Docking Tails and Cropping Ears

The intent here is not to add more controversy in the world with this subject, but to discuss the pros and cons of cropping dogs’ ears and docking their tails.

I have never had an opinion one way or another, simply because without ever doing any research on the subjects, I thought it was the norm for certain breeds of dogs.

Also, being truthful for a moment, I have found that dog’s tails are dangerous things to have around coffee tables filled with “ceramic stuff.”

Putting all kidding aside, I would just like to fill you in on some of the reasons not to crop or dock.

Cropping or docking is considered unnecessary cosmetic surgery.

It is not medically beneficial for the dog and can cause pain and infection.

In the United Sates more than 130,000 puppies go through this procedure every year.

Historically speaking removal of certain parts of a dog’s anatomy has been going on for hundreds of years.

A few of the reasons do seem far fetched such as taxes in some places were based on the length of your dogs’ tails. Short tails meant fewer taxes.

In some areas tails were cut off as a rabies preventative.

Farmers were known to cut the dewclaws off their dogs to prevent injury while hunting or fighting.

Declaws are actually not claws, but are a 5th toe.

Some breeds only have them on their front paws, other do not have any and others have them on their back paws.

The dewclaws on the back paws have no use, but the dewclaws on the front paws of some breeds are capable of muscular control.

Cropping and Docking are illegal in many parts of the world and in England it has been banned for at least 100 years. However, in the United States and some other countries, it is an accepted practice with certain breeds of dog.

The American Kennel Club accepts the procedures on certain breeds as a standard practice.

There are about 70 different breeds that have their tails docked. Puppies are usually between 2 to 5 days old when it is done without the benefit of anesthesia or any pain medication. At that time the “dewclaws” are removed, also.

Ear cropping, however is done using anesthesia, when the puppy is about 9 to 14 weeks old. Up to as much of half the ear can be removed at that time.

After the surgery the ears are taped and splinted for weeks to months until they stand erect.

What is the purpose of a tail besides wagging and knocking things over?

A dog’s tail improves its balance. Dogs use their tails in much the same way we use our arms for balance.

Try walking a on a beam or curb without using your arms to balance yourself. The tail helps shift the dog’s weight to provide proper balance.

A wagging tail is also useful as it helps to stretch and flex the “dura” which is part of the complex spinal column.

Removing the tail also alters the hind end of a dog; it alters muscle tone and changes the way a dog sits. A dog with a docked tail sits in a crouched position, while a dog with a tail sits in a more relaxed position.

The most important thing to consider is pain. We do not like pain and neither do dogs.

Docking the tail (which is really surgery) can cause scar tissue to form and scar tissue can shrink.

What does shrinking scar tissue do?

It can pull or tug on the nerves left in the remaining part of the tail which are connected to the “dura” which is a protective membrane around the spine and brain.

This can cause pain in the tail area or a feeling of pins and needles (like when your hand or foot falls asleep.)

This can drive a dog near crazy.

This pain or tingling can have a serious effect on your dog’s behavior. Many a dog has been euthanized or given away because of behavior problems that may have been caused by this problem and no one had figured it out.

The solution here, if your vet is aware of this particular problem, is the owner will have to stretch the tail area on a regular basis to help alleviate the sensations.

There is also one other possibility and that is the dog may be suffering from “phantom pain.”

I have had that experience myself after having a tooth pulled.

For many months afterward, the spot where the tooth had been, hurt for no reason at all.

It is hard to imagine how many dogs have suffered real or imaginary pain due to the fact that we do not understand their vocabulary or they ours.

Just for a moment, think how a headache or a neck ache affects your personality. You act differently, you may become grouchy, you may even snarl at someone, but you can explain why you are acting the way you are.

How does a dog tell you?

Scat tissue can also cause problems with cropped ears. The tension of the scar tissue shrinking can cause a serious headache.

This too, can cause behavior problems, whining and misery to both the dog and the owner.

People who practice the art of acupuncture say that the removal of the tail and the cropping of the ears creates an imbalance within the body of the dog.

In the ear alone there are more than 200 acupuncture points that control many areas of the dog’s body.

When some of those areas are missing, the possibility of internal problems within the dog can occur.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, my intent was not to start a controversy over docking or cropping, but just to make people aware that they are “fooling with Mother Nature.”

People who under go cosmetic surgery can complain when things go wrong or they hurt and they get the attention that they need.

Unless someone is really attuned to a dog’s needs and is familiar with the problems of scar tissue, think of the number of dogs that might be in pain and no one knows.