What is the SNP’s position on tail shortening?

Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and the SNP take the welfare of our pets and livestock very seriously.

The Scottish Government have conducted an extensive consultation which has provided evidence that enough working dogs are suffering serious tail injuries to make the case for the law being changed. This includes research from Glasgow University which found spaniels and hunt point retrievers with tails shortened by a third “were 20 times less likely to end up with an injury”. The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee also took detailed evidence from a wide range of stakeholders over many weeks.

The amended regulations allow highly qualified and experienced vets practising in Scotland to make a professional decision about whether shortening the tails of Spaniel and Hunt Point Retriever puppies presented to them will protect animal welfare overall by preventing serious tail injuries in later life. These injuries may necessitate the full amputation of adult dogs’ tails. Before any procedure is carried out, vets must also be satisfied that the dogs are likely to be used for working in later life.

The changes do not represent a return to “docking”. Legislation in Scotland remains much more restrictive than in other parts of the UK, as it is not permissible to shorten the tails of terriers and no more than the end third of the tail may be removed, minimising the effect on the dog’s use of its tail to communicate. The changes are expected to result in a significant reduction in the number of fully docked puppies being brought in from England, where full docking is legal.