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OneKind says Scottish Government must uphold tail-docking ban

Released to press on 12 November 2015

OneKind, the Scottish animal campaigns charity, is concerned that the current ban on tail-docking of dogs in Scotland might be under threat.

This follows an announcement yesterday by Environment Minister Aileen McLeod MSP in response to a question on this issue, in which she declared:

“A case has been made to us for possibly introducing a very tightly defined exemption regime to allow vets in Scotland to exercise their professional judgment and dock spaniel and hunt, point, retrieve pups only, if they believe that the dogs are likely to be used for working in future and that the pain of docking is outweighed by the possible avoidance of more serious injuries later in life.”

The Scottish Government is now considering issuing a public consultation on the issue.

OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:

“Undermining the tail-docking ban would be a backwards step for animal welfare in Scotland. The welfare case for allowing dogs to keep their tails is clear and was amply made and we have seen no evidence to justify removing the ban.”

“We know that gamekeepers have lobbied hard to be allowed to shorten spaniels’ tails so that they can work in bracken and brambles. But it must be asked whether mutilating young puppies and possibly leaving a life-long legacy of pain and behavioural problems can be justified on these grounds.”

Two research papers on tail-docking, commissioned by the Scottish Government from Glasgow University, werepublished in April 2014.

Unsurprisingly, the research indicated that working dogs with tails are more likely to injure their tails than dogs with short, very short or almost no tails. However, the research did not assess the pain and longer-term consequences of tail-docking puppies. It also found that as injuries to working dogs with tails are rare, aminimum of 320 spaniels would have to be docked to prevent amputation of one spaniel following injury at work.

Harry continued:

“We don’t want to see any dogs suffer avoidable injury at any point in their lives. If it was ever proven beyond doubt that the welfare benefits of tail-docking outweighed the welfare costs, we would review our anti-tail-docking policy. But there is simply no indication that tail-docking of puppies offers a net welfare benefit for working dogs - after all, the injury rate in docked puppies is 100%.

“Dogs have tails for very good reasons and they should be allowed to keep them.”


Notes for editors

1. OneKind ( is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end animal suffering through campaigns, research and education. OneKind (as Advocates for Animals) published a comprehensive report on tail docking at the time of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006(

2. Tail docking was banned in Scotland in 2006 by the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

3.Two research papers on tail-docking of working dogs in Scotland – implications for review of legislation were commissioned by the Scottish Government and published in the Veterinary Record, April 2014

• Survey of tail injuries sustained by working gundogs and terriers in Scotland (Paper 1) 

• The prevalence of tail injuries in working and non-working breed dogs visiting veterinary practices in Scotland (Paper 2).

4.The Ministerial answer to question S40-04767 Tail Docking Ban (Working Dogs Exemption) by Graeme Dey MSP can be found here:

For further information or photographs please contact Sarah Moyes on 0131 661

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