Articles Index/Standard
Posted 05/29/98


The controversy over docking tails continues. With docking already banned in several Scandinavian countries, and with a ban on the horizon in England, there is growing concern over the treatment that imported Norfolks sporting tails will receive in the American show ring. Although Bee Ege's homebred long-tail Daisy has received points from AKC judges, some find it discouraging to think that sound show specimens may not be allowed to compete in the future if they come complete with full-length tails.

While it is true that the American Norfolk standard calls for docked tails ("Tail medium docked, of sufficient length to ensure a balanced outline"), it is important to know that there is no disqualification for the undocked variety. The Norwich and Norfolk Terrier Club recently surveyed its members, and the results of the voting were to make no change to the current standard. Instead, the NNTC has written to the AKC requesting that that body write its judges and remind them that the present Standards (for both Norwich and Norfolk) calling for medium-docked tails be enforced.

Barbara Fournier, pioneer Norfolk breeder, licensed judge, and past officer in both the NNTC and ANTA, has written to AKC officers and board members:

"I was appalled at the report I received ... from the NNTC (and) I am enclosing a copy of the letter which gives the results of a vote on tail-docking. Of particular concern is the letter to the AKC requesting that the AKC write its judges and remind them that the present Standards requiring medium-docked tails should be enforced. I would like to point out several considerations.

"Would the NNTC like to require and enforce 9"-10" high, dark small oval eyes, V-shaped ears rounded at the tip, or well laid-back shoulders, feet with thick pads, etc.

"Does the NNTC not know that the Breed Standard is the standard by which judges make their decisions? The entire dog is judged, not just one part. It is the judge's prerogative as to how much emphasis he or she puts on any one part of the standard. For instance, if the dog does not have a scissor bite and large teeth, should the judge be required to enforce this in the standard even if the dog meets or exceeds the standard in all other respects?

"Let's look at another very important point. By the emphasis on forcing judges to consider only medium-docked tails:

  1. It becomes and can be termed 'International Discrimination.'
  2. Aside from that, importing a dog from a country that does not permit docking would require major surgery and could jeopardize the dog's health unnecessarily.

"... In consideration of the importation of dogs from countries which do not allow docking of tails or cropping of ears, it is the obligation of the American Kennel Club to advise Breed clubs of their responsibility."

It seems clear that the issue of tails is not about to go away quietly. It has been pointed out that by the addition of a single word to the current standard, the problem could be neatly solved. What about, "If medium-docked, the tail should be of sufficient length to ensure a balanced outline." In this way, imports would be spared surgery, American breeders would have the choice of docking or not docking, and judges could evaluate the whole dog.

ANTIC, Spring, 1982

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