The Cropping and Docking Controversy
Breeders and owners in the United States continue to crop and dock certain breeds, although the practice is banned in many other countries. Will this trend reach our shores?
Tail docking and ear cropping have always been legal in the United States. However, the practices are banned in other countries because of a hotly debated argument that they cause dogs to suffer. Proponents on both sides of the issue feel they are doing the best thing for their dogs, and many owners want the right to choose if their pets are docked or cropped. However, a much larger issue is at stake. Laws to restrict docking and cropping would shift these veterinary-care decisions from owners to the government. They would also allow the government to decide how our dogs look, a right that traditionally belongs to each breed's parent club. Although laws to restrict docking and cropping are periodically introduced throughout the U.S., none has passed at this time.
Today, tail docking and ear cropping are primarily associated with purebreds, but these practices long predate dog shows. Both alterations were traditionally made to prevent injuries in working and hunting dogs. For instance, short tails were an advantage for terriers that went to ground; in an emergency, a dog could be pulled out of a dangerous situation by its tail stub.
Over time, these procedures melded with customs and beliefs far removed from their original purposes. For instance, England's dog tax, implemented in 1796, exempted working sheepdogs. This status was signified by a docked tail. Revisions of the tax code included this exemption into the 20th century.
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