Position on Tail Docking

It is the position of the Jacks Wild that tail docking is the personal choice of the individual breeder.  We oppose legislation banning tail docking.  We choose to leave the tails of puppies bred by us un-docked, or natural, to maximize the ability of our terriers to compete internationally in a wide variety of sports and activities.  Except in the case of medical emergency, we do not condone or support the docking of tails on adult dogs. 

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Below is information we hope you will find useful regarding the tail of the Parson Russell Terrier.

Why are tails docked?
There are two popular theories as to why the tails of many breeds are docked.  First, tails are docked to prevent injury of working dogs.  Second, companion dogs were historically taxed in Great Britain and other parts of Europe.  Working dogs were tax exempt and their tails were docked as proof of their working status.  Though such taxation no longer exists today, several countries with docking bans allow owners to dock the tails of working dogs.

International Tails
Many countries, such as Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland have banned the practice of tail docking.  Regulations regarding docking tails vary significantly from country to country.  Some countries, such as Great Britain, may at times allow dogs with docked tails to compete in certain sports and activities if it was legal to dock the tail in the dog’s home country (1).  Others, such as Finland, have gone as far as to mandate that dogs with docked tails may not participate in any dog sport regardless of their country of origin. 

Tail Docking Timeline Dilemma
The tails of puppies can be safely docked at or before five days of age.  Puppies are typically evaluated for their new multi-sport performance, show and working homes at or around 12-16 weeks of age.  This creates a timing dilemma for US breeders and potential international competitors.  How do you know at five days old which tails to leave natural and which tails to dock?  In short, you don’t.  Further, an adult dog legally docked and exhibited within the United States may not be eligible to compete or even enter a foreign country. 

American Kennel Club versus Natural Tails
At this time, the breed standard for the Parson Russell Terrier includes the following text about tails:

Tail: Docked so the tip is approximately level to the skull. Set on not too high, but so that a level topline, with a very slight arch over the loin, is maintained. Carried gaily when in motion, but when baiting or at rest may be held level but not below the horizontal. Faults: Tail set low or carried low to or over the back, i.e. squirrel tail. (2)

Natural tails are neither specifically faulted nor mentioned within the current breed standard.  There are several natural tailed conformation champion Parson Russell Terriers bred both in Europe and in the United States.  Again, natural tails are not specifically faulted and are eligible to be shown in all American Kennel Club competitions.

Canadian Kennel Club versus Natural Tails
At this time, the breed standard for the Parson Russell Terrier includes the following text about tails:

Customarily docked.

Docked:  Length complementing the body while providing a good handhold. Strong, straight, moderately high set, carried well up on the move.

Undocked:  Of moderate length and as straight as possible, giving a general balance to the dog, thick at the root and tapering towards the end. Moderately high set, carried well up on the move. (3)

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