Ban Ear Cropping and Tail Docking in Dogs

Ban Ear Cropping and Tail Docking in Dogs

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Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs is an inhumane procedure that serves no purpose other than changing the appearance of a dog. It is really forced mutilation so that makes dogs look prettier or fiercer.
This practice is illegal in many countries in Europe but it has yet to be outlawed in the US, where it can still be performed by a licensed Veterinarian. More outrageous is the stance held by the American Kennel Association who encourages those procedures for dog shows.

Let us learn more about each of those revolting practices.

Ear Cropping:
Cropped ears is a process in which the ears of certain breeds are transformed to look alert and erect. The process can only be done by a licensed veterinarian and only if the owner is dedicated to the pet’s post-op with any aftercare that is needed.

Dog ear cropping is usually done whenever the pup is 8 to 10 weeks old.
This procedure is always performed with general anesthesia, because both ears have many nerve endings, and without it the dog would be in extreme pain. The cropping is done by removing about two thirds of the pinna, also known as the floppy part of the ears.

Ear cropping has been marred with myths such as preventing ear infections, being a standard procedure for certain breeds, or even being like spaying/neutering. Another more preposterous myth alleges that ear cropping is not painful to the animal. There is of course no evidence to substantiate those claims but we do not know for a fact that such a procedure is extremely painful for the dog and that it requires very thorough post-op care.

The American Kennel Club supports ear cropping in order to maintain the standards of appearance for certain breeds, and they even claim that it protects dogs' ears from being bitten and helps them hear, for example – all unsubstantiated claims. Meanwhile, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association oppose it.


Tail Docking:
Puppies' tails are docked during the first five days of life, either surgically or with a
constricting band. It involves removing a portion of the tail, the length being cut off varies depending on the breed. Dogs with docked tails include Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, and Yorkshire Terriers. Currently 62 breeds recognized by the AKC have docked tails. Some dogs, such as the Old English Sheepdog and Australian.

As with ear cropping, there are many myths associated with tail docking such as being a pain-free procedure since it is done at birth, or even that some dogs do not need their tail.

Let us squash this last claim right away. The tail is not a limb but is an appendage; it is the distal section of the spinal column and comprises vertebrae, muscle, nerves and blood vessels. The muscular structure and activity are an integral part of the normal bodily shape and function, especially in the perineal region. Thus removal of the tail in an immature puppy may lead to improper development of these muscles (Canfield 1986). A relationship has also been suggested between tail docking and submissive urinary incontinence in puppies.

The tail in a dog is used as a counter-balance in various locomotory activities. A dog with a tail is able to express its emotional state, assertion of social status, acceptance of a subordinate or equal position, or willingness to fight. It has been suggested that the absence of a tail may, in some instances, predispose a dog to unwarranted aggression (Wansborough 1996).

Unfortunately those facts have not curtailed those practices, which have even become popular among the youth wanting their dogs to look fierce. Other than the aesthetic, a reason one may chop a dog’s ears off would be for dog fighting. If they don’t have ears or a long tail, they won't bleed as much since they won't get beaten in those areas.

What is more outrageous is the fact that the media abounds with tutorial videos of DIY ear cropping and recommendations on how and when to do it. The lack of legal ramifications is producing a breed of misguided dog owners and unscrupulous pet owners who choose to mutilate their pup for their own personal gains. We need to stop them, education is not enough, it must become illegal.


Photo credit: Stray Rescue of St. Louis

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