What Do Australian Shepherd Tails Actually Look Like?

Many people wonder what an Australian Shepherds’ tail actually can look like. In this writing we will explore the fact they actually have a variety of different forms the tails can take. Whether it be long, poofy, fuzzy, or curled! Some can have short hair or some can be really bushy and long! I bet you never knew they could have such a variety of tails. If you were wondering, you’re in luck! Today we are going to go in depth about what could cause one breed to have such variations of a tail. You may have just bought an Australian Shepherd yourself and are wondering, “Why doesn’t mine look like this one online?”  Let’s take a look at what causes this exactly and why.

Do Australian Shepherds Have Tails?

Australian Shepherds Are Born With Tails

Most Australian Shepherds are born with tails, only a fifth of a litter might be born without a tail, genetically! So what does the average tail look like then? The Australian Shepherd’s tail usually looks a bit similar to a Husky or a Samoyed’s tail in the sense that it also is a bit poofy and usually curved upwards or downwards. This is known as a “bobbed tail” and will be referenced more upon in the article, don’t worry!

Depending if it’s a short haired or long haired mix will also affect the thickness of fur in the Shepherds’ tail, meaning the tails’ can always vary per litter. Majority of Australian Shepherds do have tails though, but don’t freak out if one doesn’t, this is normal too! Let’s go more into these variations of tails the Shepherd could take. Did you know that there are 3 different variations the Australian Shepherd’s tail could take? Whether it is the Bobbed Tail, the Docked Tail or the Cut Tail, could mean a difference in the health of your beloved pooch. Let’s explore more on that now.

Australian Shepherd Docked Tail

One might ask, why would anyone want to dock such a beautiful breed’s tail? It began because certain Shepherds can experience medical issues with their tail when they get a bit older. Another reason was purely just for cosmetic reasons, whether they were a show dog or just wanted less fur around the house. It used to be believed that docking a Shepherds’ tail could enhance its performance and hygiene but this has been disproven.

The reason this operation is done at a young age is because it’s believed the nerves in the tail haven’t developed, making it as painless on the pup as possible. If you ever see a Shepherd with a tail and wonder, “Where did the other half go?!” it was most likely docked. In appearance it looks just like that, seems a bit shorter than an average tail almost similar to the Welsh Corgi’s tails. Don’t worry though it can still wiggle and express emotion as any other dog would.

Most people would read the above statement and think this could be cruel but on the contrary, docking a tail can help a Shepherd in the long run. Tail-Docking as it is called, is usually done at a very young age or in most cases, the same week the pup was conceived. This process does not remove the whole tail but just shortens it.

Why Dock An Aussies Tail

First, it is important to note that tail docking is a controversial practice in the world of dog breeding. While some believe that it is necessary for certain breeds (such as the Australian Shepherd), others argue that it is nothing more than cruel and unnecessary mutilation. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to dock a dog’s tail is up to the owner.

There are, however, some practical reasons for why one might choose to dock an Australian Shepherd’s tail. For example, tails can often get in the way when herding sheep, which is a common activity for this breed. Additionally, a shorter tail may be less likely to get injured or caught on something.

Australian Shepherd Bobbed Tail

If you have ever seen an Australian Shepherd and thought to yourself, “Wow that looks like a husky or a foxs’ tail would!”, you’ve just seen an Australian Shepherd with a bobbed tail! A bobbed tail is much more “poofier” and tends to either slope straight down or have a slight curve. The curve could be going upwards similar to a Samoyed or downwards and to the side, similar to a Shiba Inu’s tail.

A bobbed tail is considered rare but also dangerous. Usually one out of five in a litter will be born with a bobbed tail but there are risks involved with this rarity. The bobbed tail will be missing between one to two vertebrae. The gene that causes this is what also brings most danger. The gene is similar to that of a merle gene, as in it is an incomplete dominant gene. If a puppy were to inherit two copies of this gene it will be lethal to the pup. Two Shepherds with bobbed tails should never breed, to avoid this issue and prolong the life of the pup.

Are Bobbed Tails Natural

Yes, some Aussies are born with bobbed tails but it’s a recessive gene for the breed. It can also be dangerous for breeding. If two Australian shepherds that have bobbed tails try to breed together to make puppies, more often than not those puppies will not survive for long since the gene is recessive.

Australian Shepherd Tail Cutting

Tail cutting is very similar to docking but they just cut the majority of the tail instead of only a few vertebrae. This practice began all the way back in Roman times when they thought it could prevent rabies entirely. This was untrue of course after modern technology proved this theory was incorrect.

Why would anyone cut such a beautiful tail though? The reason most Shepherds tails’ are cut entirely is because they are “labor dogs”. Their tails would be caught full of burs or ticks when herding, or even used as a “vantage” point if they were to defend the herd against a predator.

There is a risk to this though. If one was to cut a Shepherd’s tail too short it could later have spinal issues in life. Not every breeder is licensed to do this either so you would need to find a specialty veterinarian if you wished to pursue this route for your pups. Many veterinarians believe this practice to be a bit outdated but it does prove convenient if you are going to have your Australian Shepherd running around the field or protecting herds of livestock. In the end of this debated topic, there are cons and pros to cutting your Australian Shepherd’s tail. You would just need to decide if these cons are worth the risk in the long run for the health of your pooch.

How Aussie Tail Cutting Is Done

The way an Australian Shepherds’ tail is cut is not as easy as it sounds. They don’t simply just cut a piece off, they measure it by vertebrae to determine where it is safe to cut the tail at. This process is normally done when they are between two days and five days old, as the tail hasn’t fully developed nerves yet. One method is to use a special form of shears about two to three inches below the base of the tail. Another common method is to “band” the tail at that same height, cutting circulation to the tail off and it eventually falls off. If you were to dock an Australian Shepherd at an older age, they are usually put under anesthesia and the procedure has more of a risk due to the nerves being developed, making the surgery requiring more precision than usual.

Why Do Australian Shepherds Need to Get Rid of Their Tails?

This practice began back in Roman times. The Romans believed it made them immune to the Rabies virus. This of course has been disproven with modern technology, so why does it still happen? There are a few reasons why this is still done in modern day.


Many Australian Shepherds are bred due to their amazing ability when it comes to herding other animals. They are a very intelligent breed in the sense that they learn quickly and know not to harm the livestock they are herding. When a Shepherd has to defend the herd itself, the tail is normally what predators go for to hinder the animal’s movement. If they don’t have a tail that possibility doesn’t exist. There were other ways these tails were harmed in the daily work load though that we will elaborate on below.

Injury and Safety

As previously mentioned the Australian Shepherd’s tail comes into harm’s way in multiple ways. Whether it’s another animal attacking our beloved pooch or the pooch itself being reckless. The Shepherds’ tail is often caught on fencing, or dragged through a thicket of nettles or even just tons of burs! None of those are pleasant for our beloved pup. When you cut the tail you are, in a way, ensuring the pooch doesn’t come into harm’s way in these forms.


Our Australian Shepherd has a hard time keeping itself clean as is. When it comes to the tail they’re a shorter breed than most so they may have a hard time reaching all the way back there during a grooming session. This leads to the tail becoming mangy or the fur may become knotted and uncomfortable for the Shepherd. Their tails also contribute to their shedding. Not to mention all the cow patties it could pick up!

Australian Shepherd Look

The Australian Shepherd is a beautiful breed that speaks for itself the moment you lay your eyes on one. They are also intelligent just as much as beautiful! The most common colors of an Australian Shepherd are usually anywhere from a dark brown to a lighter khaki brown. They are also commonly found with most of their fur being black but with a pattern of that brown in between, and even white spots along the fur or on the crest of their chest and belly. Their eyes’ most common color is usually either brown or beautiful, sky blue eyes that compliment their complexion even more.

Should you get your Aussies Tail Docked?

In the end this is up to you as the owner of course on whether you decide yes or no. Depending on what the Australian Shepherd will be doing should influence your decision. If you have a Shepherd that is going to be running around the fields, herding animals and dodging through fence lines, it may be in your best interest to dock your Shepherd’s tail.

However, if your Shepherd is going to have a more cozy, indoor lifestyle, one could see why that might not be necessary. Keep in mind though that certain Australian Shepherd’s can have health risks with their tail. By simply not having a tail you may allow your pet to dodge these varying health risks that usually are spinal related.

In conclusion, it is up to you whether you should dock your beloved pooch’s tail or not. There are cons and pros to both decisions. If you believe your pooch will be okay in the long run and not have a labor filled life, you could opt to not docking their tail and figuring it out along the way. If your Australian Shepherd has a labor filled life ahead of him, it may be in both of your best interests to look into docking their tail, mainly for their own health and longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it cruel to dock a dog’s tail?

While some people may view this as a cruelty, in the end it helps the Australian Shepherd avoid a lot of health issues relating to the spine, later in life. While an Australian Shepherd could be fine with their tail their whole life, sometimes it’s nice to not even have the bullet to dodge.

How much do vets charge to dock tails?

Normally docking is a very inexpensive procedure, the average price being anywhere between ten to twenty dollars if it’s a younger pup. The older the Australian Shepherd gets, the more pricey the procedure gets due to the risk involved with getting docked at an older age.

Can you dock a dog’s tail at any age?

This of course can vary per breed but the general answer is “Yes”. It just becomes more expensive and riskier, the older the dog is. It is always best to dock a dog at a younger age.


The Australian Shepherd is a beautiful breed of dog that everyone should be aware of when shopping for a new family friend or even if you’re looking for a coworker on the farm! They are such a beautiful and intelligent breed that is almost indescribable with words, but instantly expressed the moment you get your own Australian Shepherd.

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