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Are ear cropping and tail docking inhumane?

 by james on 05 Sep 2022 |
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Ear cropping and tail docking are rooted in tradition, but opponents argue these elective surgeries cause dogs unnecessary pain and risk. 

Are ear cropping and tail docking inhumane?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes humans override their pets’ natural physique. Elective surgeries such as ear cropping and tail docking are steeped in tradition, but have become controversial topics in recent years as opponents argue they cause pets unnecessary pain and risk of complications. Here is a brief background on the hotly debated practice of elective canine surgeries:

For some working dogs, ear cropping and tail docking are part of tradition, either because these physical alterations allow animals to more adeptly perform tasks such as herding and hunting or because they give pets a distinctive appearance associated with their breed. Sporting dogs, for example, often travel through thick undergrowth when tracking game, so cropping their tails was a practical measure to prevent snags for long-haired breeds such as spaniels. Today, the American Kennel Club argues practices such as these preserve the characteristics associated with the breeds, but opponents argue they are unnecessary and cause pets pain.
Tail docking is performed shortly after a puppy is born, before his nervous system fully develops. Advocates argue this helps reduce pain from docking, in which a portion of a dog’s tail is removed using surgical scissors. Ear cropping typically takes place later in a dog’s life, between 6 and 12 weeks old, on animals that have been anesthetized. This process removes the floppy, outer part of the ear and requires several weeks of recovery time. Tail docking is banned in many parts of the world, including Australia and the U.K., but both practices are still allowed in the United States.

Arguments against docking dogs' tails include the risk of developing a nerve tumor at the site of the surgery, which can cause pain when your dog’s tail is touched. Dogs also use their tails to communicate with other animals, so removing a portion of his tail can inhibit Fido’s ability to express emotions such as happiness or fear by wagging his tail. As with any surgery, docking and cropping come with inherent risks, including complications from general anesthesia and during post-surgery recovery. According to statistics, both procedures are becoming less common, as evidenced fewer competitors with these elective alterations competing in top dog shows than in the past.

While the decision surrounding tail docking and ear cropping ultimately lies with the breeder or owner, both are elective procedures that should be carefully considered before subjecting your pet to the risks associated with any medical procedure.


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