Although most dog owners today will scowl at the mere idea of ear cropping and tail docking, these two surgical procedures were a routine thing to do years ago. The surgery was commonly done on certain canine breeds such as Schnauzers, Dobermans, and German pointers. Thanks to numerous dog experts and animal organizations, the practice has now significantly declined.

What’s the procedure all about?

Also called bobbing, tail docking is a procedure where the tail is removed using surgical scissors. The procedure is done when the dog is still a few days old when the tail is still soft.

Tail docking is done without anesthesia and performed by a breeder or a vet. The rationale behind this is that the pup is still too young to remember the pain associated with the procedure. This is why Emily Patterson – Kane, Ph.D. of the American Veterinary Medical Association is against the procedure.

Ear cropping is done to dogs between ages 6 and 12 weeks old. The procedure requires anesthesia wherein the floppy part of the ear is cut. For the next several weeks, the ears are then taped to a hard surface while they heal. Afterward, the ears would then stay upright.

Why many dog organizations are against the practice

Australia and the U.K. along with many countries in the world have banned tail docking. Although in the U.S., the procedure is still practiced and unregulated and it is considered a controversial topic. The states of New York and Vermont considered to ban the practice, but nothing has come out of it so far. Hence, docking is still performed in the US, and it’s not banned or controlled.

Although considered by the AKC or American Kennel Club as an important part to preserve a breed’s character, the practice is strongly opposed by the AVMA or American Veterinary Medical Association. Patterson-Kane said that the only reason these procedures are still practiced is to give a dog a definite look which also happens to expose pets to unnecessary health risks.

Additionally, health studies show that docked tails often develop into a neuroma or nerve tumor. Once it becomes a tumor, it can cause pain which makes a dog becomes snappy when someone tries to touch her tail.

Furthermore, dogs use their tails to convey what they are feeling. And for this reason, Andy Roark of Cleveland Park Animal Hospital in Greenville is against tail docking because he believes removing a dog’s tail will prevent him from interacting well with other dogs.

Benefits of tail docking and ear cropping

Most docking and cropping supporters would stand by the belief that removing the tail of hunting and farming dogs can help prevent injuries, especially during herding. Others would claim that docking can prevent energetic dogs from injuring their tails when they are inside their crates, like when they thump their tails against their crates. But most dog experts and dog organizations believe that the only benefit a dog may have with the procedures is just the change in their appearance.

It is only an option and not a need

Docking and cropping is something that you can choose for your pets. However, before deciding, you should ask yourself whether the procedure is worth the risks.


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