Incorrectly docked tail.

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Meeska's picture
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Hello

I just got my first Doberman puppy about four days ago! From day one I noticed her tail had skin showing at the tip, rather than coat. I didn't know for certain if this is normal. I did some reading and as everyone already knows it's an incorrectly docked tail.

I've also noticed that she will occasionally nibble at it, and it's lost a little more hair than what she had to begin with. I read that incorrectly docked tails can be discomforting for the dog because it has less skin and is stretched out over the bone.

I plan to take her to the vet and consider getting it re-docked. I am not doing this for cosmetic reasons. I am doing this because the scar is still has a red scab, and I've even seen it glisten and dabbed it with a towel and gotten blood, so I know this is a problem for her. It was docked when she was 4 days old, so it should definitely have been healed by now (she is 10 weeks old...)

Can anyone estimate how much re-docking might cost me? And should I go back to my breeder and bring this issue up to her in hopes that she will cover the cost?

AlphaAdmin's picture
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It's normal for there to be no fur at the end of a puppy's tail. It's also normal, in my experience, for puppies to mess with the end of their tail. But it's definitely not normal for the tail to still be bleeding.

re-docing won't be any fun at this age. The vet will be able to advise the best solution. And if your breeder is at all responsible she'll certainly want to know if her puppies are having trouble with their tails.

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

When the puppies are first born, the bones of the tail are very soft and the tails are normally docked without any anesthetic because the nerves are not fully active either. In my first litter of 10, when my vet docked the tails and removed the dew claws, (three clips each) instead of hearing 30 yelps there may have been three or four. I had mama (Windy - my Avatar) in the waiting room and at the first yelp she was up and wanting through that door. Then she settled down until the next one.

I think she was more distressed than the puppies. She checked over each one and licked the stubs. When the tail is docked the vet normally pulls the skin as far forward to the rump as is possible and then cuts the tail. The skin is then pulled back and normally one stitch is put in.

It is possible that either your puppy, another puppy or mama ate the stitch out and the end of the tail has not had an opportunity to heal. You may need to get an E-collar from the vet (super small size) and put in on your pup so the tip of the tail will get a chance to heal. Once it had fully healed, scabbed over and the new skin formed underneath the scab and the scab falls off naturally there should not be further problems.

If the tail needs additional work, I would have it done when the ears are cropped, assuming you are going to have the ears cropped. The reason is that I would not put a young pup under anesthia more than once until after the pup is at least 6 months old, unless absolutely necessary.

Meeska's picture
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Joined: 2010-08-11

Thank you Rgreen4, that's the kind of information I was hoping to get. We go in today to get her tail checked out and I'll ask about an e-collar first.

If it doesn't help then I really want to get this fixed surgically just so she isn't in constant discomfort the rest of her life. It scares me that I found blood coming from the wound that should have been healed by now =( Tonight I'll update my thread on what the vet recommends to do.

Lady Kate's picture
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Welcome Meeska,

please keep us updated on your pup.

Meeska's picture
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Hello! I will =) we found a new vet and she's doing fine! Unfortunately her cropped tail is "ugly" and they don't want to re-dock it, which I can understand if it's going to put her through a lot of pain, but as long as it's not bothering her then I'm okay with keeping it as it is. As long as she isn't in any discomfort! I'm going to keep a close eye on her to make sure and hopefully stop her from nibbling on it so much. It loses fur from all her nibbling.

Lady Kate's picture
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You're a good Mom.. As Rgreen has pointed out... The dogs don't care.. As long as you love her and treat her as well as it seems you have been doing.. all will be well

Take pictures.. I'll bet it's not as bad as you think

Much love and many scritches to your little girl.. what is her name?

rgreen4's picture
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She may wind up with a small scar "button" on the end that will not be all that noticable. When it heals and she grows, the tail will be several times larger than it is now, but the scar will not be larger. Actually then the scar tissue will help because it will not be as sensitive as normal skin would be.

jerial13's picture
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Meeska,

As we are all aware my puppy purchase was not the mosst desireable condition for buying a puppy, but I not only have had ear issues, but when her tail was docked it was left too long.  I have experienced all the things that you have with the exception of when Shelbi sits her tail actually hits the ground therefore she will not stay in a sit position she immediately drops to a down because it does bother her.  Her tail was even scabby and bloody until about 6 months old.

My vet recommended to take the tail to half the length that it is to prevent this from being a life long nuiscence(?sp). I have only been inclined to agree because I have seen her try to sit sideways already at her still puppy age.  She is scheduled to be fixed on Monday and the vet recommended to do both procedures at the same time. 

I had not asked anyones thoughts on this, please feel free to share. 

Lady Kate's picture
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Dogs are so stoic.. I know from personal experience, I try to humanize them much too much.They don't think about or fear the things we do..

Sweet Shelbi ( Don't know why.. I just call her that all the time) will be fine.. she might be a little zonked after the surgery, but she'll recuperate a lot faster than we would having the same procedure. ( I've always wanted a tail).

Be brave for her.. she'll know it..

rgreen4's picture
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I agree with you jerial, in a situation where it is bothering the dog, something needs to be done. I also agree that since she will be anesthetized for spaying, it is a good time to do the other procedure. She will be a little more sore than otherwise but it is better than having a second surgery.

jerial13's picture
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Thanks guys and gals,  I appreciate the support I dropped her off this mornng and she still hasn't gone in for her surgery, but I will check on my way home I can pick her up tomorrow at 6:00 CST.

If you take the time to look I think there is a side profile where you can see that her tail is about 4 inches long and it goes straight down to the ground when she sits so she just squats or goes to down instead. 

I do not know how this could have been prevented as a younger puppy because I really do not think there was anyway they could have docked the tail shorter.  When we got her she had nothing there, just an itty bitty little bump.

You can call her "Sweet Shelbi" if you want I call her "Baby Girl" alot myself.  I have 3 step-children that live with us full-time and I never wanted children of my own, so I believe that Shelbi accidently volunteered for that role.  She is way to spoiled and she knows it.  However, I already have her lined out for her 2nd round of training in October, this I think will help polish her off.

jerial13's picture
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meeska - sorry to sort of take over your thread

My vet just called, all is well, she has stitches in her belly of course and she will have stitches in her tail I will take pictures and post for those that would like to see.  He said "That she is so wonderful that she reminds him of why he is in veterinarian medicine".  She loves her vet, he said that she almost knocked him over trying to lick him to death.  I almost cried I do not think you could get a better compliment from a veterinarian.

Had to update, again sorry meeska, but you may like to see the photos as soon as I can take them and get them posted.

jerial13's picture
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Have Shelbi home have taken pictures of her, her bandage, and her sitting comfortably for the first time.  I added them to photos them feel free to look.  By the way she is scting like nothing has happened to her.  The vet said that she must stay calm, dry, and clean.  He said that he would like for the bandage to stay on for a couple of days but if she gets it off it is not a big issue.  She has sniffed a little but has not tried to take it off or dig at either her spay stitches or her tail.  Hears to hoping we are on the road to a quick recovery.  Stitches come out in two weeks.

Thank you all again for all the support.

rgreen4's picture
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As Kate would say "pobrecita" (poor little thing [feminine]). I know she will do well though. As to her not bothering it, I would not count on that staying that way once it starts to really heal and itch.

Did the vet send her home with any tranquilizers to help keep her calm?

She will not display any distress from the surgery as these dogs are so stoic, it's as if they say, "well that happened to me, so what, let's get on with life". We can learn a lot from them. Watch her eyes. If she is having any pain or discomfort you will see it in her eyes not in her actions. Of course we have to remember that in the wild, displaying pain and suffering is a sign of weakness and will result in loss of position in the pack at the very least.

Docking a tail at the proper joint at when you have a wiggling 5 day old puppy is not the easiest thing, and a few have longer nubs. My Red has one about as long as Shelbi's was, but since it has never bothered him, he still has all of it. I think he turns it to one side when he sits.

Two years ago he had a malignant tumor removed from the top of his tail about midway from rump to tip, and at one point it seemed as if it were coming back, but it healed nicely and now he only has a slight crease in his fur there. He never bothered it while it was healing either.

When the bandages come off it will be ugly for about 6 to 8 weeks until the fur comes back in fully.

You and Shelbi have been through a lot, and hopefully this is all behind you now.

Tell Shelbi that Red and Princess send love and scritches.

Lady Kate's picture
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Hey.. Congrats Sweet Shelbi.. now you can sit like a proper lady! J~~Thank you so much for posting update and pics..

Isnt' it amazing how stoic they are.. something that you and I would think would be just a horrid thing to endure, they take it just like "It is what it is.." we certainly can learn a lot from our doberkids..

I don't know what it is about this forum, but it's almost like family. We love each others dogs and keep them on our minds.. this is the first thing I check out in the morning, just to see how everyone is doing. ( nosy biddy???)

Bless you for being there for Shelbi.. She is lucky to have you and vice/versa..

jerial13's picture
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Thank you for your thoughts and concerns.  They would not give me any doggy downers, but he did say that if it appeared to itch her alot during healing that I could give her half of a Benadryl for the itching.  He also said that this might make her a little groggy.  I am hoping I can get through this without giving her anything.  My friend Lisa (Aunt Lisa) went at lunch to check on her and she said that Shelbi seemed a bit more reluctant to walk today than yesterday like she might be a little sore, but I will be leaving as soon as I post this to go home and check myself.

Again thank you all will post again tomorrow.

gingersmommy's picture
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Jerial13, Shelby is a honey bear and just beautiful!  Her tail will heal with time and she will be much more comfortable.  Meeska, you are a good mommy for your concern and for taking your baby in to see the vet.  BTW, love the screen name!

bbroyles's picture
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I'm thinking on the tail thing as well.  Leo's is too long and has the hairless stub tip. It's ugly! He was too much of a sweetheart to pass up because of a docking.  We'll see what the vet thinks, he'll be having his ears done in about 1 1/2 weeks.  I'm thinking that he is going to be somewhat uncomfortable anyway with the ears, that a little tail fix wouldn't add that much stress.  I know it's egotistical and selfish, but I guess cropping is too.  Just something that seems to make the dobe look like a dobie should look, adds to the aggressive/alertness profile.  That's really stupid, I know... if a dobie was supposed to have cropped ears and tails, they'd be born like that!

Meeska's picture
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Hi everyone,

 

Been away for a little while but I just wanted to say that the vet went ahead and fixed his tail. Unfortunately he's long enough to get past his e-collar and licked his stitches open the first week. Then we got him re-stitched, and somehow he got to it still. So the third time the vet put a brace on his neck, which worked for a day, and he managed to reach it STILL... so now he is wearing a brace AND e-collar =( he *really* wants to lick/bite at his tail. What is more unfortunate is he keeps opening his stitches on Sundays, when the vet office is closed. Sigh! We had to take his posts off of his ears because the e-collar forces his ears forward. So we're at a stand still on his ears until his tail is healed.

 

Jerial13-- no problem on sorta taking over my thread =) How is your girl doing?

jerial13's picture
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meeska,

Please view my photos I have updated after the stitches came out.  I am so sorry you are having a bad time with healing on the tail and ears.  I understand as much as anyone what it is like to have thought you made the correct choice but only to find out that you made an error and your baby has to suffer for it.  Fortunately Shelbi is all healed after the tail incident.  Like I mentioned the vet said that the Benedryl is a good way to stop the itching, you may ask your vet for his advice before use.  Mine said 1/2 of a human 25mg tablet 2 times a day will help with relief.

J

Meeska's picture
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Oh her tail looks great!! Lyra's tail looked like that when the stitches were in. She somehow opened his tail yet a third time... I'm pretty certain it happened while she was playing with the cats... the vet didn't want to put her back under anesthesia for a third time, and I understand, so we've dropped working on his tail and instead are just applying a triple antibiotic while her ears work on standing. Fortunately she did not open her stitches entirely. She only opened two this time. The past two times she opened all of them... she's less irritated by it this time, must be because there are no stitches... she's also on a pain medication for the tail... thank you for the Benedryl tip, I will ask my vet this next Monday when we go in for a check up.

 

Her ears are standing well for about half the day, so maybe soon enough we can get her tail worked on again.

 

Opps. I kept calling Lyra a he in my last post =) must be too used to having male cats for the past 9 years!