Swedish docking ban set to stay

Tail docking has been banned by law for all breeds since 1989. Originally one could show dogs docked in Sweden for medical reasons with a veterinary attest but this isn't possible any more.

It is allowed to show docked dogs imported from other countries or owned by exhibitors, who live in a country, where tail-docking is still permitted. One can breed from docked dogs without limitations.

At the moment there are no laws which ban the showing of docked dogs, but in the future - who knows.

The leading newspaper Dagens Nyheter (Today's News) carried the following item on December 6 1995;

Hunting dog allowed to keep its tail.

The Board of Agriculture makes no exception from the tail docking prohibition. The Pointer Club has with the support of the Swedish Kennel Club demanded that the tail shall be allowed to be cut off from new-born Pointer puppies because dogs of the breed often injure their tails during hunting. But the Board does not agree that the documentation submitted motivates any exception from prohibition.

The Board also points out the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Pets. According to the Convention, surgical operations, especially tail docking on pet animals are prohibited if done for aesthetic reasons and not because of accidental injuries. Sweden has signed to this Convention without reservations.

Eva has also brought a further Swedish news item relating to docking to the CDB's attention. The following news item appeared in Dagens Nyheter dated January 31 1996:

Fined for illegal tail docking

A dog breeder has been convicted for cutting the tail of at least four puppies with a pair of scissors: The docking was done at sea on board a borrowed fishing boat. The man maintained in court that he was on International territory and that the Swedish tail docking prohibition therefore was not applicable. But the Angleholm District Court asserted that the law is applicable because the offence was committed on board a Swedish ship. The 56 year-old man was therefore sentenced to a 50 day fine, based on his daily income, for violating the Animal Protection Law.

The defendant said that he docked the tails of the Rottweiler puppies because he is selling his puppies to security companies. According to him, these companies do not want dogs with tails. The illegal tail docking was discovered when the man took his puppies to a veterinarian.

Eva Sohlberg commented; "I am not a lawyer, but this sentence was absolutely correct according to Swedish and International law. A registered ship is always considered national territory of this country and any crime committed on board national territory is tried by the corresponding national court. "Even if this man had borrowed a sailing boat under a German flag in case tail docking is permitted in Germany he might still have been charged with illegal import of animals without prior licence."

Eva goes on to draw parallels with Sweden's new draconian Dog Breeding Regulations Act which was passed by the Swedish parliament in February 1995. The law states; "An animal inheriting malformation or other qualities causing suffering for the offspring or negatively affect the natural functions .of the offspring may not be used for breeding. Nor may any animal be used for breeding if it inherits disposition for a high frequency of disease or difficulties in giving birth or if it lacks capability to reproduce in the natural way."

Eva said; "There has always been a general spirit to conform among Swedish people and to follow democratic decision. This is why there seems to be no opposition against the further ideas of the Council of Europe."


Docking Ban For Finland

Finland introduced a total ban on docking in 1966 after the Finnish Government voted in favour of it by a large majority. The vote came during the second reading of the Governments comprehensive animal protection bill.

The vote for the ban in the 200 member Parliament was 136 for and 25 against. A motion that would have allowed breeders of gundog breeds to dock one third of the tail on their dogs was defeated at the same time.

Under the law, no tail docking is allowed in Finland and a fine or a prison sentence up to two years will be imposed on offenders. The law also gives the Ministry of Agriculture wide powers on the implementation of the law.

Docked dogs may only be shown, if the dog was born before January 2001, even if the dog comes from a country, where docking is still allowed and this applies to all shows, even world shows. There are no restrictions on breeding from docked dogs.

Robert Killick Comments

Reprinted by kind permission of Robert Killick and Our Dogs

This article first appeared in Our Dogs (a UK canine publication) 6 October 1995

Readers will be well aware of my persistent cry, "Where is the evidence"? I get increasingly tired of people who should know better, pontificating on subjects making definitive statements without any proof.

I was rather interested to read Prof. Morton`s statement at the docking disciplinary hearing that dew claws are a vestige in Darwinian terms, indicative I presume that he thinks they are of no further use. Where is his evidence? I've no doubt that the claws are of no use of dogs that live in artificial circumstances, by that I mean not in a wild state. That is not evidence that they are vestiges. It could mean they are simply not in use.

The fact that I once to cut dew claws of a West Highland White Terrier that had grown back into the leg, prompted me to make a series of observations on foxes. I examined the dew claws of fourteen dead specimens. I found no evidence of any claws being overgrown, in fact their dew claws were worn down as were the main claws. From this I deduced that the dew claws were used for a purpose which wore them down, probably to assist the animal when climbing over rocks and up steep inclines. I do not know why it is that some dogs having ingrown dew claws and others of the same litter living in the same conditions, do not, it might have something to do with the genes and the growth rate of the nail.

I have to say that to refuse to dock and then happily cut off dew claws is the height of double thinking verging on the ridiculous and certainly doesn't fool anyone.

Vet Steve Dean made a comment at the same hearing which attracted my attention, he opined that a tail was relatively unimportant as far as body language is concerned. Now that's really radical, I wrote that in an article some two years ago, everybody thought me some sort of nut. It's these behaviourists trying to justify their existence who put it about that dogs signal to each other with their tails, once again, without evidence. They have a thought then jump about as if they've made a great discovery, they ignore questions like why doesn't a Dobe fall over turning sharply on the run, how can the OES swim in the right direction without a rudder? Can a Rottie not communicate?

They've said it's a signalling device so often they believe it, but worse, they've kidded thousands of ordinarily sane people. I've never had faith in the theory of human body language either, I just don't believe that folding my arms in front means I've closed my mind to suggestion. Its rubbish and should be disregarded along with this politically correctness with which we are lumbered with by American pseuds.

I've got this theory about dogs tails, a few million years ago there was a group of animals from which dogs may well have stemmed called Miacis, they were arboreal, that is to say, tree dwellers. Tree dwellers such as monkeys, apes, sloths and others, use their tails like an extra hand, a prehensile limb. Why should a dog's tail not have been prehensile and in evolutionary terms, it's lost all its use. Its a better theory than that of the behaviourists and would account for the fact that it makes no difference to the dog whether it's got a tail or not.

Our own tails would have been prehensile, pity we haven't still got them, have a little think about that! A vet could be cutting off dew claws and writing a bill at the very same time.