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Should the tail wag the dog?
  1. David Morton, BVSc, PhD, FSB, DipECLAM(ret), DipECAWBM, MRCVS, CBE
  1. e-mail: david.morton{at}

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TWO papers recently published online in Veterinary Record, which are summarised on pp 450 and 451 of this issue (Cameron and others 2014, Lederer and others 2014), start to provide valuable evidence on the consequences of not docking the tails of working dogs. The papers comprise the largest and most specific study to date on the consequences of docking and not docking dogs. The authors carried out an online survey of tail injuries in working gundogs and terriers in Scotland during the 2010/2011 shooting season, and also used a quasi-control group to assess tail injuries in non-working and working breeds from data acquired in 16 Scottish veterinary practices between 2002 and 2012, covering the period before and after the tail docking ban in Scotland. It is creditable that this work was funded by the Scottish Government, which was seeking an evidence base to inform the debate (and therefore the Scottish legislation) on whether tail docking was an appropriate measure to adopt to prevent tail injury in specific breeds. In the Animal Health and Welfare Act (2006) the Scottish Government took a principled stance and banned docking in all …

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