This study evaluated the current practices of tail docking in dogs routinely performed in southwest Nigeria, as well as their ethical issues. The data were collected by means of a structured questionnaire provided to breeders/owners besides an audit of retrospective case records. The results indicated that tail docking was performed and embraced by all practices and breeders/owners surveyed, with higher frequency of Rottweiler (76.7%) in comparison to PitBull (56.0%) and Boerboel (51.2%) breeds. Seventy four percent of breeders docked for customary/traditional reason while others did so for reasons which included improved appearance (53.6%), convenience and pleasure (46.4%), better hygiene (28.0%), ease of mating (14.2%), enhanced aggressiveness (7.1%) and prevention of injuries (7.1%). Most practices (97.4%) docked for non-therapeutic purposes. Sixty five percent of respondents docked at 2 to 3 weeks of age while others did at less than 2 weeks (11.6%) and above 3 weeks (23.3%), respectively. Infection/necrosis (37.2%) and self-mutilation (20.9%) were the most observed post-operative complications by respondents. Most practices (72.0%) performed tail docking without anaesthesia while 60.5% of practices never gave post-operative analgesic. Majority of respondents (72.0%) oppose abrogation of docking for non-therapeutic reasons. Primary legislation prohibiting docking of dogs’ tails except for medical or surgical reasons is recommended.
Key words: Tail docking, dogs, southwest Nigeria.
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