Centuries ago when dogs were farm animals, ear cropping and tail docking dogs was almost mandatory. Farmers cropped their farm dog’s ears and docked their tails so that they don’t get caught up in their predator’s teeth when they are trying to fight them off.
Longtails and ears just made it easier for predators to grab on to. So, ears were shaped upright and tails were cut short to keep the dog safe.
Ear Cropping And Tail Docking Dogs – The Procedure
Now, cropping and docking are mostly done to give certain breeds a fierce look. Tail docking is an elective surgery done when puppies are just a few days old. It’s done without anaesthesia. Breeders justify the procedure by saying that the tailbone is still very soft during this time and their sensory nerves aren’t developed enough for them to feel pain.
But we don’t know for sure if the dogs feel any pain; our puppies won’t be able to speak to us. Most puppies whelp, suggesting that they may indeed feel pain at the moment, even if they don’t remember it later on in their life.
Cropping, on the other hand, is a far more invasive procedure. It’s done on puppies around 10 to 12 weeks of age because the ears are still soft and moldable. It takes 2 to 2½ hours to finish the procedure. Once the surgery is completed, it takes weeks for the wounds to heel and is very painful for the dog.
Once it has healed the framing process begins where the vet or the breeder will place their ears in a frame so that they have that fierce pointed look. If the shape is not the kind the owner wants, the dog has to undergo another surgery.
All this just for the look!
Are There Any Complications?
Just like any surgery cropping and docking also has many complications. Firstly it can affect the nerve endings on the tail and the corner of the ears. Dogs with a docked tail often get this condition called the neuroma or a nerve tumour. It makes the tail very painful to touch even when they are older.
Though the tail does not seem very important to dogs, it helps them convey emotions and maintain balance especially while pooping.
Just like any other surgeries, cropping has a high risk of infections which can become septic. This is dangerous for puppies because they have a much weaker immune system.
Apart from the physical complications, a cropping surgery takes weeks, maybe even months for the ear to shape properly. During these months the dog is completely isolated from other dogs to prevent the risks of infection.
During this time, the puppy’s brain is growing and registering experiences. It is important for them to meet other puppies, other dogs and humans to grow into calm and well-rounded adult dogs. But instead, they are secluded for 1 to 2 months from their peers for an elective surgery they didn’t even elect to have in the first place.
They aren’t allowed to be active and mostly kept in a cone especially when they have lots of energy seems a little unfair.
Are There Any Health Benefits?
Cropping and docking are elective surgeries meaning that there are no health benefits whatsoever. Yes, some pet owners and breeders justify that cropping reduces the chances of ear infections. This is partially true because shorter ears imply that there is lesser infection.
However, the dogs that have their ears cropped aren’t known to have ear problems in the first place. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Bulldogs etc already have smaller ears and have 80% fewer ear infections when compared to other breeds.
Dogs that are prone to ear infections are actually the dogs that are bred for their long furry ears. Have you ever seen a Basset Hound with cropped ears? They are most prone to ear infections.
Ear Cropping and Tail Docking Dogs – Laws In India
Ear cropping and tail docking is banned in certain parts of India but some states have lifted the ban allowing doctors to properly dock tails and crop ears. Most states have maintained the ban which means that if you crop their ears and dock their tails in those said states, you can be punished by law.
Even though we don’t support cropping and docking, if you really want to do it, we suggest to do it from a state where it is legalised and done by a certified veterinarian. What’s worse than cropping and docking your dog is getting it done from a backyard breeder or with an inexperienced doctor.
Just like any other surgery cropping and docking has all kinds of risks. By getting it done from a novice doctor or backyard breed, you increase the chances of post-surgical risks.
In order to make some more money, many backyard breeders do it on the side. They don’t anaesthetise the dog or sometimes do it with partial anaesthesia when a major ear crop surgery must always be done with general anaesthesia.
There have been many cases of botched surgeries and complications that have ruined their ears, have given them painful ears and infections.
Another common practice amongst breeders is to put a rubber band on their tail. The tight band cuts the blood supply and their tail eventually falls of. This is a very painful process and may take days, maybe even weeks before the tail falls off. It also increases the chances of infection on the tip of the amputated tail.
When Is Ear Cropping and Tail Docking Dogs Acceptable?
Perhaps the only reason for ear cropping and tail docking is acceptable when they have a severe injury on the ears and/or tail. Infections and fractures on the tail that leads to a severe infection or gangrene is a good reason to amputate the tail. Amputated ears for medical reasons are never meant to give the dog a specific look hence the ears don’t stand upright after surgery.
Other reasons include:
Happy Tail Syndrome
Happy tail is most common in dogs with thick muscular tails. When they wag their tail it often slams into doors and table legs and often leads to fractures and splinters on their tail.
It’s a very painful condition because dogs can control their tail as much as we can control our smile. So, if they are happy to see you, they may still wag their fractured tail making the injury even worse.
Many pet owners have to amputate the tail even after its healed because they healed splinters and fractured on their tail forms a hard crust that feels like a whip against our skin. It is hard enough to break thin glass showcases. This is very unsafe especially if you have children and puppies around the house and the continued splintering and fracturing on the tail makes it very painful for them.
Apart from the reasons laid out above, we would highly recommend you not to crop your dog’s ears and dock their tails. It does not have any health benefits and is done solely for the looks. Is it really worth putting them through months of isolation just for a certain look? Think about it.
Do what’s right for your canine.