Investigations regarding tail injuries in working gundogs and terriers in pest control in Scotland

Lederer, Rose (2014) Investigations regarding tail injuries in working gundogs and terriers in pest control in Scotland. MVM(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2014lederermvm.pdf] PDF
Download (13MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


Non-therapeutic tail docking was until recently performed on 29% of dog breeds in the Scotland but was banned by the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. This work was commissioned by the Scottish Government to ascertain what effect the total tail docking ban had on working gundogs and terriers and whether legal exemptions to the ban should be made to improve the welfare of working dogs. Three studies were conducted to examine the risk of tail injury, especially in undocked working dogs, as well as details regarding tail injuries: A retrospective internet survey for working dog owners, an analysis of clinical veterinary data, and a prospective study of tail injuries. The main findings of study one on 2860 dogs were a clear predisposition for tail injury in spaniels (17.8%) and hunt point retrievers (HPR; 15.6%), especially if undocked. Terriers and pointers/setters were at least risk in this population. Being docked by more than one third did not appear to infer increased protection from tail injury compared to a one-third dock. Between 10 and 30 spaniel or HPR puppies would need to be docked to one-third to avoid one tail injury examined at a veterinary practice. Tail injuries were mainly tail tip injuries and lacerations elsewhere on the tail, they were mainly sustained during work related activities and were mainly caused by brambles and gorse. While 13.5% of all dogs in the survey sustained a tail injury, 9.8% of dogs also sustained injuries to other parts of the body. A substantial reduction in the number of spaniels originating from Scotland after the tail docking ban was obvious. Veterinary practice data showed that 0.59% of dogs had sustained a tail injury, with a significantly higher prevalence (0.90%) in working dog breeds than in non-working dog breeds (0.53%). Amongst the working breed groups 1.7% of pointer/setters, 1.3% of HPR and 1.2% of spaniels had sustained a tail injury. Spaniels were 2.3 times more likely to have sustained a tail injury if born after compared to before the introduction of the legislation on tail docking. The third, prospective, study could not be conducted as planned due to poor compliance. Therefore only minimal analyses were performed and only few deductions can be made, including that the majority of tail injuries were caused by brambles, gorse and fern, were sustained during work and training, and were almost exclusively tail tip injuries. A minority of tail injuries (between 10% and 12%) were reported as having been examined by a veterinarian. We conclude that based on these data there may be grounds to review the existing complete tail docking ban. However, ethical considerations surrounding tail docking should constitute an important part of this review.

Item Type: Thesis (MVM(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: working dogs, welfare, tail injury, tail docking
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture > SF600 Veterinary Medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Supervisor's Name: Parkin, Dr. Tim and Bennett, Prof. David
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Ms Mary Anne Meyering
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5629
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2014 08:37
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2014 08:52

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year