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Should You Crop and/or Dock Your Dog?

Great Danes.  The one on the left has natural ears, and the one on the right has cropped ears.  (Photo by Ron Kimball)

Great Danes. The one on the left has natural ears, and the one on the right has cropped ears. (Photo by Ron Kimball)

A tradition from the beginning of selective breeding, the common practice of cosmetic modification in many breeds is slowly coming under more scrutiny as the years go on.

For most modern dogs, the procedures of cropping the ears and docking the tail are completely unnecessary and are done by choice only.

Here's a look at each side of the issues (and they are two different issues), though in the interest of full disclosure I'll say that I am anti-cropping for the most part and have mixed feelings about docking. For the most part it's a situation-by-situation thing, but I have many more serious issues with cropping of ears.

(Debarking and dewclaw removal are two other surgeries performed on dogs, but since I don't particularly consider them cosmetic, I plan to address them in a separate hub.)

This Doberman Pinscher puppy has his freshly cropped ears taped to ensure they will stay upright.

This Doberman Pinscher puppy has his freshly cropped ears taped to ensure they will stay upright.

What is Ear Cropping?

Ear cropping is a surgery sometimes performed on puppies ages 9-13 weeks old that changes the look of their ears by causing them to stand upright. The veterinarian will anesthetize the dog, crop the outside edge of the dog's ears, then suture the cuts and place the ears in a rack to hold them up while they heal.

The original intention of this surgery was to reduce injury to dogs who would engage in battle with other dogs, animals, or humans by giving the opponent less to grab onto. It also decreased the risk of a hunting dog's ear being torn when running through thick underbrush.

Today, this surgery is purely elective. The American Kennel Club does not require cropping of the ears for showing, though many of the individual breed clubs include it in the breed standard. The American Veterinary Association has publicly stated that it would ideally like to see the procedure discontinued.

Today, the breeds most often cropped are: American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Schnauzers, Boxers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers.

This gorgeous dog's owner cropped his ears poorly with a pair of scissors.  Cropped ears should point straight up.

This gorgeous dog's owner cropped his ears poorly with a pair of scissors. Cropped ears should point straight up.

Should We Do It?

I'd say almost never does this make sense. While I admit that I like the look of many of the cropped breeds, it doesn't have any practical purpose in most situations anymore.

With dog fighting illegal and fewer people using working breeds for their original intention, ear cropping becomes merely a thing to do based on looks instead of a procedure in the best interest of the dog.

While various people will tell you that ear cropping can improve the health of dogs' ears by preventing infection, there is actually no conclusive evidence that this is true. It sounds, to me, like a poor excuse for a brutal and outdated tradition.

The average person should not get their dog's ears cropped, and certainly no average person should ever do the cropping. I can understand a high-quality show dog getting the procedure done by a veterinarian under anesthesia, but otherwise I see no purpose.

Other Ear Manipulations?

There are several other ways that breeders have of getting a certain look from their dogs' ears. These methods are only applied when a dog is very young (usually before teething at 5-6 months or so) when its cartilage is still forming. There is no effective way to get the same look from taping or gluing a dog's ears that one would from cropping, and these methods are usually used on different breeds (mostly collies).

A Video of Docking (a bit graphic)

What is Tail Docking?

Tail docking is typically done much earlier than ear cropping when the puppy is only days old. There are several methods, but mostly one person will hold the pup while the other measures his tail (different lengths for different purposes and breed standards), and then clamps down on it with a scissor-like tool and essentially twists the tail off.

Watch the video to the right only if you're not extremely squeamish (but I'm pretty squeamish and could stomach it).

Typically the pup stops squealing after a few seconds, and the wound often doesn't even need to be sutured. Many reputable breeders will do this procedure themselves (as opposed to the ear cropping, which is much more extensive). A properly docked tail tip will have normal fur on the end of it after it has healed and will not be knobby.

This first photo is of a natural Doberman Pinscher, sometimes considered unrecognizable because of its drastically different overall shape.

This first photo is of a natural Doberman Pinscher, sometimes considered unrecognizable because of its drastically different overall shape.

This second photo is of a fully cropped and docked Dobie, the common standard.

This second photo is of a fully cropped and docked Dobie, the common standard.

Should We Do It?

This is a more complex question than "Should we crop dogs' ears?" because there is a reason beyond "for the breed standard" that someone might want their dog's tail docked.

Most puppies whose tails are docked are done so for the breed standard. A Doberman breeder, for example, will probably dock her puppies' tails when they're 3 to 5 days old before their bones are fully formed but after they've recovered from the birth. This is mostly for cosmetic reasons.

But some breeds have what people affectionately call "happy tail," which is really not a happy situation at all. Dogs wag their tails to express joy, but sometimes a dog's tail wags too hard for its own good. If you've ever been whipped in the leg by a Labrador Retriever's tail, you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Certain breeds were bred specifically to have those strong tails, usually to act as a rudder while swimming (which is why Labs and Goldens have such strong tails), and certain other breeds just have strong tails by coincidence.

Dogs with "happy tail" have the potential to actually break their tails by wagging them too hard and whacking something hard. This is extremely painful for them, and often results in having to have their tails docked as adults, which is much more painful than if it had been done when they were days old.

There is also the issue of the working dog, which is rare in today's society, but certainly still exists. Herding breeds like Australian Shepherds could get their tails stuck in a gate closing behind livestock, and hunting breeds could get their tails stuck in thick underbrush. Both of these situations would be terrible, and proponents of tail docking argue that working English Pointers and Setters (whose tails are not docked) suffer pain and infected tails because of this.

To counter that, though, Australian Cattle Dogs' tails are not docked, and they have to herd cattle through gates. The Aussie Shepherd's tail, some argue, is docked because of their long fur that gets burs, fecal matter, and dirt matted into it (whereas the ACDs have short fur).

My Point

It comes down to "What is this dog going to be used for?" If it's going to be a companion dog, merely a friend to children and the rest of its "pack," then that dog doesn't need its tail cut off. But sometimes it's hard to know if the dog will be show-quality or pet-quality, so I don't necessarily have a problem with reputable breeders docking their puppies at days old.

In my opinion, no dog should be docked after it's a couple days old, and I see no point in ear cropping.

This is a hot-button issue with lots of people, so please leave a comment in weigh in! I'd love to hear what you have to say.


Tony on July 15, 2019:

I too believe that ear cropping is unnecessary. Our family has a mutt rescue, predominantly pit-bull. I wasn't keen the breed but the kids fell in love with her at first sight. We've had Raven for over 3 years now and have contemplated getting an AKC registered Staffordshire Bull Terrier...

Raven (our current dog) has "happy tail" and has done physical damage to herself, people, and property. I feel in the best interest of all, we will be asking the breeder to dock our new puppy's tail.

Skye on October 02, 2016:

Actually, Australian Shepherds are one of the breeds that can have Naturally Bobbed Tails. Not always, perhaps not often, but a significant portion of their number do. This may be why those without naturally short or absent tails have them docked.

Just to clarify, I am against cropping and docking unless it is done for legitimate reasons like the dog is intended for hunting in brush, in which case docking prevents splitting, or if the dog proves to be a "happy wagger" and breaks its tail in which case, if it happens once chances are it will happen again and best to get rid of the tail after the first time to save the dog no end of pain later on. Not completely mind. If possible, a decent (but not too long lest this renders the docking redundant) portion of the tail should left.

jake on January 12, 2015:

"Plastic Surgery" on dogs is just plain wrong. Bad enough humans do it to themselves.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on December 07, 2013:

Informative article showing lots of flexibility. I had a doberman that we named Zorro. We didn't crop his ears, but did dock his tail. This was way back in 1992-93. Now looking back, I feel bad about it. There was absolutely no need for us to do that. We didn't care if he conformed to the breed standards or not. We just wanted a good guard dog, which he was.

While hiking with my dog in August this year , I saw two very friendly women walking their doberman puppy with her ears recently cropped and put in a rack. I felt bad about it, but then the feeling of sadness was overtaken by joy for that puppy had a very nice family to take care of her.

I wouldn't recommend ear cropping or tail docking to anybody, except if its a working dog and the tail has to be docked for working reasons.

Ms.Megan on May 23, 2013:

Come on now, who doesn't love floppy ears? It's like taking the ling ears off of a rabbit...pointless. " I think I should conform to society and have my dog look a certain way so I'm only going to CUT OFF THEIR EARS?! You can't accept your dog for what they are but they accept you as their leader and live you unconditionally... Think about that..

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on March 09, 2012:

Hey Jautzey, thanks for writing! I don't think that could have anything to do with the cropped tail. It's possible that the same dog food just isn't working for your new dog. Have you looked into feeding a grain-free diet? I wrote another article about this that you might wanna check out: https://hubpages.com/animals/DeadlyDogFood...

Jautzey on March 01, 2012:

Thanks for your very informative article. We recently acquired a boxer-pit bull mix with a cropped tail. She was a house dog before we got her and I don't know how they put up with her passing gas all the time. I am curious if it is the breed or does it have something to do with the cropped tail? We have never had this problem with our last dog, and we are feeding the same brand of dog food.

jamterrell on September 08, 2011:

Very interesting hub, helena. Thanks for sharing.

Lhhuerta on August 21, 2011:

Also, in the hub, you state certain reasons why docking and cropping were done, but the more comments I read, the more those reasons are ignored. Personally, I would never crop my dogs ears(lucky for me, my little guy has both depending on what he is doing. ^_^) but it really is the owners choice. AND ear infection can occur from floppy ears. Some dogs end up bitting their floppy ears bloody. Even without the aid of flies, it can get pretty bad. Like I said, I personally would not do that to my dog, but people that do completely up to them. Unless they are doing it for mapicious reasons, there really is no basis to think they are terrible.

As for docking aslo owners/breeds choice. My dad has an Australian cattle dog...who does indeed work some. If he breeds her, you can't say that docking the puppies are wrong because they are working dogs. They might not end up working, but if they do, wouldn't it be better that the breeder did it instead of the new owner 8 weeks later, OR having there tail hurt while working? My guy has his tail, and while he is the most perfect baby just the way he is, and his tail is gorgeous, I wish my mom would have docked him when he was born because his tail is so strong.

How is docking/cropping different than spaying/neutering? Isn't all of it altering your dog?

Lhhuerta on August 21, 2011:

This was very informative! Thank you. There was one thing. That I wanted to correct. The queenslands(cattle dogs) DO have docked tails. It is about half and half whether they are docked or not. Than you so much for this information

Jennifer on August 11, 2011:

Thank you for not having only 1 side. I work as a vet tech (Surgery Assistant), my boss no longer does ears. But tails are done only at 3 days or younger. With the exception of broken tails that need to be amputated. I rescued a pit from the local pound and the prior owner had tried to dock her tail with a rubber band. They should be castrated for that. My boss did dock my pits tail and I felt horrible for doing it but if left attached it would've caused alot more problems than the few weeks it took to heal. Whoever tried to dock with the rubber band was a very demented person, kinda like the hoodala guy writing all that crap about vicious pits.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on July 30, 2011:

I disagree, Saf&Lu, only about the prong collar. When used properly, this is not a painful or cruel form of training at all. It is actually an easier training tool than a "choke chain" style collar because it has a minimum size and cannot close smaller than that. Of course, training tools in the wrong hands can always be dangerous, but if you're using the prong collar correctly, it won't hurt the dog; rather, it will just cause them discomfort long enough to correct the bad behavior (tugging on the leash).

Saf&Lu on July 05, 2011:

I grew up with Dobermanns who did not have their ears cropped and never had any infections as they were cleaned and looked after. They did have their tails docked by the breeder but growing up I didn't know any different. I now have a Weimaraner & a Weimaraner/Vizsla cross, both with their gorgeous floppy ears and full tails. Leave the dogs as they are, these actions are cruel and completely unnecessary! Old fashioned methods are exactly that, old fashioned and out dated. Also noting the fact that the poor rescue dog with the 'scissor cut ears' is wearing a prong collar! This is equally as cruel and painful for the dog.

Miss Lil' Atlanta from Atlanta, GA on May 19, 2011:

Now, with what the person said to cat declawing. I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. I mean, it's not for appearance it for the fact that people don't get hurt.

Some cats are mean, and my friend has two cats with younger kids and she has them de-clawed just in case the cat ever attempts to scratch her kids.

Anyways, though. You know what, I've read a lot on whether or not it's right to dock and crop dog’s tails, and I didn't think that my opinion would change, but once I've given it real thought I've turned tables. I'm actually against cropping and docking tails now. I no longer agree with it.. Wow I never thought that would happen.

apbtowner on May 10, 2011:

their mind*

apbtowner on May 10, 2011:

i have two apbt and i can tell you that the uncropped pit certainly seems jealous sometimes. I have a problem with the "how would you like it if the dog cut YOUR ears... etc" comments, c'mon most of us are grown adults and that is just a childish thing to say, WE feed them, care for them, and love them (which they obviously cant do vise versa) so i think the roles here are pretty clear. plus theres really nothing on humans thats comes close to cropping xcept for circumcision which is practiced by half of the world. I think that the decision is up to the owner, im sure if the procedure is done correctly and the post care is done correctly than an ear cropping should be as benign as a childs visit to the dentist for getting a tooth pulled, child might not like it but halfway home they're mind is off to something new and the surgery is long forgotten. So lets have a little more respect for loving pet owners who get treated like hitler just because they decided to jave their dog's ears cropped. I regret not cropping my other pit, the other one always grabs him by the ears when they are playing. and im sure if my pitt wouldn't have resented me for it.

Shea on April 01, 2011:

I live in the UK where the law is different. Here, cat declawing, dog debarking and the feline equivalent, ear cropping and tail docking except in cases of certain working dogs (and ONLY if they're going to be working) are all illegal because they're considered cruelty and are legally classed as mutilation. Which they are. There is also a ban on showing animals with these mutilations. Personally I can't understand why anyone would want to hack bits off their dog - if he's not cute enough for them the way he is, then just don't get him. My personal opinion is it's cruelty, pure and simple, and I'm thankful I live in a country where this opinion is the norm :)

Miss Lil' Atlanta from Atlanta, GA on January 12, 2011:

I'll be honest here. I love the look of cropped ears on certain dogs. Two of my favorite breeds by far are the Great Dane and Doberman pinscher. Although, I do like the look of an all natural great dane, I prefer a cropped or at least a docked doberman pinscher.

I'm pretty positive that I'm going to buy a great dane puppy in about a year and a half or so from now. I'll definitely keep the dog's tail natural, but I'm strongly considering on having it's ear's cropped since I think cropping often times adds more emphasis on the Great danes' height and elegance, but that's just my opinion.

Good hub btw.

Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on December 10, 2010:

I have to say that this is a human decision; certainly not that of the animal. We have decided that certain appearances are "attractive" or "preferable" (much like the way in which what is defined as "beautiful" in society/magazines, etc.). I don't believe in altering the natural state of dogs or cats for our own idea of beauty. If we could ask the dogs, I'm betting they'd say "uh, NO, I don't Think So!!" It's unnatural, not beautiful, and a controlling device foisted upon the animal by us. I vote NO on "docking," "cropping," and the declawing of cats.

indyKaurr on December 05, 2010:

i think its creul doing that to ur peT!!!! i wudent do it to miinee! certainly not

Oliver on August 11, 2010:

Helan, I am living in China. I am staying in a house with all Chinese. We just got a new pup. She is a mutt, a street dog that we took in. She is maybe a month and half old. I went down this morning and one of the guys had wrapped a band around her tail trying to dock it. She was in terrible pain. I know this is the wrong way to do it and horrible for the dog. I stopped them doing it right away. But one of the guys is adamant on doing it. Should I let them do it, or convince them to go to a vet to do it. Or just stop them out right? Please advise me on what would be best.


Kate on July 25, 2010:

Thank you very much for this informative post. This is a great example of a skill that many people don't have: being able to voice an opinion without forcing it on others. I've been researching the Doberman breed for awhile now because I'm thinking of getting one, but I had always wondered whether or not the tail docking/ear cropping thing was medically beneficial or necessary to avoid genetic defects in certain breeds. This was one of the first posts I've found on this topic that gives detailed information about the origin of these procedures and whether or not it is beneficial. Your hub has given me the information (along with a licensed vet) to opt against ear cropping. I doubt I'll have a choice with the tail docking, as I plan on buying a puppy that has passed that stage so the breeder will have already made the decision. But, just to add my 2 cents, I think the most charming and adorable characteristic of my lab was his ability to show me his mood just by what his tail was doing. You could tell I had made his day just by walking in the door. Dogs have the ability to love their owners no matter what they look like...why can't we do the same for them?

Effx on July 18, 2010:

What gives anyone the right to cut up an animal to make it look better in there eyes? Imagine what the animals may choose to cut of us humans for their entertainment and because they thought it looked better on us.... Look we people stand in front of the mirror and say hey a ring in my nose or ear would look cool but I am 100% sure a dog would never stand looking at its reflection thinking man i would look soooo hot it only I cut my tail off.....

just my 2 cents

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on June 06, 2010:

Hi Dobie Lover. Thanks for your insights as an experienced Dobie owner. The main issue I take in this hub (and in all my dog-related hubs) is that people are undereducated about this type of issue and just blindly follow what people tell them to do. If everyone were educated about their choices, I think the world would be a much better place, don't you?

Dobie Lover on May 27, 2010:

I feel that the cropping and docking issue should be left up to the WELL EDUCATED owner. I feel that people go have their dogs ears cropped and don't understand how much care the dog needs post-op. There is usually months of taping and posting the ears, especially with Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes. Pit Bulls with their shorter ears don't usually have that long of a recovery time.

As for the tail docking that is usually done by the breeder since the puppies are so young so most people get their pup already docked. Doberman Pinschers are my favorite breed, and personally, any Doberman I buy will have been already docked and I will have their ears cropped.

I love the look of the cropped Dobie, this was how Louis Dobermann wanted the breed to look. I have nothing against the people who don't like it or don't do it, I fully support you. I also like that people can get on here and post their opinions and talk about things that are so controversial. For the people that get mad or hostile and post messages telling others that they are cruel or brutal, or that its animal cruelty, why even bother? You know your not going to change someones opinion, thats why its theirs.

As long as you plan ahead and get the cropping done by a licensed veterinarian who you trust and know to be skilled at ear cropping, and you are commited to the after care, I feel there is nothing wrong with cropping. My Doberman puppy Onyx is getting her ears cropped in 2 weeks, and I know her ears will be sore after the surgery, but the worst part will be trying to keep the ears taped up on a happy, active, healthy puppy.

Please understand that if you feel that ear cropping is wrong I fully understand and support that. But please don't knock me or others that share my opinion just because its not the same as yours. And no this is not my first Dobie nor my first ear cropping experience.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on April 09, 2010:

Hi Heflin, thanks for writing! I live in New York City, and I see pit bulls ALL the time. Most of the time, they do not have their ears cropped, and they still look just as "pitbully", I think. It is, of course, up to you, but there are plenty of people who love their pit bulls and the way they look just the way they are naturally!

Heflin on April 09, 2010:

I'm in the process of buying a pitbull. I've decided not to dock the tail and my girlfriend wants to crop the ears, however, after reading this hub I'm not sure about doing it. My girlfriend wants it done so the dog will have the "pitbull" look. I do agree that it looks good. It will not be a show dog, so I guess there is no "real" reason to do it besides I like how it looks. Any advice on what you think I should do?

kelly on March 15, 2010:

I do agree that tail docking is acceptable on a case-by-case basis. I also agree that ear cropping looks good on some breeds, but is overall unnecessary. Great hub.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on March 09, 2010:

Tiff, that is definitely a question for your vet, as you should CERTAINLY not be cropping your dog's ears yourself. I would say 2-3 months if you post them properly, but it will depend on the quality of the crop job, how well you are able to keep them posted to heal, etc.

Tiff on February 02, 2010:

If I crop my dobermans ears at 12 weeks old, how long do you figure (roughly) that it will take for them to stand up, after surgery, ive had many different answers, but for most dogs...how long, like 2, 3, 4, 5 months??

viridian on January 24, 2010:

I really like the "Pet Permit" idea mentioned earlier. You should be educated before bringing another living thing into your home.

Personally, I think dobies in particular look adorable all-natural or cropped/docked. I think the decision to crop should be left to the educated owner. It really comes down to what the owner wants from the dog. If you're just looking for a companion, he probably shouldn't be cropped.

However, if the reason you chose the breed is partly their deterring appearance, then you should consider getting him cropped. You're more likely to get attacked on a dark night in the city if the dog you're walking looks like an emaciated lab rather than a "ferocious" dobie. Part of their charm for me is their (mostly) unwarranted "bad rap" and an all-natural dobie just doesn't scream "DOBERMAN!" you know? I'd rather be immediately dismissed as a target than test my dog's protective capabilities. In fact, some dogs never recover from the stress of an attack.

Also, if you're planning on participating in shutzhund there is definitely reason to have the procedure done.

Although cropping is in no way necessary, there are some legitimate purposes.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on January 18, 2010:

Anon -- I agree that choosing a breed can be an aesthetic thing, but a lot of times people choose breeds for what I consider to be stupid reasons (like everyone who bought a dalmatian after 101 Dalmatians came out without realizing that they are neurotic, crazy dogs who don't particularly make good family pets), in which case it's a little absurd that "aesthetics" is the justification for causing physical pain to their animal.

(As an aside, try not to believe The Media and/or American Conservatives too much, or at least not without several grains of salt. Socialism literally has nothing to do with creating laws about what you can or cannot do, and believe it or not, it makes no sense as a dirty word. It's an economic system, and while some Western European countries may have elements of socialism, so does your beloved United States, and not one of those countries is truly Socialist anyway.)

anon on January 17, 2010:

i fully support tail & ear cropping, as long as it is done PROPERLY, not some moron running around with scissors. most dog owners factor in some sort of aesthetic reason for choosing their breed, and this should be respected.

i also agree with neutering/spaying, as this keeps needless problems from happening.

and last but not least, i feel sorry for people living in these socialist countries in western europe.

kerrie on January 05, 2010:

i don't knw if i agree to ear docking but if you try to ban it ignorant people will try to do it themselves and that would be way worse i think than haven a vet do it the proper way and as far as the tail goes i had to do my dogs tail he beet it so hard agaist the door the tip started squirting blood everywhere so i had to dock it so that i think is neccecery!!!

Scott Hunter from North Carolina on October 16, 2009:

Yes! The tail of this 100 lb Lab will take you down, but he is a great swimmer. Thanks!

Dog Bedding USA on July 10, 2009:

I don't belived docking dogs is necessary unless it is required because of medical reasons. We have a swedish vallhund and generally they have had their tails docked for showing purposes. I think its cruel a dog needs its tail to show its emotions like we need a tounge to talk

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 31, 2009:

HubPages is a great writing community. It's free to join, and you can write articles about any and all topics you're knowledgable about. Then, you can add advertisements to your articles, and you make money from people clicking on the ads. It's a lot of fun, and the other writers are very supportive in the forums and in comments.

Ricky on May 31, 2009:

Thank you for sending back a message. I have not sighned up in hubpages. What is it about? ( I know this message is not about docking!)

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 30, 2009:

Hi Ricky, I'm glad things are going in the right direction for your little pup. I'm not a vet; I'm just someone who knows a lot about dogs from research and personal experience. Definitely find a vet that you can trust, though. It's just as important as finding a good pediatrician for your child. :)

Ricky on May 30, 2009:

Thank you helenthegreat, i really don't want to dock his tail. I went to the vet again and they gave me medicine for his tail. After a week I have to go again. I hope he will be fine. Guess What?????? I was reading a book about shih txus and it said never to dock their tail. I am looking forward to rubbing that in their face. Are you a vet? And where do you live?

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 27, 2009:

Ricky, it sounds like you need a second opinion ASAP. I can't tell you over the internet what is going on with your dog's tail, but that sounds pretty dubious to me. He could be biting his tail because he's allergic to something in his food, which is making him itch. Before you take your pup to get his tail docked for good, please take him to another vet for a second opinion. Just because a vet has a license doesn't mean you should believe everything they say.

Ricky on May 27, 2009:

My shih tzu puppy is about 12 weeks old. we took a visit to the vet and they said he might get his tail docked. I really don't want to do this to him. The vet said this because our puppy kept on biting his tail, and it is dead. I don't belive him. What should I do. Please tell me as soon as you can. Please.

Dog Bedding on April 25, 2009:

We have a swedish vallhund and traditionly their tails were docked for showing purposes. Our dog has his tail and it looks fantastic. I personally think that the tail should remain unless it medically needs to be removed

Eternal Evolution from kentucky on April 21, 2009:

I respect your opinion as well, again i think you did an excellent job with your information. I have a boxer named Joda, i got her when she was almost 2 years old and she had already had her tail docked, but i don't think a vt did it. Her tail is fine but the hair never did cover the very tip of it. My brother and sister-in-;aw also have boxers with docked tails, but theirs was done by a vet.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on April 21, 2009:

Thanks for the comment, Eternal Evolution. I appreciate your engagement with the conversation! Of course, I will have to respectfully disagree and say that that useless ear cropping/tail docking should not be done -- by a vet or by anyone else. But! If you absolutely feel it must be done, I'm glad we agree that docking by anyone other than a licensed vet is absurd and barbaric. Please chime in any time!

Eternal Evolution from kentucky on April 20, 2009:

I think you did an excellent job with this hub, explaining what cropping and dockingis and you believes about it. I however am not opposed to ear cropping or tail docking IF done properly by a licensed vet; and that's a big if. Under no circumstances should anyone crop or dock themselves, it's just barbaric.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 21, 2009:

Thanks for writing, toeachtheirown. I generally agree with your "pet permit" idea, though that won't happen any time soon as long as breeding animals makes people so much money.

Also, the whole "dog has new owner" thing? I plan on "owning" my dog forever, no matter what. And that should be the attitude for everyone else. Especially if you are a breeder (which it sounds like you are), you should be fostering that state of mind for every single one of your buyers. Dogs are not something to be thought of in terms of "use" or "future use". THAT, in my mind, does not apply to "to each their own".

toeachtheirown on February 21, 2009:

"It comes down to "What is this dog going to be used for?"" - limits future use that initially thought of i.e: dog has new owner.

"This is extremely painful for them, and often results in having to have their tails docked as adults" knowing that, you then say "In my opinion, no dog should be docked after it's a couple days old"

I have my Vet dock my puppies at 2 days old because their system is underdeveloped at this point. They naturally squirm and whine for less than 2 minutes. 90% do not bleed, some need a stich. Nothing more, ever. Dogs are for versitale hunting in all situations.

It's nice that your trying to expose both sides and your opinion here - however this subject pertains to a very small amount of dogs owned. After the crop/dock is done - what problems are there then? None. I do not favor cropping/docking in all cases - but do not want it to become banned either. What's more important, is requiring anyone wishing to have a pet to take a basic pet ownership class on how to propperly care for the animal. A "Pet Permit" should be required. Anyone idea how many dogs/cats/etc... are out there and don't receive basic medical attention, proper feeding or appropriate training. Good luck with, in my opinion - your subject lacking susbstance. Oh, another good subject for you would be "How animals suffer when the economy goes to hell"

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on December 17, 2008:

Alex, go pinch your dog's ear really hard (like, with your nail). Did he yelp? If not, you didn't do it hard enough. Dogs have a high concentration of nerves in their ears; it's a pressure point, and you can actually calm them down by rubbing from the base of their ear to the tip. How could you possibly believe that cutting through those nerves wouldn't hurt?

alex b on December 17, 2008:

i think it is ok to have cropt ears because it cuses no pain to the dog were as

docking a dogs tail is very pain full for the dog as shows in the vidio it is horrible

that anyone would do that to any animal let alone mans best friend

Tony McGregor from South Africa on November 15, 2008:

I can't bel;ieve that there is any debate about this! These procedures are done for human, not animal needs (vanity, to be precise) and put animals, who have no say in the matter, through incredible, completely unnecessary trauma. The link to human body piercings is not valid - humans can choose to have piercings or not. Did you ask your dog before you docked its tail or cropped its ears? Circumcision is not very much recommended for male children any more as it has little practical value and the psycological damage can be quite great. Its not a question of telling other people what to do, its a question of respecting our fellow-creatures who are not able to communicate with us at a human level. The kennel associations should be forced to change their standards so that cropped ears and docked tails actually count against dogs at shows.

Terry on September 21, 2008:

I had my mini pins ears cropped. I will NEVER do it again. They were in pain for days. Don't think the vet was at fault. The vet I used works as an advisor with the University of Ga. He's been a very well known vet for his years of experience. The ear cropping is just a painful experience for the puppies. Just think, if your ears were cropped, would it hurt? Do you think that puppies hurt less? No, they do not. This is a terrible procedure to put you puppy through.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on July 24, 2008:

Brett -- I don't think I agree with you that it's a question of control issues. It's a question of the amount of needless pain inflicted upon an animal that I find immoral. I love having the individual freedom that I find in the US, but what I've found is that people need to be more educated before exercising that freedom.

02SmithA -- It always breaks my heart a little bit, too. Thanks for the comment.

Old Big Head -- What you described does not sound much better. And the video has no blood or yelping, just typical puppy whimpering. Out of curiosity, why video yourself mutilating puppies?

Alex -- Sorry I couldn't respond sooner; I hope that since you left this comment 8 days ago, you've already decided to call your vet. Hopefully your dobie is feeling better and on his way to recovery.

alex on July 15, 2008:

Hi, we cropped our dobies ears yesterday. He is 15 weeks old and I have a question. He wont stop shaking his head, so every time he does they bleed. What should I do?


OLD-BIG-HEAD on July 10, 2008:







02SmithA from Ohio on July 10, 2008:

I always hate it when I see the ears cropped. I don't understand why that would be done.

Brett on July 09, 2008:

Helena and Whitney should have been born in a police state like the UK. Being born in the US with its tradition of individual liberty was wasted on them. They certainly have control-issues.

Decrescendo on May 27, 2008:

Nice find. Thanks for the heads up

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 25, 2008:

For a long time, I didn't realize they were naturally floppy-eared either, Jim. You're right: if you want a dog that looks different, just get a different dog! Thanks for reading.

jim10 from ma on May 24, 2008:

Wow I never knew dobberman's had floppy ears. seems to me like we should always leave well enough alone until it is a problem. If you want a better looking dog then pick a different one. Why butcher one that kinda looks like the one you want.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 11, 2008:

Okay, thanks for clarifying that, Savannah. I agree that, once you get to know a dog, you can certainly read him well enough to tell if he's in pain, whether he's whimpering or not. I'll definitely take everything you've said into consideration the next time I want to jump to argue with someone who wants to crop their dog's ears.

Savannah on May 06, 2008:

Also, while 1 or 2 dogs may have extremely high pain tolerance, I seriously doubt that 7 puppies, ages 3 months to 8 months, all have such a high pain tolerance.

Savannah on May 06, 2008:

Helenthegreat, thank you for being respectful. I just want to clarify, that the reason I say cropping is not all that painful, is because I can and have handled the ears myself, have taken out stitches myself, applied peroxide, cleaned the edges, and though they shake their heads a bit when I apply the peroxide, they never flinch, whimper, whine, or try to pull away from me. Instead they lick my hands, chew on a toy, try to play with me, etc. I don't particularly care for the taping/posting procedure, having the post (tampon applicator wrapped in soft tape) inside the ear really seems to bother my Dobie puppy. But the APBT pups require nothing more than stitches and cleaning every day, and are not bothered by it at all. When you have a dog for a long time, you get to know when they are bothered, hurting, upset, or just relaxing with their momma. So I can honestly say, cropping does not bother a puppy all that much. Taping and posting, do.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on May 04, 2008:

tjmum -- Excellent point. If people would spend that money on neutering their animals instead of unnecessary cosmetic surgery, our pet population would certainly be more healthy as a whole! Thanks for your comment; I think the way the laws differ between countries on these things is very interesting. (And I'm glad declawing cats is illegal there... That is truly just senseless cruelty.)

Savannah -- I'm so glad you weighed in on this! While I respectfully disagree that ear cropping does not hurt the dog (just because dogs have extreme tolerance for pain doesn't mean that they don't feel it), I also concede that you have much more first-hand experience with this issue than I do.

I especially liked your comparison of the tail docking. Biologically, a 3-day-old puppy's tail has practically no developed nerve endings or hard bone, as you mentioned, and it sounds like laser docking might be the best because it cauterizes the wound as it cuts the tail. Docking 3-month-old puppies just sounds cruel to me, vet and anesthesia or not. So thanks for bringing up your personal experience there.

So, again, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Obviously it's not a one-sided subject, so your comment really rounds it out for anyone reading this article! Please comment any time. :)

Savannah on May 04, 2008:

I raise APBT's and recently bought a Doberman puppy. I have had 4 APBT puppies cropped by scalpel and 2 APBTs and my Dobie cropped by laser. I have found that the scalpel cropping causes much more bleeding and higher instances for infection, the laser cuts and cauterizes at the same time. I have watched all 3 of my laser crops. I have found that with APBTs, the cropping heals very quickly (within 14 days) and causes little to no pain at all. It does itch when healing, much like a deep scratch, but there's almost no pain. I just had my dobie pups ears done and have found thatwhile the ears themselves are not all that painful, the tape bothers him very much and being taped also slows the healing, causes itching, and is more stressful. In all 7 crops I have noticed that they never flinch during the crop procedure, and when they come home the first thing they want to do is eat and play. Which shows exactly how much the whole thing bothered them LOL.

I have witnessed 2 tail dockings. One was a litter of weimeraner puppies, 3 days old, done by an experianced vet. The pups had their dewclaws removed at the same time. They whined a little, but it was due to being held with their butts in the air. Anyone who has held newborn pups knows, they do not like to be firmly held. They never squealed or flinched at all when the vet docked the tails. He used a tool something like a dog nail clipper, guillotine style. Clean cut, no clamping or twisting. The other litter I saw done was a group of 3 month old American Bulldog puppies. They were completely anesthetised, knocked out unconcious, but when the vet cut the tails they still screamed in their sleep. I could tell that even though the procedure was being done right, by a licensed vet, it was very painful. At 3 months old the bone and nerve endings in the tails are fully formed and cutting through bone, cartiledge, and nerves, is very painful. On the same token, docking a newborn pup is not painful at all. And cropping the ears of a young pup is a very simple and relatively painless procedure.

I have had 7 puppies cropped, none docked, and will continue to get ear crops done. They improve the look of some dogs and I don't think it is cruel at all if done right, by a vet.

tjmum from Isle of Wight on May 04, 2008:

I'm from the UK too and still can't beleive that this is being allowed and encouraged in the US, although some breeders will still dock tails at the birth of their pups here. As a veterinary assistant I saw so many botched docking jobs where the tail had to be cut and cut again until it was almost removed into the backbone because of infection. If it becomes too bad the dog has to be put to sleep. I understand the 'working dog' argument, but how do you know at just days old that that pup will be bought and put to work?

Most vets are totally against tail docking and ear cutting. Overe here declawing a cat is illeagal too, although I know this is also still carried on in the US. Perhaps if people spent their money on getting their dogs neutered rather than docked there wouldn't be the problem of re-homing stray dogs as there is.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on April 29, 2008:

Thank you so much for your comment, Aid 4 Animals. It'd good for people to see a "professional" opinion on this topic. My main hope is the one you expressed in your last paragraph: that people will just do some research before making big decisions like cutting off their dogs' ears. That's all I ask at this point!

Aid 4 Animals from California on April 29, 2008:

Thank you Helen, for your comment on Unnecessary Ear Cropping.

The only benefit that comes from this procedure is Padding the Veterinarian's Pocket. As a retired Veterinarian Assistant, I've seen so many complications from this procedure, from infection, hemotoma and stress. Head shaking because of the bandages alone may require many trips to the vets for re-taping, not to mention fluid in the brain. Though this is rare, the need for re-taping is not, and there is no guarantee the cropped ears will stand erect.

This inhumane procedure steals puppyhood with pain and wonder... of "why do my ears hurt so much? They didn't hurt before I got them taped". All of this in the name of vanity of a dog's appearance. veterinarians making a buck or owner being misinformed.

Tail docking, on the other hand has it's positive points, as mentioned earlier in other postings. Especially with short haired dogs. Dogs will beat sores into their tails just by whacking on things. It has no fatty tissue to cushion any impact it comes in contact with, only bone. Breakage is common as well as sores starting from underneath the skin. Owner usually do not recognize a problem until it needs veterinary attention, and sometimes amputation.

But, it should be noted that this tail docking procedure should be done within days, if not hours of birth, like due claws. Pain will be momentary, and healing is usually successful without any other treatment or antibiotics.

If your pet is older, do not fret. It was a great suggestion to get this done while being spay/neutered, to not only minimize pain, but cost as well. If your pet is already fixed and in need of tail docking due to continued tail damage, this should be a fairly easy proceedure, and painless recovery. Much easier to tolorate than ear cropping. Just remember that all surgery preceedure have risks, so be confident with not only your veterinarian, but the technical staff as well.

I hope this might inspire owners to research there options before proceeding with unnecessary surgery and recognize the pros as well as the cons when surgery may be most helpful.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on April 14, 2008:

Thanks for your comments, Bonnie and Jenny! I really appreciate them.

Unfortunately, the reason that you both site for cropping the ears (that the vet said to) is indicative of a larger problem that's very upsetting to me: people believe anything a "professional" tells them. I back this up with the fact that so many people feed their dogs Science Diet. Terrible, terrible food, but it says "Vet Approved" on it, and vets sell it in their offices. So there you have it.

The bottom line is that people who crop their dogs' ears (when trying to do what's best for their dogs) are not bad! That's not the point of this article. I don't fault either of you (and obviously you couldn't UNcrop their ears, even if you wanted to)! Like Bonnie said, you learn new things every day. Cropping a dog's ears is unnecessary pain, and I can only hope that someone whose vet tells them to do it will stumble across this article and at least go into the procedure a bit more educated.

Bonnie Ramsey from United States on April 13, 2008:

I do have to agree with Jenny as far as why people may decide to do this. While it may not be a necessity anymore, we do still have vets that actually recommend it and use the reasoning of the ear infections. Most people aren't going to go against what their professional vet tells them and will do the procedure.

Rambo is as spoiled as she says and so is his mom, Mya. I do, however wish that they HAD docked Rambo's tail because he doesn't just have happy tail, he has extatic tail! LOL. He will really hurt you with his tail and the what-nots around the house or anything sitting on the coffee table is fair game to his excitement!

We have all learned a lot since she first got her first APBT and we are still learning every day. But I can attest to the fact that she takes very good care to keep his ears clean and only did the cropping because the vet recommended it.


Jenny Weaver from New Albany,MS on April 13, 2008:

Hi. I just wanted to say that I have an APBT and yes,we had his ears cropped.It was done as soon as he was old enough,and it was done by a liscenced vet.We were told also,that it helped to prevent ear infection.We are NOT too lazy to clean his ears as some have suggested. We just did what we thought was best for him. We made sure that it was done right as well. We would never do anything that we thought would harm him.Please don't judge everyone that has had this done,we are not all doing it for the same reason.Yes,it was a personal decision. Am I glad we made it? ABSOLUTELY! Rambo is a very spoiled and well-loved dog.Please check out his profile at www.myspace.com/rambothepitbull.Thanks!

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on March 14, 2008:

You're not the first person to run into this problem, Deb! Thanks for stopping by. Have you spoken to your vet about this problem? It's possible that a) your dog might have a super easy time with the surgery to dock his tail at this age or b) it's completely impossible at this age for some other medical reason.

Obviously you don't want your dog to be in pain! So you'll need to make the hard decision of which will be LESS painful. Does he only cut his tail, for example, on your metal coffee table? Or does he have such extreme happy tail that every little chair and doorway ends up hurting him? If it's a more intense version of the happy tail, then you might have to consider docking (but think of all the pain it can save him in the future!)...

I don't have any other alternatives besides docking his tail, BUT, know that if you do it, he'll be put under anesthesia at his age, so he won't feel the pain right away. In fact, if you don't already have him neutered, you might be able to do the docking and the neuter during the same surgery, so he only has to "go under" once!

Keep us updated on your decision, and thanks for commenting! Good luck.

Deb on March 14, 2008:


I ended up on this site because I have a 3 year old Staffordshire. His tail wags so hard when he gets excited that it is cut up and is forever bleeding. I am always cleaning blood off of everything and don't know what to do. I hate the idea of cutting his tail at this age, but might have too. Anybody have any other ideas beside cutting the tail.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 26, 2008:

Thanks, rockinjoe! I read your article on titles after I titled this one but have had it in the back of my mind ever since. If I'm not already your fan (I can't remember), I'm going to go add you right now! :)

Joseph Addams from Standing right behind you! on February 26, 2008:

I love your article. The title upset me enough to click it and read it-and get a bit pissed off in the process. I predict a high scoring hub. Great job!

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 25, 2008:

You're totally right, Blogger Mom. There are much more important things to spend our money and focus our energy on than cosmetic surgery for our animals.

Blogger Mom from Northeast, US on February 25, 2008:

Wow, I had no idea this stuff was still being done. It kind of creeps me out that people spend money on cosmetic surgery for dogs and subject the animal to unneccessary pain. Aren't there starving kids in the world that need help? Sigh.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

Thank you, jmhelms, for your great comment! I appreciate that you "got" the point of my hub: to educate and then to share my opinion.

I have a much harder time deciding what I think is "right" in terms of unnecessary human surgery (circumcision, mostly)... That's often brought up as a parallel topic to cropping and docking. Thanks again!

jmhelms from Portland, OR on February 24, 2008:

The discussion about should it/should it not be done aside, I think you did a great job of explaining the general details of the procedures. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, and you clearly stated what was opinion and fact. Great job with the hub.

My personal opinion is that it should be an owners choice as to having the procedure done. I am not a big fan of regulation, I think that things are already overly regulated. Compare this procedure to child ear piercing and circumcision, the choice shouldn't be a function of a regulating authority to enforce.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

Done and done! :)

Whitney from Georgia on February 24, 2008:

Sure. Link trade! You can use your own referral link, if that's what you mean.. I'll add your hub right away.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

I totally agree that the ear infection thing is a cop-out. Any dog can get an ear infection without proper care.

Go ahead and post the link, Whitney! I was actually going to link to your hub in the links section at the end of this hub and wanted to know if you had a referral you'd like me to put in there? (Want to do a you-link-mine-I-link-yours trade?)

Whitney from Georgia on February 24, 2008:

Maybe Helena, but I don't see it... I'm just going off past experiences. That dog could have had his ears cut off with scissors, it just doesn't look it from the photo. It's a completely different type of cut. But, you can usually tell in person.

Jimmy, I agree that there's no medical reason for it. Many people claim that ear cropping prevents ear infection because not having the ear allows air to flow through which dries it out. I think that's just a cop out for being lazy. People should just clean their dog's ears.

Your Staffie is cute! My APBT has her ears. I wish this was illegal in the states, but it would be hard to put a stop to it at this point. I think.

Helena, do you mind if I post a link to my crop/dock hub from last week?

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

He's gorgeous, Jimmy! They're great dogs. Have you checked out my "Bad Dog" hub? Its point is similar to that of your wife's in that hub. (I thought Staffie Bulls were banned in the UK?)

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on February 24, 2008:

there is a picture of my dog on this page written by my wife over a year ago.....jimmy


helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

Thanks for weighing in, Jimmy! The US is behind pretty much everyone else in allowing this to go down legally, though I'm not sure illegalizing it would make a great enough difference (as you said, it still happens).

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on February 24, 2008:

Simple answer, unless your dog has a medical condition, NO, Although it still occurs in the UK regularly, it is illegal here to do either, I have a staffordshire bull terrior a dog that usually gets its tail docked and i personally would never let that happen to him unless there was a medical condition that made it needed.....jimmy

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

I am actually fairly positive that crop job was done by scissors because I know the person who rescued the dog, and I think that she knows his owner did it with scissors. But I'm not 100% on that. You're right, though, that many home crop jobs leave almost nothing and are very strange looking.

Oh doggy politics and human preference... I admit, though, that I like the look of some of the breeds cropped, but is it worth it? Not even a little bit.

I, too, would like to know why the troll is so mad at this particular hub, but you know how trolls are. :)

Whitney from Georgia on February 24, 2008:

Helena, I'm not saying it looks good. I'm just saying I don't think the cropping was done with scissors. I've seen dogs with their ears cut off with scissors, and they don't look anything like that. Plus, usually people who choose the scissors route, cut more of the ear off, leaving just a small sliver of an ear. I think that picture was done by a vet. I just think it was a poor job.

Yes doggy politics do make a big difference. In general, they have the same chance, but yes usually the clipped dog will win because of human preference and because that's what has been the norm.

Unbeli- maybe you should pose why you agree with this. I'd love to hear why you agree versus telling Helena that she's a bad person for her title and for her beliefs.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

As yet, I have not "chosen" not to crop/dock, as I haven't had the opportunity (my dog is a hound rescue with big floppy ears and the longest tail in history). My article is meant to be persuasive and make you feel the way I do, which is part of the reason it's titled the way it is. Also, I want to be indexed by search engines and get people to read my article, which is the other part of why the title is the way it is. Obviously "should" or "should not" is always a matter of opinion.

I suggest you don't try to psychologize me through my compartmentalized internet life, and I'll do you the same courtesy.

unbeli on February 24, 2008:

If you weren't trying to tell people what to do the article would have been called "why I choose not to crop/dock". You just have an insatiable need to tell othe people how to live their lives and what to do with THEIR pets. The sooner you own up to it the better.

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

But you think the pup with his ears cropped by scissors looks correct? You're right that they don't always need to be perfectly pointy, but that just looks like a terrible crop job to me.

I disagree (for the first time? lol) that a natural dog has the same chance as a docked one in many show rings. While the AKC says that it doesn't matter, it comes down to the choice of the breed clubs and to politics. I think that, between two dogs of exactly the same caliber otherwise, the docked dog would win out.

The video is so sad... I can't imagine hurting such an innocent creature like that (not that I'm passing judgement on those that do; I just couldn't).

Thanks for weighing in, Whitney!

Whitney from Georgia on February 24, 2008:

Hm.. I don't necessarily agree about the APBT with his ears cropped with scissors. Many times they get their ears cropped more rounded versus straight up. It usually depends on the skill and experience of the vet.

Interesting article nonetheless; similar to mine from the other day. I think the procedures are ridiculous and no longer necessary. As you've mentinoed in the past, tail docking and ear cropping served its purpose. It's just not the case anymore. The only good thing about tail docking is for huntind dogs, it can prevent the tail from getting caught on something when flushing out game.

I mean, not even dog shows really care anymore. A natural dog has the same chance as a clipped one.

The procedures are unsafe, especially with young puppies being put under anesthesia.

That video is B/S would could do that to a puppy or any animal! There's not enough money in the world that would pay me to do that!

helenathegreat (author) from Manhattan on February 24, 2008:

Though I know this comment is just trying to get a rise out of me, I'll approve it and respond anyway because I might as well say:

In no way is this article forcing my opinion on anyone. It's merely looking at different sides of each issue and offering my opinion with an explanation. If you choose to disagree with me, I'd love to hear why.

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