Tail docking and ear cropping are extremely painful, totally unnecessary procedures that handicap dogs for life.
A recent study finds that nearly half of Americans believe certain breeds of dogs are born with pointy ears and without tails.
Missing tails and erect ears have become such common characteristics of many dogs that many study participants couldn’t identify the breed without them.
How about now?
It’s a Doberman Pinscher, one of America’s most popular breeds.
Other breeds that were unrecognizable without these features were boxers, miniature Schnauzer and the Brussels Griffon:
Contrary to the belief of 42% of Americans, this is not how these dogs were born.
Their tails and a good chunk of their ears were chopped off shortly after birth.
Euphemistically called tail docking and ear cropping, they are amputations of necessary body parts to make them aesthetically pleasing to their owners.
Study author Katelyn Mills thought the lack of awareness of survey respondents may be somewhat intentional.
“People disconnect themselves from things if they find it uncomfortable,” she told the Washington Post. “They don’t want to know about it.”
Tail docking involves cutting through a 3-to-5-day-old dog’s tail bone with scissors and scalpels or cutting off blood circulation to the tail with a rubber-band until it falls off.
Both procedures are typically done without anesthetic.
Ear cropping involves cutting a dog’s ears into the owner’s desired shape ((Dobermans might get a ‘military crop’ or a ‘show crop’) and then forcing them upright with tape for months until they heal and stand up on their own.
Not only are these surgeries excruciatingly painful, they are robbing dogs of body parts they evolved to have for a reason.
Tails and ears allow dogs to communicate with each other and other species, and when they are missing all kinds of body language and emotional cues are missing.
For example, floppy ears and a wagging tail are usually indicators of a happy dog, one who is safe to pet or play with, while dogs with erect ears and a straight tail might be gearing up for a fight.
Research shows dogs with cropped ears and tails are perceived as more aggressive, no matter what mood they may be in, making it harder for them to socialize with other dogs:
While that might be a desirable thing for dog fighters, hunters and ranchers, who wanted the dogs to appear dominant to their prey or adversaries, it’s not nice for the dog.
”What is scary to me about the cropping is that you’re essentially creating a very alert, forward-looking appearance, even if that is not how the dog is wanting to present itself,” writes canine writer Julie Hecht for The Scientific American.
She notes that the dogs’ appearance can reduce their chances of being adopted or getting affection from humans or other dogs.
“In terms of how dogs are perceived by humans alone, I feel very bad for them. It’s nice to be perceived as friendly and approachable.”