Rottweiler Tails: Long Tail? Docked Tail?
TAIL DOCKING AND ROTTWEILER HISTORY
by Dorothy Wade, AKC Judge, CRC Past President
This is written to offer some perspective on why we should not disregard over 100 years of Rottweiler history as a docked breed; a breed trust we should honor.
If breeders are the true guardians of the breed, we must maintain the Rottweiler as it was handed down to us without regard for what others have deemed to be acceptable.
We cannot go back to ancient Roman times and know with certainty what characteristics those very early dogs possessed. However, we do have documented evidence that the breed (as we know it) was in existence in the 1800s and that there were several individual Rottweiler clubs already established. It is clear the Rottweiler DID NOT have a long tail at that time.
In 1901, the first known standard was written by Albert Kull for the International Klub for Leonberger and Rottweiler Dog at Stuttgart, Germany. In it, the tail is described as follows: “The dog is often born with a stumpy tail and this is always preferred...”
The next standard was published by the International Klub in 1913, and said: “Tail. Should form a straight line with the back and be neither too thin nor too clumsy. Invariably docked. Dogs are often born with stumpy tails and this is much to be desired.”
A year later, in 1914, the Deuteche Rottweiler Klub, published its own standard. It describes the tail in these words: “Stumpy Tail. (very often congenital) Short and set on high. It prolongs the line of the back in a horizontal direction.”
The Allgemeine Deutsche Rottweiler Club (ADRK) was established in 1921 by combining the existing Rottweiler clubs and is still the ruling breed club in Germany. Its official standard at that time said: “Tail. (Stumpy tail) Carried so far as possible horizontally.....The dog is often born with this stumpy tail, also called “bobtail”; it should be docked if it is too long.”
After World War II, the ADRK revised the standard again (an exact date is not given but we can assume that it was in the late 1940s). The tail in that standard is described as follows: “(Stumpy tail). Carried as far as possible horizontally. It is short, strong, not set too low. The dog is often born with the stumpy tail (bob-tail); it must be docked if it is too long.”
The above references are taken from Studies in the Breed History of the Rottweiler (1967), by Manfred Schanzle, Stuttgart, W. Germany. It was translated by John H. Macphail (England) and was published jointly by the Medallion and Colonial Rottweiler Clubs in 1969.
In 1926, a booklet authored by the ADRK and titled, The Rottweiler in Word and Picture became available. This work was translated by Mrs. Dudley Zopp and published by Clara Hurley and Charles Tuttle for the Colonial Rottweiler Club in 1971. The standard in this booklet says: “Tail. (bobtail) is carried as horizontally as possible... Usually the dog is born with this bobtail; it should be docked if it is too long.”
Lastly, the official American Kennel Club (AKC) Standard for the Rottweiler in 1935 described the tail in these words: “Tail should be short, placed high (on level with back) and carried horizontally. Dogs are frequently born with a short stump tail and when too long, it must be docked close to the body.”
And just as a point of reference, I personally have known one Rottweiler that was born with a “bobtail”, and have seen photos of litters that included bobtail pups.
There is not one breed club in the world (and, yes, I believe I can safely say in the world) that would have, of its own volition, considered banning docking/cropping of its breed. Though Germany and many other European nations have succumbed to the animal rights groups’ demands that docking be outlawed, the United States has no obligation to join in. We are, and always have been, the leader when important issues arise. If we allow these groups to succeed regarding docking, the next step will be to limit the number of dogs we own and how often we breed. No one should be surprised when that happens.
Additional information: Is Your Parent Club and Breed Standard Under Attack?