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Springer Spaniel tail questions

(26 Posts)
Rubberduckies Thu 31-Mar-16 09:04:08


I was wondering if anyone could talk me through English springer spaniel tails!

We will be getting a puppy in the next few months, from a working litter. Ours will not be working in the field, but will be doing agility/obedience and learn some gun dog commands to keep it busy. We asked the breeder if he could leave ours undocked which he said he could do but obviously we will need to choose ours when it's a few days old.

The breeder and some scary forums online have suggested that it's really common for even pet springers to split their tails from hitting them on walls/tables etc so now we're a bit confused!

Surely all the show springers have full tails and they are obviously fine. Is the breeder exaggerating because he's just used to docking?

Any experiences or thoughts welcome, thank you!

Springermum1350 Thu 31-Mar-16 09:25:55

Split their tails ? Are there tails different from other dogs then? I thought they were not allowed to just dock their tails anymore?

Mine has a full tail and has never hurt it or split it.

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Mar-16 09:26:06

People that are pro-docking IME overestimate how often it happens.

The stats are that 13.5 % of undocked working dogs (not just spaniels) get tail injuries that require a vet's visit...not all of those are going to be serious injuries, just need some attention.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 31-Mar-16 09:29:07

Tail damage in waggy tail breeds like spaniels and Labs is surprisingly common, I know of at least one friend with an un-docked springer that now has had to have a partial tail amputation which has taken a long time to heal as an adult dog. That said I am not sure we would've chosen to have our sprocker docked (he is but that is because he was docked long before he came into our family) as tails are important communication tools in dogs. Our Lab got to the age of 14 without ever hurting his tail by wagging it and he was a very waggy dog.

LilCamper Thu 31-Mar-16 09:31:22

Load of old rubbish by pro dockers. Labs work in the same environments as spaniels and they don't get docked.

Spanielcrackers Thu 31-Mar-16 09:31:29

I have two springers, one with a full tail and one with a half dock. I don't work them. They both get brambles and undergrowth stuck in their tails. Neither of them have cut or damaged their tails. Obviously, the full tailed one collects more debris on his walks. I also prefer the look of an undocked tail.
I have met an adult springer who had to have his tail amputated because of injuries, but I've also seen this with Great Danes and Border Collies.
Hopefully a vet will be along to offer advice.

sparechange Thu 31-Mar-16 10:20:44

Absolute rubbish to justify docking

I've had a lifetime of working labs, springers, cookers, collies and a clumber
All worked, all spent lots of time in undergrowth, in the house, jumping fences etc
None of them ever had a tail injury.
I had a rescue greyhound that once wagged her tail against the edge of a radiator, and it needed bandaging up, and a rescue Staffie who had broken his tail at some point and had a kink in it.

Tails are such an important part of their body language. Why on earth would you want to chop it off for purely aesthetic reasons?

ABetaDad1 Thu 31-Mar-16 10:30:45

My mother bred, showed and worked Springer Spaniels for almost 50 years. She had several dual champions that were both show and working dogs.

All hers were docked. A springer uses its tail while working to signal where it is in undergrowth. Its bred into them. The split tail and catching in brambles is a real dannger. I know it is emotive but docking in springers has a real purpose. If you are not using the dog to work in the field then leave it long but if it is going to be in the field there is real injury risk.

needastrongone Thu 31-Mar-16 11:37:48

We have a working cocker and a springer. The cocker has a docked tail as he came from a gamekeeper who bred the litter for mainly working homes.

The Springer is undocked and does catch his tail, it's often bloody from foraging for rabbits in the undergrowth.

The Cocker still has a good proportion of his tail intact, it constantly wags and hasn't had an injury.

I'm neither for or against, just stating what happens out walking our two.

needastrongone Thu 31-Mar-16 11:38:25

And there is nothing more that spaniels like than foraging in undergrowth, believe me smile

Songofsixpence Thu 31-Mar-16 13:32:29

My springer is undocked.

He's recently fallen off the kids trampoline and had to have the last 6 inches of his tail removed

Previous to this, he was constantly getting it caught up when rummaging in undergrowth, we've spent hours removing thorns and leaves and twigs from it over the years but no serious injuries

Mine is just a family pet, another friend has a working springer who has had some nasty tail injuries and has now had it completely removed. If it's going to be a pet then I'd leave it, if it's working then I'd dock it

nmg85 Thu 31-Mar-16 15:16:59

My working cocker is docked the whole litter had already been done before we chose her. Even though she is a pet her instinct is to go into the smallest spaces and comes out covered in various items stuck in her fur. I know of some owners whose dogs have full tails who have had issues with injuries but I know others that are perfectly fine. Don't let anyone scare you into changing your mind if you don't want to dock then don't, it is 50/50 whether the dog will get an injury.

tabulahrasa Thu 31-Mar-16 15:21:24

It's not 50/50 though, it's just over half of 13/100, so what? About 7/ working dogs, less in pets.

merrymouse Thu 31-Mar-16 15:22:18

Is the incident of tail injury higher than paw, eye or ear injury?

sparechange Thu 31-Mar-16 16:23:00

I'm sorry, but that is just total bollocks

I've had working dogs for 15+ years. I've worked them 12+ days per season, mostly in thick undergrowth beating and retrieving. There are often 10 or more dogs on each shoot.

I've never seen a single tail injury. I've had several paw injuries from thorns and even one from icy ground causing fiction burns. I've seen several ripped ears so by your logic, you should cut those off.

This perpetuation of the bullshit idea that you are doing a dog a favour by docking it is frankly vile and has no scientific or anecdotal basis. You should be ashamed of peddling such nonsense.

sparechange Thu 31-Mar-16 16:27:24

If you don't want a dog coming back from a walk covered in burrs and twigs, clip it or trim the feathers. You don't amputate a healthy part of its body

nmg85 Thu 31-Mar-16 16:36:10

I wouldn't get mine docked if I had the choice or had a litter of puppies but I don't have anything against those who do as long as it is done for the right reasons and in the correct way. Accidents happen, mine has had a scratched cornea from running through bushes its just part of having a dog.

akkakk Thu 31-Mar-16 16:52:38

It is an emotive subject as can be seen above - and there will be different views within the shooting world and outside, I have seen spaniels injure tails out shooting / being worked - not huge numbers but virtually all working spaniels have some docking of their tails - so perhaps a reasonably high percentage of those undocked... I have owned a couple of spaniels, one with more tail docked than the other, the one with more tail certainly had continual bleeding and injuries - and yes, the tail was kept very neatly trimmed...

However the legality means that you should really only have a tail docked if working the animal - there is a formal process to undertake - if not working the animal you aren't meant to have the tail docked...

Songofsixpence Thu 31-Mar-16 17:10:14

We weren't given any option of docked/undocked. None of the litter were docked. He's from sniffer dog stock rather than shooting/game keeping though

We do keep him clipped short, his ears are prone to matting especially but he still gets full of all sorts of crap . He loves being groomed though so will happily sit for hours while we pull out all the burrs

Pogmella Thu 31-Mar-16 17:34:08

Our springer got to 13 with a full tail and no injuries to it- regular woodland walks crashing through undergrowth too. Her only injuries were a bruised paw from the car boot (sorry!) and am overnight vet stay as a pup following sock ingestion (it passed naturally, we didn't ask for it back...)

Rubberduckies Thu 31-Mar-16 22:46:17

Thank you everyone for your responses, especially as it's just an emotive topic. We feel happier with our decision not to dock now, especially with those statistics, I will search for the research. Thanks for your help smile

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Thu 31-Mar-16 23:19:15

I too think docking tails is a load of rubbish. I think it was just tradition, without any real basis in fact. There's lots of rather outdated traditions and ways of life, particularly amongst the shooting fraternity who these days are desperate to justify the validity of their sport and docking working spaniels' tails should be resigned to history. Don't get me started on their methods of fear-based training.

Our cocker had a docked tail but that was done before we'd seen the litter and wasn't his fault.

My Fil's springer had to have most of his ear cut off because he ripped it open on a bramble. I've seen cut tongues, pads, legs, ears and tails. Never ever seen enough tail injuries to think docking them was necessary.

Rubberduckies Fri 01-Apr-16 08:49:04

Interestingly, having looked into those statistics, whilst 13.5% undocked working dogs got tail injuries in the year they did the study, the figure for spaniels was actually 56.6% so they obviously are more at risk than other breeds.

Another article also found English springer spaniels had 5.97 times the odds of having a tail injury (that study included pets as well)

So the injuries are much more common in springers but the studies seem to show that overall the likelihood is low, so we will go ahead with asking for ours to be left undocked. Thank you everyone for pointing me in the right direction!

tabulahrasa Fri 01-Apr-16 10:33:36

Well they're either more at risk of tail injuries of other breeds, or more at risk due to the way they're worked compared to other breed or more popular than other breeds...or a combination of all 3...

But still 7% ish odd of working dogs, to me doesn't seem such a huge amount as to justify docking tbh.

FreshwaterSelkie Fri 01-Apr-16 15:27:57

My springers are both undocked, though they're show type rather than working. But I love their tails so much, they are magnificent twirly silky banners! They get walked in the woods every day and are up to their eyeballs in undergrowth, fallen trees, fences, brambles and all sorts, and no tail injuries to date. Previous working type spaniel I had was docked, but now I am used to the whole look and how expressive and beautiful their tails are, I would never have a docked dog again. I need to pat them down for ticks every day anyway because of where I live, so getting bits of crap out of the tail doesn't add much time to that at all.

Good luck with your new pup smile

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