Ear Cropping and Tail Docking, Pros and Cons

DOG FANCY readers support alerting dog owners to ear cropping and tail docking risks.

By | Posted: Sat May 5 00:00:00 PDT 2001

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Ear cropping and tail docking - surgeries usually performed on dogs for cosmetic reasons - have led the American Veterinary Medical Association to discourage its members from performing the operations and the controversy could have an impact in the show ring.

The American Kennel Club, the largest breed registry in the United States, specifies docking - the amputation of part of a dog's tail - in more than 40 breeds. Veterinarians generally dock puppies within a week after birth but sometimes perform the surgery on older dogs for medical reasons, such as a tail-beater's constant fractures from whipping it against hard objects.

Cropping - the surgical reshaping of a dog's ears - may be performed to correct birth defects or damage from injury or disease, but the expensive and painful surgery is typically sought on 8- to 10-week-old pups to make their folded ears erect for conformation. Recovery requires splinting, tedious ear bandaging and pain medication.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based AVMA recommended in 1976 that the AKC and other breed associations drop cropped ears from breed standards and eventually prohibit showing dogs with cropped ears. Tail docking is

illegal in Britain, and ear cropping is considered inhumane in England and several other European countries.

As the standards endure, the AVMA has given its member veterinarians official counseling: "Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons 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. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries."

The statement does not prohibit veterinarians from performing either procedure, said Gail C. Golab, Ph.D., DVM, assistant director for education and research for the AVMA. It's intended to make owners aware of the inherent risks.

The AKC, based in New York City and Raleigh, N.C., fears animal-rights activists may cite the resolution to pursue cruelty charges against owners who have their dogs cropped or docked. It responded to the AVMA's decision in a prepared statement: "The AKC recognizes that ear cropping, tail docking and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided."

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jayprime   United Kingdom, International

3/24/2014 2:06:03 PM

I am lucky enough to live with a beautiful Doberman
She is enormously communicative of how she feels in herself, and what she feels about what is going on around her by the use of her ears and tail. Not being able to talk, these are the only ways she has to communicate with
I challenge ANYone who advocates tail and/or ear docking to have the equivalent done to
Go find a Surgeon and ask him to remove YOUR means of communication - your tongue and your fingers!!

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Cameron   Manhattan, Kansas

6/1/2013 11:31:41 AM

I agree with Rijan...... Obviously the "retards" of Miami FL only own German shepherds...... This is neither abusive or barbaric. The English (living in retard America) are as I've experienced are more passionate then this unruly statement furthermore dogs use much more than ears to establish social behavior it's a compilation of body language sounds breathing and scent....... Something Americans and Brits alike don't sense...... With that said I would advise you refrain from verbally attacking actual validity in this topic matter.....thank you Pete for using a bias opinion to have your argument collapse upon itself......

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Cameron   Manhattan, Kansas

6/1/2013 11:11:50 AM

So it's not ok for a puppy to have his ears cropped but it's ok to circumcise your child??? I'm afraid that it makes no sense and that it's irrelevant due to the fact that neutering your dog is perfectly acceptable but has no actual value to the dog physically only to put the owners mind at ease....... This hypocritical argument holds no water and the ignorance is offensive to people who's companion is part of the family.....reflect on your moral values people!

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Rijan   Skopje, International

3/29/2013 8:57:02 AM

I think ear cropping is ok if its under anestesia(which means no pain for the dog) and also on only a few breeds(not a german shepperd like that guy said).It also helps with ear problems and i say it should be done early because its better safe than sorry(it would hurt way more if he got some ear desease).I dont prefer tail docking though(it doesnt give anything to the dog and it looks kinda stupid).

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