GSPs and tails

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GSPs and tails

Postby dawg_doc » Thu Jul 17, 2003 11:13 am

Hi folks,
I fear this is a rather ignorant question, but I'll ask anyway...

I've been training and racing sleddogs for many years and have lots of experience with dogs that run, but not dogs that hunt (well, hunt and not eat it before they return). I've decided its time to get a hunting partner and after lots of research for numerous reasons I am settling into a GSP. Now to the ignorant question.

Does everybody dock the tail? There is some decent evidence out there of the importance of the tail to running and improved gait and performance at least in running dogs. Secondly, I'm not fond of the docked tail; nothing really against it, I just like the looks of a full tail. I realize the breed standards have various levels of docking, but that really doesn't matter to me. The alaskan husky is not a registered 'breed', but we breed for performance, not looks.

I'm in southern Idaho if anyone has suggestions for breeders out this direction. Thanks
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Postby Hank » Thu Jul 17, 2003 3:16 pm

Once you've settled on a breeder you could specifically request that your pup's tail not be docked. However, since they do this at a very young age, that means you'd have to settle on a pup that's too young to judge in term of personality etc. A true flip of the coin on what type of dog you'll get. Also, I doubt any breeder with a good reputation would want one of his dogs running around without a docked tail. I've never seen it cause a problem with a dog when it runs. My PP has a docked tail and she's as quick, as agile, and as fast as any pup I've seen her age with a full tail.

I think somebody else mentioned that tail docking is a measure taken with some hunting breeds to prevent tail injury. A similar philosophy to removing the dew claws. I would just live with it and focus on getting the best dog you can.
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Postby Hunters Edge » Thu Jul 17, 2003 3:46 pm

What Hank said is quite true. If you have ever seen a beagles tail at the end of a hunting season you would clearly understand the point being made for preventing tail injury. Also the injury can escalate with becoming infected, gang greene, and flies laying egg (maggots). All or one could cause death to the dog if left untreated.

The good thing is if you decided on GSP you do not have to give up skijoring. Many GSP are being used for sleddogs, hunting and a family pet as well.
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Postby dawg_doc » Fri Jul 18, 2003 9:07 am

Thanks guys. I will defer to your expertise and get used to it, I suppose. As for skijouring? I gave that up when I hooked up 6 dogs and shattered a bone (that was admittedly not one of my smarter moments). A sled is much safer. But yes, the unbridled energy of the GSP was one of the selling factors. I'm looking forward to a new hunting partner....
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Postby MCTuna » Fri Jul 18, 2003 12:54 pm

If you want a long tail why the GSP wht not the ES or EP. If you want a versatile dog look at (Harder to find) Long hared Weim they don't dock their tails also if you search hard enough You can find Weim breaders who leave the tail long I would emagine you may find the same with GSP.

I think you find the best Dog you can find and say I will learn to love its tail long or short. But that is easy for me to say I like the look of a short tail.
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Postby WildRose » Mon Aug 25, 2003 10:56 pm

Doc what you have read here and heard elswhere is true. The GSP has a tendancy to wag, flag and really beat the bushes with their tails. Ive had dogs with both and I can assure you that a good active GSP hunting in heavy cover will have a constantly bloody and beat up tail if you leave it long. Infection and pain are constant problems with this. Most of us are cutting tails longer though now to fit the newer standards of the AKC leaving between 40 and 50 percent. IF you get a pup with a good tail set the longer standard makes them really look nice.

If you are really curious and leaning towards gsps, I have a couple in Boisie and i'd be glad to put you in contact with the owners so you can spend some time with them. I can't recommend any breeders there but since getting dogs from me both these family's I think have gotten in with the GSP crowd in the area and they might well be able to point you to someone local. CR
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Postby dawg_doc » Wed Nov 26, 2003 4:42 pm

I just thought I'd let you all know that, after quite a bit of research and reading lots on this forum and others, that this weekend I will be picking up my new GSP puppy. :D And yes, its tails' been docked...

I've been training running, working dogs most of my life, but this will be my first foray into the birddog world. Sure looks like fun.

Thanks all for the info.
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Re: GSPs and tails

Postby Margaret » Wed Nov 26, 2003 6:39 pm

Does everybody dock the tail? There is some decent evidence out there of the importance of the tail to running and improved gait and performance at least in running dogs.



I think you will find the evidence is in the minds of the anti tail docking crowd. They have all sorts of fantasies, perhaps it's what they sniff? :roll:

GSP and GWP do particularly well over here in the sled races. I understand some years ago a team of GSP won the Idilatrod (hope I spelt that right).

Still, if you desire long tail you will find some, but don't get sucked in by this bs about balance and communication in tail-less dogs.
In fact some breeds with tails that curl high and pricked ears could moreso give the WRONG messages.
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Re: GSPs and tails

Postby dawg_doc » Mon Dec 01, 2003 9:41 am

I think you will find the evidence is in the minds of the anti tail docking crowd. They have all sorts of fantasies, perhaps it's what they sniff? :roll:

GSP and GWP do particularly well over here in the sled races. I understand some years ago a team of GSP won the Idilatrod (hope I spelt that right).

Still, if you desire long tail you will find some, but don't get sucked in by this bs about balance and communication in tail-less dogs.
In fact some breeds with tails that curl high and pricked ears could moreso give the WRONG messages.


As a person who studies biomechanics, I have read the literature fairly extensively. There is some very good evidence that balance in locomotion is regulated in many animals (including dogs) through the tail. I really don't believe this is BS, but I'm not an expert in GSP locomotion.

GSPs have never won the Iditarod. GSP crosses (crossed back to Alaskan huskies) have won quite a few sprint races and longer sprints (such as the North American Open), but they don't have the ability to withstand the cold of longer races. There are more and more GSPs crossed back to develop a thicker fur showing up in shorter races.

Still, I read a lot more about docking and buy into the arguement of damage to the tail, particularly where I'll be hunting (dense sagebrush).

best regards
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Postby HuntDog » Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:27 pm

Congrats on the new GSP, Doc. Where'd you find a pup? What lines and all that fun stuff we all want to know?

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Re: GSPs and tails

Postby Margaret » Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:22 pm

As a person who studies biomechanics, I have read the literature fairly extensively. There is some very good evidence that balance in locomotion is regulated in many animals (including dogs) through the tail. I really don't believe this is BS, but I'm not an expert in GSP locomotion.


Then you have never watched the agility of a GSP have you?
They have no problem with balance in locomotion, and would be far more athletic than many long tailed breeds.

Also, there are such things as dog coats :wink:
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Re: GSPs and tails

Postby dawg_doc » Mon Dec 08, 2003 9:23 am

Margaret wrote:Then you have never watched the agility of a GSP have you?
They have no problem with balance in locomotion, and would be far more athletic than many long tailed breeds.

Also, there are such things as dog coats :wink:


Actually, I have spent a fair amount of time watching the agility of a GSP. I can get by just fine with one hand, too, but I'd prefer two...

We have sewn a number of dog coats for thin coated Alaskan huskies. You can't cover the whole body, otherwise locomotion is REALLY limited. I have never seen a pure GSP do very well in sledding simply because of the cold. We do a lot of winter camping and it can easily hit -15F. Sorry, the GSP is going to have to stay home :D

Michael, I'll have to look again at home, because I don't remember the names. While I know the Alaskan sleddog lines extremely well, I don't know lots of the traditional lines of GSPs. Everybody I talked to had a different opinion (as with the sleddog lines), so I went with (potential) success. Both parents are on on-site, both parents and grandparents are upland and water dogs and have been hunted extensively.

I'm a little worried, though...so far our little pup has gone into full point onto a buffalo skull and a sleeping sleddog :D
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Postby HuntDog » Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:42 am

:lol: Don't worry, Doc, GSP pups will frequently point anything they can. Just the fact that it is showing interest with it's nose and eyes should be encouraging. Show it some birds (not wings) and let it get used to them and you will see the little guy's lights come on quick enough. I just sent my 7 month old pup away for his first level of training, but he's already pointing birds and holding points. He's going to learn to heel, whoa, fetch, hold and out among other things. So, I can't wait to get a trained pup back that I can begin trialing and running in hunt tests. But, the more you can show them, the faster they will progress with their development of their instinctive behavior.

Good luck with that little guy,

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