Why are Boykin spaniels tails docked?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The practice of docking the tails of Boykin Spaniels is primarily done for practical reasons. The Boykin Spaniel is a hunting dog, specifically bred for their ability to retrieve game, particularly in water. The docked tail is believed to have been introduced to prevent the tail from getting caught in vegetation or underbrush while the dog is working in the field or in a turkey blind.

The Boykin Spaniel is slightly larger and more rangy compared to the Cocker Spaniel. Their coat also differs, with less fancy feathering around the edges. These differences are likely a result of selective breeding to create a dog that is better suited for hunting and retrieving tasks.

One of the main reasons for docking the tail is to prevent it from making noise while the dog is in the field. When a Boykin Spaniel is working in a turkey blind, for example, a long twitching tail could potentially alert the game to the presence of the dog by rustling leaves or other vegetation. By docking the tail, this noise is minimized, allowing the dog to remain hidden and undetected, increasing the chances of a successful hunt.

Additionally, the docked tail also helps to prevent injury or discomfort to the dog. When working in dense vegetation or underbrush, a long tail can easily get tangled or caught, leading to potential injuries such as pulled or torn muscles. By removing the tail, these risks are greatly reduced, ensuring the dog can perform its tasks without hindrance or pain.

It is important to note that tail docking is a controversial practice and is not universally accepted. In many countries, including some states in the United States, the docking of tails is considered a cosmetic procedure and is illegal unless done for medical reasons. The decision to dock a Boykin Spaniel’s tail is ultimately up to the owner and breeder, taking into consideration the specific needs and purposes of the dog.

The docking of Boykin Spaniels’ tails is primarily done for practical reasons related to their hunting and retrieving abilities. The docked tail helps to prevent noise and potential injuries while the dog is working in the field. However, it is worth noting that tail docking is a controversial practice and its necessity and ethics are subject to debate.