Published Monday, 15 October 2012
The ban begins in the new year. (© Getty)
The ban is being introduced from 1 January next year, under the Welfare of Animals Act 2011, in a bid to protect any vertebrate animal, including domestic pets, from unnecessary suffering.
Anyone convicted of committing the offence could face a maximum of two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
The showing of dogs, which are docked on or after the 1 January 2013, at certain events is also banned.
Docked dogs cannot be displayed at events where the exhibitor pays a fee or members of the public pay an admittance fee.
This ban does not apply to occasions where a dog is shown only for the purpose of demonstrating its working ability.
Ms O'Neill described the practice of docking tails as "hideous."
"There will however, be exemptions from the ban for certain types of working dog and where docking is performed as part of medical treatment or in an emergency to save the dogs' life," she said.
The Welfare of Animals (Docking of Working Dogs' Tails and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2012, which comes into operation on the same date, sets out a veterinary exemption scheme.
The guidelines must be followed to allow a future working dog, of a breed specified in the Act, to have its tail docked.
Minister O'Neill continued: "These new Regulations set out the strict conditions which must be met to allow certain breeds of dogs, of no more than five days of age, to have their tails docked by a veterinary surgeon.
"The controls will also ensure that this exemption is not abused and prevent the cosmetic docking of dogs by the back door."