Cropping Ears – Docking Tails – Why are we still doing it???
Veterinarian Reviewed on July 2, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
A little bit of history:
Tail docking was thought to prevent rabies, strengthen the back, increase the animal’s speed, and prevent injuries when ratting, fighting and baiting. In early Georgian times in the United Kingdom, a tax was levied upon working dogs with tails and so many types of dogs tails were docked to avoid this tax. Although the tax was repealed in 1796, the practice of tail docking persisted!
In dogs used for guarding property like Dobermans and Boxers, cropped ears are thought to make the breed appear more ferocious. The image of breeds with cropped ears and docked tails is promoted by most Kennel Clubs and breeders who believe that “their” breed will be “ruined” if it does not maintain the image handed down by parent breed clubs decades ago.
Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just 8 to 12 weeks old. At this stage in their development, the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup. The process of taping and re-taping a pup’s ears to force them to stand erect after they have been cropped can be agonizing for the dog.
Puppies are normally just a few days old when their tails are docked. They are generally not even given anesthetics to numb the pain. Sometimes a tight rubber ring is placed on the tail and through atrophy and lack of circulation the tail will fall off.
Compassionate veterinarians object to the arbitrary removal of body parts used for communication, balance, and expression. Dogs “talk” to their human companions and other dogs using their ears and tails.
These procedures are so cruel that they are banned in many European countries. For example, British kennel clubs outlawed ear-cropping a century ago, and cosmetic tail-docking was stopped theU.K. in 1993.
Veterinary Medical Associations in North America and across the world now concur that ear-cropping and tail-docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.
The following breeds usually have their ears cropped: Boston Terrier, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Schnauzer (all sizes), Pittbull.
The following breeds usually have tails docked: Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Miniature Pinscher, Poodle (all sizes), Rottweiler, Schnauzer (all sizes), Schipperke, most herding breeds, most hunting breeds, most spaniels.
There are 17 dog breeds, including the Corgi, that have a naturally occurring docked tail!
If you are planning on purchasing a purebred dog, ask your breeder not to crop the ears or dock the tail, or find a breeder that does not take part in this practice 🙂
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan