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

The Welsh Corgi is 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 mystery and myth about the Corgis’ tails.

So, do Corgis have tails? Most Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with a tail. But because of the breed standard, many 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 Corgis almost always retain their tails due to their breed standard.

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

RECOMMENDED: The Pembroke Welsh Corgi Guide

The Reasons Why Corgis Don’t Have Tails

When we’re given our puppy Corgi from the breeder, they almost always come tail-less. However, there are more than one reason why a Pembroke Welsh Corgi can have no 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.

The Breed Standard

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

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.

As a matter of fact, this practice of cutting tails has been around since the ancient Roman times, according to the AVMA. Initially, the Roman people believed that docking tails would prevent dogs from contracting Rabies. But of course, there is little evidence to prove this.

So you can imagine why breeders opt to dock the tails of their Pembroke Welsh 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.

No Tails for Herding

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

And if you own a Corgi, you’ll 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 seems like a reasonable concern for owners.

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 stomp on them while working.

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.

The Natural Bobtailed Corgi

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. Despite popular belief, they do exist.

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 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.

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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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.

Naz

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!

Yelena Affleck

Monday 30th of March 2020

Actually, Docking and Cropping, etc are Illegal in severa privinces of Canada! The Canadian Veterinary Associations and Verunary College prohibit it in most of Canada! I'm not sure where Ontario stands on it!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docking_(dog)

The American Kennel Society is fighting to allow such procedures, but it is highly unlikely that this will gain them wide support! I feel many breeders are shameless! They seem to value the esthetics and breed standards over the wellbeing of their dogs when it comes to Cropping and Docking!

I'm happy to say that my Rat Terrier's tail is undocked! She has a gorgeous tail! 😍😎

Yelena Affleck

Monday 30th of March 2020

*provinces **Veterinary College

I apologize for the several spelling errors! I was unable to edit it, since this site doesn't seem to permit editing!

Gwyllionthegeat

Monday 16th of December 2019

I have had corgis since 1990 and have become devoted to the breed however I swore I would never get another corgi unless I found a breeder that DID NOT DOCK for any reason. I FINALLY found 2 one in CA one in Illinois I cashed in a plane ticket and flew to Illinois met a wonderful conscientious breeder with beautiful pups curled tails like little flags and brought my pupper home. I am now proudly touting the little guy as an ambassador for pems with tails. Docking is barbaric and needs.to stop NOW!

Brandi

Friday 6th of March 2020

What 2 breeders did you find in the US?:)

Maria Jette

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

Excellent post on this topic! My family got our first Pembroke corgi around 1968, in Johannesburg. We loved the two we had there (it killed me to leave them behind when we returned to the USA—I was 12). After that, our family had more corgis; and ultimately I’ve stuck with the breed through adulthood. My husband and I just got our 6th— a fantastic red headed tri with a tail, from a breeder who never docks tails.

OVer the past 15 years or so, with the docking ban in the EU & UK, I’ve seen so many pix of glorious tails on pems...and have felt first uncomfortable, and finally really sad and even mad about docking. It is EXCLUSIVELY for cosmetic reasons! This “bunny butt” fetish is repulsive. The idea that a puppy who is out of the womb and toddling around is somehow not going to feel part of its SPINE being snipped off...well, I don’t buy it.

Now that we’ve had our little guy for 2.5 weeks and watched his tail filling out by the hour, and have an idea of how majestic it will be, I really regret the absence of tails on our previous corgis. The communication aspect of tails has been completely ignored by the Powers That Be of the corgi world, and that’s both irresponsible and cruel. I’m trumpeting my change of opinion on tails everywhere I can!

Richard Jeng

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

Thank you for that comment, Maria. When we got our corgi I wish we knew better, but unfortunately, like many others...we thought it was just "normal."