Tail docking and ear cropping, two procedures widely recognized as painful and unnecessary, impose lifelong handicaps on dogs.
A recent investigation reveals that nearly half of Americans hold the mistaken belief that specific dog breeds are naturally born with pointy ears and no tails. These conspicuous alterations have become such common features of many dogs that participants in the study struggled to identify the breeds without them. Can you recognize them?
How about now?
Meet the Doberman Pinscher, one of America’s most beloved breeds, unrecognizable without its surgically altered features. Other breeds that confounded observers without these modifications included boxers, miniature Schnauzers, and the Brussels Griffon.
Contrary to the belief of 42% of Americans, this is not how these dogs naturally come into the world. Shortly after birth, their tails and a substantial portion of their ears are amputated in the name of tail docking and ear cropping, all for the sake of aesthetics as perceived by their owners.
Katelyn Mills, the author of the study, suspected that the lack of awareness among survey respondents might be a deliberate act. “People tend to distance themselves from uncomfortable topics”, she remarked to the Washington Post. “They prefer not to confront it.”
Tail docking involves cutting through a 3-to-5-day-old dog’s tail bone using scissors, scalpels, or by restricting blood circulation with a rubber band until it falls off. Both procedures are typically performed without the administration of anesthesia.
Ear cropping, on the other hand, involves shaping a dog’s ears according to the owner’s preference. For instance, Dobermans may undergo a “military crop” or a “show crop”. The ears are then manipulated with tape for several months until they heal and stand up on their own. Tragically, these ear-training headbands are even sold on eBay.
Beyond the excruciating pain, these surgeries deprive dogs of body parts they evolved to have for a reason. Tails and ears serve as vital communication tools for dogs, allowing them to interact with each other and other species. When these body parts are missing, a host of critical body language and emotional cues vanish.
For instance, floppy ears and a wagging tail typically signify a content, approachable dog, one that is safe to pet or play with. Conversely, dogs with erect ears and a straight tail might be preparing for a confrontation. Research demonstrates that dogs with cropped ears and tails are perceived as more aggressive, irrespective of their actual mood, making it challenging for them to socialize with other dogs.
While this may be desirable for individuals such as dog fighters, hunters, and ranchers who want their dogs to appear dominant to their prey or adversaries, it is far from pleasant for the dogs themselves. As Julie Hecht, a canine writer for The Scientific American, points out: “What is concerning about cropping is that it essentially projects an alert, forward-looking appearance onto the dog, even if that is not how the dog wishes to present itself”. This altered appearance can reduce their chances of being adopted or receiving affection from humans or other dogs.
In terms of how dogs are perceived by humans alone, this practice is undeniably disheartening. Being seen as friendly and approachable is a trait that most dogs should have the opportunity to enjoy.
Source: Return to Now