matty for webNew research in Scotland showing that docking the tails of working gundogs can prevent suffering from tail injuries has been welcomed by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

Two new papers on the subject from the University of Glasgow have been published in the Veterinary Record.

The findings are the result of a survey of more than 1,000 owners of working dogs which showed that more than half of undocked spaniels experienced a tail injury in the last year. 70% of the questionnaire responses came from BASC members.

BASC has consistently argued that it is in the best interests of a working gundog’s welfare to allow tail docking at an early age. However, this approach was prohibited in Scotland and since then the number of reported gundog injuries has gone up.

In 2006 BASC Scotland presented a petition of more than 7,000 signatures to the Scottish Parliament supporting the continuation of tail-docking to prevent injury. A direct consequence of this petition was the commitment by the then SNP Scottish Government to investigate the impact of this ban and this new research is a positive result.

BASC Scotland’s Director, Dr Colin Shedden said: “We have waited for a long time for this research on the impacts of the tail-docking ban in Scotland to be published. This now confirms, scientifically, what working gundog owners already knew: docking prevents recurrent injuries in adult gundogs.”

“We were pleased that BASC members in Scotland played such a significant role in this research. This highlights what an important issue this is for all gundog handlers. We would like Richard Lochhead, Rural Affairs Secretary who is tasked with examining the issue to take careful note of this research.”
“In 2006 First Minister Alex Salmond voted, as an MP in Westminster, to allow tail-docking to continue for gundogs in England. Why should the First Minister have supported tail-docking for English gundogs but ignore the proven welfare benefits for Scottish gundogs?”

The Veterinary Record report can be found here.