The report: A survey of gun dog lameness and injuries in Great Britain in the shooting seasons 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 was recently published in the journal Veterinary Orthopedics and Traumatology.

The aim of the research was to record the types of injuries and causes of lameness caused to dogs during game shooting.

The results, from 1,312 dogs, were recorded for the two seasons – 660 dogs in 2005/2006 and 652 in 2006/2007 – via owner questionnaires. The dogs were classified as working in the beating line, peg dogs or picking-up dogs.

The study concluded there was a highly significant association between undocked dogs and tail injuries in both the springer and cocker spaniel breeds.

There were 10 tail injuries in 245 docked springer spaniels and 3 injuries – including 1 fracture, in 12 undocked dogs of that breed.

The corresponding figures for cocker spaniels were 5 injuries in 164 docked dogs and three injuries in 10 undocked dogs.

This should reassure legislators and veterinary bodies that the docking of working spaniels in particular is important for animal welfare.

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