How Much Does Tail Docking Cost?

Written by: Staff

Tail docking, also known as tail cropping or bobbing, is the process where a portion of a dog’s tail is removed.  During the process, the dog’s blood supply is cut off at the tail using a rubber ligature, and after a few days, it will fall off on its own.

Tail docking is generally done for cosmetic purposes and will always be performed before the dog turns five days old.  While some states are trying to ban this procedure, it is still unrestricted throughout the United States.  The cost of tail docking is going to vary depending on the dog, the vet performing the procedure and geographical location.

Boxer by Willliam D, on Flickr
Boxer” (CC BY 2.0) by Willliam D

How much does tail docking cost?

It is highly recommended that you dock a puppy’s tail before it turns five days old because the longer you wait, the harder the tail can get due to the calcium buildup.  On average, tail docking is going to cost anywhere from $15 to $35 per puppy, but the costs may go down per puppy if the entire litter is done at once.  On top of this, a vet will charge an office examination fee, usually about $45 to $75.

If you wait past the first five days, then a vet may recommend a surgical procedure, which will be costlier since anesthesia and a complex procedure will now be involved.  A surgical procedure can cost $450 to $1,100, depending on the vet.

According to this forum thread, dog owners claimed they had paid around $30.

Dr. DesChene Brochtrup on Just Answer stated the procedure is very cheap if done.  On average, the costs will be about $15 to $30 per puppy or $100 for the entire litter.

Tail docking overview

If the puppy is younger than five days old, the vet will use the banding procedure, which uses a rubber ligature (orthodontic band) to cut off the dog’s blood flow to the tail.  This rubber ligature will be wrapped around the tail multiple times until the flow is cut off, similar to if you were to wrap a rubber band around your finger.  After two to three days, the tail will fall off as it loses its blood supply.  If the dog is older than five days, an ethical vet won’t use this procedure; instead, they will highly recommend a surgical procedure.  During this surgical procedure, the dog will be placed under a general anesthesia and surgical scissors will be used to cut off the tail to its desired length.

This procedure, according to the RSPCA, is extremely painful for the dog.  As noticed during the procedure, a puppy will whine or yelp, indicating pain is involved.  Proponents, however, say it’s done at an early age since the dog’s nervous system isn’t fully developed yet and won’t remember the pain.

What are the extra costs?

General anesthesia can cost an additional $200 to $400 if surgery is used.

Prescriptions and creams will be necessary after the procedure.  These can be purchased at the vet office or at a local pharmacy.  They can also be purchased online, but you may have to pay a shipping fee.

Tips to know

Most reputable breeders will dock a tail before it is sold.  Check with the breeder to see if the tail has already been docked.

The American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution deeming cropping unethical and highly advises veterinarians to perform the procedure only if damage/trauma is present.

Removing a dog’s tail due to trauma isn’t referred to as docking.  Instead, it will be referred to as an amputation, a procedure carried out if the tail is severely impacting your dog’s function or increasing the risk of injury.

This procedure is banned in some parts of the world such as Australia.

Why do dog owners still dock tails?  During the ancient times, it was believed docking a tail was able to prevent the dog from getting rabies; however, this claim was later nullified.  Other owners claim some hunting dogs may injure their tails while hunting running through a thick brush, leading to pain or infection, and docking will be a way to eliminate these risks.  Some may even say it’s done for hygiene purposes. For instance, a sheepdog may collect debris around its backside because of its tail.

Risks with the procedure include infection at the healing site, inflammation, the long-term risk of neuroma formation and interfering with the dog’s ability to communicate.

Popular dog breeds with docked tails include the Cocker Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, Pitbull, Australian Terrier, Sheepdog, Lakeland Terrier, Box, Miniature Poodle, Yorkie and Boxer.

How can I save money?

There are no health benefits when docking a dog’s tail.  Unless the tail is causing an older dog some pain, tail docking should be heavily researched before it is considered.  For most dog owners, many dock the tail for aesthetic purposes only.

Combining this procedure with a neuter/spay can bring down the costs

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