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Budweiser ends Clydesdale tail amputations after PETA backlash

By CM Chaney · September 21, 2023

In brief…

  • Anheuser-Busch has ended the practice of tail docking its Budweiser Clydesdales.
  • Animal rights groups such as PETA had criticized the amputations as inhumane.
  • The docking procedure is now banned in several states and nations.
  • Anheuser-Busch received new certification from American Humane following the policy change.
Anheuser-Busch will no longer amputate the tails of its iconic Budweiser Clydesdale horses following harsh criticism from animal welfare advocates.  Kiran891/Wikimedia

Anheuser-Busch announced the end of its long-standing practice of amputating the tails of its famous Budweiser Clydesdales in response to mounting pressure from animal rights groups.

The famed draft horses, featured prominently in Budweiser advertising for nearly a century, will no longer undergo the controversial procedure known as tail docking.

“The safety and well-being of our beloved Clydesdales is our top priority,” an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman said in a statement Wednesday. “The practice of equine tail docking was discontinued earlier this year.”

The statement comes after the beer giant faced blistering criticism earlier this year following an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The probe exposed the tail docking of Clydesdales at Budweiser’s Missouri breeding facilities.

The company is still recovering from the Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney controversy from earlier this year.

While commonly performed on draft horses to prevent interference with harnesses, tail docking has been widely decried as inhumane by animal welfare groups. The procedure entails amputating part of the bony structure of a horse’s tail.

In February, PETA commenced an advertising blitz against Anheuser-Busch, including a satirical Super Bowl commercial condemning the practice.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, tail docking restricts a horse’s ability to swat insects and communicate, which is why the procedure is now banned in several U.S. states and European nations. Anheuser-Busch did not explain its past rationale for tail docking.

Budweiser first employed the imposing, majestic Clydesdales in its marketing in 1933 following the end of Prohibition. Today, hitches of 10 Clydesdales make publicity appearances nationwide, including in the company’s iconic Super Bowl ads.

With the end of tail docking, Anheuser-Busch has received animal welfare certification from American Humane.

PETA and equine veterinarian groups applauded the move as an important step in protecting the welfare of the draft horses. Anheuser-Busch stated that ensuring the Clydesdales’ well-being is its “top priority” amid evolving societal attitudes on animal rights.