5 Terrifying facts about Professional Dog Breeding


Fact #04

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping

Here’s an extreme example of the prevalent focus on aesthetics in dog breeding. It seems that not all desirable traits can be passed on genetically—or at least not fast enough for some breeders. This is where surgeries like tail docking and ear cropping come in.

The practice of cutting off dogs’ tails was originally carried out to avoid paying taxes on them (because “dogs with tails” used to be a reasonable thing to impose taxes on). The practice has continued ever since, but with the new justification that it pre-emptively prevents tail injury later in life. This is quite similar to the procedure we use on human babies, which involves cutting off their feet at birth so that they don’t stub their toes as adults.

The terrible thing is that practices like tail docking and ear cropping are big parts of many breeds’ official standards. The boxer, for example, should have a “high, docked” tail, and “an undocked tail should be severely penalized.” That’s from the official website, by the way. And the story only gets worse from there: most countries have banned or at least restricted the practice of tail docking, but in the United States it’s not only common, but frequently performed without any kind of anesthesia.

All of this is done in spite of the numerous studies showing how beneficial tails are to dogs (they help with balance and social cues, for example). If it’s any consolation, the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes the practice. Or maybe that just makes things worse, because it gives untrained breeders an excuse to cut off the tails themselves.


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