When we think of “Corgis with tails” we usually think of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
However, it may surprise you, but Cardigan Welsh Corgis and (most) Pembroke Welsh Corgis are born with tails like the one pictured above.
It’s not uncommon for people in the United States (and select countries like Canada) to assume that corgis are born with short, stubby tails because most people in those countries have only seen “tail-less” Pembroke Welsh Corgis (since Pembrokes are the more popular of the two ‘Corgi Breeds’).
Pembroke Welsh Corgis in these countries will have their tails docked when they are born in order to comply with the breed standards designated by their parent club.
“tail-less” corgis are corgis that have had their tails docked (removed).
In countries where tail docking has been banned, Pembrokes (and other docked breeds) will keep their tails.
Can Corgis Be Born With Short Tails?
Sometimes, yes. Naturally occurring bobtailed corgis do exist, but they’re not nearly as common as their full-tailed counterparts.
Moreover, not all bobtailed corgis are born without a tail.
Most bobtailed corgis will still have a tail, just a much shorter version of the “full-length tail”.
If a puppy’s natural bobtail is not short enough to comply with breed standards then the tail will need to be docked.
Understanding the Genetics of Bobtailed Corgis
The gene that produces natural bobtails is an autosomal dominant gene.
Only one copy needs to be passed onto offspring to produce a bobtail puppy and therefore, only one parent needs to carry the gene.
However, if a puppy receives 2 copies of the gene (one from each parent) it is considered to be embryonic lethal.
This means that if an embryo receives two copies of the bobtail gene, it will be expelled from the uterus and will not produce a puppy
Why does this matter? This means that natural bobtails cannot be bred “true.”
In other words, we will never be able to completely eliminate the recessive “long tail” gene from the gene pool, and long tails will always exist in corgis.
Why do Corgis in the US Have Docked Tails?
In short, most Corgis in the United States have their tails docked because the AKC standard requires Pembroke Welsh Corgis to have their tails docked.
Tail – Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock (bobtail), 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 topline.
To accommodate the standard, most corgi puppies born in the US will have their tails docked, to breed standard length, shortly after birth (around 1-5 days after).
The Origin of Tail Docking
The true reason for docking tails is still up for debate.
We do believe that England’s companion dog tax played a role…
England implemented a tax on companion dogs in the 17th century.
A non-working “companion” dog was considered a luxury under the companion dog tax and owners were taxed heavily if their dog was categorized as such.
In order to show the English government that their dogs were working dogs and not companion dogs, owners had to ensure their dogs had docked or bobbed tails.
Because corgis were a popular herding breed in England at the time, they were also subject to these requirements.
The companion dog tax was eventually repealed in 1796, but by then it was too late. Many dog breeds, such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, had already developed a new breed standard of appearance.
It’s likely that this “luxury dog tax” played a significant role in the breed standard for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Is it Humane To Dock Corgi Tails?
The docking of tails is a controversial topic not only in the United States but all over the world.
Much of the world, including Australia and most parts of Europe, have outlawed it, while countries like the United States continue the practice of tail docking, ear cropping, etc.
The AKC States:
“Tail docking (is) performed shortly after birth, when the puppy’s nervous system is not fully developed. As a result, the puppy feels little to no pain, and there are no lasting negative health issues. Some lawmakers have sought to require anesthesia for these procedures. However, since they are performed so soon after birth, anesthesia should not be required, as this could be life-threatening for the young puppy. Waiting until they are old enough to handle anesthesia would actually result in a more painful and traumatic procedure.
Much of the opposition regarding these procedures comes from a misunderstanding of why and how they are performed. Many believe that these procedures are painful, performed purely for convenience or cosmetic reasons and have no value. This is completely false. In fact, these practices are significantly less painful and much less physically traumatic for the dogs than common surgeries such as spaying and neutering. Each of these procedures is a safe, humane standard practice that serves a practical purpose, and in the case of tail docking, preserves a dog’s ability to perform its historic function.”
Conversely, others suggest that tail docking is painful and inhumane mutilation.
They claim that evidence indicates that puppies have similar sensitivity to pain as adult dogs.
Docking a puppy’s tail involves cutting through muscles, tendons, as well as severing bone and cartilage connections.
They also argue that a dog’s tail serves a critical role in social behavior, and by docking tails, you are removing a major communication tool between dogs.
If you are interested in purchasing a puppy with a docked tail, I would encourage you to do your research and reach your own conclusion on whether or not tail docking is humane.
It is important to understand that purchasing a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a long tail (in the US) from a reputable breeder might be extremely challenging.
Reputable breeders strive to “better the breed” by following the breed standard as closely as possible.
Since full-length tails are considered a serious fault, most reputable breeders in the United States will not leave a tail on a puppy, even at the request of its prospective owners.
You can learn more about Reputable Corgi Breeders here.