It used to be that cropping ears and docking tails were commonplace for a number of breeds. Usually between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks old, a dog’s ears and tails were cropped and docked for breed standards and fashion.
Emily Patterson-Kane, PhD, an animal welfare scientist at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), tells WebMD, “Docking’s usually performed by a veterinarian or breeder without anesthesia, the rationale being that although it certainly causes pain, the puppy isn’t fully alert yet and won’t remember it.” Patterson-Kane doesn’t support the procedure herself.
More and more veterinarians and animal welfare organizations agree with Patterson-Kane. Docking involves removing part or all of a dog’s tail, and cropping involves cutting off the floppy part of a dog’s ear. With cropping, the dog’s ears are tapped for several weeks allowing them to heal in an upright position.
In Australia and the U.K., docking is banned. While in the U.S., docking and cropping are unregulated. In New York and Vermont, people in Congress and in animal welfare have considered legislation to ban these practices.
The practices continue because the American Kennel Club believes cropping and docking are “integral to defining and preserving breed character” in certain breeds. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes docking and cropping. “The most common reason for cropping and docking is to give a dog a certain look. That means it poses unnecessary risks,” Patterson-Kane says.
Patterson-Kane says dogs with cropped tails can develop a neuroma or nerve tumor. She told WebMD that cropped tails causes pain and can make dogs snap when their tails are touched.