How Long Should a German Shorthaired Pointer’s Tail Be?

German Shorthaired Pointers are a beautiful, intelligent breed. Like all recognized breeds, they usually have a standard appearance defining things such as coat or tail length. So, how long should a German Shorthaired Pointer’s tail be?

German Shorthaired Pointers’ tails should be docked at 40% of their natural length – about six inches (15.24 cm) long to be accepted as the American Kennel Club breed standard. However, tail docking is illegal in many countries, so they may have longer tails in many other areas.

The rest of this article will discuss why German Shorthaired Pointers’ (GSP) tails are docked, why tail docking is a continued practice, and other kennel clubs with different breed standards. I’ll also discuss reasons why a person should or shouldn’t have their GSP’s tail docked, and who to let dock your puppy’s tail.

Why Are German Shorthaired Pointers’ Tails Docked?

Tail docking has been around for a long time. While many people still believe in docking their dogs’ tails, others believe it is unnecessary and cruel to the dog. 

Usually, a German Shorthaired Pointer’s tail is docked to keep up with the AKC breed standard. However, some people also believe a docked tail will strengthen a dog’s back and decrease the animal’s risk of injury or rabies.

Despite the benefits mentioned, many people still believe the practice is unjust.

For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is against ear cropping and tail docking of dogs for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA wants to eliminate these practices from breed standards altogether.

People bred GSPs as working dogs for a long time, so tail docking was essential when they were used in this way. Many dogs have naturally long tails, like GSPs, so docking the tail prevented any injuries while out working.

Because of this, vets and breeders continue to dock GSP tails, even though they’re rarely used for work anymore, as the image they have of GSPs in the past is with short tails. Therefore, the breed standard was developed.

However, the AKC still sees tail docking as essential to the dog’s health today. They believe it’s an acceptable practice to enhance health, prevent injuries, and preserve breed character.

The AKC describes the GSP’s tail as being held horizontal to the ground when walking and down when not. If the tail curves over the dog’s back at all, it’s a penalty.

Is the German Shorthaired Pointer’s Tail Length Requirement the Same Everywhere?

Many countries have banned tail docking, so the length of a GSP’s tail varies depending on where you go. In the United Kingdom, for example, show dogs are no longer docked. Therefore, the United Kennel Club (UKC) doesn’t penalize GSPs with short tails, allowing them to keep their full natural tails. 

However, like the AKC, they penalize dogs with tails that are curved around the GSPs back.

Should I Dock My German Shorthaired Pointer’s Tail?

If you have a GSP and you’re trying to decide whether you want to dock its tail, you’re probably not alone. If you choose to go through with the procedure, you should only get your dog’s tail docked if it’s a puppy, as many believe that puppies don’t remember the pain of their tail being docked. However, I’ll get more into that later.

German Shorthaired Pointers’ tails don’t need to be docked for any medical reason besides preventing possible injuries in the future. It’s a good idea to dock a dog’s tail if the dog lives outside or works. However, the procedure isn’t necessary unless you want to be recognized by the AKC.

Whether or not you want to dock your GSP’s tail is your personal decision. It would be a good idea to know how your GSP is going to live. If it’s going to be a working dog or live outside, docking the tail might be a good idea to prevent injuries.

However, if your GSP will be more of a house pet, it might not be necessary.

Is Tail Docking Painful to Puppies?

The most problematic concern of tail docking is how traumatic it is to the puppies that receive the procedure. Many people believe that a puppy’s nervous system doesn’t fully develop during the first week after it’s born, so docking its tail then is acceptable. However, that’s not the case. 

Tail docking is painful to puppies. Typically, tail docking is done without anesthesia within the first few days after birth. Therefore the puppy feels the entire procedure.

The Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) completely opposes tail docking because they believe it compromises the welfare of dogs. Despite this, the AKC still promotes the breed standard of a docked tail for a GSP, with at least 40% of the natural tail left in length.

Who Can Dock My German Shorthaired Pointer’s Tail?

You should always go to a professional for the procedure if you want to dock your GSP’s tail to the required AKC length. Trying to dock your GSP’s tail yourself is dangerous as it can cause severe damage to your dog and possibly even lead to a complete tail amputation if it’s done incorrectly.

Take your GSP to the vet within the first few days of its life. While it’s not proven, many believe this is the best time for tail docking, as the puppy most likely won’t remember. 

If you have a full-grown GSP and want to dock its tail, that is still an option. However, the procedure will require anesthesia and will be a lot more expensive than if the dog was a puppy.

Final Thoughts

In the United States, a German Shorthaired Pointer’s tail should be docked around six inches (15.24 cm) long, or 40% of the length from the natural tail. While according to the AKC, this is the length the GSP’s tail should be, that’s not the case in many other countries.

Several countries, the UK and Australia included, have banned tail docking for being inhumane and unnecessary. Therefore, a GSP’s tail will be a different length in other areas. Thus, while there is no specific length a GSP’s tail should be, preferences depend on the location.


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