Rottweiler Tail: Docking, Breed Standards and Care

A notable feature of most Rottweilers is their short, bobbed tail. It is often so small that it is nonexistent. However, current and hopeful Rottweiler owners may notice that some Rottweilers have a long and thick tail.

Rottweilers will have different tails depending on the breeder and owner, but many people wonder what a real Rottweiler tail looks like. To learn more about Rottweilers and tail docking, here is everything pet owners need to learn about a Rottweiler tail.

Rottweiler Tail: What Does It Look Like?

A Rottweiler naturally has a long, thick tail that features a slight curve toward the end. However, many Rottweilers have a very short tail because they get their tails docked. Tail docking is a cosmetic procedure that helps dogs meet the breed standard. It usually doesn’t have any health benefits.

In the past, people docked Rottweiler tails and other working-class dog tails. They believed that it could prevent injuries while they worked. Some even stated that it could prevent rabies, make them faster, etc. However, there is no proof that makes those statements true. Modern tail docking is usually only for cosmetic purposes for the dog to fit the breed standard. It is very rare for tail docking to have real benefits for a dog.

Should Rottweiler's tail be cut

What Is Docking?

Docking, or tail docking to be specific, is when a person cuts off parts of an animal’s tail. It can also get called bobbing if the tail gets cut into a bobtail, but the terms are fairly interchangeable. Docking is a common practice among certain breeds like corgis, poodles and Rottweilers. It used to be normal for working-class dogs to get docked tails to “work better” back in the day, but it is uncommon today. 

Are Rottweilers Born with a Tail?

Yes, Rottweilers are born with a tail. They are born with thick and long tails that have a slight curl at the end. They are not born with naturally short or bobbed tails. If a Rottweiler is born with a short tail, it may be due to a birth defect or abnormal growth pattern.

Are Rottweilers born with a tail

Why Do Some Rottweilers Have Short Tails?

Rottweilers that have short or bobbed tails likely got their tails docked. It is almost impossible for a Rottweiler to have a naturally short tail. Docking is a common practice for Rottweiler puppies. So, many people are used to seeing a Rottweiler with a short tail. However, it is very unlikely that they naturally had a short tail at birth.

Why Do People Dock Rottweiler Tails?

The main reason why people dock Rottweiler tails today is for aesthetic purposes. A docked tail is the breed standard for Rottweilers. Rottweilers with their natural tails may not be considered the breed standard. Therefore, many pet owners and breeders get their tails docked to fit those standards.

The Breed Standard for Rottweiler Tails

The breed standard for a Rottweiler is a robust and medium-large body frame. They should have a fairly heavy build with a large frame. Notably, a feature of a breed standard Rottweiler is a bobbed tail. The tail should get cut close to the body, leaving around 1-2 vertebrae. The tail would look like a bobtail or nearly nonexistent. 

How Does a Tail Get Docked?

Typically, tail docking occurs when the Rottweiler is still a puppy. It can happen to a Rottweiler that is just a few days old. The breeder will likely cut it off and stitch it, but they usually do not use anesthesia. Older dogs usually require anesthesia and a veterinarian to get their tails docked, but tail docking is an uncommon practice in older dogs. It is very uncommon for veterinarians to perform the procedure because many of them are against tail docking.

Are There Health Benefits to Docking a Rottweiler Tail?

No, there are no actual health benefits to docking a Rottweiler’s tail. Tail docking may occur in modern times because of a specific medical condition or injury. For instance, amputating a tail may be necessary to prevent further infection. Some dogs may get a bad injury on their tail, so they may get a partial or complete tail docking. Other than those examples, there are little to no reasons to dock tails to prevent injury.

Why do they cut a Rottweiler's tail

There are rare cases where modern tail docking can be a helpful preventative procedure. For instance, dogs that work in farms to herd animals or guard territory may get their tails docked. A long tail can collect foxtails and burrs that could cause infection, leading to a lot of pain and possible amputation. If the tail wags, it can get injured as a dog goes through dense brush. Terrier dogs that crawl underground may get their tails shortened to prevent getting stuck underground.

Back in the day, people believed that tail docking prevented injuries whenever a dog performed ratting, baiting and fighting. A dog would likely not get grabbed by the tail during these activities if they did not have one. Former beliefs about tail docking also stated that it could make a dog more agile and quick because there is less weight to pull them back. Other past theories stated tail docking prevented rabies and made backs stronger, but there is no evidence to prove these claims. 

Is It Cruel to Dock a Rottweiler’s Tail?

Many studies point to tail docking being a cruel practice. People often only do it for the breed standard, so there are no actual health benefits to tail docking. Some people may say that it was historically proven to be beneficial, but there is not enough evidence to support those claims. 

A study shows that tail docking can interfere with a dog’s communication skills. Humans and other dogs look at a dog’s tail for a visual hint as to what that dog feels. Dogs cannot speak, so they heavily rely on body language (like with their tails) to communicate with other living beings. A wagging tail can mean excitement and happiness, while a hidden tail can mean fear.

If a dog cannot use its natural form of communication, it can grow to be more aggressive. They will likely show more aggressive behavior because they feel frustrated that people and other dogs cannot understand them. It could also lead to potential fights with other dogs because the other dogs may not understand what the docked tail dog feels.

Many veterinarians are against the practice of tail docking because there is no evidence that proves it will be medically beneficial for dogs. In rare cases, a partial tail docking may be ideal for preventing potential injury while still allowing a dog to communicate, which is what some vets say. However, the overall process involves cutting a dog’s skin, bone, nerves, muscles, etc., for an often superficial reason. Therefore, many vets will not advocate or perform the procedure.

Some people think that tail docking is ok because puppies will not feel pain. Puppies still have nerves that signal pain to the brain, so they will still get hurt when their tails get docked. They may only seem like they do not experience much pain because it is done at a very young age. Therefore, they may not cry as loudly or express as much pain as an older dog would.

For instance, one study examined how puppies reacted when they got their tails docked. The researchers took note of the puppies’ reactions during and after the procedure. All of the documented puppies cried during the procedure. The puppies did not cry when they were in recovery, but that does not mean they feel any less pain than adults would. Therefore, puppies do feel pain from tail docking.

When Should a Rottweiler’s Tail Get Docked?

It is best to do it as soon as possible if a pet owner or breeder decides to dock a Rottweiler tail. Most people dock the tail when the puppy is 2-5 days old. They believe that the tail is not fully developed at this age, so the chances of healing would be better. However, there is not enough proof that docking at this age would make it heal better. Some people will dock tails while the puppies are still a few weeks old.

When should a Rottweiler's tail be docked

Do Rottweiler Tails Have to Get Docked?

No, that is up to the breeder or owner of the Rottweiler puppies. It might be only required in some countries if the dog were to enter professional competitions. However, there is no real need to dock the tail if the dog does not have to meet the breed standard. So, a regular household Rottweiler can keep their tail because there would be no real reason to get a shorter tail.

All in All

Tail docking is an old practice that was for working dogs, and many people continue that practice today for dogs to meet the breed standard. Rottweilers naturally have long tails, and they only have short tails if they get their tails docked. Tail docking has no real health benefits, and most breeders only do it to fit the breed standard of Rottweilers.

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  1. American Kennel Club, ‘Rottweiler’,, Date Accessed – 27 May, 2021
  2., ‘Cosmetic tail docking of dogs tails’,, Date Accessed – 27 May, 2021
  3. Science Direct, ‘Behavioural observations of puppies undergoing tail docking’,, Date Accessed – 27 May, 2021

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