When we see certain breeds without tails, it’s hard not to wonder whether these dogs were born this way or if their tails have been removed. It’s a natural question to ask, and the answer is one worthy of explanation. Some breeds are more well known for having stubbed tails than others, and the Rottweiler is one of these breeds.
So in this article, we hope to sufficiently answer, and explain, whether or not rottweilers are born with tails.
Are Rottweilers Born with Tails?
Contrary to what many people assume, rottweilers are born with tails. In fact, most dog breeds are naturally born with tails. While there are a few select breeds that naturally have short or nonexistent tails, rottweilers are not included on that list.
Now that you know rottweilers are born with tails, you may be wondering why many adult rottweilers don’t have them and what purpose a dog’s tail even serves. In brief, a dog’s tail helps the animal balance as it moves, swinging back and forth to leverage the weight of the animal as it shifts from side to side.
Tails also serve as a means of communication. The position and alertness of a dog’s tail communicates whether the animal is happy, fearful, excited, or nervous.
As we all know, a wagging tail can mean a dog is happy and/or excited to see us. However, the tail’s position and movement is not only meant to communicate with people, but also functions to communicate with other dogs.
The adult rottweilers you see that are either missing their tails or have extremely short tails have had their tails removed as puppies. The process of removing a dog’s tail is called “docking,” which is a procedure commonly undertaken with specific breeds for reasons we will go over shortly.
What is Docking?
Now that you know rottweilers are born with tails, it’s only natural to question why they have their tails removed and how it happens. As we mentioned a second ago, the process by which a dog’s tail is removed is called “docking.”
This procedure is common practice among show dogs and with owners looking to keep their pets up to breed standards. Docking is performed by a veterinarian when a puppy is between three and five days old. The surgery severes the tail from the base of the dog’s spine, leaving behind a small nub.
The remaining nub will heal over and harden, with fur covering the scar.
Why Are Rottweilers’ Tails Removed?
Why this procedure is undertaken is complicated and has come under controversy in recent years. The fact that rottweilers are born with tails may make you question why it’s necessary for them to be removed.
Historically, docking was performed on rottweilers because it was thought that the absence of a tail would increase the dog’s speed and that the animal would be less susceptible to injury while fighting, hunting, or working.
Although the original reasons for docking were practical in nature, some of these have been disproven in recent years.
It is no longer believed that docking a rottweiler’s tail will increase its speed. Even so, some veterinarians still profess that docking will help working dogs avoid unnecessary injury when on the job.
The historical purposes of tail docking may no longer apply in the 21st century–however, docking is still regularly performed on rottweilers.
This is in part due to the AKC (American Kennel Club) breed standards, which dictate the appearance of specific breeds. To conform to, and qualify for, this historical standard, many rottweilers have their tails docked.
Why Is Docking Controversial?
As many do, you may be questioning why docking is still performed when a majority of rottweilers are neither working dogs nor appear in dog shows.
The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. Because the popularized image of the rottweiler is of a dog with a docked tail, many people have come to expect that all rottweilers must have their tails docked.
It is in part because of this that the practice of docking has continued. However, many people argue that the practice is both unnecessary and cruel.
Advocates against docking cite the surgery as outdated and lacking evidence to support its alleged benefits. Those against the practice further point to the fact that most dogs with tails do not suffer injuries as a result of having a tail.
Additionally, because most dogs use their tails for balance and to communicate, it is further believed that docking inhibits a dog’s ability to do both, leading to a poorer quality of life.
Due to the increase in protests against docking, as well as the spread of information online, more and more people are abstaining from getting their rottweilers’ tails docked. In rare cases, docking is practiced when a dog’s tail is malformed or injured, and would otherwise impede the animal’s quality of life.
However, this is uncommon, and most rottweilers have been docked for the reasons listed above.
What Does A Rottweiler’s Tail Look Like?
Since most rottweiler’s that we see in the media and on the street have docked tails, you may be wondering what an adult rottweiler’s tail looks like if allowed to grow.
Believe it or not, rottweiler’s actually have somewhat long tails that are up to one third of the dog’s length, and that sweep up at the end. The tails themselves are black on top with a tan coat of fur on the underside. In size they are similar to a black lab’s tail.
In reading this article, you may have been surprised to learn that rottweilers are born with tails. As you now know, the absence of tails among many rottweilers is not in fact a natural occurrence, but a choice taken by owners and breeders to conform with breed standards of appearance.
How the process of docking affects the animal is unclear, and if rottweiler’s tails should continue to be docked is a matter of ongoing debate and opinion.