MPs voted on Tuesday (14 March) in favour of an exemption to allow the tail docking of dogs destined for a working life.

The Countryside Alliance, which lobbied hard amongst MPs for the exemption, has reacted with delight at the surprise announcement.

MPs voted to allow the docking of working dogs’ tails for welfare reasons to continue by 11 votes. The vote was carried by 278-267.

A new clause that ensures that only genuine working dogs were exempt from the ban was added to the bill after a lengthy debate during which the practical views of dog owners were sensibly expressed.  

Under the new proposals a vet will have to certify that the dog is likely to work later in life.  Tens of thousands of docked dogs, predominantly spaniels, are employed in security work, lawful pest control and a range of shooting activities.

An amendment for a complete ban was rejected by MPs.

Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “By including an exemption for working dogs, MPs have engaged with our arguments, and common sense has prevailed.

“An exemption for working dogs is entirely in keeping with the principles of the Animal Welfare Bill, and the Alliance is extremely pleased that its extensive constituency lobbying campaign has been successful and its involvement throughout this process has been worthwhile”.