Boxers are born with long, curved tails, but owners cut the tails to give the boxer a more intimidating and powerful look. Other owners cut the tail to give the dog the "boxer look." The result is a small tail that stands straight up. Cutting a boxer's tail is also known as docking, and it is illegal in many countries. Despite protests from boxer owners and animal rights activists, docking is legal in the United States. The right time to cut a boxer's tail is ultimately up to the individual owner.
Breeders often have boxers docked in the first week of their lives. The younger the boxer is when the tail is cut, the easier it is for the dog to heal and adapt. The owner is not present for the cutting or healing process, so they do not have to see the pain or deal with the recovery involved. Anesthesia is not used in puppies under 14 weeks of age, so this method is difficult for some owners to handle. It is controversial because there is no medical reason for the pain caused by the procedure.
After Eight Weeks
The boxer's tail can be cut after eight weeks of age. However, the older the boxer is when the tail is docked, the bigger the tail will be. Larger tails will make the experience more traumatic for the boxer because the procedure will take longer and be more complicated. Anesthesia should be used on weaned boxers over the age of eight weeks. Older dogs will have a harder time adjusting to losing their tails, and it may affect their balance.
Boxer tails sometimes need to be docked because the tail was injured or disfigured. Once a boxer's tail is injured, it is difficult for the dog to recover from surgery. The boxer will bite and scratch at the bandaged tail, causing further injury and bleeding. Boxers often need to have their tails amputated after countless injuries and surgeries, which some owners argue is pain and suffering that could have been avoided by docking the tail when the dog was a puppy.
Tail docking on boxers and other dog breeds has been banned in many countries because of the fact that it is an unnecessary cosmetic procedure. It causes the dog pain by cutting through nerves, tendons and muscle. Owners have the procedure performed to preserve tradition and meet standards for dog shows. Judges in some dog shows will penalize the boxer for not having a docked tail. Many veterinarians refuse to perform the procedure, despite the fact that it is legal in the United States. Other veterinarians recommend the procedure be performed on boxer puppies to avoid an increase in tail injuries.