Are American Pitbulls Tails Docked? – Facts You Must Know!

Many Pitbull owners and others have seen Pitbull with docked tails and thought this might be a bit different breed from Pitbull than the one with a long tail.

As it turns out, American Pitbulls are born with long tails, and some owners dock their tails for aesthetic reasons. Let’s find out more about tail docking in Pitbulls.

Explanation of Tail Docking

Tail docking is a process in which half or most of a dog’s tail is cut off early in life for various reasons. The reason can be either aesthetic or medical.

On average, docking will occur between day two and day five of a puppy’s life, which is the best time for the procedure.

Many owners believe it will not cause as much pain to the dogs as waiting until they are older, and the younger the puppy is, the faster it will heal. But there is no evidence to back up that claim.

Tail Docking in American Pitbulls

Historically American Pitbulls used to have their tails docked. As working-class dogs, the long and straight tails were believed to get in the way of their duties, get hurt easily, and are prone to contracting rabies.

Although Pitbull tail docking was routine practice in history, it is no longer the case. Many dog owners don’t support tail docking. That’s because dogs communicate feelings, whether irritation or excitement, with their tails.

Tail docking will affect a Pitbull’s ability to communicate with its human companions and other dogs. Besides hindering the Pitbull’s communication capability, tail docking is a painful and cruel procedure.

It could turn a normally peaceful dog into an aggressive one, especially when someone touches his docked tail.

Standard Length of Pitbull’s Tail

On average, a Pitbull’s natural tail is 8 to 13 inches long; however, it is not unusual for Pitbulls to have tails ranging from 4 to 14 inches long. The taller your Pitbull is, the longer its tail will be.

Pitbulls with docked tails will have tails ranging from 2 to 5 inches. The standard length is generally the tail tip ending at the dog’s hock. You will find other lengths on Pit Bulls, but it needs to be considered standard.

How to Dock a Pitbul’s Tail?

There are two different ways to dock a Pitbull’s tail:

  1. Surgical Removal
  2. Ligature Banding

1. Surgical Removal

Removing a Pitbull’s tail requires a professional vet or trained breeder to use a scalpel or surgical scissors to sever a portion of the tail. This process is done by cutting between two vertebrae and then stitching the end closed to heal naturally.

Because this procedure often happens at a vet’s clinic, there are costs associated with it. Some vets will charge between $10 to $35 per puppy, depending on the litter, supplies necessary, and the animal’s age.

2. Ligature Banding

Ligature banding is a common practice with Pitbull breeders to remove part of the dog’s tail effectively. A tight band is tied around the puppy’s tail at the docking point.

The band will restrict the blood supply to the tail’s end portion, effectively starving the tissues so they die off. This process is often the go-to method since it doesn’t involve a costly trip to the vet’s clinic.

It is simple to do but does require continuous monitoring while waiting for the tail to fall off, leaving the stub. If you are interested in a new Pitbull, ask the breeder if they cut their Pitbull tails.

Some breeders will perform this procedure automatically on all litters, while others give the potential owners the choice of a Pitbull with docked tail or left natural.

Reasons for Tail Docking

Romans were the ones to start the practice of tail docking, and it did not happen one day. The reasons for tail docking changed, and owners made many claims but couldn’t provide any evidence.

The reasons for tail docking in American Pitbull include:

  • Increase Pitbull’s strength
  • Differentiate rich from the poor people
  • Everyone else was doing it
  • Pit Bull’s general appearance

Increase Pitbull’s Strength

Owners in ancient times and until the 20th century thought Pitbulls with docs tails did not contract rabies. Hence, the lower chances of the Pitbull weakening due to disease.

Pitbulls were used as working dogs, so their tails were docked to prevent injuries to the tail while working or hunting; that’s what the dog owners claimed.

Differentiate Rich from Poor People

Poor people who owned dogs had to have the dog’s tails docked. This practice sets the wealthy apart from the poorer class of people. Poor people were not allowed to hunt.

Poor people stood with their dogs and their docked tails.

Everyone Else Was Doing It

It took years for docking reasons to come to light. Dog owners would make up their reasons for docking that made sense to them.

In most situations, docking helps improve the Pit Bull’s general appearance. Also, docking is standard and routine practice for certain pedigree dogs.

Pit Bull’s General Appearance

Society says docking must be done if the dog is accepted into a specific grouping of breeds at kennel clubs. Specific dog clubs demand certain cosmetic changes in the dog’s appearance be accepted within that group.

Tail docking is but only one of these expected cosmetic changes. So many pet owners are not sensitive to the animal’s needs or feelings.

Never claim a dog has no owner’s exact needs and feelings. It’s a major mistake to think your dog is only a dog and nothing else.

Why Pitbull Tail Docking is No Longer Popular?

Nowadays, tail docking is rare, not just for Pitbulls but also for other dog breeds. Since only a veterinarian can successfully dock a dog’s tail, you may face some problems because many vets outrightly reject the procedure and won’t be a party to it.

Here are some reasons why Pitbull tail docking is no longer popular.

  1. Tail docking created a stereotype against Pitbulls. American Pitbulls have such a bad reputation that they are seen by many as one of the most aggressive breeds. The pitbull has many false negative personality traits that have caused it to be outlawed in some states, cities, buildings, and even airlines.
  2. There’s no necessity for tail docking in the modern day. Pitbulls got their tails docked because they were originally working dogs and needed to be recognized as such. Today, Pitbulls are mostly family dogs; since family dogs don’t need to get their tails docked, it’s unnecessary.
  3. Tail docking is painful for dogs. Owners who cut their Pitbull’s tail often claim that since it’s done on the 2nd to 5th day after birth, puppies feel no pain because the nervous system hasn’t fully developed. That is not true at all. Puppies have the same pain sensitivity as adult dogs. Even worse, the procedure is done without using anesthesia.
  4. Tail docking may lead to health problems. Some Pitbulls experience long-term chronic pain, alongside the pain when the tail is being docked,

The tail is the dog’s primary communication tool. All dogs, including Pitbulls, use the tail’s motion and position to express submission, friendliness, desire to play, excitement, and even warning.

It’s one way that Pitbulls set boundaries and stop aggressive encounters. Without a full tail, some signals can be misread and cause them to become more aggressive out of desperation.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Pitbulls Get Their Tails Cut Off?

Pitbulls used to get their tails cut off to avoid injuries during work, but nowadays, this is done for aesthetic reasons. Some owners believe that a docked tail gives a Pitbull a better look, and that’s why they do this.

Do American Pitbulls Have Long Tails?

American Bullies naturally have long and straight tails that can measure from 8 to 13 inches, but sometimes it can be 4 to 14 inches.

How Do You Cut a Pitbull’s Tail?

There are two ways to cut a Pitbull’s tail; one is to surgically remove it using a scalper. A professional vet or a trained breeder does surgery.

The other method is ligature banding, in which a rubber band is put around the tail at the point where the breeder or owner wants to cut it and leaves it for a while, and it falls off.


Pitbulls are strong dogs, and only a few people can handle them. If you choose to buy an American Pitbull, ensure you do proper research and can handle a strong dog.

Docking a Pitbull’s tail is cruel, and you shouldn’t do it unless medically necessary, as it causes a lot of pain to the dog. Always think of what’s best for your dog and not yourself when trying do any physical changes in your dog.

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