Poodle Tails: Docked Or Natural?

Poodles are among the most stunning dog breeds and have a coat of hair that rival all other dogs. However, some owners may want to modify their Poodle looks by docking their tails. Tail docking is when a dog’s owner or breeder removes a part of their dog’s tail – something that is often controversial.

Many owners and experts agree this practice is cruel and puts your precious pal through a lot of pain. Still, many owners will dock their dog’s tail for cosmetic reasons and because they believe docking their Poodle’s tail will make running, hunting, and other activities safer.

Poodle tails: docked or natural
Poodle Tails: Docked or Natural?

Read on to learn more about tail docking and if you should keep Poodle tails docked or natural.

What Is a Docked Tail?

A docked tail is a tail that has a portion missing. Some docked tails have most of the appendage and leave only a stub behind. Some dogs can be born without a tail and only a stub, but some dogs with a stub may have been subject to an extreme tail docking procedure that left them without a tail.

male vs female Poodle photo
A photo showing a male and a female Poodle. Is there much of a difference in terms of their temperament or trainability?

A docked tail will often look like a short tail or a stub and will change how your dog shows emotions. Dogs with tails that have been docked too much will likely wag their back end to show affection or happiness, changing how they walk and move during excitable periods.

Should Your Poodle’s Tail Be Docked?

When it comes to whether Poodle tails should be docked or natural, the answer is that all dogs’ tails should not be docked. Your Poodle’s tail should be kept natural unless there is a specific medical reason to dock your dog’s tail. However, there are a few reasons this practice would be medically necessary.

owner carries Toy Poodle
The owner carries her Toy Poodle.

Poodles, like all dogs, will experience extreme pain when their tails are docked, and many experts consider the practice cruel. However, there are still archaic reasons many dog owners will dock tails.

Reasons for Tail Docking

Several reasons Poodle owners may choose to dock their Poodle’s tail include appearance and injury prevention. However, these reasons may not be worth the pain and suffering your dog will likely undergo from the process. Read on to learn why docked tails happen.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Many Poodle owners may look at Poodle tails, docked or natural, and want them shorter. Some Poodle owners think a docked tail looks much better than natural Poodle tails and will gladly have them docked because they think appearances warrants the pain their dog will undergo.

two Poodles stay together
The two Poodles stay close together and look curious!

Dog owners who think docked tails are visually pleasing may not understand how painful the procedure is or think pain medications will be enough to offset the pain. Unfortunately, no matter how many pain medications you use, your dog will still be uncomfortable and feel pain.


The practice of docking your dog’s tail stemmed from the belief that the practice would protect your dog from rabies and injuries while at work. Working dogs who would herd sheep would routinely suffer from injuries like sprains, tears, and getting caught on things.

A gray merle Poodle incredibly rare.
A gray merle Poodle incredibly rare.

Even as the injuries to working dogs faded, docking a dog’s tail remained tradition and would be done as a sign of good luck or viewed as a good omen.

Prevents Injuries

Many dog owners thought docking their dog’s tail would prevent injuries because there was less of them to get stuck or hurt. However, these owners likely didn’t realize that a dog’s tail is part of its backbone and spine. The tail includes intervertebral discs, muscles, and nerves that can cause your dog severe pain upon injury.

Standard Poodle on the backyard
Standard Poodle stands alone at the backyard and looking for his owner from afar.

While working before modern technology became commonplace on farms, some dogs were injured doing daily tasks. These injuries are less common, making docking an unnecessary procedure.

The Cons of Docking Your Poodle’s Tail

There are two major cons to docking your dog’s tail: the pain they will undergo and how unnecessary the procedure is. Read on to learn more about each reason why many owners choose not to dock their Poodle’s tail and instead keep it natural.

Unnecessary Procedure

Docking your dog’s tail is an entirely unnecessary procedure. This procedure will put your dog through a lot of trauma, pain, and discomfort. There is little benefit to docking your dog’s tail, and the benefit of the procedure is outweighed by its vanity of it.

Toy Poodle lies down
A Toy Poodle lies down.

Although many may like the look of a dog without a long tail, docking your dog’s tail should not be considered unless there is a medical reason to do so. Instead, consider looking for a dog who was born without a tail and needs a forever home.


The biggest con for docking your dog’s tail is the pain it will cause your dog. Any loving dog owner would never be happy with their dog suffering during a procedure they don’t have to endure. Regardless of how small your Poodle is or the method used to dock the tail, your dog will still feel the pain of the docking procedure.

close up Poodle face
A close-up shot of Poodle’s face.

Although puppies may not feel pain the same way that humans do, they’ll still be aware of what’s happening to them. Additionally, the older the dog is when the docking procedure is done, the more pain it will feel.

Frequently Asked Questions

These answers can help you decide which choice is best for your Poodle and how to keep your precious pup feeling the most at ease.

Is it cruel to dock a puppy’s tail?

Most experts and veterinarians agree that docking a puppy’s tail is cruel. Puppies can feel pain as soon as they are born, even if they are unable to whine or cry. Even with medications, your dog will be uncomfortable and may be in an incredible amount of pain.

What happens if you don’t dock a puppy’s tail?

Your dog will live a normal and happy life without docking its tail. Most dogs do not have a docked tail and live incredibly loved and happy lives.

Do breeders dock puppy tails?

Some breeders will dock their puppy’s tails to make them more appealing to some buyers, especially older folks who may come from a time when docked tails signified higher class.

What age do tails usually get docked?

Tails are usually docked only a few days after birth. However, this practice will still cause your dog significant pain.

What dog breeds usually have their tails docked?

The most common dog breeds with docked tails include shepherding dogs, like the Australian Shepherd, Danish Swedish Farmdog, and Jack Russell Terriers.

Final Thoughts

Poodle tails can be docked or natural. However, deciding to dock your dog’s tail can come with many repercussions for your dog. Docking a dog’s tail is cruel and can put your precious pup through a lot of pain.

Most veterinarians recommend against the procedure unless it’s a medically necessary component of your dog’s care.

While some may believe this procedure can help keep injuries at bay and make hunting and running easier for your Poodle, any injuries to the tail are usually minor and easily healed.

Carefully consider why you want your Poodle’s tail to be docked. Choosing to dock your dog’s tail for purely cosmetic reasons will put your dog through a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.