Friday, June 3, 2011

Cropping & Docking

The Dilemma

One of the most controversial issues between owners of large breed dogs is the issue of whether or not to dock tails and crop ears.  Some people say it is unethical and harmful to a dog’s wellbeing.  While others, including the American Kennel Club, actually specifies that certain dog breeds must have their tails docked to compete in shows.   Breeds such as Pitbulls, Dobermans, Great Danes, Cane Corsos, and Boxers are given a completely different look without their ears cropped.  A couple I know recently got a Cane Corso because they wanted a large, “mean” looking dog.  At first they demanded that the pup’s tail docked and then eventually ears cropped because this was the only way they could achieve the look they wanted; however, a week after they got their new puppy, they were convinced out of cropping the puppy’s ears by the many animal activists in their apartment building.  Without the ears cropped, many people mistake their $1,500 Cane Corso, which is an exotic, Italian mastiff, for a common Black Laborador. 

Cane Corso with cropped ears
Cane Corso with natural ears

The Pros

There have been proven benefits to cropping ears and docking tails.  Other than cosmetic reasons, it can actually help your puppy in the long run if you chose to do so.  The main thing to remember is that tail docking is something you must talk to about with the breeder.  Tail docking is possible when the puppy matures, however it is usually done before the puppy is a week old because it can be a painful procedure later in life.  Ear cropping is completely up to the owner, however many breeders will do this before you receive your puppy.  It is best for the puppy if it is done between the ages of 7-12 weeks. 

Tail docking has been shown to be better for working dogs because as they get older, they are more prone to injuring their tail.  With many of these dogs, veterinarians will have to dock the tail as the dog gets older and it’s tail gets frailer, which is more of a traumatic experience.  This can be avoided by simply have the tail docked at birth, when the puppy will not have any recollection of the surgery.  Ear cropping is also something that can benefit your dog’s wellbeing.  Many dogs with large ears, such as Great Danes and Cane Corsos, are prone to ear infection because their natural ears reduce the amount of light and air and increase the amount of moisture and bacteria.  This makes the dog more prone to ear infections which can lead to deafness.  Cropping on hunting dogs and guard dogs also helps the dog hear better, and in turn work better. 

Ffor all you new puppy owners who are considering cropping your dogs ears or getting it’s tail docked, just remember that the choice is completely up to you and that if you have a good vet, you will have good results as well.   

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