TAIL INJURIES OF SHORTHAIRED GERMAN POINTER DOGS BORN IN SWEDEN 1989

The Breed Council - German Shorthaired Pointer
The Agricultural Advisor,
Graduate of Agricultural College
Gunilla Strejffert
Nybybagen 14
781 96 Borlange

23 February 1992

INTRODUCTION

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a pointing gundog of continental type with Germany as its country of origin. In the background of these dogs there is Spanish, German and English blood. The German Shorthaired Pointer in its present form received its written standard description at the end of the 19th century.

In body construction, the German Shorthaired Pointer is somewhat more substantial and heavier than English pointing gundogs such as Pointers and Setters. The German Pointer is very happy and very lively, both in body and in soul. It usually moves in a very fresh, yes even abrupt way, especially in hunting situations.

The GSP was mainly used as a pointing gundog. It was also used as a retriever both on land and sea, as a tracking/search dog, as a flushing dog etc. It has become popular as a sled dog. Many of those who have chosen to acquire a German Pointer, have done so because of the dogs versatility, especially as a hunting dog. Another very strong reason is the the German Pointer is very hardy and robust.

Up until 31 December 1988, the German Pointer could be have a docked tail, whereupon one half to two thirds of the tail was saved. From 1 January 1989 the docking of dogs tails in Sweden was banned. It became apparent already during 1989 that the longtailed German Pointers had acquired a good few injuries on their long tails. In some individuals, it was necessary to amputate the tail even before one year of age, as a result of extensive tail injuries which didn't heal easily. The incidence of tail injuries seemed to increase in 1990. The Swedish German Pointer Club therefore decided to investigate how common and how serious a problem were tail injuries in the longtailed German Pointers. An interview investigation was carried out during the late autumn of 1990. This tail investigation was followed up by a questionnaire investigation during the late autumn of 1991.

INVESTIGATION METHODS

During the late autumn of 1990 an interview investigation was carried out amongst the 53 litters of German Pointers which were registered during 1989. 50 of these litters were longtailed. The other three litters were born during 1988 and were docked. Information about the longtailed litters and their breeders were collected from the Swedish Kennel Clubs annual register of registered German Shorthaired Pointers for 1989. In the first part of the investigation, we asked the breeders;

  • How many dogs in the litter received tail injuries
  • The type and seriousness of the possible tail injury
  • Possible tail amputations
  • "Degree of strain in terrain" that the dogs had been put through

This investigation was followed up by a complimentary interview investigation in the litters with tail injuries. The severity of the tail injuries was set against the relevant German Pointers body constitution and their temperament.

During the autumn of 1991, a further investigation was carried out, a questionnaire investigation, regarding tail injuries of those German Pointers born during 1989. The breeders then received the new questionnaire as well as their old statements about tails made in 1990, to be able to follow up the changes. Replies were received from 26 breeders. To make it all more true, we picked out these 26 litters from the 1990 investigation and collated the material separately. We were then able to compare the changes within the one and same group during the years of 1990 and 1991.

ORIGIN OF TAIL INJURIES

The tail injuries occur mainly during hunting. The injuries are then maintained during further hunting and also in the home. During 1991 approximately 15 dogs had injured their tails at home. Some of the sledding dogs received tail injuries whilst being trained.

FREQUENCY OF TAIL INJURIES

During the autumn of 1990, when the dogs were between 12 and eighteen months old, we received replies to our interview investigation regarding 44 litters. The investigation included 299 individual dogs (142 dogs and 157 bitches). It then became apparent that tail injuries had occurred in 23 of these litters. 81 individual dogs had suffered from tail injuries. This compared to approximately 27% of the whole investigated group. Dogs were somewhat more affected than bitches.

In the autumn of 1991, the same dogs were now 24 to 30 months old. This time we received replies from 26 litters. To make it more true, we picked out these 26 litters from the 1990 investigation, and collated the material separately. We were then able to compare the changes within the same group between 1990 and 1991.

In 1990, the group of 26 litters consisted of 191 individuals. In 1991, 179 of these were still alive. Of the 26 litters, 16 had received tail injuries in 1990 and 23 litters in 1991. In 1990, we found 72 individuals with tail injuries, corresponding to 38% of the group. In 1991 the number of tail injured individuals had increased to 92, corresponding to 51% of the group. The number of tail injured dogs had increased by more than 30%.

It could now be established that the male dog had received somewhat more injuries. If one were to transfer the above increase of 30% of tail injuries into the larger investigation group, the 44 litters from the 1990 investigation, we would end up with an increase in frequency of tail injuries from 27% in 1990 to 35% in 1991. This large group can be seen to be representative of the population of German Shorthaired Pointers born during 1989. In other words, every third German Pointer with a long tail, has suffered from more or less serious tail injuries.

OCCURRING TYPES OF TAIL INJURY

The kind of tail injuries which occurred during 1990 and 1991 respectively were on the whole the same.

  • Bleeding and damaged tail tips, the last 10cms of the tail. Light, medium and severe injuries. On occasion it has been very difficult for the injuries to heal.
  • Infected and inflamed tails.
  • Lameness injuries and so called water tails.
  • Broken tails.

SEVERITY OF TAIL INJURY

The tail injuries were graded as light, medium or severe, for each individual dog in 1990 and 1991. It was established how the tail injuries had changed between the two years:

  • 15 had improved
  • 37 were unchanged
  • 47 were worse

The degree of severity appears to be linked to:

  • The liveliness of the dog and the tail
  • How much and how intensive the dog is used/hunted
  • The type of terrain where the dog is used/hunted

When the bushiness is increased, especially in wood and mountainous terrain;

  • The number of tail injuries increase
  • The severity of the tail injuries increase

AMPUTATION (known cases)

In certain cases, the tail injuries of the German Shorthaired Pointer born in 1989 were so extensive and difficult to heal that the only solution was to amputate the tail.

In total, this far, 7 dogs of the investigated group have had their tails amputated. In 1989 three dog tails (2 dogs and 1 bitch) were amputated. The dogs were only 6, 6 and 11 months old. In the later investigation it became apparent that a further four dogs (3 dogs and 1 bitch) had had their tails amputated. The age of amputation was 21 months, 2, 3 and 3 years respectively.

CONCLUSION

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a pointing gundog of continental type. It is a heavy set dog with a lively temperament and very strong and fast movements in the terrain.

The German Shorthaired Pointer could be docked up until 31 December 1988. From the 1 January 1989, the docking of dogs tails was banned in Sweden.

It became apparent that the German Pointers with long tails born during 1989, received a fair amount of injuries on their long tails already in 1989. It can be noted that the dogs had not reached even one year of age. The tail injuries continued to occur during 1990 and 1991. The frequency and severity of the tail injuries increased.

The Swedish German Pointers Clubs breeding council carried out investigations (interviews and questionnaires) during the late autumn of 1990 and 1991 respectively, regarding the incidence of tail injuries on longtailed German Pointers born in 1989.

In the autumn of 1990 when the dogs were 1 - 1.5 years old, 27% of the dogs had suffered from tail injuries. The investigated group consisted of 44 litters, 299 individual dogs.

In the autumn of 1991 when the dogs were 2 - 2.5 years old, 35% of the dogs had suffered from tail injuries. In other words, every third German Pointer with a long tail had suffered from tail injuries.

Types of tail injuries: Wounded and bleeding tips (on occasion very difficult to heal), swollen, lame, and or broken tails etc.

The severity of the tail injuries: The tail injuries have in total increased in severity up until 1991. Up to now, 7 cases of tail amputated dogs in the "more adult" investigated age group, are known. The severity of the tail injuries seem to depend on the liveliness of the dogs and the tails, how much the dogs are worked and what type of terrain they are worked in.

  • The more lively the dog and the more abrupt the movement (breed characteristic), (male dogs somewhat more inclined to injury).
  • The more the dog is used (the German Pointer is a hunting dog).
  • The bushier and thicker the terrain that the dog works in )mainly woodland mountainous terrain).
  • Then the more and more serious the injuries of the dogs tail
  • Then the bigger the risk for amputation of the dogs tail

    The situation whereby every third German Pointer dog with a long tail is suffering from injuries and an increase of the frequency and severity of the injuries is unacceptable.

    The above investigation relates to German Shorthaired Pointers. A similar investigation has been conducted for German Wirehaired Pointers. It shows similar results. A return to docking of these two German Pointer breeds at the age of three days is necessary.

    Borlange, 23 February 1992

    (signed)

    Gunilla Strejffert