Tail Docking and Ear Cropping: Mutilating Dogs for Looks

Humans can choose whether or not to have cosmetic surgery, but dogs aren’t so lucky. Owners can force them to undergo painful and unnecessary procedures such as ear cropping and tail docking. Some veterinarians still perform these surgeries at the owner’s request, just to make dogs look more menacing or to give certain breeds more “desirable” physical traits, such as stubby tails or pointy ears. 🙄

Dogs use their ears and tails to express themselves, to communicate with us, and to communicate with other animals. They put their tails between their legs when they’re scared and wag their tails to show happiness or other feelings. By cutting off part of dogs’ ears and tails, humans not only change their appearance but also limit their ability to express their emotions. 

Ear cropping is typically performed when dogs are between 6 and 12 weeks old, and the sole purpose is to make floppy ears stand up straight. The procedure involves cutting off parts of the ears with a blade or scissors in order to change their shape.  

While veterinarians who still perform this cruel mutilation may use anesthetics, breeders across the country have been caught cutting off dogs’ ears with scissors and knives without anesthetics, causing them agony.  

The ears are then put into an upright position and held in place with bandages and tape in an attempt to make them stand up straight on their own. The trauma of this painful procedure can have a negative psychological impact on a maturing puppy, and the process of taping and retaping the ears can be excruciating to the dog. 

A tawny dog who was subjected to ear cropping locks eyes with the camera

Puppies’ tails are usually docked when the animals are just a few days old, sometimes surgically by veterinarians but more often by greedy breeders, who use shears or scissors and no anesthetics. The agonizing process involves severing skin, nerves, cartilage, and bone. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), tail docking is painful and unjustified and can lead to complications, such as excessive bleeding and chronic pain if scar tissue forms in the tail stub. 

“Because dogs have not been shown to derive self-esteem or pride in appearance from having their tails docked—common reasons for performing cosmetic procedures on people—there is no obvious benefit to our patients.” 

The American Veterinary Medical Association 

The idea that dogs are fashion accessories is promoted by the American Kennel Club’s dog shows and by breeders who believe that “their” breed will be ruined if animals don’t maintain the image handed down by breed clubs decades ago. The AVMA, however, opposes ear cropping and tail docking for cosmetic purposes and encourages the elimination of both from breed standards. These procedures are so inhumane that they’ve been banned in many countries. British kennel clubs outlawed ear cropping a century ago, and the U.K. put a stop to cosmetic tail docking 30 years ago. Many veterinarians in the U.S. now refuse to perform these monstrous mutilations. 

Dogs don’t care if they look tough or if their ears stand up, and it’s speciesist to force them to undergo unnecessary, painful procedures at somebody’s whim. They aren’t fashion accessories or status symbols, and their ears and tails should be left alone. 

What You Can Do 

  • Support legislation that aims to outlaw these cruel practices. 
  • Love dogs for who they are! Don’t alter their appearance to fit in with a trend or meet an arbitrary “breed standard.” 
  • Share this info with your friends and family. Spread the word that tail-docking and ear-cropping procedures are painful and that cosmetic surgery on dogs is cruel. 
  • Declawing cats is also painful and unnecessary. Don’t do it!

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