Over much of its history, Affenpinschers have had their tails docked for a number of reasons. At first, it was thought the "working" dogs, such as hunting dogs or ratters, should have their tails docked to prevent them from being injured while they work. As dogs made the transition from working dogs to pets, tail docking continued because many dog fanciers believed that the shorter tail completed the "look" of the dog. In most cases, Affenpinschers do not have medical reasons to have their tails docked, and today the decision rests solely with the owner.
The breed standard, written by the Affenpinschers Club of America, states that tails may be docked or natural. If they are docked, they should be between one and two inches and length and set high and carried erect. If they are natural, the tail is carried high and generally curves over the back while the dog is in movement. The standard specifically states that "the type of tail is not a major consideration."
Much like ear cropping, questions have been raised about the ethics of having tails docked when it is medically unnecessary. Some people feel that the procedure robs the dog of having the means of expressing itself, while others simply are against putting the dog through a painful procedure that is purely cosmetic, especially when the dog has no way of having a say in the matter. A common argument for the procedure is that the docking is usually done when the dog is just a puppy and therefore experiences less pain. Unfortunately, this is false. Tail docking is usually performed without the use of an anesthetic, and not only severs vertebrae but muscles as well.
Today, the practice of tail docking has been banned in several countries where the procedure is done for merely cosmetic reasons, notably European countries such as Norway, Sweden, Greece and Switzerland.
On the other hand, there are plenty of dog fanciers that believe that the practice is not cruel and goes a long way to prevent damage to the tail later in the dog's life. Many say that if the procedure is done very early in the puppy's life, as early as two to five days after birth, the pain is minimal and the puppy will retain little to no memory of it. Many supports of tail docking prefer the "banding" method, in which a ligature is placed on the tail when the puppy is 24 - 72 hours old, cutting off the blood flow and resulting in the end of the tail falling off in a couple of days.
As far as Affenpinschers are concerned, those who are interested in showing their Affenpinschers in competition should take heart that dogs both with and without tails are winning in competition, so this should no longer be a consideration when thinking about having a puppy's tail docked. In the end, the decision will fall solely on the owner, so it would be best to talk with experienced Affenpinscher owners and your veterinarian before making a final decision.