Corgi breeder cries foul over dog tail docking ban

Lesley Chalmers breeds award-winning pembroke corgis.
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Lesley Chalmers breeds award-winning pembroke corgis.

While veterinarians celebrate a ban on the docking of dogs' tails, one breeder says she is bitterly disappointed. 

Lesley Chalmers, a Christchurch-based pembroke corgi breeder and international dog show judge, said the breed would cease to exist when the ban came into force in 2018.

"It's changing the phenotype of the breed. A pembroke corgi with a tail is not a pembroke corgi," she said.

Some pembroke corgis are born with their tails naturally short or missing due to a dominant gene (file photo).
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Some pembroke corgis are born with their tails naturally short or missing due to a dominant gene (file photo).

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced the tail docking ban, along with a raft of other animal welfare regulations, on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Government to crack down on animal abusers under new rules

Under the new rules, tail docking will be prohibited unless it is done by a veterinarian to treat a significant injury or disease.

The regulations also prohibit the removal of dew claws, which grow on the inside of a dog's foreleg, unless the procedure is done by a vet for the same reasons.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has welcomed the changes, saying they were "a win for the wellbeing of our animals".

Under current animal welfare laws, tail docking for non-medical reasons can only be performed on puppies that are less than four days old.

It involves applying a band to the tail which cuts off the blood supply, causing the tail to dry out and fall off.

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Claims the procedure was painful and stressful for puppies were "utter codswallop", Chalmers said.

"In over 40 years I have never had a pup stressed through banding its tail."

Under the ban, Chalmers will face a fine if she continues to band the tails of her puppies. 

Meanwhile, the vet association's companion animal spokesperson, Rochelle Ferguson, said she was "delighted" the regulations would soon be in force.

"Breeders are obviously outraged, but we're just joining 20 other countries that already have this practice banned. Australia banned it back in 2004," Ferguson said.

"The science is so strong it spoke for itself. It's not a benign procedure that causes no pain.

"We think it causes pain at the time of the banding, and we think it causes ongoing pain."

Ferguson also wanted to reassure Chalmers that the pembroke corgi breed "won't die out" as a result of the ban.

"A pembroke corgi is much more than just a tail."

The new regulations come after MPI commissioned an independent review into the arguments for and against tail docking.

That found the procedure had the potential to cause pain and distress to dogs, and did not bring any benefit to the animals. 

Cabinet has since approved a policy to restrict docking of dogs' tails.

Final approval to create regulations will be sought later this year, with an outright ban expected to be in force by October 2018. 

 - Stuff

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