Never Cut a Dog's Tails or Ears. There are Some Real Good Reasons For That

Over the years, cutting a dog's tail or ears have become an issue. There are many reasons listed why such trimming is necessary, while other people are completely against this practice. Even though historical claims say that this prevents injuries or diseases such as rabies, docking and cropping have become contentious modern debates. 

So, why on earth do people insist on doing this to their dogs? Experts have suggested that these procedures are not only essential for the dog, but also for their well-being. We take a look at why an owner should not partake in these cosmetic surgeries, and you'll totally agree with us when you read the reasons why.  

12. It is both a traumatic and painful experience

When it comes to saying no to cropping or docking, here is the single most important reason: It is a traumatic and excruciatingly painful experience for your dog.

Typically, a professional such as a veterinarian or breeder performs tail docking without the use of anesthesia. Emily Patterson-Kane, Ph.D., of the American Veterinary Medical Association, explained, "Although it certainly causes distress, the puppy isn't fully alert yet and won't remember it."

Camille Schake, who is a former registered veterinary technician and the founder of Good Pet Parent Blog, stated that some experts believe younger animals may experience more pain because their spinal cords "extend further down the vertebral column... than in adults."

When it comes to the ear procedure, anesthesia is administered when the pups are young, between six and twelve weeks old. What's left of the ears gets taped up against hard shaping devices on the dog's head. The poor dog will have to keep these taped ears for weeks until it can stand independently without the apparatus.

11. This procedure is mostly done for cosmetic purposes or to maintain breed standards 

This is not necessary, but for some pet owners, they insist on both cropping and docking to make their pets seem more winning. This is by far a new phenomenon and dates back to the 19th century where people removed their dogs' tails solely because they thought it made for more attractive-looking pooches.

When it comes to mainstream, another reason for cropping and docking is to uphold breed standards. The American Kennel Club recognizes 20 dog breeds with cropped ears and 62 breeds with docked tails. If dog owners are interested in purebred animals, they must follow the AKC's guidelines.

10. It interferes with the dog's communication abilities 

When it comes to tail docking, opponents say the procedure impairs a dog's capacity to communicate how it's feeling. Most people recognize a wagging tail equates to a happy pooch, but the rear is also a primary mode of communication between dogs.

Apparently, it conveys the animal's emotional and social status. And when it comes to showing those emotions, a longer tail is better. Cropped ears can also prevent a dog from communicating with humans, as the animals use both their ears and tail as ways to express themselves. 

9. Dogs can be emotionally harmed

With anesthesia, there are always risks at hand, and this is the main reason to avoid putting puppies under it. These are said to advocate the theory that when dogs are younger, they'll heal in time, despite the strain placed on them from the operation. 

This is certainly not accurate, nor true, as other evidence suggests that docking could interfere with the dog's ability to process and understand injury for the rest of their lives. This is indeed a severe process to think about if you have even considered this option for your pet.

8. There are higher risks on incontinence

There have been many studies, and one group of researchers at the Department of Veterinary Surgery, University of Bristol, showed that docking could possibly affect the urethral sphincter mechanism in animals, which are the leading causes of incontinence.

Simply put, the owner and animal can experience significant stress because a dog is messy and requires constant upkeep. No one likes a dirty pet, and neutering and spaying procedures are other factors that can also increase an animal's risk of developing the problem.

7. Docked tails create nerve tumors

Did you know that docked tails can cause some animals, specifically dogs and pigs, to develop tumors called neuroma? This sounds extremely worrisome because they are essentially swollen bundles of nerve fibers; neuromas are extremely sensitive.

Knowing dogs, they instinctively act on this sensation and land up licking, biting, or chewing at these parts which may lead to further infection. Neuromas require surgical removal, but they can possibly grow back if some fibers have not been removed. 

6. Owners need to be educated about docking

Many misunderstandings surround the docking and cropping dispute which have persisted for centuries. One of them are beliefs stemming down from the Ancient Romans, where marking off the tip of a dog's tail or parts of a dog's tongue would protect the animal from rabies.

Back in the 17th century, people performed docking as a way to avoid England's "dog tax," which the government inflicted on companion animals, but not working dogs. To bypass the tax, people had their companion animals docked to resemble the working dogs that traditionally had the procedure. 

Sadly, even with the advent of the rabies vaccine, modern dog owners continue to alter their pets. We certainly would not want to put our pets at risk when it comes to their health and emotional or mental well-being. This is why people need to read up on these procedures before going ahead with the decision. 

5. Docking is not a secure way to prevent injuries 

Those who are enthusiastic about this practice cite a long tradition of docking the tails of the working dogs. They claim that this is to avoid any risk of injury. There is, however, one problem with their theory: Only working dogs outsized tails should get the procedure according to early text, as the long tail could make them more susceptible to injury.

Then, some reports suggest that fears about tail injuries may be groundless. A 2010 study administered by the University of Bristol and Royal Veterinary College claimed "Tail injuries requiring veterinary treatment [are] rare" and "essentially, approximately 500 dogs would need to be docked in order to prevent one tail injury."

4. Easy access to -at-home- docking tools are problematic

There are some places where docking and cropping are not well-regulated. You can even purchase your own DIY docking equipment online, and there are various instructional videos online that fully explain the procedure step-by-step. Sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion are the most popular places for the amateur owner.

Some adversaries of these dreadful methods believe it's necessary to have strong legal laws and a new health-based understanding of docking and cropping. People certainly need to take this cosmetic practice more seriously and put the needs of the dog as a top priority.

3. Some countries have banned the procedure

While in most states, owners are free to dock and crop their pets, individual countries recognize these practices as inhumane. According to, at least 36 countries have reportedly banned or restricted docking.

Furthermore, cropping is against the law in several places, which include countries like England, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland. When it comes to the United States, at least 19 states have laws regulating docking and/or cropping.

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2. Docking and cropping are not the same as medical removal

Medical procedures to improve health are entirely different when comparing docking and cropping. While dogs have these procedures under anesthesia, it is usually as an emergency tactic only and for the right reasons where your pet needs the surgical procedure. Deformities or traumatic injuries are most common when eliminating the tail or ears. 

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1. Docking and cropping is still defended by the AKC

Despite the debates and theories on why owners should avoid doing this to their pets, the American Kennel Club responded to the American Veterinary Medical Association in November 2008 about their amended cropping and docking policy. Of course, the AKC had their own claims.

They stated that the procedures "are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries." Furthermore, they also explained that it aims "to ensure that the rights of individual dog owners and breed standards, remain protected."

What are your thoughts when it comes to docking and cropping? Do you know anyone who has done this to their pets? Share your views with us in the comments section below. Remember to show your friends and family and keep up-to-date with us for more interesting facts on how to take better care of our pets. 

Sources: RankerRanker, Ranker, Web MD, AVMA, AKC

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