Do Great Danes Have Docked Tails?

A docked tail is also known as a “bobbed tail” which is tail amputation or the removal of part of the tail end of a dog.

The procedure is performed on puppies during the first five days after birth or on an adult dog whereby the tail is cut off either surgically or through tying of the tail with a constricting band to cut blood supply for the tail to drop off. The puppy grows up with a short-length tail.

So, do Great Danes have docked tails? Great Danes usually do not have docked tails however, some have docked tails from having had the tail amputation procedure. Docked tails in Great Danes is a selective option decided by their owners to have their puppies or adult dogs tails docked.

The procedure is performed by a veterinarian or breeder and although decided by a Great Dane owner, it is not physically or medically necessary to have tails of Great Danes docked.

In this article, we will show you the reasons behind tail docking, the risks of tail docking, whether the procedure is illegal, why Great Dane owners dock their dog’s tails, and dog breeds with docked tails.

Why would you dock a dog's tail?


The main reasons why you would dock a dog’s tail are for cosmetic purposes for a pleasing appearance, medical reasons because of a traumatic injury, or due to a congenital defect of the tail.

Docking of dogs’ tails was commonly performed on working dogs that were bred for a specific task such as hunting, herding, or military dogs.

Non-working dogs have also undergone the procedure.

Tail docking dates back to the Romans and the reasons for it included:

  • Prevention of rabies: It was believed that docking prevented the contraction of rabies.
  • Prevention of injury: Tail docking was done to prevent tail injury of dogs during activities where their long tails would be at risk of getting caught in bushes, shrubs, or in crate spaces.
  • Increase of speed and strength especially for working dogs bred for hunting or herding.
  • Increase of agility in movement: It was believed that having guard dogs with docked tails improved their ability to move during an attack and would not be caught by the tail b their attackers.
  • Prevention of soiled fur: Long-haired dogs had their tails docked to prevent their fur from being soiled with feces or urine after they relieved themselves.

Although these were all reasons for having the tails of dogs docked, there is no scientific support for these perceived benefits. Today, the practice is decreasing in its popularity and fewer procedures are being performed.

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What are the risks of tail docking?

The risks of tail docking comprise medical complications and the pain associated with the procedure. These risks include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Development of nerve tumor
  • Necrosis
  • It is a traumatic painful experience for both puppies and adult dogs. Puppies develop long-term trauma towards pain which affects how they will process pain throughout their life.

Why do people dock Great Dane tails?

People dock Great Dane tails mainly for cosmetic purposes and as a preventive measure against injury from the happy tail syndrome.

Cosmetic reasons serve the idea of having a pleasing appearance of the dog which is from their owner’s desire and choice to have a docked-tailed dog.

Great Danes have a “happy tail” which means they wag their tails vigorously in excitement which can lead to bleeding due to tail injury. This injury can be bandaged to heal but some dogs continue vigorous wagging of the tail which can lead to constant injury, pain, and bleeding, therefore, docking of their tail is done.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there is no scientific evidence to indicate the benefits of docking for a Great Dane or any other dog breed unless it is medically necessary due to injury or congenital defect.

Is it cruel to dock a dog's tail?

Yes, it is cruel to dock a dog’s tail because of the pain inflicted on a puppy or adult dog during the procedure.

During docking of a puppy’s tail, the procedure is performed without anesthesia and studies have shown evidence of a painful experience through excruciating cries from puppies.

Adult dogs have to go under anesthesia for the procedure however, the healing period is also painful. Docking a dog’s tail is considered cruel, unnecessary, and painful mutilation.

Is it illegal to buy a docked dog?

It is not illegal to buy a docked dog in the USA because the practice is unrestricted and not controlled meaning no laws are preventing the procedures from being undertaken as well as buying of docked dogs.

Despite there being no restricting laws, today more vets and breeders are voluntarily refusing to conduct the procedure which is now seen as unnecessary.

Two states New York and Vermont have also started efforts in having the procedures banned. In other countries such as Australia and the UK, the docking of dog tails has been banned and is illegal.

Which dog breeds have docked tails?

Docked tails of some dog breeds are as a result of surgical procedures done or breeds that are naturally born with docked tails.

21 dog breeds naturally have docked tails due to a mutation gene that they have. Some of these breeds include:

  • Doberman
  • Rottweiler
  • Jack Russell terrier
  • Australian shepherd
  • English shepherd
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Australian Pinscher
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • Croatian Sheepdog
  • Danish Swedish farm dog
  • Brazilian Terrier
  • Savory Sheep dog
  • Braque du Bourbonnais

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Docked tails are common in some dog breeds such as the Doberman or Rottweiler which are naturally born with short tails. However, having a Great Dane docked tail is optional and is decided by their owners whether to have their dog’s tails docked or not and is usually only for appearance purposes. 

The main reason for tail docking today is for cosmetic purposes or for medical reasons due to traumatic injury, a congenital defect, or from a good justification on a planned activity for a dog that presents evidence of risk of potential tail injury.

Many studies have shown that docking of dogs’ tails is an unnecessary procedure and discourages it because there is no benefit to a dog and also the risks and pain experienced are not worth it.

I hope this article helped you know whether Great Danes have docked tails, as well as the reasons behind tail docking, the risks involved, the legality of the procedure, why Great Dane owners dock their dog’s tails and dog breeds with docked tails.

If you liked this article you may also want to learn more from the below resources on Great Danes.

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