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 offence applies to all tail-docking methods, including:

  • surgical docking
  • banding
  • any other method.

The only exception is if the tail docking is performed by a veterinary surgeon, registered to practice in Queensland, who 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 maximum penalty of $15,480.00 applies for individuals and up to 5 times more for corporations.

Dog tail docking is banned in all other Australian states and territories.

Dog age and type

The ban applies to all puppies and adult dogs—there is no age limit.

Working dogs don't need routine tail docking to prevent injuries. Many working breeds have long tails, such as:

  • cattle dogs
  • German shepherds
  • collies
  • kelpies.

Dog breeds

The tails of some dog breeds (such as boxers, airedales, rottweilers and fox terriers) have been traditionally docked for many years.

These dogs don't look strange with a tail. They are still the same dogs but have a full tail to wag like Labradors, collies and beagles.

Reasons for the ban

The ban is based on:

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

One of the Act's objectives is to protect animals from unjustifiable, unnecessary or unreasonable pain, distress or suffering—in other words, cruelty. Evidence shows that tail docking may cause acute and chronic pain.

The only situation where tail docking may be considered appropriate is if the tail docking is done in the interests of the dog's welfare.

Interests of the dog's welfare

Tail docking is generally considered to be in the interests of a dog's welfare if it is performed by a veterinarian in response to:

  • damage
  • disease
  • abnormality that will cause ongoing pain, behavioural problems or risk the dog's health.

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

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

It is not in the interests of a dog's welfare to dock a dog's tail for 'routine' or 'cosmetic' purposes, as was traditional practice with many dog breeds.

Report illegal tail docking

Phone Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the RSPCA on 1300 264 625 to report illegal tail docking.