Everyone loves to watch these minuscule and mischievous dogs wiggle their butts as they walk. But, if you look at a cute Corgi butt, what have you ever noticed the Corgi tail?
In this article, we will share some interesting and, often surprising things about Corgi’s tail:
- Corgis are born with tails
- Corgis can be born without tails
- Tail docking is a breed standard
- Tails are docked as very young puppies
- A Corgi’s tail serves no purpose
- Tail docking is banned in certain countries
- The Queen’s Corgis do not have docked tails
- A high tail set is a serious fault.
1. Corgis Are Born With Tails
Most Corgis are born with tails.
Some Pembroke Welsh Corgis can be born without a tail as a result of selective breeding. Other than those Pembrokes, most are born with a short and fluffy tail that extends upwards. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi can also have a curled tail sometimes, but the tail length is usually around 4-5 inches long.
Cardigan Welsh Corgis have longer tails than Pembrokes.
The Pembroke and the Cardigan Corgis are the well know Corgi breeds. But did you know there’s a variation of the Corgi called a fluffy Corgi that is also born with a tail? Read more about Fluffies.
2. Corgis Can Be Born Without Tails
Some Pembroke Welsh Corgis have been bred to have short tails or “bobtails”. The American Kennel Club (AKC) calls this a “natural dock”. The tails are so short that these Corgis are considered “tailless”.
Provided the short tail is less than 2 inches in length, it passes the Breed Standard of the AKC for Pembrokes. However, if that short tail is carried high, the AKC believes it spoils the contour of the topline, which could be a problem if you plan to show your Pembroke Corgi.
Pembroke Corgis that are born with these very short tails carry a gene for natural taillessness. Puppies just need a bobtail gene from one parent to be born with a bobtail. One parent may carry the bobtail gene and pass it onto their offspring but actually have a long tail themselves.
Breeders use this gene to selectively breed for tailessness. This breeding practice impacts up to two-thirds of all Pembroke Corgis.
Sadly for those remaining Pembroke Corgis that are born with natural tails, they have their tails docked. As you can see by our sentiment, this blog does not support tail docking of any breed of dog.
3. Tail Docking Is A Breed Standard
If you want to conform to the Breed Standard of the AKC, your Pembroke Corgi will need to have their tails docked. And the requirement (see a copy of Breed Standard below) is to dock the tail as short as possible.
The required Corgi docking tail length is under 2 inches in length. So, when a tail is docked, it is not removed completely on a Pembroke Corgi.
This Breed Standard will only impact you and your Pembroke Corgi if a breeder wants to register a Corgi dog with the AKC.
4. Tails Are Docked As Very Young Puppies
Typically, the tails of Pembroke Corgis are docked 1-5 days after they are born by the breeder or veterinarian without anesthetic medication using a scalpel or surgical scissors.
There are two sides to every coin.
Some people argue what’s the problem, puppies are so young when they have their tail docked that they don’t feel pain. The belief is that the Corgi puppy’s nervous system is not fully developed at this point and that they cannot feel any pain. This is why the procedure is done without an anesthetic, whilst the tail is cut off. However, there is no physical evidence that puppies cannot feel pain at this point.
But other folks say that puppies do feel pain and so when their tail is docked, they can cry for days after their tail being docked because of the pain. Some Corgi breeders have even stated that after being docked, the puppies have shown signs of distress for a few weeks, which could show that they can feel pain when the procedure is done. However, this could also be due to the fact that some breeders will perform the procedure when it should be done properly and by a veterinarian.
The tail is part of a dog’s spine, and so it most likely is painful to cut this off, especially just days after being born.
5. A Corgi’s Tail Serves No Purpose
If you had a Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a working dog herding cattle, tails were considered to serve no purpose. In fact, their tails were considered a liability. Their tails hung so high in the air that it was dangerous when herding and could cause injury if a cow stepped on it.
Docking the tail of Pembroke Corgis was a practice that started when Vikings were around.
But given we have Corgis as pets and not working dogs, I ask the question, should we still be docking the tails of Pembroke Corgis? Today, tail docking is done mostly for cosmetic purposes.
Because Cardigan Corgi typically had lower hanging short tails, herders felt this to be less dangerous and tail docking was not administered to this breed of Corgi.
6. Tail Docking Is Banned In Certain Countries
Pembroke Welsh Corgis In the U.S. and Canada, it is legal for Pembroke Welsh Corgis to have their tails docked. It’s also OK in these countries:
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
Under laws in the UK since 2007 (governing England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), tail docking is considered mutilation and is illegal. This applies to all dogs, regardless of whether you show them or not.
Tail docking is also banned in these countries (with no exceptions):
- New Zealand
- Sri Lanka
7. The Queen’s Corgis Do Not Have Docked Tails
We have all heard how much the Queen loves her Corgis. In some countries, docking has been made illegal on non-working dogs, and so the Queen’s corgis have not been docked, and the tails are intact.
That being said, she does have some older Corgis, whose tails are bobbed in appearance. However, it is unclear whether they were bred that way, or whether they were docked.
8. A High Tail Set Is A Serious Fault
The AKC has strict Breed Standards for the tail of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi even though they don’t need to have their tail docked. You can see from the excerpt below that the AKC prefers the Cardigan Corgis tail to hang low and not high. High is considered a “serious fault”.
Once again, these strict Breed Standards only apply if you are a breeder and want to register with the AKC.
The History of Tail Docking
Docking is a very old procedure, which has been performed on dogs since Ancient Roman times, and it is still done today. Whilst it was initially done for medical and useful purposes, nowadays it is more done because dog owners prefer the aesthetic look of a docked tail.
Originally, in ancient times, docking the tail of a dog was thought to prevent rabies, and by cutting it off, they would not be able to be infected. In addition, docking a dog’s tail was done to prevent injuries whilst the dog was working.
As these dogs would be used as working dogs, herding cattle and livestock, it was a worry that the tail would be stepped on.
In other cases, dogs would often be used for hunting or ratting and would have to run and chase animals through forested areas, with thick bushes and hedges. The concern was that the tails would get caught on the thicket, or that they could injure the tail, causing an infection.
For the most part, docking has been done on dogs to prevent injury and infection. However, nowadays, many veterinarians believe that it is an unnecessary procedure, much like the process of cutting a dog’s ears to make them pointy (called ear cropping).
The Case For Tail Docking
If Corgis are naturally born with tails, then why are they docked in the first place? Well, for the most part, this is done for one of three reasons.
The main reason why people dock the tail of a Corgi is because of the aesthetic look that it brings to the dog. In addition to this, the AKC will not allow a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to be a registered dog with their organization unless the Corgi has a docked tail.
The official standard that the AKC wants is for the tail to be docked as short as possible, without it being indented as this is supposed to prevent injuries sustained as a working dog.
However, you would only need to register a dog with the AKC if you want to use it in dog shows, so there is no real need to go by the AKC’s definition of what a true Pembroke Corgi is.
Cutting the tail should not be part of an aesthetic look, or a defining characteristic of a dog breed, as most breeds are born with their tails!
As previously mentioned, the Corgi can be split between two breeds. The first kind is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and the second is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a much more traditional and older type of dog breed and is the less popular kind of Corgi that you will find.
The main difference between the breeds is that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is slightly smaller, and will typically have light-colored fur in beige, white and creamy colors.
In addition to this, a Pembroke Corgi is descended from Swedish Vallhunds and Nordic Spitz, whereas the Cardigan Corgi is descended from a German Teckel and Basset Hounds.
Typically, the smaller of the two is known for its bobbed tail, and so Pembroke Welsh Corgis will almost always have docked tails.
Docking is a tradition that dates back centuries. This is not a new procedure. Corgis were originally used to herd livestock such as cattle, horses, and sheep, and so they have a very feisty, strong temperament, and are very agile, intelligent creatures.
As their role would be on a farm around larger animals, the worry was that the cows or other animals would step on the tail accidentally, and subsequently injure the dog.
The Case For Not Docking Tails
Corgis are born with their tails, so why would you want to cut it off? It is a part of the dog’s spine and a natural part of the body. There are many reasons why you should not dock a Corgi’s tail.
Communicating with other dogs
For instance, dogs use their tails to communicate with one another.
Whilst we associate tail wagging with happiness, it can also show a whole host of other feelings and emotions. For example, a wagging tail can also show that a dog is scared, anxious, or angry.
They can also use their tail for communication, and learn to do so from a young age.
Another reason why the tail is important is that it is a social animal. Dogs wag their tails to spread their scent around for other dogs to pick up and understand.
Dogs who cannot wag their tails are unable to communicate properly with other dogs, and as a result, Corgis can be a little socially awkward or anxious around other dogs.
In the worst cases, this can also lead to aggressive behavior as they are unable to communicate with other dogs around them.
The painful process as a puppy
Some breeders report that their Corgis cry in pain after having their tails docked, and the whole thing can be a traumatic experience. Suffering from trauma in the early stages of their lives can lead to improper development, and Corgis can become more aggressive later in life.
Tails provide balance and agility
One of the most important uses of the tail is for balance and agility. Dogs can run very quickly and use their tail to maneuver themselves or to change direction.
When a dog tries to change direction, it will move its front legs, and the rear legs change afterward, with the help of the tail as a counterweight to help change the direction without losing its balance.
If a dog does not have a tail for balance, then it can be unstable on uneven surfaces. Whilst this is not a huge issue early in a Corgi’s life, as they get older, their muscles get weaker, and they may lose balance more easily.
By docking the tail, they can be more prone to injury as they age, as it helps balance them whilst moving.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of Corgi does not have a tail?
All types of Corgis have tails, but some are docked and others are not. The reason why we believe that tail docking on a Corgi is unnecessary, and is not done to prevent injury but because people like the look, is because Cardigan Corgis have long tails that are carried low.
Cardigan Corgis do not often get their tails docked, despite the fact that their tails are carried low to the ground, which is even more of a stepping hazard.
On the other hand, Pembroke Corgis have shorter tails naturally, and carry them high above their backs, out of the way, yet these are the ones who have their tails docked ‘to prevent injury’.
It does not make sense because Cardigan Corgis are more at risk of having their tails stepped on, whereas Pembroke Corgis have their tails in the air, so they would not be stepped on.
What is even more telling is that most Corgis today are not used to herd livestock, so there is no real reason why their tails need to be docked.
Most people who purchase a Corgi as a pet will be keeping them as a family dog, and so they would not need to be concerned about a cow stepping on the Corgi’s tail.
This is why many organizations campaign against dog tail docking or believe that it is barbaric unless done to protect working dogs, and to prevent infection.
Do Corgis need their tails?
Of course, Corgis need their tails. The tail is actually a part of the dog’s spine, and they are naturally born with a tail. If they were not meant to have a tail, then they wouldn’t have been born with one!
Is docking a dog’s tail illegal?
Docking a dog’s tail is considered illegal in some countries.
Why do they cut off the tails of Corgis?
The tails of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are cut off to up to 2 inches in length for aesthetic reasons. If you are a Pembroke Welsh Corgi breeder and want to register with the American Kennel Club, you are required to dock the tail of your Corgi as part of adhering to the Breed Standard.
Do corgis have curly tails?
Pembroke Welsh Corgis have curly, short tails if they are allowed to grow as a puppy matures. In the U.S., however, many of these Corgis have their tail docked or are bred to be born with bobtails up to 2 inches in length. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi have longer tails that hang low to the ground.
How is a Corgis tail docked?
The tail of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is docked using a scalpel or surgical scissors. No anesthetic is used during the procedure which normally occurs as a puppy between 1 to 5 days old.
How do I know if Corgis tail is docked?
You will recognize that a Corgis tail is docked if you see a short bobtail or stump where the tail should be, measuring up to 2 inches long, instead of a regular long tail.
What is the Corgi tail docking length?
The length of a Corgi tail that’s been docked must be up to 2 inches long, according to the breed standards for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi as defined by the American Kennel Association.
To conclude, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with tails and do not need to have their tails docked. They are no longer used as working dogs, and there is no physical evidence that shows that it is beneficial to the dog, or that it prevents infection.
If anything, docking a tail can prevent the dog from maintaining its balance and being able to communicate with other dogs, leading to social anxiety and aggression.
Crazy About Corgis?
Here at Outdoor Dog Fun, we are crazy about Corgis because they make great companions outdoors. here’s a selection of more articles about Corgis that you may be interested in reading:
- Like to hike? So do Corgis
- Leaving your Corgi alone? Here’s what you need to know
- Can you outrun your Corgi? Find out how fast they run