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Do Corgis Have Tails? – The Truth About the Tail-less Corgi

The Welsh Corgis are famously known for distinct physical qualities, including an elongated body, short stubby legs and no tail. But are Corgis really born without tails? Let’s investigate this long-standing myth about the Corgis’ tails.

Most Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with a tail. But because of the breed standard, the majority will have their tails docked 2 to 5 days after birth. Natural bobtailed Corgis (born without a tail) do exist, but they’re not nearly as common. On the other hand, Cardigan Welsh Corgis almost always retain their tails, as tails are part of their breed standard.

If you’re like me, you initially believed that all Pembroke Welsh Corgis were naturally bobtailed dogs at one point in time. But that’s far from the truth. Continue reading as we uncover the mystery surrounding the tail-less Corgis.

RECOMMENDED: A Pembroke Welsh Corgi Guide

3 Reasons Why Corgis Don’t Have Tails

When we’re given our puppy Corgi from the breeder, they’re almost always tail-less. However, there are more than one reason why a Pembroke Welsh Corgi may be without a tail. Not only is the bobtail normal for these dogs, but they can also be naturally born without tails.

Based on our research, here are all the reasons for a tail-less Corgi. You may be shocked at the reason we do this to our dogs.

1. The Corgis’ breed standard requires “docked tails”

Even today, it’s rare to see a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a tail. Although you may see some Corgis with their tails in-tact every now and then, the overwhelming majority are tailless. But why exactly is this the case with this breed?

The reason for this isn’t because we have a ton of Corgis being born without tails. Rather, their tails are getting docked (cut off) as a young puppy. Now you may be wondering, why on earth would we do such a thing?

According to the American Kennel Club, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi that conforms to the breed standard will need to have a docked tail. And according to the standard, the tail should be “as short as possible” without creating an “indentation” in the tail region.

Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the top-line.

– Corgi Breed Standard (AKC)

If the Pembroke Corgi were to have a natural bob, then a tail up to two inches in length is sufficiently short and acceptable for the breed standard. However if the natural bobtail exceeds two inches, further docking is still needed to conform to the standard.

Cutting a tail of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi is not a relatively new thing. It’s been happening to these dogs for several decades and unfortunately, has become a “tradition” for them.

In fact, the practice of cutting tails has been around since Ancient Rome, according to the AVMA. Initially, the Roman people believed that docking tails would prevent dogs from contracting Rabies. But today, we know there is little evidence to support this.

So you can imagine why breeders opt to dock the tails of their Corgis. Those that conform to the breed standard may be able to charge higher prices for their puppies since they’re “going by the book.” Sad to say, non-standard Corgis sell for less.

2. Some believe going tail-less is “safer” for herding

If you don’t already know, Welsh Corgis were bred to herd livestock (Yes, really). And despite their short stature and stubby legs, they’re known to be some of the most skilled and fierce cattle herders in the canine kingdom.

If you own a Corgi, you may actually notice that, with the absence of farm animals, they’ll start to herd humans, especially with kids. It’s a bad habit, but they can’t help it. It’s in their instincts!

Get ready for a lot of herding as a puppy! Our Corgi nipped our ankles regularly for the first year. So, one of the first things you will need to teach them to do is not herd you! 

– Swineassbagga (Reddit)

But what does this have to do with their docked tails? The original belief was that Corgis needed to dock their tails in case a cow were to stomp on the tail during herding. Since Corgis are low to the floor, it may seem like a reasonable concern.

However, Pembroke Welsh Corgi owners are quick to refute this claim. Many say that the Corgis’ natural tails are curled upwards, meaning that it’d be it’d be very difficult for a cow to inadvertently stomp on them while herding.

One Reddit user (Zyx) mentioned a study by Sweden when they were looking into banning the practice of tail docking. You can read more about it here.

He said, “There’s very little evidence to support that this would actually be a problem…when Sweden first considered banning tail docking, they specifically studied this claim and found that it didn’t really matter.

3. Some Corgis are naturally born without a tail

Another reason why Corgis may have no tails is because they were actually born with it. That’s right – not all Corgis without tails went through the docking process.

However, not all bobtailed Corgis are born without a tail. Some will have a tail, just much shorter than the “normal” tail of a non-bobtail standard Corgi.

According to UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine, Natural bobtails happen because of a mutation in the T-box gene. The gene is inherited and affects both sexes of the dogs with equal chance.

You just need one copy of the mutated T-box gene to produce a natural bobtail dog. However, the length of the bobtail can vary quite a bit depending on a mix of other genetic factors.

A natural bobtail is not exclusive to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. For example, they’re seen in Australian Shepherds, Blue Heeler, Brittany Spaniel, Spanish Waterdog, the Schipperke and many more popular dog breeds.

Docking a Corgi’s Tail

The practice of tail docking will vary depending on the breeder and or veterinarian. Not only does it vary by cut-length, but also the time in which they decide to cut the tail.

However, according to Pet Assure, the process will happen sometime between 3 and 7 days after birth. Others prefer to do it sooner, just 2 to 5 days post-birth. It really doesn’t matter too much as long as its very early on.

Does Tail Docking Hurt?

Perhaps the most common question I see is, do Corgis feel pain when they’re getting their tails docked? It’s not an easy question to answer and there’s been a ton of heated debate on this topic.

Advocates claim that docking a Corgi’s tail this early in their life isn’t painful or uncomfortable because the nervous system hasn’t fully developed up to this point.

On the other side, opposers point to evidence that suggests the basic nervous system of a puppy is enough to feel pain similar to that of an adult dog. It’s a bit alarming considering how widely practiced tail docking is in the USA.

However, there is no conclusive evidence on whether these dogs feel pain during the process.

Many puppies will produce “shrieks” or other unpleasant vocalizations immediately after the tail is cut. Still, there are plenty of puppies that get their tails docked while sleeping and don’t even wake up.

But whether a Corgi will actually feel pain or not, it’s highly unlikely they’ll even remember the procedure years later. So if given the chance, the decision is really up to you.

How Do They Cut a Corgi’s Tail?

The procedure of cutting a Corgi’s tail is not one I’d like to witness. But if you’re considering buying a dog from a breeder that docks the puppies’ tails, it’s good to have a better understanding of how this works.

As we discussed, this happens very early on in the puppy’s life. Furthermore, there are two popular methods of doing so.

Keep in mind that these tail docking procedures are done without the use of pain killers or anesthesia. Sometimes they’re awake, but it’s mostly done when they’re asleep.

The most popular method and traditional way of removing a puppy’s tail is by using a pair of scissors. They cut through tendons, muscles, cartilage and potentially many nerves with this method.

Alternatively, some will use the less popular method of using a rubber band to cut the blood circulation to the tail. After enough time, the tail will eventually rip right off. Of course, this alternative method will take a much longer time to complete, which explains why its less popular.

If you’re really that curious about how this works, there are plenty of YouTube videos that you can check out now.

The History of Tail Docking

Tail docking is currently banned in several parts of the world, including Australia and most of Europe. However, it’s still legal and very popular in North America (USA and Canada).

Thanks to the Animal Welfare Act of 2016, tail docking had been banned in Europe. At least, for all dogs except for the “working dogs” that participate in law enforcement. In addition, these dogs needed to have their tails docked by a licensed veterinary surgeon.

However, this wasn’t the first time a docked tail had been specified exclusively for working dogs in England. Back in the 17th century, England had a tax on companion dogs, according to the Experts.

To differentiate working dogs from companion dogs, the working dogs were required to dock their tails. And since Corgis were popular herding dogs in England, they had to conform.

Though the tax was repealed in 1796, it was too late by then. Many dog breeds, such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, had already developed a certain “look” among the people. It had already become a tradition for the breed.

It’s likely that this was where the “classic” appearance of the tail-less Pembroke Welsh Corgi had developed. And for the next few centuries, the look had stuck.

To Dock or Not?

Most owners think they don’t have a choice. This may be the case if you purchase a dog after birth because the tail docking process happens so early on. However, you can request the breeder to skip this procedure if you contact them prior to the birth of the dog.

Some breeders may outright reject your request because they don’t want to go against the breed standard. Still, you don’t want to ignore reputable breeders for the sake of this request.

The less reputable and more desperate Corgi breeders will likely agree to the request. However, finding a reputable breeder is always important for the long term health of the dog.

If you’re having a hard time finding a reputable breeder willing to skip the docking, then try looking in areas where the procedure is banned.

Some people frown upon Pembrokes with a tail because it’s not the “standard” and this is ridiculous. Tails were originally docked for working dogs. So if your Corgi isn’t a working dog then the tail doesn’t need to be docked.

– Intergalacticdnger (Reddit)

The point that this Reddit user is trying to make is that it doesn’t matter if your Pembroke Welsh Corgi has a docked tail or not. Unless your dog is a working dog, does it even matter? Even for working dogs, it may be questionable to dock. Today, it’s purely for cosmetic purposes.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide. Full disclosure: our Pembroke Welsh Corgi has her tail docked. However, this was well before we knew anything about the procedure, rules and reasons for docking.

With this guide, we hope you make an informed decision. Had we known this information back then, we may have made a different decision. Or, maybe not. Leave a comment below and tell us what you think about tail-docking in your Corgi. Does your Corgi have their tails docked?

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Glenn Lambert

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Tail docking of a Pembroke will not change in this country unless the AKC allows for both situations (a full tail or the docked tail). They can take their lead from England and Canada. I have a Pembroke and she was born without a tail (I was told). I like the look very much. I have had 3 Pembrokes now and they all had no tail. None of them had long term issues of the spine or temperament issues as they got older. All were sweethearts including my present black headed tri. Now, here is the problem. In the US, breeders strive to breed dogs that have the highest standard that is acceptable to the AKC. That standard has to change because that's what a breeder wants out of a litter. They want champions that show the best. Reputable breeders will not let you have a full AKC registration unless the dog is of top standard and you're planning to breed. Pedigrees are like race horse pedigrees. The better the standard of the dog, the higher the stud and Dam fees. Let me be clear, that is not to say all breeders are in it for the money. They want to perpetuate dogs that adhere not only to the AKC standard but also are healthy examples of the breed. I believe if the breeders could tell at 5-7 days which puppy would show well in the ring as an adult, they could make a decision to not dock the rest of the litter. That is not possible.

So if you are not in favor of docking, in the short term find a breeder who does not dock (very hard to come by) or choose another breed like the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Can't go wrong there if you like Corgis.

For the long game, lobby the AKC to change the standard. After doing my own research, I would support a change in the standard. I would loved to get wacked in the shins with an excited Pembroke tail. :)

Lydia Simmons

Wednesday 12th of April 2023

I have two corgis with tails. My female was my first and she was an oops. The breeder had an accidental breeding with his pair. He was going through some stuff and didn’t register her litter or dock their tails. I didn’t mind, I didn’t get her to breed to make money. She has a gorgeous tail and it makes her look majestic when she is alert to sounds or smells. My second is a boy and I asked the breeder to not dock his tail but the only way she would not do it is if I paid for him in full before the procedure. I’m so glad I did. He is a Merle with blue eyes and has the cutest tail that has beautiful coloring on it. He is a character and his tail tells a story all the time. I do plan to breed them once because I have so many friends that want one and I want another one. Lol I will offer the opportunity to dock or not dock. One person has already said she wants her puppy to have a docked tail. I will probably dock the tail of the one I keep just because I like the way they look both ways.

Glenn Lambert

Thursday 4th of May 2023

@Lydia Simmons, I'm not trying to be difficult but if you have a merle Pembroke with Blue Eyes, it is probably not a purebred so I hope you didn't pay that purebred price. The colors you describe and the eyes are that of a Cardigan Welsh Corgis so it may be that they mixed both breeds. If it is a purebred Cardigan, they don't ever have docked tails. The problem with mixing breeds is more of a health issue. Certain breeds are known for certain issues and good breeders usually do a DNA test to see if their pups have the gene for certain types of diseases. I am sure you have great dogs but if you didn't do a lot of research I would do so. Really off topic here is if you have never bred a dog before, DO NOT do it without the direct supervision of a professional breeder. There is more to it than having a litter of cute puppies and selling them to your friends. There are many mutations that can occur if indeed your corgi is a Pembroke with Cardigan traits.

No name

Monday 4th of April 2022

I don’t have a corgi yet but I want one desperately. I would like to get a rescue, or rehomed pet, but I don’t want anything to do with a docked tail. I might have to wait and see where the breed’s popularity leads the trend.

Gregory Kobayashi

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

That is interesting that a study suggested that Corgis can herd capably with tails. I have Cardigan who is not a working dog, at least yet.

Jen Dowling

Tuesday 28th of April 2020

Hmm I'm conflicted on this. I had a Brittany without his tail docked. I'm not sure if he would've preferred to just have it docked vs. the many years of removing burrs, knots, etc. from his tail. It was his and my least favorite activity. Now many years later we are looking at Corgis. I don't see any breeders that don't dock the Pembroke's tail in my area but it's something to think about. I'm wondering if farmers started docking Corgi tails because being so low to the ground the tail was constantly full of problems that needed to be removed.


Sunday 3rd of October 2021

@Jen Dowling,

Answering in case someone finds this: I have a 14 months old pembroke with a long fluffy tail. I have never had to remove knots or burrs from it. Dirt and etc tends to not stick to a corgi's hair much, and their tails are always curled upwards.

I do brush my corgi weekly, but I don't think the tail needs any special cleaning or work.

Richard Jeng

Tuesday 28th of April 2020

That's a really interesting assumption. The Corgi's tail is fluffy, so it's very possible that it could collect a ton of debris, and may very well be one of the reasons they started docking. Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.