Breed Standards for Docked Breeds
Based on a Board request, Staff presented its guidelines for description of the tail and dewclaws in the standard of a new breed. Staff also explained how it will handle any future breed standard revisions to the ear and tail sections of a breed standard if those sections are being revised.
There will be the following two-step approach:
1. Discuss with the club the feasibility of revising the
description of the ear and tail to include a description of the natural ear and tail if these sections are being revised.
2. The most severe language that may be used is to severely penalize natural ears or tailwith the understanding that it is the judge’s discretion to
interpret the standard.
This seems pretty innocuous, and dare I say, even reasonable. So I was surprised to see a number of breeders on various e-mail lists up in arms about it. Now---I have to admit---I am not a cropper or docker. I have serious misgivings about "doing" dewclaws. My breed, saluki, is occasionally cropped in its native lands, and one of the breed's most famous imports was cropped, but fortunately, it has never been the practice in the west. But I digress; the subject here is docking, not cropping. And if you think cropping discussions can
get heavy, docking discussions can get downright nasty.
So here's the situation: Many other countries now ban docking. When dogs of traditionally docked breeds come to America, the AKC standards don't address how their tails should look. After all, most breeders have never
seen an adult entire tail. Nor do they want to. Docking the tail of an adult dog is not a humane alternative (although it is a reason given for docking in some
breeds; some dogs, notably working pointing breeds, suffer tail injuries that often require amputation of the tail as adults). But if the dog is shown, how should the tail be judged? Should the judge just look at the first inch or so? Ignore the tail altogether? Or ignore the dog
The guidelines for new breed standards urge fanciers to describe what a natural tail ideally looks. How could that be bad? Those who are upset cite two reasons: 1) It's the AKC bending over backwards to the puppy millers
and backyard breeders who don't want to have to spend the money to dock their puppies. (Really? Do you think these breeders are overly concerned with how their dogs' tails will be judged in the ring they will never be in?), and 2) It's the AKC bending over for the Animal Rights movement who claim docking is cruel. (First tails, then ears, then dewclaws and next thing you know, hair
spray will be banned! Oh wait...)
Anyway, I may end up writing about this in an upcoming Breeder's Notebook column. What's your take?