Veterinarians are often asked to perform tail docking and ear cropping in dogs. Let’s look at both of these procedures a little closer.
This is performed no later than 10 weeks of age in puppies such as Boxers, Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers. The aim of the procedure is to make their floppy ears stand erect.
It is a painful procedure as the skin and cartilage of the ear is cut and modified. Regular tape and bandage changes are needed after the surgery to make sure the ears stand up properly. There are risks – at the very best, the ears may not look just right after the operation. At worst, there may be complications that result in severe deformity of the ears.
Tails are removed from puppies at 3-5 days of age, and the stumps are sutured. Usually, no anesthetic is used. Again, complications can occur. Some dogs appear to feel neurological pain at the stump and will chew at what’s left of their tail.
Owners of docked breeds claim that docked tails are less likely to get injured, especially if their dog is a working dog. This may have been the case at one time, but few docked breeds these days actually work in the field, so this argument is no longer valid.
The Veterinary Perspective
The American Veterinary Medical Association has spoken out against both tail docking and ear cropping when done as a purely cosmetic procedure. They are encouraging breed societies to remove these characteristics from the breed standard.
Both procedures are illegal in some countries, and people who perform them can be prosecuted.
Many veterinarians are against ear cropping and tail docking, because they are unnecessary and painful. There are too many risks to the dog, and really no benefit. Why change a dog’s normal anatomy just to meet our ideas on how a breed should look?
A study in Great Britain in 2010 showed that tail docking 500 dogs would help to prevent just one tail injury. With these statistics, prevention of tail injury is not a valid reason for removing one of the most important ways in which a dog can communicate.
In spite of these thoughts, many veterinarians still perform ear cropping and tail docking procedures. They feel that if they don’t, then some dog owners will have them done by untrained people, with potentially disastrous consequences for the dog. At least if they are performed by a veterinarian, the surgery is sterile and there is adequate pain relief afterward.
These days, both of these procedures are done purely for cosmetic reasons. They are painful and unnecessary. It will be good when they are no longer legal in any country.
Dr. Susan Wright DMV is a veterinarian with more than a decade of experience. Susan is a writer and serves as a dog bark collar expert. Dr. Wright and her staff share their love of dogs both professionally and personally by writing informational and entertaining pieces on the proper care of domestic animals.SHARE