The debate between cropped ears, docked tails, or natural is hot but here’s help for cool heads to prevail in favor of ear health, alert expression, overall appearance and adherence to breed standards.
THE CROPPING-DOCKING DEBATE
Hobby Horse Ranch Paints and Boxers
That age old debate is between cropped ears, docked tails, or go natural. You are a barbarian with no feelings if you crop/dock or, you don’t know what you are talking about if you don’t crop/dock.
Judges don’t seem to award dogs with natural ears (drop ears) as readily as cropped ears. If you look at pictures of similar dogs, one cropped, one natural, the cropped dog looks more alert, has more expression and is closer to the Breed Standard if it calls for ear cropping. This is what the Boxer Judge is looking for-drop ears tend to pull the face down, making the dog look softer and not so alert, rather like a Bassett. Natural ears are however starting to place more frequently, and we are seeing them more often, where before they were a rarity. (click each photo to enlarge)
The other advantage of cropping heavy drop ears is less frequent infections and ear hematomas from head shaking. Imagine if you will, whacking yourself in the ear with a hammer. This was the description one veterinarian used for the pain dogs feel when the tissues separate in their ears. Once this separation happens it is hard to heal. The ear must be drained of blood, then stitched together using pieces of tubing. At one time they used buttons to hold the ear tissue together!
The trend now is a shorter crop- which stands much more quickly and without the year-long taping and posting that Great Dane crops on smaller dogs required. The use of glue instead of stitches and no more wire to post the ears have all made things easier on both puppies and their owners. (click the puppy and also see her 2 weeks later with ears standing) Cropped ears are easier to clean, check for wax buildup, debris, or ear mites and there’s no head shaking. Big bonus’s for those of us who crop.
For the dog’s sake, ear cropping discourages ear infections. As for “cruelty”, the cropping is done under anesthetic (no pain) and puppies are ready to run and play the same day. Of course the cropped ear requires some attention until it stands upright but the puppies love that extra individual attention! See Video Theater below.
Now, let’s watch your dogs tail-if you have a docked dog that does a lot of wagging and wiggling, imagine if that dog had a tail-nothing would be safe! They would leave devastation in their wake with Boxer happiness! Hound and Sporting dog owners will be the first to say “keep valuables off of the coffee table!” And toddlers have been knocked down by happy long tails.
When working at our Vets office, I saw many tails come in with injuries. Just day-to-day knocking them on tables, table legs, walls, fences. You get the idea. Their tails were a mass of sores. The solution is docking.
When you have a tail-wagging large breed of dog, dock the tail when they are tiny so their systems aren’t always sending pain messages out to the brain.
They also have very little bleeding because at that time they just aren’t pumping a lot of blood to that tail. Some dock using thread, some use a scalpel and then glue to seal the end. Many Toy dog breeders use surgical scissors and Quick Stop to immediately stop any bit of bleeding. I still prefer to have the Vet dock the tails and remove dewclaws while checking them over.
They squeal-but it is in protest because you are holding them and they want Mom! As soon as the tail docking is done, pop the pups back in with Mom and they are happy campers. If they were hurting, they would still be hollering. The key is to do it within hours of birth. The best thing is if your Veterinarian will come to you and not expose the newborns to something in the Clinic.
Many Vet Teaching Hospitals aren’t teaching ear cropping to their students which is a shame. It is still something that is very much needed and wanted. Older veterinarians that have done excellent ear crops are retiring with no one to take their place.
In Great Britain they are getting closer to having the freedom of cropping and docking once again. We should never lose this choice here in America. It’s like apples and oranges, if you want a natural-eared dog, that is your choice. If I want to crop/dock mine, please don’t look down on me or tell me I’m cruel. I am in fact doing it for my dog’s well being as much as for style, breed standard, and convenience. I would never hurt my dogs. They are my Friends, my Protectors, my Family.
Go to Ear Cropping, Tail Docking, for three short videos that explain why the simple procedure is necessary to the preservation of breed type and/or function in some Working and Sporting breeds. You will also learn that both tail docking (done before pain receptors are fully developed) and ear cropping (done under general anesthesia) are neither painful nor cruel..
It’s very much a health issue. Docked, cropped or natural, I hope to see you all ringside!