Are Boston Terrier Tails Docked?

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When I think of dogs greeting me happily, many imagine wagging their tails as they lick my face. This makes you wonder: are Boston Terrier tails docked? They certainly don’t do the same even when they appear happy. 

The answer lies in knowing how Boston Terrier tails and docking work. 

Are Boston Terrier Tails Docked?

Boston Terriers are a bobbed tail breed, which means they genetically have short tails. However, this doesn’t imply that they have docked tails. If your type of Boston Terrier inherits longer tail traits from its other parent, you can also dock the tail to make it look more like a Terrier.

Graphic image of a Boston Terrier that explains whether Boston Terrier tails are docked

Tail Docking in Boston Terriers 

Boston Terriers would only have docked tails when owners or breeders consider the procedure. Otherwise, Terriers have naturally short tails, making them appear as if they have docked tails. 

In ancient times, the Romans introduced docking as a means to minimize the spread of rabies since they believe the tail helped dogs chase other animals. For modern practice, these are the most common reasons why people consider docking Terrier tails.

  • Aesthetics: Tail docking is primarily for cosmetic purposes, with the owner’s satisfaction getting more value over a dog’s well-being. 
  • Better Behavior: Some people who buy or adopt dogs tend to focus on the appearance first, with docked tails as signs of being more behaved compared to pets with long tails. Approximately 3.9 million dogs enter US shelters per year, with aggression as one of the reasons for people giving up dogs.  
  • Work Efficiency: There are people who use dogs for livelihood, with some of them considering a long tail to be a potential hazard. For instance, people can seize long tails and block off a watchdog’s attack, or the tails of hunting dogs can get caught in bushes and traps. 
  • Health Concerns: Some breeders and owners consider getting Terrier tails docked to avoid tail injuries. Meanwhile, tail docking could be necessary if a Terrier has a severely infected tail, and amputation can preserve its health. 
Boston Terrier with his tails docked

Are Docked Tails Painful? 

Tail docking is the process of cutting a dog’s tail or the tip of the tail. The pain level or duration varies, as some breeders and owners do this when their dogs are between three to seven days old, while others consider tail docking on adult dogs. 

Tail docking can be painful for dogs, as the tail is an extension of a dog’s backbone. Behavioral observations show that puppies display signs of pain during the docking process. Of the 50 puppies observed, all of them shrieked when the tails were amputated, averaging 24 cries per puppy

Still, the American Kennel Club believes that the procedure is not painful and has no long-term side effects as long as it’s appropriately done before a dog’s nervous system has fully developed. 

Nevertheless, you don’t have to worry about the short tails of Terriers because they are anatomically built like that. At a young age, Terriers would have stumpy tails. Even if they appear to have docked tails, Terriers have the necessary muscles and bones to move and maintain a healthy nervous system. 

Is Tail Docking an Acceptable Practice?

Boston Terrier out in the streets

Tail docking is widely frowned upon, especially in current society, where more people advocate animal welfare and safety. The American Veterinary Medical Association and dog health organizations oppose tail docking, as they feel there’s no ample justification for the surgical procedure. 

On the other hand, docking advocates argue that Terrier puppies are physically immature to feel the pain. The American Kennel Club affirms that the process is reasonable as long as performed with caution and for the benefit of the dog’s health. 

According to the club, tail docking is less invasive than procedures requiring anesthesia, such as neutering and spaying. It also believes that docking is an integral part of preserving the breed’s character. 

Should You Get Your Boston Terrier’s Tail Docked? 

If your Boston Terrier has an injured or infected tail, take it to a veterinarian right away, so the vet can develop the right plan to treat it. Depending on the case’s severity, the vet may consider amputating the tail to avoid further complications. 

While tail docking doesn’t make use of anesthesia, vets have the knowledge and skills to perform the procedure as painless as possible. The vet will clamp the tail at a distance from the body and then cut out the part hanging outside the clamp. 

Dog sitting on the ground

If you think your Terrier’s tail is perfectly healthy, there’s no need to get it docked. Besides, the tail is among a dog’s most expressive parts of the body. A docked tail may not provide you with the same level of communication as a normal tail does. 

Related Questions

How Can I Tell If My Boston Terrier Has a Docked Tail?

The best way to determine if your Terrier has a docked tail is to check if the tail is significantly shorter than it would be for the breed. A Boston Terrier has a very short tail, so if yours has no nub or tail left, then that means your pet has a docked tail. 

Is Tail Docking Banned? 

Tail docking is still practiced in several parts of the world legally, with 21 of my states regulating docking in some form. Only Pennsylvania and Maryland impose restrictions on tail docking, focusing on the dog’s age at the time of surgery. Countries like the UK, Italy, and Greece altogether banned docking. 

Can My Boston Terrier Live With a Docked Tail? 

Yes, your Terrier can live with a docked tail. However, be cautious about it as dogs use tails to communicate and express themselves. Likewise, take note of any behavioral changes or pain sensitivity as a response to stress.  



While Boston Terrier is a breed that is naturally born with a short tail, it doesn’t mean that it has a docked tail, not unless you do the procedure. If you think docking is necessary for your Terrier’s condition, make sure to consult a veterinarian to provide the best care for your dog.

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