Something to Wag About: Vets in British Columbia Ban Tail Docking

Almost exactly a year ago, veterinarians in British Columbia took a stand against ear cropping. Now they’ve taken another huge step for animals: banning tail docking.

While some groups, including kennel clubs and breed associations, continue to support tail docking because it conforms to breed standards, both the practice and standards are being questioned and opponents are calling for changes.

Animal advocates have long opposed tail docking, along with other unnecessary procedures that are done for cosmetic reasons or for our convenience, including declawing and devocalization. Although these practices are still widespread, professional organizations are continuing to oppose them.

This week, the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia (CVBC) voted overwhelmingly to ban tail docking of dogs throughout the province, but they also went a step further and included horses and cattle who have also been regularly subjected to this practice.

According to the CVBC, there’s no scientific evidence to support any welfare or health benefit of tail docking, but there is evidence showing it can have a harmful effect on behavior and communication, and it comes with the risk of infection, other serious complications and phantom pain.

The vote now makes British Columbia the fifth province in Canada to ban tail docking, and brings it in line with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s position. Now any vet who is caught performing the procedure in British Columbia will face disciplinary action and potential charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Even though there is still opposition to bans like this one, CVBC countered in a statement, writing:

Long-standing customs are not necessarily in the best interests of the animal. Veterinarians have an ethical responsibility and must act within the best interests of the animals that they treat. Tail docking or any procedure done solely for historical reasons without supporting evidence to continue the practice goes against the CVMA’s veterinary oath, which states that veterinarians have a responsibility to promote animal health and welfare.

The CVBC is now calling on other provinces to follow suit, and for breed associations to recognize this practice is unnecessary and change their standards to acknowledge that, while animal advocates are applauding this as another step in the right direction for animals.

“We feel this is a big step forward in the humane treatment of animals in our province, and evidence that veterinarians in B.C. are very interested in animal welfare first and foremost,” said BC SPCA senior manager of animal health Dr. Emilia Gordon.

Tail docking has already been banned or restricted in many countries in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, but the U.S. is lagging behind.  Even though the American Veterinary Medical Association has taken a position against tail docking when it’s done solely for cosmetic reasons, there are virtually no regulations in the U.S. to stop it, or other senseless cosmetic procedures.

Help the U.S. Catch Up

Please sign and share the petition asking the American Kennel Club to update its breed standards to end cruel and unnecessary cosmetic procedures.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

#79941 petition signed...

thank you Alicia...

Carl R
Carl R9 months ago


Carl R
Carl R11 months ago


John W
John Wabout a year ago

Definitely Good news

Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fookabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Jess B
Jess Babout a year ago

Wonderful news

Melania P
Melania Padillaabout a year ago

Yay! Shared

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyerabout a year ago

GOOD. The whole idea of cutting off parts is horrible.

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer Habout a year ago

"continue to support tail docking because it conforms to breed standards," I have never understood how docking and cropping make a dog "conform to breed standards" when docking and cropping are not natural to the breed! Kennel clubs need to lose their popularity and understand the dogs were better BEFORE they got their greedy mitts on them.