Ear Cropping & Tail Docking
Cropping is removing part of the ear to make it stand up erect. It is illegal in some states and countries. Ear cropping is a very controversial matter because it is strictly a cosmetic procedure. In order for the ear cropping, a puppy must be put under anesthesia while the edges of the ears are cut off and stitched. A splint is then inserted into the puppy’s ear and what is left of the ear is taped to the splint making the ear stand up erect. Splinting may be required for weeks or even a few months. Splints are changed regularly for cleanliness.
Ear cropping is traditional for several breeds such as Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes and Schnauzers. In different countries including Great Britain the practice of ear cropping has been banned and is illegal. If you choose to have your puppy’s ears cropped, take the time to find an experienced veterinarian who comes with high recommendations. You may also ask to see pictures or visit some of the dogs he has cropped.
Ear cropping involves cutting off up to two thirds’ of the earflap and is done when the dog is 4-6 months old. It is common among Great Danes, Dobermans, Schnauzers, Boxers, and Miniature Pinschers. After the procedure, which requires full anesthesia, splints and tape are used to hold the ear in an upright position. Ear cropping is not always successful and at times only one ear will stand erect, while the other flops back. There is a risk of infection after the surgery, and the dogs’ behavior is sometimes negatively affected. The puppy will likely experience post-surgical pain.
Ear cropping has been banned in many countries, particularly in Europe, and is illegal in Newfoundland and Labrador under the 1978 Animal Protection Act. It is also banned in Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. The vast majority is performed only for cosmetic reasons and ‘tradition’, and, despite the fact that some dog owners claim they do it to prevent ear canal infections; there is no medical benefit to having a dog’s ears cropped. You must realize that your puppy will be uncomfortable for a time. You must make the decision if the look of erect ears, is worth the time, pain and money.
Tail docking has also been performed for centuries and although it may cause pain, it is often done without any anesthetic. Tail docking is performed when the puppy is only a few days old and involves removing the hair from the tail and then clamping the tail with a rubber band at the desired length, at which point it is cut with a scalpel or cutters, stitched up, and bandaged. In the process, muscles, tendons, nerves, bone, and cartilage is severed.
Breeds that commonly have their tails docked are spaniels, some pointers, some working breeds, terriers, and some herding breeds. Some say it is required for dogs with feathered coats for hygiene reasons or for working dogs. This makes no sense as spaniel tails are docked while retrievers are not. Tail docking is not necessary for hygienic reasons or for working dogs, and can be a painful procedure that should not be performed for purely cosmetic reasons. More and more veterinarians are refusing to perform it. A dog’s tail is important both for balance and body language.
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