Do Corgis Have Tails? The Truth About Short and Docked Tails

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Written By Dane Michael

MyFavCorgi is a community of corgi fans and owners with advice to buy, raise and care for your corgi.

Corgis are those irresistible dogs with the stubby behinds. But those beautiful bums have got many people wondering: do corgis have tails?

It’s a fair enough question. I remember I was so confused when I was younger – I had no idea where their tails had gone!

Yes, corgis have tails. But on many corgis, these tails are very short. This is for two different reasons – genetics and tail docking.

It’s so common, a short tail is now part of the American Kennel Club breed standard.

Here’s everything you need to know about corgi tails based on my experience, including why they’re so short, and what you should do as a responsible dog owner.

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Here’s the close-up behind of a Pembroke Welsh corgi without a tail.

Are all corgis born with tails?

Both the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi are born with tails. However, adult Pembroke Welsh corgis have a short tail, as it is docked at birth.

In Pembroke Welsh corgis, this short tail (or stub) is usually under 2 inches long, but can go up to 5 inches.

For Cardigan Welsh corgis (or Pembroke Welsh corgis with full tails), tails usually range from 6 to 12 inches in length set fairly low on body line.

Let’s explore how tails work for Pembroke Welsh corgis and Cardigan Welsh corgis.

1. Are Pembroke Welsh corgis born with tails?

Most Pembroke Welsh corgis are born with tails. However, many have their tails docked (cut off) shortly after birth. This has led to the misconception that all Pembroke Welsh corgis are born without tails.

Short tails are a long-standing tradition for Pembroke Welsh corgis.

In fact, even today, the American Kennel Club Pembroke Welsh corgi breed standard specifies that Pembrokes should have a short, docked tail.

Because of this, most corgis in America will have a docked tail, as the American Kennel Club is the governing body for purebred dog breeds in the country. They outline the guidelines that define the ideal characteristics of each breed – and most breeders align to this standard.

While short-tail corgis are the norm in the USA, there are many adult Pembroke Welsh corgis with full length tails. These come from breeders who follow different standards to the American Kennel Club (mainly those overseas).

2. Are Cardigan Welsh corgis born with tails?

Cardigan Welsh Corgis retain their tails, as a full tail is part of the Cardigan Welsh corgi breed standard.

Cardigan Welsh corgis do not have short tails, as the American Kennel Club breed standard for Cardigan Welsh corgis does not endorse tail docking.

This means that breeders and owners don’t have to cut off the tails of Cardigan dogs. Cardigans can let their tails grow naturally. That’s why you often see Cardigans with their tails still intact.

This is one of the biggest differences between the two breeds.

Now you know which corgis have a short or long tail!

1. Pembroke Welsh corgis have a short tail. 
2. Cardigan Welsh corgis keep their long tail
A corgi puppy with floppy ears siting in the grass waiting for their first-time dog owner.

Why do corgis have short tails?

Corgis can have short tails for two key reasons:

  1. They have the recessive gene for a short tail, meaning they are born with this trait.
  2. Their tails may be deliberately docked.

These two factors—genetic inheritance and tail docking—contribute to the characteristic short tail associated with corgis.

Let’s take a closer look to help shed light on the origins of this distinctive feature in the breed.

1. Corgis can be born with a short tail

Corgis can be born with shortened tails, a condition known as natural bobtails.

You can find corgis with naturally short tails – they do exist. They are though, far less common than corgis with docked tails.

The natural bobtail is a tail length variation that happens due to a mutation in a specific gene called the T-box transcription factor T gene. This is the gene that affects tails in dogs.

This gene is autosomal dominant. This means only one copy is needed for a dog to have a bobtail. So, if just one parent has this gene, their puppies can have bobtails.

However, if a puppy gets two copies of the bobtail gene (one from each parent), it won’t survive birth.

This means it’s not possible to have dogs that only have short tails. Corgis with long tails will always exist because the gene for long tails can’t be completely eliminated safely.

As the bobtail mutation is rare in corgis, you’re more likely to see them in cross-breeds with other dogs. These include Australian Shepherds, Blue Heelers, Brittany Spaniels, Spanish Waterdogs, and Schipperkes, among others.

2. Corgis can get their tail docked

Corgis often have their tails shortened through a surgical procedure called tail docking, which takes place in the first few days of their lives.

These dogs have a history of having their tails shortened because they were originally bred to herd cattle.

Their short stature made them good herders, but it also increased the risk of their tails getting injured, especially when working with large animals.

To prevent accidents, like getting stepped on during herding, tail docking was introduced.

Even today, the American Kennel Club continues this tradition. The club’s standard for Pembroke Welsh Corgis states that their tails should be cut as short as possible without leaving an indentation.

This standard helps breeders and judges maintain the desired characteristics of the breed. To meet this standard, breeders often choose to dock the tails of corgi puppies to the standard length and appearance.

Over time, this practice became a tradition and an aesthetic choice for the breed. The docked tails are now associated with the corgi’s identity.

A corgi puppy with a cute face and a stubby butt with no tail, standing in the grass looking forward towards the camera.

What is the history of corgi tail docking?

The history of corgi tail docking is tied to their early status as a working dog and a tax on dogs owned during that time.

Corgis trace their roots back to Wales, where they were bred as herding dogs for farms – where they would have their tail cut to keep them safe.

But in the 17th century, tail docking became popular due to a tax on companion dogs. Dogs categorised as non-working ‘companions’ were considered a luxury, and their owners faced heavy taxes.

To avoid these taxes, dog owners had to prove their dogs were working animals. One way to do this was by having a docked tail, to indicate it was indeed a working dog. This led to the docking of many corgi tails.

Although the companion dog tax is no longer in place, its impact on certain breeds, like the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, lingers.

In recent times, attitudes toward animal welfare have changed, leading to shifts in tail docking practices. Many countries, such as Australia and most of Europe, have now prohibited tail docking.

How the docking process works

Corgi tails are docked within the first few days of their lives, most often between 3 and 5 days after being born. A vet will dock the corgi’s tail with surgical scissors or, less often, a tight rubber band.

Vets do this when the puppies are very young to reduce pain and help them heal. Let’s look closer at the two common methods of tail docking and what you need to know.

1. Scissors method for docking tails

When docking a corgi’s tail with surgical scissors, the vet will measure and cut the puppy’s tail at the appropriate vertebrae.

The vet uses stitches or dissolvable glue to aid healing. This procedure must be done in a clean and sterile environment.

2. Rubber band method for docking tails

Another way to dock a corgi’s tail involves using a tight rubber band placed around the tail to cut off blood circulation. The gradual loss of blood flow makes the tail wither and eventually fall off.

This method is less common, takes more time than using scissors, and raises a lot of ethical concerns, due to the prolonged discomfort experienced by the puppy.

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Does tail docking hurt the corgi?

Yes, tail docking can cause pain to the corgi, as vets often do it without the use of painkillers or anaesthesia.

It’s hard to know how much animals feel pain. Especially when it comes to tail docking.

Some say puppies don’t feel pain in their first week, as they have not yet developed their nervous system.

But many vets dispute this. They state that while a puppy may have not have a full-developed nervous system, they can still feel some pain. Even if it’s not the same way adult dogs do.

A scientific study of vets during tail docking found puppies make loud, distressed sounds like shrieks or whimpers during tail cutting. This shows puppies are, at the very least, uncomfortable, if not in pain during tail docking.

It also comes with a number of health risks. These include:

  • Pain and discomfort during recovery
  • Risk of infection following docking
  • Challenges to balance and spatial awareness
  • Chronic long-lasting pain and nerve damage
  • Phantom limb sensation and distress

In my own opinion, you should avoid tail docking, due to the likelihood of pain. It is not a kind way to treat your corgi when there are other better alternatives (like simply doing nothing) available.

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Tail docking is discouraged due to the pain it can cause.

Where is corgi tail docking banned?

Tail docking is banned in the United Kingdom, as well as in most European and South American countries, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, and many other nations.

What you’ll find missing from this list is the United States. In the USA, tail docking is still common. And it’s still a part of the American Kennel Club standard.

Should I dock my corgi’s tail?

Most of the time, if you’re in the USA, your breeder will have docked the tail before you get them. If you have the option, no, don’t dock their tail.

Many corgi owners might feel like they have no choice about cutting their dog’s tail short.

When you get a dog after it’s born, tail docking usually happens early, and you might not get to decide. But if you talk to the breeder before the dog is born, you can ask them not to do it.

However, some breeders might say no because they follow the breed standard, which says to dock the tail. Don’t ignore good breeders just to avoid tail docking.

Some not-so-great breeders might agree to skip it, but it’s better to find a good breeder for your dog’s health. If you are struggling to find a corgi with a tail, you may need to look in countries that have banned tail docking.

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How do I find a Pembroke Welsh corgi with a tail?

If you want a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a tail, it’s important to communicate your preference to breeders. If you want to buy an AKC-registered Pembroke, it will have a docked tail because that’s the standard.

You might find it difficult to locate a corgi with a tail – but you can do it! You’ll need to explore breeders who are open to keeping the tails of their corgis natural.

Here are steps to help you find a Pembroke Welsh corgi with a tail.

1. Research reputable corgi breeders

Look for reputable corgi breeders who care about the health and natural characteristics of the dogs, including keeping their tails.

You can start your search on the internet, but I encourage you to ask your local vet for suggestions, or join corgi clubs to get recommendations.

These sources can help you find breeders who share your preference for corgis with full tails. They also help give you some security in finding a good breeder.

2. Communicate your preference

Tell prospective breeders that you want a Pembroke Welsh corgi with a full tail.

Ask about their tail docking practices and their willingness to accommodate your needs. You need to be confident they can provide you the dog you want.

3. Visit breeders and ask questions

Book a time to go to your breeder in person and have a conversation with them. It’s always better to do this live – rather than online – if possible.

There’s lots of great questions you can ask to help determine if they are a reputable breeder and if they can get you a corgi with a tail.

Make sure to about their breeding practices, their policies on tail docking, and their commitment to preserving the natural characteristics of your future dog.

4. Be patient and persistent

It might take a while to find a breeder who has the kind of dog you want. Don’t get discouraged!

If finding a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a full tail is tough, you could check out other corgi breeds like the Cardigan Welsh corgi. They naturally have an undocked tail.

A lazy corgi sleeps in the grass

Should I buy an AKC registered corgi?

While the American Kennel Club registration itself is a recognition of the dog’s pedigree, it doesn’t guarantee ethical breeding practices or address the issue of tail docking.

If you’re thinking about getting an AKC Pembroke Welsh corgi, you need to know that it will have a short, docked tail, according to the breed standard.

So, if you want a corgi with a long tail, an AKC Pembroke Welsh corgi is not the best choice for you.

That said, AKC breeders are generally knowledgeable about the breed, follow responsible breeding practices, and uphold health standards.

If the tail is important to you, I suggest looking into Cardigan Welsh Corgis, as they naturally have full tails. You can also explore other breed certifications or find a reputable breeder who shares your values.

Can corgis with tails compete in dog shows?

The Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club allow corgis with tails to compete in conformation dog shows, as does the major federation of kennels, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. The American Kennel Club only allows corgis with docked tails to compete.

In the past, it was common for corgis to have their tails docked, but nowadays, many kennel clubs accept corgis with natural tails. The rules have become more inclusive over time.

When showing a corgi with a natural tail, the tail should be in its natural state, and judges will evaluate the dog based on certain criteria. Judges assess dogs according to the standards set for each breed regardless of whether they have a docked tail.

It’s important you understand the specific rules of the kennel club or organisation where you plan to compete, as there might be variations in their regulations. American dog shows are much stricter when it comes to tail docking.

Always ensure that you follow the rules and guidelines of the particular dog show you want to participate in.

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How can I stop tail docking? 4 actions you can take today!

If you want to take action to stop tail docking, advocate for changes in legislation, promote awareness, and support ethical breeding practices.

It’s a great thing to do. Here are simple steps you can take to help prevent dog tail docking:

1. Learn and share information

Educate yourself and others about why tail docking is harmful.

Share this information on social media, with friends, family, and at community events. Let’s change public opinion and encourage responsible dog care.

Share stories and pictures of dogs with natural tails who are happy and loved. Positive examples challenge the idea that certain breeds need tail docking to be ‘proper’ or ‘beautiful.’

2. Choose the right breeder or adopt from shelters

If you’re getting a dog, pick a breeder who cares about their dogs’ health more than appearance. Responsible breeders focus on good temperaments and genetic health, not just looks.

Consider adopting from shelters or rescues instead of buying from breeders. Many dogs in shelters need loving homes, and adopting helps reduce demand for dogs from breeders who use harmful practices.

3. Support laws that ban docking

Advocate for laws that ban or limit tail docking for looks. Laws protecting dogs from unnecessary surgery can help prevent tail docking and other harmful practices.

Sign and share petitions against tail docking for looks. Write to local representatives to voice your concerns and urge them to support laws protecting dogs.

4. Support associations that work to stop docking

Support veterinary organisations, like the American Veterinary Medical Association, that discourage tail docking for looks.

They educate the public about responsible pet care and have a great FAQ on tail docking.

Encourage vets to stand up for animal welfare by opposing tail docking for looks. Vets are crucial in educating the public about responsible dog care.

Contribute to and volunteer with animal welfare organisations. They work to improve dogs’ lives and campaign against harmful practices like tail docking, promoting responsible pet ownership.

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You can make a difference to the lives of corgis across the world.

Final thoughts on do corgis have tails

Pembroke Welsh Corgis usually have short tails due to a combination of genetics and historical tail docking practices, while Cardigan Welsh Corgis naturally retain their long tails.

Many countries have banned tail docking now, and that is expected to grow. If you are considering getting a corgi with a full tail, research reputable breeders who prioritise the well-being of the dogs and follow ethical breeding practices.

That way you can make a smart choice when it comes to your corgi’s tail.

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