Letter from Quentin L. LaHam, Ph.D. Titular Professor (Retired)

As you may know, I have spent over thirty five years of my adult life studying anatomy and movement in canines with special emphasis on balance and flexibility. I have thousands of feet of film of dogs gaiting, coursing, swimming, jumping and going to ground.

In the course of these studies and observations, I have often found it necessary to question and to ultimately disprove, some long standing but mistaken ideas about what parts of the anatomy are responsible for movement or balance, good or bad.

If you will excuse the play on words, there are more tales about tails than any other part of the anatomy; it is used for balance when turning, as a rudder and a float aid when swimming, a thruster when jumping and a braking mechanism when landing, as a means of communication with the environment. There is not a single shred of evidence to support any of the above wishful thinking.

Were there any truth to the above, we must first explain why those breeds which are genetically without tails or with naturally foreshortened tails, in all cases have as many balanced, excellent moving dogs, and are as good at swimming and better jumpers than many of their counterparts *with* tails.

The only time in my view that a tail is a factor in balance in terms of appearance is when it is incorrect in its carriage and everyone knows that is most evident in full-tailed dogs.; tails up over the back, curled or hooked tails, too high or too low placement. I have never known a Pembroke Welsh Corgi or an Old English Sheepdog, often born completely tail-less, to be considered lacking in balance because of it.

As a former professor of anatomy, and a witness to many tail dockings, I know it is not a traumatic experience to a two or three day old puppy, certainly no more than a circumcision, and I suspect nobody is contemplating a law forbidding that practice.

The last thing I want to do is attempt to interferes with the law of another country, but in my view this law will so negatively affect the breeds concerned, as to effectively eliminate them from International competition and could bring about great hardship upon individual dogs. By that I suggest that otherwise very good dogs may be sold at a more advanced age, to a country where docking is "required" and then be subjected to docking. Certainly, those breeds concerned stand a serious chance of going into decline and International exchange will have an influence on the export of these breeds".