Jack Russells with Tail or Docked Tail – All you need to know

Jack Russells With Tail Or Docked Tail – All You Need To Know

Jack Russell Terriers are an active and independent small-sized hunting dog type bred in England over 200 years ago. This Terrier type is famous for killing rodents and small animals like rabbits and squirrels. Jack Russells tail docking is popular among some dog owners, and some are against it.

Tail docking has been practiced for over two centuries in Britain as a traditional method to prevent injuries during hunting. Then in the current scenario, docked tails of JRTs become famous with cosmetic means.

Everyone does not agree upon the tail docking of JRTs, while some consider it essential. The initial purpose of docking Jack Russells tail is to minimize the injuries that happen to their tail during hunting.

However, now they are no longer hunting dogs and have been converted as domestic pets. So the need for tail docking comes to discussing whether it is necessary or not. As a pet parent of JRT for two years, my personal view is that tail docking is not essential.

I didn’t prefer to dock my JRT, Shane’s tail, since I believed it would cause him pain. So it’s up to you to decide whether to have a Jack Russell with a tail or docked tail.

Since most JRT owners have this common matter regarding Jack Russells tail, I decided to share my views and explore facts as a JRT owner with you.

This article will focus on the reason for the tail docking of JRTs and should they have their tails docked. Then the best age to dock a tail of JRT, and you will identify whether it is safe for puppies and cruel for a dog’s tail.

To make your decision easier, hereby, both pros and cons of docked tails of JRTs will be discussed.

I have listed the topics below for your ease of reading. Feel free to jump straight to the topic you want by clicking on it.

So let’s get started.

Why do Jack Russells have docked tails?

There are several reasons for docking Jack Russells tail. If you are willing to dock your JRT’s tail, you need to find a good reason to do that. 

  • As a traditional practice

The docking of JRT’s tails was practiced for a long time as a tradition, and therefore it is used as a tradition of JRTs. Therefore, most of the time, docking is done as a practice and a thing that should be done since some people believe it is necessary.

  • Get rid of injuries

Docking tails is for the safety of JRTs since they naturally have a long tail, and it can cause injuries. When they are interacting with tight spaces, below ground, or having arguments with other dogs, their long tail can be a disadvantage since they can cause injuries.

  • For their safety in mating

Sometimes, long tails of JRTs are interrupting the mating process and giving birth to puppies. Female JRTs face huge pain when giving birth to puppies due to the interruption of their tail. And dogs also may face injuries after mating as a result of their long tail.

  • Cosmetic reasons

Some people believe that having a long tail does not suit the appearance and personality of Jack Russells. Therefore, tail docking is done for cosmetic reasons; they especially need to give their preferred look to their pet.

  • Convenience

Since docking tails is costing some money from your wallet, you can manage it according to your convenience. If your JRT is a domestic pet that does not interact with tight spaces, then it is convenient for you and your pet to not docking its tail.

Should Jack Russells have their tails docked?

Docking Jack Russells tail is considered necessary when they are working terriers that interact with tight spaces and below ground.

Even though some countries have banned docking tails, those animal welfare acts exempted the working terriers and gundog breeds. The tail docking aims to prevent injuries of JRTs in working, and its target is to minimize the threat of another major surgery in the future.

Tail docking is a minor operation conducted by a veterinary surgeon. Some believe that docking will provide a lifetime of safety from other serious injuries.

Working terriers work above ground as well, as due to their small size, they are used to working below ground. Then tail injuries can happen, and therefore it seems necessary for a working JRT to have a docked tail. 

However, if your JRT is not a working dog, you don’t need to dock his tail. My JRT, Shaggy, is a domestic pet, and therefore I refused to dock his tail since I love his long tail so much.

What Is The Best Age For A Jack Russell’s Tail To Be Docked?

Tail docking is a routine surgery. Typically, Jack Russell’s tail’s docking takes place 72 hours after his birth since they have no idea about the things that happen. It should be done within 3-5 days old age if you need to dock their tails.

It should be conducted by a licensed veterinarian and proportionate to their body size. The best length is docking one-third of their tail. 

Is Docking Safe for Puppies?

Docking is known as safe for puppies since a qualified veterinarian conducts it. Commonly, the puppy would immediately resume suckling on the mother when he has no idea about the procedure.

But there is the risk of spinal injury. However, it would be best if you found an experienced vet with all the necessary facilities to avoid the risk of the process. 

Is it cruel to dock a dog’s tail?

According to the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the laws of some countries, especially England, Wales, and Scotland, tail docking has been banned under some exceptions.

It was believed to be a cruel treatment to dogs. This can cause the dog pain, and he may experience bleeding and infection too. And they will take at least 4 weeks to heal, and you need to take care of your dog during this period carefully.

Improper surgeries and lack of cleanliness may lead to massive pain for dogs. Some may die by facing difficulty to endure it. 

Therefore, in my personal view, as a JRT owner, it isn’t kind to dock their inherited natural tail if you don’t have a justifiable purpose for doing so.

If your JRT is not a working dog, it is better to have their nice tail with them since nature gave it to them from birth. However, the decision to decide whether docking your Jack Russell Terrier’s tail is cruel or not is up to you.

Pros and Cons of Jack Russell’s docked tails

Docking of JRT’s tail has two sides of pros and cons since it depends on the environment, interactions, tasks they perform, and the owner’s preference.

Before deciding on the tail docking of your JRT, it is better to concern both pros and cons carefully.


  • Assure safety in working

For working JRTs, tail docking is beneficial since it keeps them away from injuries. JRTs engage in activities with tight spaces, and below ground, their long tails get injured easily and cause severe pain and further surgeries.

To get rid of this situation, tail docking helps JRTs perform their tasks well in tight spaces and below water without facing painful tail injuries.

  • Reduce the pain in mating

Tail docking reduces the pain and disturbance of mating. It minimizes the pain that occurred to female JRTs with tails during the process of giving birth to a puppy.

Docked tails make them safer in these processes.

  • Beneficial in fighting with other dogs

Having a docked tail is beneficial for a JRT in fighting with other dogs. The long tail causes long hairs, which may easily be grabbed by other dogs, resulting in injuries in dog fights.

Then a docked tail may reduce this situation and support JRTs to defend themselves.

  • Gives cosmetic value to your JRT

Since docking tails have become a cosmetic and fashionable practice, your JRT with a docked tail may exhibit a decorative value. We can observe that there are several beauty segments for dogs, and your JRT will show off a good look at them.


  • Severe pain 

Tail docking is a traumatic surgery, and it can cause severe pain to your JRT. It should be done immediately after their birth.

So little puppies may have difficulties enduring that pain and can cause bleedings and injuries. 

  • Lose the body balance

The tail is an organ used to maintain the body balance of a dog. Therefore, JRTs can be unbalanced and difficult to control their body by docking their tails.

It will cause additional suffering or disturbance for them.

  • Cost your money

It would be best if you found an experienced veterinarian with the necessary facilities to dock the tail of your JRT. After the surgery, you need to follow the essential remedies regarding the dog.

So this process costs a large amount of your money. If the dog gets side effects or infections after the surgery, you need to follow further treatments, which may cost more.

  • Need more time and attention

Docking tails is a process that should be conducted carefully. Even though it is a surgery done by the vet, as the owner, you need to make time and pay attention to your JRT.

After docking tails, JRTs need to ensure safety and cleanliness to reduce side effects, pains, or infections. It needs more and more time from your busy schedule.

  • Unnecessary risk

If your JRT is not a working dog, then docking tails is an unnecessary risk for your dog. As we already discussed, severe pain is probable, bleedings, and even some puppies die as they cannot endure the pain of tail docking due to some instances.

So it is an unnecessary risk you force upon your Jack Russell.


Jack Russell Terriers are energetic and active dogs. Docking Jack Russells tail is a tradition since they are hunting dogs. But now, your JRT is a domestic pet and no more a hunting dog. As we discussed through this article, several factors should be considered when docking the tail of your JRT. It has pros as well as cons.

So it’s up to you as the owner of your JRT to decide whether to dock or not the tail of the dog. I decided not to dock my JRT, Shaggy’s tail, since I believed it might cause him pain, and I don’t want to make him face an unnecessary risk. Now he has a long tail, and he is pleased with it. So, think carefully.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about our four-legged friends.

Cheers from Shaggy and Lenny!


  • George Brown

    George B. is the founder of the JRO Organization. He believes in creating a better world for domestic animals. He believes domestic animals are more vulnerable than other animals, especially dogs, since they have been used to depending on their owners for generations. So, he started JRO to share his ideas and insights while helping vulnerable dogs worldwide. George runs multiple projects on street dogs in developing countries, especially Sri Lanka.

    [email protected]

Similar Posts