Views sought on possible exemption.
The Scottish Government has announced that it will publish a consultation early next year to seek views on whether to introduce a tightly defined exemption regime to the existing ban on tail docking of dogs.
The ban on tail docking came into effect in April 2007. Since then, many stakeholders have continued to make the case for changes to the ban which would see a specific exemption for certain working dogs – namely Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers. It would also enable vets to use their professional judgement to decide whether tail docking is in the best interest of the puppy in these circumstances. This is similar to the situation elsewhere in the UK.
The consultation follows on from comments provided by key stakeholders on research carried out by Glasgow University. The study showed that docking the tails of some breeds of working dog by a third while they are puppies could significantly decrease their risk of injury as a working adult.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Scotland has a fantastic reputation for its animal welfare record and has some of the highest welfare standards in the world.
"But the issue of tail docking is one that divides opinion because nobody wants to see a dog suffer avoidable harm at any point in its life. Despite the ban on tail docking being in place since 2007, some stakeholders have continued to make the case to me that it is possible to bring forward a tightly defined exemption to the ban that would permit certain breeds of working dogs to be docked.
"I think it is therefore right that the Government hears the views of all those with an interest on how any proposed exemptions for specific breeds – likely to be Spaniels and Hunt Point Retrievers - could work in practice.
"The consultation will therefore give everyone a chance to have their say and help inform us the best way to take this issue forward."
Currently the docking of all breeds of dogs is banned in Scotland other than for veterinary treatment, where the tail is injured or diseased. Other parts of the UK has exemptions to their bans, allowing certain breeds of working dogs to be docked.
The consultation will be issued early next year and run for 12 weeks.