Ear Cropping and Tail Docking
Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Falling Out of Fashion
Vets say both procedures -- especially ear cropping -- are becoming less common. “I’ve worked with nearly 40 animal doctors during my career, and I know maybe two who perform crops,” Roark says. Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest network of animal hospitals in the U.S., no longer performs docking or cropping. And the AKC says dogs without docks or crops are just as likely to win at dog shows.
Fifteen of the 225 dogs showing in the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club dog show agility contest are mixed-breed (also called “all-American”). “We're seeing a lot more natural-eared dogs in the ring, and the occasional undocked," says Westminster spokesman David Frei.
“We’re seeing a rapid change in American dog culture. It’s no longer unusual to see schnauzers without cropped ears and boxers with long tails,” Roark says.
Remember: Alteration Is an Option
If you’re thinking about getting a puppy whose breed often gets docked or cropped, ask yourself: Are the risks and pain my dog may experience worth it? “When I bring surgery up with [potential pet owners], many don’t even realize it’s a choice,” Roark says. If you’re getting your dog from a breeder, make sure he knows before the dog is born if you don’t want your puppy docked, Serpell says.
Or avoid the question altogether by getting an older dog.