Tail Docking, and Ear Cropping. Barbaric?

Updated on June 12, 2013
S.T. asks from Kingwood, TX
31 answers

My friend just got the cutest little boxer puppy, he has a tail, and he has normal puppy dog ears. He is about 8 weeks old. She is taking him next week to get his tail chopped off, and his ears cropped to nothing. I am aghast! This has been illegal in the UK (where I am from) for a long time, unless there is good reason for it. I don't see good reason for chopping off a dogs tail and ears, if all they are going to be doing is sauntering around a dog park.
I just don't get it! Why would anyone do this to their dog? I know it's been done for years, and I suppose I have just never put much thought into it before. I know why it used to be done, to prevent injury to working dogs, but I don't see how it benefits a dachshund, or a min pin, to be docked.
Anybody else think this should be banned in this country?

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answers from Chicago on

I don't know that much about dogs, but I do know that my 3 friends who are vet techs are all very against the practice of docking tails and cropping ears.

I can't imagine why it is necessary to do to a family pet.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

That's why I bought my rottie from a breeder who was against docking. Same with my pit bulls.
Added: it's sad that we have altered what we think breed standards should be. TRUE German Rotties and most Dobermans do not have docked fails and cropped ears. When I got my Rottie she was from a true German bloodline therefor she was unaltered.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Wow you are tolerant one. No it shouldn't be banned in this country.

It is tradition.

Not like she is going to toss him on the counter and have a go with the meat cleaver. They use anesthesia in a vet office, pain meds to follow up.

Personally I hate the way most of those dogs look but I am not about to judge anyone else's preferences.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Detroit on

Tails have to be done when they are 2 days old, so if it wasn't done then, I doubt the vet will do it - unless they are willing to pay for tail amputation surgery along with the ear crop. It also is not an option of any mixed breed dog - or at least, it shouldn't be. It is expected somewhat in show dogs, but not required.

There was a purpose years ago, when guard and hunting dogs could be seriously injured by other dogs, animals, etc. - cropping the ears and docking the tails meant there were no more appendages for another animal to grab onto. But obviously then for some breeds (and now for all) it's about looks. It is considered a surgery and as such, legally should be performed by a veterinarian, with proper anesthesia and pain control. More and more owners are opting NOT to have it done. If people ask me about it, I try to discourage them. Breeders will have the pups tails done since again, they are only a day or 2 old when it is done, but often ears are up to the new owner. Not many vets do the surgery any more (I never have) and those that do charge a hefty fee.

There has been a lot of debate amongst the veterinary community about whether or not it should be banned, etc. but it is up to our legislators to decide what is outlawed and what is not. I am not a fan of ear cropping, but I also know in many places (i.e. inner city Detroit) people will get their pit bull puppies ears cropped and they will do it themselves - no anesthesia, no pain management, just sliced off close to the head and that's it. Making something illegal will not keep it from happening - many of these people don't really care what the law says or what society expects. As much as I despise ear cropping, at least when it is done in a vet's office, it's done properly.

ETA: There is docking a puppy's tail when it is 2 days old, and then there is having to amputate a fully grown dog's tail because of severe damage (i.e. constantly whacking it against things, or what we call "happy tail" and causing continual soft-tissue trauma) or a large tumor. There is a difference. Also, it's one thing to have to remove a portion of the ear flap for medical reasons, and it's another to have a puppy's ears cut to form a sharp point for cosmetic reasons. After cropping the ears, it is also necessary to tape them up for several weeks and get them to stand so that the muscles are "trained" to keep the ears upright - if it is not done early (i.e. 8 to 10 weeks old) the ears will never stand. Like I said, for many people, they are opting not to have it done, but for others, it's about the "look" of the dog - particularly Dobermans and pit bulls. Some breeders will have it done before selling the puppies because they don't know right away which ones might end up being in the show ring.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Yes, it's barbaric. There is no valid reason to remove a dog's tail and ears unless they are gangrenous.
Removing a dog's tail and ears is detrimental to him. The tail serves as a rudder and removing it affects his coordination. The ear flaps collect and focus sound directionally. Without them, he can still hear, but his ability to tell where the sound is coming from is impaired.

Also, no DECENT vet is going to dock the tail on an 8-week-old boxer. Tail docking is done when they're newborns. At eight weeks, the tail is too big to be docked.

Gamma G - I am tattooed and pierced. I chose to have that done to my own body for cosmetic reasons, knowing the discomfort that would be involved, and willingly subjecting myself to it for the sake of my own body aesthetic. Having ears cropped is extremely painful for the dog, and it's strictly cosmetic. The dog has no say in the matter. No one has the right to perform cosmetic surgery on another living being without that being's consent, How would you like it if someone gave you a face lift against your will?

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I feel that it is generally something we do for our own aesthetics and has no benefit to the dog. Same with declawing a cat.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Nope. I have a boxer/pit bull mix and there is NO WAY I would consider cropping and docking. His tail is a whip! No kidding! It hurts when it smacks your leg! But I would NOT dream of docking it!!

Do you honestly think if it were "banned" that people wouldn't do it? PAHLEASE!! Look at Chicago - supposed to have the strictest gun control in the country - and yet they have the highest crime rate....PAHLEASE!

if the dog is 8 weeks old - it should NOT be done. From what I understand, this is something that needs to be done when they are DAYS old - like less than one week. Do I think it's "barbaric"? I think it's just plain STUPID. I would be circumspect of any place that would dock a tail after 7 days old.

So would I do this to my dog? No.
Do I think it's barbaric? No. I think it's stupid.
Why would someone do it? I don't know. I really don't.
Do I think it should be banned? No. It wouldn't stop it from happening.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree with you. Cruel, barbaric and not necessary.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Birmingham on

It's pointless and therefore cruel. I have a boxer-lab mix with tail and floppy ears... He's a 90-lb brute, and his tail has thwapped my daughter in the face I-don-t-even-know-how-many times, but she always giggles/laughs (even when she was just learning to stand and walk). To say that docking the tail is to keep it from hitting things is ridiculous to me. BUT one of my dearest people is a boxer breeder with show dogs, so I know that it's part of that world.... still makes me horribly sad.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tail docking should have been done when the puppy was tiny (newborn). I don't see any harm in this procedure. Anyone who has ever owned Boxers (as I have) knows that an 80 pound dog with a tail whipping every which way would be a disaster. It's not an appendage that serves any purpose except to wreak havoc in a breed of that size and energy.

That said, I agree with you on the ears. Both of our Boxers had issues with their ears - constant ear infections, even hematomas from shaking their heads so hard (because of the ear infections). Our male Boxer had to have a hematoma surgically drained and repaired. Ugh. The vet was saying that if he had had his natural, floppy ears, his ears wouldn't have had so many problems. Unfortunately, if you want to show a Boxer in the US, it has to have cropped ears. If I were ever to get another Boxer, I'd insist on floppy ears. It's better for the dog.

Given that your friend's Boxer is not only away from its mother at 8 weeks, but is also coming to her with an uncropped tail, it really sounds like she got it from a backyard breeder. That being the case (and that the dog will not be a show dog), she should leave the ears alone.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't like the idea of it, However I've learned through the years for certain breeds it is better for them. Mainly, those breeds that are used in their traditional manner.

My main issue is people who do it for the hell of it, without knowing or caring about the reason it should be done.

I used to work at a pet store and we sold styptic powder to be used if you trim nails too close to the quick. Well one day this lady came in asking for all we had and wanted more. It was an odd request, so I just asked why she needed so much....She was going to crop her dogs ears IN HER KITCHEN...BY HERSELF! I was so mortified. I admit I went off on her. This woman actually thought that they didn't feel it and a trip to the vet was unnecessary. I wanted to cry! She never came in again, so I have no idea if she did it or not. She left saying she would consider taking the puppy to the vet, but who knows.

I don't know if it should be banned because as I said I've heard reasons why its better for the animal, but I think it should be regulated more. I also think animals, especially domestics, should be treated better. They are living, breathing, feeling beings, not human, but still. I also think there should be stiffer penalties for those who mistreat them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think it's awful.
i was aghast recently to see an otherwise adorable picture of 3 pre-teen girls joyfully cantering bareback on three big beautiful draft horses- with docked tails. why, people?
:( khairete

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I wish it was illegal!! I wish animals were treated with much more respect then they are now.
Our pets are family. We would never treat them like accessories to our life.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Interesting that you object to a dogs ears being cut, cropped, etc. and dogs' tails being cut off in whole or in part. (I do too)

And I feel the same way when parents poke holes with a knife or needle into the lobes of their little kids ears.

Or when women let someone tear their babies apart while the babies are still in the womb because they don't want to be inconvenienced.

Just something to think about. Good luck to you and yours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

i have no idea at all....that is so freakin' sad and pointless. that poor baby, i could & would never do that. :(

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I think it is terrible. It isn't something I would ever willingly have done to my pets. I have a bigger problem with ears than tails. Having ears cropped seems to have an added cruelty compared to tail docking. I do have two rescued dogs with docked tails and had it been my choice they would have the tails with which they were born.

Having said this, I am not sure that I think it should be banned. It should remain the choice of the owner. It would be nice it all owners decided a cosmetic procedure is unwarranted but to flat out ban it doesn't seem the way to go.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I think it should be banned. It's ridiculous.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

I don't have any particular thoughts as to banning it (although I am somewhat against the procedures in general). I do know that SOME people (not all, but some) do it to make the dog look more aggressive. It's a tool to make people fear them and their dog. Some people do it because it's been done to that breed for so long that they don't think the dog LOOKS like it's breed without it (min-pins, dobermans, pitt bulls, etc). Personally, I wouldn't do it to my own dog. It doesn't serve a purpose (most of the time) other than altering the appearance of the dog, and therefor wouldn't be worth the pain/recovery for the animal to me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I know of people who have had their dogs' tails docked because the dogs kept breaking them - they wagged their tails so hard they broke them by hitting their tails against things. An odd problem, but a workable solution. I also know of people who have done this with hunting dogs because it helps prevents injuries - I don't hunt so I don't know details. So, I think banning it is the wrong way to go. But I agree that doing it for looks alone is pointless and cruel.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think the docs usually put them to sleep so they don't feel it.

People get tattoos, piercings, etc....if people want their dogs to have markings typical of their breed I don't see any issue's with it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I honestly didn't know much about it until I got my mini-schnoodle puppy (poodle/schnauzer mix). Her little tail is docked and hers was done when she was a couple of days old. It's adorable (tiny little nub) but I do think the practice is barbaric. I'd love to know what her tail would look like.

So my net answer - barbaric unless there is an extremely good reason to do it (aesthetics is not enough).

With ears - I think you are taking away one of the means that a dog uses to communicate. So, again, barbaric unless for a great reason.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think it's unnecessary, personally. It's a cosmetic surgery being done on another sentient being for the vanity and satisfaction of the owner.... there is really no other purpose to this.

It's not 'part of the breed' as some would say-- it's what is *done* to the breed to give it a certain look. If it was a feature intrinsic to the breed, the pup would have been born with short ears and a short tail. (Reading futher down: if there is a medical reason, I am not opposed. I want to make that clear.)

I don't personally believe in altering another being's body unless it is for *proven* health considerations. And I do think we have a mindless double-standard on this one-- I mean, if someone said they took all their kittens in to have their tails removed, we'd be aghast.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Reno on

I know people do them for certain breeds. I was under the assumption that they dock tails in the first week of life. 8 weeks seems awfully old. We have a beautiful pit bull that does not have its ears docked and has the most annoying tail ever but it is still there. :). I personally am not fond of it but I also dont show dogs or ever had a dog with ear troubles or tail troubles.
Many blessings

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

My good friend has a boxer and was just telling me about this (that many people opt to cropt ears). Her dog's ears have not been cropped but will be soon. Her vet explained to her that he normally does not suggest it be done but that in her case he does. The poor dog has had several hematoma in ears from shaking his head/ears. They will crop his ears to prevent this from happening again.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Tail docking & ear cropping are done in select breeds for specific purposes. In hunting dogs, tails are docked to prevent damage to them from the brush they encounter while hunting. In working dogs, ears are cropped & tails docked to prevent them from being grabbed & utilized by people/other dogs.

I am VERY surprised (& dismayed) that a vet would do a tail docking at this late age. Typically this procedure is done b/t 2 & 5 days of age. At 8 weeks, it will be a significan surgical amputation procedure, & unfair to the pup.

Ear cropping is different, & usually is done at 7-8 weeks of age. The reason it is done later is because the ear cartilage needs to be mature enough to begin shaping, but pliable enough to be encouraged into standing straight. Puppies that have been cropped will wear braced bandages on their ears for a period of time. Full healing of the cuts by 10 days, but a few weeks more "training" to get the ears to stand up properly.

Many people who get boxers, great danes & dobermans (among other breeds) do so just as much for the physical appearance as for the personality. By not having the breed silhouette (cropped/docked) they do not look like "pure bred" dogs to most people (at least in countries where cropping/docking is not banned).

As someone who participates in pure-bred sports, I will say there are a number of people who support the elimination of ear cropping. However, until it becomes accepted by the majority, there is a distinct disadvantage to those dogs in the show ring. (Tail docking, like dew claw removal, needs to be done at the time the puppies are neonates, & results in very little pain, due to the still soft bone formation at that age.)

My personal breed (Rhodesian Ridgeback) does not require either tail docking or ear cropping, although we do remove dew claws. If I were to acquire a breed that had optional ear cropping, I would probably not have the procedure done. But I am not opposed to tail docking or dew removal in neonates.

T. (Breeder Rhodesian Ridgebacks)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Weimeriner tails tend to be chopped off, we did NOT do this to our Lab/Weim mix as we had no reason to. Some people think it is done because "that's what you do with this breed" and some people think it's done for vanity's sake.

I think you should do what you can to advocate for the animals and make this illegal. I think you should share politely with your friend your opinion, but no soap box - it is her dog and it is legal.

I will say though - man can my dog's tail crack your thigh like a whip!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes, it should be banned, along with puppy mills, if I may.

Hell O wheels not sure if ear docking will lead to hemotomas or any type of infection. I had a beagle mix with floppy ears - no social requirement to crop her ears - and she was riddled with hemotomas and ear infections.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I have never heard of this but it sounds cruel and disgusting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Odessa on

I worked at a vets office for 12 years before becoming a stay at home mom. You do not have a doc or ear crop dogs ears. I am really shocked they are doing it at 8 weeks. The vet iI worked for word only do them at two days old.


I worked at a vets office for 12 years before becoming a stay at home mom. You do not have a doc or ear crop dogs ears. I am really shocked they are doing it at 8 weeks. The vet iI worked for word only do them at two days old.



answers from Victoria on

Talk to your friend, explain your consirnes and she might think twice about it.

I dont like the way the finished product looks after docking or cropping. But banned. No. Everything is done in a fashion where its sanitary and safe for the animal. Not like the woman is taking a knife in her own hands and doing it herself. I think our nation has become sissified. To be shocked and appauled and call this animal crulety is absurd. Some breeds have ear issues. Some breeds are for protection and this look makes them less puppy and more guard. Find out her reasons. Dont ban them.



answers from Atlanta on

I got my Great Dane puppy when she was 10 weeks old. She had been marked for show, but then the breeders decided to not show her due to personality issues (she's pretty shy). So, she came to me with her ears cropped. They are gorgeous - a beautiful long show crop. I love them and how they look. However, I don't think I could ever tell anyone to chop my new puppy's ears off. But, I don't begrudge anyone who does - assuming it's done correctly with a skilled vet, anesthesia, and pain meds.

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