Jack Russell Tail Docking

jack russell tail docking

Tail docking is a common practice among Jack Russell Terriers and it is something that not everyone agrees upon. As a British breed, the traditional docking method has been used since the 1800s. The tails of working terriers were originally docked to prevent injury while traveling underground when following rats and badgers.

Later on, when this practice continued, it was more for cosmetic reasons.

Why are Jack Russells’ tails docked?

1. Safety

Some terriers, such as Jack Russell Terriers, have naturally long tails that may get in the way during the process of mating and giving birth to puppies. This can cause great pain for the female as she tries to give birth. Some dogs may also experience injuries after mating due to their long tail hitting them in the wrong places.

2. Tradition

This is the most often cited reason for docking tails. A dog that has its tail docked to be able to work underground is less likely to injure itself as it tries to get out of a tight space. This breed does not molt naturally and this can cause long hairs that can be grabbed by other dogs or tangled in between the dog’s paws.

3. Convenience

If your Jack Russell Terrier will not be working in tight spaces, then you might find that docking its tail is an unnecessary practice that will save you some money on grooming and maintenance costs.

What is the best age for a Jack Russell Terrier’s tail to be docked?

Docking is considered to be a routine surgery but still has some risk of infection, bleeding, and even spinal injury. The procedure is normally done by the vet at 3-5 days old while the puppies are still under anesthesia for their first set of shots.

Is docking safe for puppies?

The procedure is considered safe as long as it is done in a well-equipped veterinary facility. The risk of suffering spinal injury is present, but your vet should be able to avoid that while still performing the procedure.

What are the risks of tail docking for dogs?

Spinal injury during the procedure. The dog may also experience infection and/or bleeding after the operation due to improper care or lack of cleaning after initial healing phases. These can cause severe pain and can lead to death if not properly treated by professionals.

Is it legal?

In some countries, docking tails are already prohibited while others have made an exception for working dogs. Although some states have already prohibited tail docking in all cases, there are still some that haven’t made any changes about this issue despite a number of petitions filed by animal rights groups in recent years.

What is the recovery period like?

Puppies are normally able to go home a day after surgery but it will take about 4 weeks for the incisions to heal. The vet will give you instructions on how often your dog needs to be checked and on how long to keep them from being active. Most pups should not jump or move around a lot until they have fully healed. A weak tail can lead to permanent damage in dogs.


It is up to you whether you want to dock your Jack Russell Terrier’s tail or not. These are the main reasons why breeders choose to do it but it is still up to you on how you will raise your puppy and what kind of life you want for it.

Knowledge is power when deciding on whether or not to dock your dog’s tail. Research thoroughly before deciding so that you can make the best decision for your dog and for yourself.


  • Jan Pretorius

    Meet Jan Pretorius, the passionate dog lover and proud owner of the popular canine haven, JackRussellTerrierDog.com. Born and raised in a small town known for its love of animals, Jan’s journey into the world of dogs began at a young age, fueled by an innate connection with our four-legged companions.