Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

Did you know that there are two elective, cosmetic surgeries for puppies? They are known as ear cropping and tail docking. Let’s discuss what they are and explore why some feel these procedures are necessary for their growing dogs.

What Is Ear Cropping?

Ear cropping involves surgically cutting off the floppy part of a dog’s outer ear. The pup is under anesthesia while the procedure is being performed. Ear cropping is typically performed on puppies that are between 6 and 12 weeks of age. After the ears are cut, they are then splinted and bandaged in an upright position for several weeks. This is to make sure that what is left of the ears will stand upright.

Why Is Ear Cropping Performed?

According to Whole Dog Journal, ear cropping is a purely cosmetic procedure. They explain that it is generally done in order to “maintain the look related to the dog’s historic function.” Throughout history, specific breeds of dogs have typically gotten their ears cropped for different reasons and many people want their dogs to continue this tradition. Some believe that cropping a dog’s ears enhances their hearing, as their ears become erect after receiving the procedure. Because of this, many owners of Boxers, for example, have had their dog’s ears cropped. This is often done to working dogs such as Boxers that are police dogs or seeing-eye dogs. However, if you ask your veterinarian, he or she will likely confirm that there is no evidence that cropping a dog’s ears will improve its hearing quality. There is another reason why some breeds of dogs have historically gotten their ears cropped. Some are natural hunters, and to minimize the risk of getting bitten on this sensitive part of their ear by their prey, their owners have their ears cropped.

Breeds That Commonly Get Their Ears Cropped

As mentioned, ear cropping is not typically performed on every breed. However, here are a few breeds that have participated in this tradition throughout history.
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Cane Corso
  • Doberman
  • German Pinscher
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Great Dane
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Pyrenean Shepherd

What Is Tail Docking and Why Is It Done?

There is another common procedure performed along with ear cropping, and it is known as tail docking. Tail docking involves removing part or all of a puppy’s tail with surgical scissors. This procedure, done without any anesthesia, is performed when the puppy is only a few days old. It is typically administered by a veterinarian or breeder. Tail docking is also typically performed on working dogs. Some feel that a long tail is a potential hazard for some working dog breeds. For instance, a guard dog could be seized by the tail. A hunting dog may hurt their tail tip in the underbrush.

Should Either Be Considered Ethical?

In regards to tail docking, the puppy does feel pain when its tail is cut. However, it is believed that the dog is so young that it won’t remember experiencing it. As mentioned, when a puppy’s ears are cropped, they do receive anesthesia. You may be wondering what the experts say. The AKC states that these controversial practices are an integral part of “preserving breed character” in particular breeds. On the other hand, the American Veterinary Medical Association is against both cropping ears and docking tails. They explain that the risks involved are unnecessary since in most cases people choose them in order to make their dog look a certain way simply.    

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