Dunham Lake Australian Terriers

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Tails do Matter

 In April, 2021, the Australian Terrier Club of America amended it’s standard to include natural tails in addition to the traditional docked tails. That was a great decision and breeders in the USA have the right to decide for themselves. Most breeders are still docking, while I support their right to do so, I am also glad we do not and have not since 2012.
Some years ago I was asked to write an article about this topic for a dog news magazine it explains the historical reason for docking initially and reasons I feel our dogs deserve to not have body parts removed. 
If you are a breeder trying to decide what to do, my best advice is to NOT dock. 
For the Times They are a Changin’
By: Theresa A. Goiffon
 Just like the popular 1964 Bob Dylan lyrics with the same title song, yes indeed “The Times They are a Changin”.
 With change comes resistance and acceptance, resolve and fortitude. For the purpose of this writing, it’s to provide the reader a clear understanding of the mission of these breeder’s and exhibitor’s that have showcased some of their dogs in this issue of Showsight.  We are a collective group of many exhibitors and breeders who have chosen to leave our dogs cosmetically unaltered. We expect our breeding stock to be evaluated in full by AKC judges without prejudice. 
 As a group, we breed to, and follow, our AKC standard with respect to our specific breed. Where we differ from the breed standard, is we have made the conscience decision to have our dogs represented in their natural born state, without cosmetic alterations. Contrary to what some believe, we are not advocates for any extreme animal rights groups. Many, if not most, support the rights of breeders to make these decisions for themselves, others believe as our colleagues in other parts of the world, our dogs should no longer be altered at birth or otherwise. We advocate for our dogs to receive equal consideration in the show ring.  
Briefly looking into the history of this practice, there are many theories on why dogs were altered in the first place. Some historical writings date prior to 1796, in the United Kingdom when a tax was levied upon working dogs with tails and many types of dogs were docked to avoid this tax. In 1796 this tax was repealed. Others believe by docking our dogs, we prevent the potential injury that may occur during specific breed trait activities, others once thought by docking they were less likely to contract rabies.  Now, in 2019, we know these original reasons for historically altering our dogs are unfounded. There are no legitimate or medical justifications to cosmetically alter our dogs. 
 The position of the American Veterinarian Medical Association directly quoted from the AVMA is as follows: 1976 POLICY Suggested by the American Animal Hospital Association and approved by the AVMA House of Delegates Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association recommend to the American Kennel Club and appropriate breed associations that action be taken to delete mention of cropped or trimmed ears from breed standards for dogs and to prohibit the showing of dogs with cropped or trimmed ears if such animals were born after some reasonable future date. 2012 POLICY Reaffirmation of the 2008 policy recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee and approved by the AVMA Executive Board. The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards”. A position we stand behind.
The current position of the American Kennel Club on this issue, the direct quote from the AKC is as follows: “The American Kennel Club recognizes that ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided.” 

The AKC’s position is to accept altering, not require it. We acknowledge and respect that the breed standard is set forth by each National Parent Club, we also acknowledge, that AKC prohibits any breed standard to include any disqualification verbiage for showing dogs in their natural state. One must ask yourself, why the controversy?

Living in a global society we know it is advantageous for us to work together with breeders all over the world to secure and expand gene pools to sustain and improve our pure-bred dogs. Most of those international countries have a ban on docking and cropping. By removing prejudice against unaltered dogs in the conformation ring here in the USA, it would also help support our dogs being shown outside of our country and provide the ability to represent the USA at International shows. 

What should a breeder do when faced with the decision to crop or dock their dogs? Our group encourages you to do what is best for your dog and your breed. AKC Conformation Judges are to evaluate the “whole” dog, and most do. We expect the AKC judges to do so without personal bias or prejudice toward dogs shown as they were born. After all it is our breeding stock, our future and our dogs are more than just one or two parts. 

In this section of ShowSight you will see many quality pure-bred dogs being shown in their natural born state, despite their breed standards reflecting docked or cropped. Many of these dogs and many others not pictured in this issue, have been awarded their AKC Championships, Grand Championships, group placements, national specialty placements and some even top ranked.  We thank the multitude of judges that can look beyond the parts that have not been cosmetically altered. Many of these judges acknowledge change is coming, and it’s coming sooner rather than later. These judges uphold the standard yet realize that the breed standard is not compromised, when they award dogs being shown as they were born.

Together we celebrate as a group and consult and support each other at dog shows and through social media. We are well versed on those Judges who care about the future of our pure-bred dogs and understand the importance of working together with our global friends and breeders for the betterment of our breeds. We also know with the continued declining dog show entries; the future of this sport is in the hands of all of us. 


If you are interested in joining the hundreds of breeders and exhibitors, and growing,  that want to know more about showing your natural dog in the USA, feel free to request membership to the Facebook private group called Tales about Judging Tails. 

For now, it’s ultimately the breeder’s decision. We choose to not alter our dog’s, yet most respect the rights of our colleagues that choose differently; to alter, dock and crop their dogs. Let’s unite and put our personal bias aside for the betterment of this wonderful sport and for pure-bred dogs everywhere.

In conclusion, change is coming… will you be ready when it does?