The Dangers of Ear Cropping and Tail Docking in Dogs
Dr Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC
It is very important to fully understand the risks and severe side effects involved with ear cropping and tail docking in dogs.
Ear cropping and tail docking are very painful procedures and there is a high chance of post surgical infection, severe scaring that can lead to further pain not to mention poor cosmetic appearances. The aftercare is extensive-way too much to put a puppy through- especially a puppy who you are trying to introduce to your home, train, raise and monitor. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Position Statements list that cropping and tail docking are unnecessary, simply cosmetic and are not recommended.
Dogs on average do much better in life if their ears are kept natural and intact. The ear is a highly vascular and nerve-rich structure. There are also many acupressure and acupuncture points in the ear that I use to treat patients with on a daily basis. If the ear is amputated, the dog will not have the chance of benefiting from these treatments. Also, dogs just love getting their ears rubbed and petted– don’t take that away from your dog.
Ear flaps are also useful in other medical areas. I often use ear flaps to train owners to collect blood samples for blood glucose curves in diabetic dogs.
Tails are excellent in supporting the proper alignment of the dog’s spinal and also the tail helps balance the dog while they run. Dogs rely on their tail to provide optimal gate. I see this every day especially because I treat a lot of dogs with chiropractic and acupuncture.
Dogs who have had a leg amputated or who have painful arthritis in one leg often rely on their tail to support and balance their new locomotion needs. The tail often acts a rudder while they are swimming or walking, aiding in their locomotion abilities.
When ears are cropped and the tail docked, dogs have difficulty in communicating with each other. Dogs constantly use communication cues such as tail position and ear positions to help them interact with each other. If these important appendages are missing, dogs often misinterpret each other which can lead to fighting and biting.
Humans also subconsciously and consciously use ear position and tail attitude to understand dogs– many people instantly become wary of dogs with cropped ears and missing tails, and they are more likely to show fear. The dog is great at picking up on fear cues, which will hinder the relationship from one dog to another dog and from the dog to the human. Biting and fighting can ensue when a dog or a human do not understand each other. As you’re probably aware, dog bites and aggression in Calgary are treated very seriously by the City of Calgary Animal Services, and many dogs are listed as dangerous or even ordered to be euthanized by the City of Calgary every year because they have bitten people or other dogs. That is not something I wish on anyone. It is best to give your dog the best chance of growing into a well adapted, socialized pet, and keeping the ears intact is another way to help do that.
I also see a lot of ear infections in adult dogs who have had their ears cropped as a puppy. This is because ears help prevent debris and dirt from entering the ear canal. If the dog’s ears have been cropped, the defense mechanisms are hindered.
I practice a lot of preventative medicine- ie- doing positive things and not doing negative things, to help prevent disease and behaviour issues. Leaving a dog’s ears intact helps prevent a lot of medical and behaviour issues.
Thus, I definitely do not recommend ear cropping or tail docking, and I do not perform the procedure unless it is truly for health related reasons (such as tail cancer or ear cancer). I have the best interests of your dog and you in mind. Pet owners should put all the money and energy that it takes to do the cropping and docking, and use it for all the aftercare into other areas of healthcare for your dog such as nutrition, training, pet health insurance, massage therapy, toys, daycare, etc.
Did you know that your dog can still be shown with intact ears and tails? The judges are much more open and in some rings cropping and docking are prohibited. Plus, dogs look so beautiful and feel great in their natural form, with long tails and full, intact ears.
Please contact us if you have any questions. www.bowbottomvet.com
Dr. Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC
Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital
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