In today’s society cosmetic surgery is a widely popular and socially accepted practice. This is also true in the dog world but I think there is a big distinction between someone making the choice to get surgery done on themselves and doing it to an animal that cannot speak up for itself. Indeed, dogs don’t get a say about whether or not someone will lop off hunk of their ears or tail. Although I can’t read the minds of dogs, I’m pretty sure that given the choice, they would shout a hearty “NO!” to the question of ear cropping and tail docking.
Dogs were originally selectively bred to perform certain tasks for humans and we did everything in our power to make sure they did their jobs effectively. To make hunting dogs more efficient we docked their tails so that they would suffer fewer injuries to their tails when running through thick brush. Guard and fighting dogs got their ears cropped so that their opponents (both human and canine) had less to grab onto.
Although I understand the purpose that man originally cropped the ears and docked the tails of various breeds, I still have a hard time accepting it. I believe that we are truly blessed to have dogs integrated into the human world and that we should appreciate our unique relationship with this once wild animal with gratitude – not by taking a scalpel to their bodies for our selfish purposes.
Even if I was to go along with cropping and docking for the purposes of enhancing the dogs abilities to accomplish the tasks they were bred for, why the hell would you do it to dogs that are used as family pets? Chopping off the tails of Weimaraners and Doberman Pinchers, and hacking off a large portion of a Pit Bulls and Boxers ears serves no purpose in the everyday life of the pet dog. It’s done only so the dog will look like the breed standard, which was created a long time ago by very different kinds of dog owners.
Besides my obvious objection to putting a dog under anesthesia unnecessarily to remove pieces of a living animal for appearance reasons only, loosing part or all of their ears and/or tail greatly compromises their ability to communicate. A good portion of a dog’s body language is conveyed with the position of the tail, as well as the orientation of the ears. There have been studies done that have found that dogs with docked tails can be significantly handicapped in conveying fear, caution, aggression and playfulness. The main way dog’s communicate and build their relationships with one another is through body language, and when part or all of their ears and/or tail is missing their ability to signal to other dogs socially is greatly hampered.
Now that most dog breeds in the U.S. are not being used for their original purpose and are being bred to be pets, I think it’s time that the general public demand that breeders and kennel clubs re-evaluate the standard. Let’s stop this needless mutilation of our dogs and rethink what we are really doing. Instead of going along with cropping and docking just because that’s been the tradition, let’s think what’s really in our dogs best interested and do right by our dogs.
Dog’s put up with a lot of our human foolishness on a daily basis, so let’s start treating them with the love and care that they deserve. Let’s raise the bar of our compassion and better shape the course of our relationship with our pals, the domestic dog.