered veterinarians, under conditions of anesthesia that minimize pain and stress.
What is tail docking?
Tail docking today is the amputation of a dog's tail at varying lengths to suit the
recommendations of a breed Standard. Docking involves the amputation of the puppy's
tail either with scissors, a knife or with a rubber band. The cut goes through many highly
sensitive nerves in the tissues including skin, cartilage, and bone. This procedure is usually
performed without any anesthetic at between three to five days of age. The procedure
can be performed by either a registered veterinary surgeon or by an experienced dog
breeder. In many countries veterinarians are declining to perform this unnecessary procedure,
meaning that breeders are now docking more dogs.
Is tail docking painful for the puppy?
Yes, there is strong evidence that this is the case. The puppy has a fully developed
nervous system and a well-developed sense of pain. Puppies scream during the
procedure and they whimper, whine and cry for 2-3 days following docking. During the recovery
stage they do not eat well and gain less weight than undocked puppies. Many veterinarians
condemn the practice and refuse to perform the procedure because it is totally unnecessary and can lead to
serious complications. Some veterinarians continue perform tail amputation reluctantly in order
to keep the procedure under professional supervision, please their clients and to minimize the
risk to the pups.
Does tail docking prevent tail injuries?
The vast majority of dog breeds have natural tails. There is no movement in natural
tailed breeds to remove the tail in order to prevent injuries. When tails
remain intact, there are no more tail injuries in breeds that were customarily docked
than in other breeds of dog.
Can docking cause problems in later life?
There is considerable scientific evidence that docking can lead to complications, including
hemorrhage, infection and occasionally death of the puppy. In later life the stump of the tail may
be painful due to the formation of neuroma (nerve tissue scar) in the stump. This also occurs
following amputation of limbs in people and causes considerable discomfort. Dogs have evolved
into their current shape over many thousands of years. If a tail were
not useful to a dog, natural selection would have eliminated it long ago. Indeed, tails have
many useful functions and are important for balance and body language among other things.
Are tailed Rottweilers different?
Certainly not! In fact once people get used to seeing dogs with their natural tails,
the docked dogs look strange, like something is missing. Once you own a tailed Rottweiler
it is hard to understand why the tails of this breed were ever amputated in the first place.
They use their tails for balance and agility and most importantly, expression and communication.
Try to imagine if the reverse happened and you saw a breed such as Labrador retriever
with a docked tail. The dog would look quite strange without a tail and you would wonder
why the procedure was done.
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