Queensland's ban on docking dogs' tails

In Queensland, it is an offence under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to dock a dog's tail.

The only exception is if a veterinary surgeon, registered to practice in Queensland, reasonably believes that the procedure is in the interests of the dog's welfare.

Any non-veterinarian who docks a dog's tail, or any veterinarian who docks for a reason other than the dog's welfare, is liable for prosecution. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of $13,785 for individuals and up to five times this amount for corporations.

Does the ban apply only to adult dogs?
No, it applies to all puppies and adult dogs. There is no age limit.

Does the ban apply to the tail banding docking method?
Yes. All methods of tail docking have been banned, including surgical docking, banding and any other method.

Veterinarians are allowed to tail dock if 'it is in the interests of the dog's welfare'. What does this mean?
The intention of the legislation is to ban tail docking done for 'routine' or 'cosmetic' purposes, as was traditional practice with many dog breeds.

It is generally inappropriate to dock a healthy tail on the basis of a possible future event. Only therapeutic tail docking is justifiable.

Tail docking is generally considered justified if performed by a veterinarian in response to damage, disease or other abnormality, which they believe will otherwise cause the dog ongoing pain or behavioural problems, or risk the dog's health.

Reports of the docking of a healthy tail will be investigated and appropriate action taken.

Shouldn't working dogs have their tails docked to prevent injuries?
No. Many working breeds have long tails, including cattle dogs, German shepherds, collies and kelpies. Routine tail docking is not necessary.

Don't some dogs, such as boxers, airedales, rottweilers and fox terriers, look weird with long tails?
Not at all. They look different at first because we are used to seeing them with a stump for a tail. They are still the same dogs but have a full tail to wag like labradors, collies and beagles.

What should I do if I think someone has illegally docked a puppy's or dog's tail in Queensland?
Phone the RSPCA on 1300 264 625 or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 to report it.

Is routine tail docking of dogs banned Australia-wide?
Yes. In all states and territories non-therapeutic tail docking of dogs is prohibited, and only veterinarians may conduct therapeutic tail docking.

It has been traditional practice to dock the tails of some dog breeds for hundreds of years. Why ban it now?
The ban is in place now because of the combination of:

  • the weight of scientific opinion about the negative effects of tail docking
  • changing community expectations about unnecessary surgical procedures on animals
  • the agreement of all Australian states and territories to implement the ban.

One of the Act's objectives is to protect animals from unjustifiable, unnecessary or unreasonable pain, distress or suffering - in other words, cruelty. The evidence available indicates that tail docking may be associated with acute and chronic pain.

The only situation where potentially causing dogs such pain may be considered justified, necessary and reasonable is if the tail docking is in the interests of the dog's welfare.

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