cropping, docking, and dewclaws, oh my, Responsible Breeding, Responsible Ownership

Cropping and docking are going away. Which side of history will your breed be on?

Some years ago a fellow came to my office and insisted that he needed to dock the tail of his dog. I asked, “How will your dog be better when it doesn’t have a tail?” He replied, “Well, that’s the standard of gundog owners associations around the world.” I said, “Who cares?”

(Alan Ashton, veterinarian, New South Wales, Hansard, April 06, 2004)

I have a sixteen-year-old daughter who is just about to breed her first litter. She is entering the dog fancy at the very end of two hundred years of show-breeding-based cosmetic surgery in the United States.

By the time she is the age I am now, most of the states in the US will have passed cropping and docking bans. The few states that remain without laws on the books will have no vets who perform the procedures, effectively ending the practice of cropping. A few breeders will still dock at home, but most pet owners will consider the sight of a cropped or docked dog to be unusual, and many will consider it repulsive.

When Honour goes to dog shows with me in 2015, surrounding her are hundreds of cropped and docked dogs. In 2040, assuming she is still in the fancy, there will be few or none.

I can feel you gearing up for an argument about your breed, its history, what’s allowable and what freedom means.

Shut your mouths.

We are beyond arguing about whether cropping or docking are ethical for breeders to do. The argument has already been settled. The veterinary leadership took the position that cosmetic cropping and docking was wrong in the 1970s.1 Since then, its position has only strengthened.2 The rejection of cropping/docking is not confined to the veterinary profession, either – it has moved into the philosophical,3 legal,4 and public perception.5

The veterinary community had a general feeling in the 70s, but science had progressed enough by the 1990s to make researchers certain that dogs did feel pain from both procedures. Again, if you’re taking a breath to say that baby puppies don’t feel pain when they’re docked, you are completely and totally wrong. 6 It’s also false that it’s less painful to dock during puppyhood than amputate in adulthood.7 And if you insist on either one of these things, you are not only perpetuating a falsehood,8 you just make us look even more stupid.9

By 2008, not only was it certain that the procedures caused pain, it was certain that they did not provide anything close to a compensatory benefit. Undocked dogs have very few tail injuries. 10 Cropping does not prevent ear infections.11 The implementation of cropping/docking on “working breeds” is so inconsistent as to be laughable.12 The jig is up; nobody believes you when you say it’s for a working purpose.13

So in 2009, the AVMA released a new policy, one that did not just advise against cropping and docking but condemned it. This policy change was not initiated by any communication with the animal rights lobby;14 it was the result of a genuine groundswell of opinion among the veterinary community.

The show-breeding community is the only group that still wants dogs to be docked or cropped, and we’ve effectively moved (in veterinary perception) from an institution that is somewhat quaint and set in its ways to a source of active cruelty. 15

When I bought my first Great Dane, there were vets in almost every state who would do a decent show crop. An extensive network of home croppers was general knowledge in the community. Fifteen years later, breeders are traveling across half the country to find one of the few vets who will still do a show crop.

This is not a coincidence.

The vets who support breeders’ desire to crop are older; a huge number of them have retired in the last couple of decades. In the next twenty years, virtually all of the remaining show-cropping vets will retire or die. They will not be replaced. And home cropping is now so universally condemned in vet schools that the story of a show cropper who wants assistance to crop at home is used as a test case in veterinary ethics textbooks.16

No matter how much you may try to deny it, the facts are inescapable. No matter how you feel about docking and cropping, they are no longer going to be an option very soon.

So what are you going to do now – as breeders, as parent clubs, as ambassadors of your breed?

Here’s what is NOT going to work:

1) The “Then I’ll take my ball and go home” solution: If we’re not allowed to dock or crop, threaten to stop breeding.

All this would do is confirm to the entire world that the right to be able to cut off pieces of your dogs is more important to you than the dogs themselves. It would be a very public admission of an extremely unattractive attitude, and would turn the public against show breeders with great efficiency.

2) The “Throw lobbying money at it” solution: Insist that this is just “AR nonsense” and that if you give enough money to the NAIA or push the AKC hard enough this will all go away. 

First, the move toward banning docking and cropping is not “Animal rights nonsense.” Not only is it not the result of animal rights lobbying, it is not nonsense. What IS nonsense is saying that cropping and docking don’t hurt dogs. Throwing money at perpetuating nonsense is doomed to failure over the long term, and it should be.

Second, by trying to push this as a legislative agenda, you are positioning show breeders AGAINST the world’s veterinarians and AGAINST the world’s legal ethicists. Is that really a place we want to put ourselves? Or are we dooming ourselves to look abusive and blind when history looks back and considers this question?

Here’s what you SHOULD be doing:

1) Rewrite your standards now, not when you’re forced to. 

Parent clubs have a VERY limited window of time in which to represent a standard change as their own idea and not something rammed down their throats.

2) Publicize your club’s decision.

You have the opportunity to gain a huge amount of goodwill among the decision-makers of the veterinary community, the legislature, and pet owners if you are perceived as being ahead of the curve on this topic. This well of goodwill is getting shallower by the year. Do it now and do it very loudly.

3) Stop making excuses, pull your head out of the sand, wake up and smell the coffee, or whatever cliché makes you change your rhetoric.

There is no rational justification for cosmetic docking and cropping and there never has been. The only situation that made it so easy to perpetuate was a lack of absolute certainty about the causing of pain both immediate and long-term. That era is over.

4) Spend the goodwill and the publicity you gained in step 2 to educate vets and the public on something that’s both defensible AND pro-dog.

“We’re glad to get our breed in the news for this wonderful reason. We want to invite everyone to come out to the shows and see how dedicated our breeders are to the welfare of their breeds.”

“We hope this decision encourages more people to get involved in our wonderful breed; if you’re interested in becoming a responsible breeder, visit our website.”

“We hope this decision affirms our dedication to providing the very best care for all dogs. If you’d like to learn more about evidence-based breeding, including what veterinary interventions we support and which ones we don’t, check out our homepage.”

The bottom line: Now is the time to act. Being truthful, humane, and proactive will, in the public’s eyes, earn us the right to continue to have a voice in the national dialog about dogs. If we reject any of those three principles, we’re proclaiming ourselves to be unreliable, and we will be treated as such when it comes to vital dog arguments in the decades to come.

Notes on the footnotes: None of the sources are from animal rights publications or from the research arm of any animal-rights-oriented institution. They are from mainstream peer-reviewed journals and AVMA publications. The AVMA is not an animal-rights-friendly organization; it actively supports ownership rather than guardianship language, disbudding and dehorning, the use of animals in research, and so on. 

My statements on state cropping/docking bans are based on the rapidly accelerating pace of docking/cropping lawmaking and proposed bans. Test-case laws are being proposed virtually every year, and (as with most sea changes in public perceptions) are likely to succeed in one or more of the New England states, California, or Oregon within the next few years. Vermont already has a sort-of ban, as of 2006 (Vermont didn’t have any vets who would crop, so the ban did not have any teeth, but it was enacted). Once a true ban is enacted, a half-dozen other states will follow quickly, and then the court of public opinion will create a sweep. 

I am leaving the comments open but cautiously. Please do not comment that puppies do not feel pain or are not affected by docking/cropping; I’ve already posted the studies that establish that they do. Any statement of fact in a comment must be backed up by a cite, and the strength of the cites must be high.

  4. “Two recent cases have opened the door to successful animal cruelty prosecutions for ear cropping and tail docking. First, in Hammer v. American Kennel Club, a dog owner brought a discrimination suit against the AKC alleging that a docked tail standard effectively excluded his dog from participating in competitions, as the owner believed tail docking to be a form of animal cruelty. Although the court dismissed the action on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted, and this case had no effect on the previous decision in Rogers , the court did specifically state that the anti-cruelty law could be construed to prohibit tail docking for cosmetic purposes as unjustifiable mutilation. Additionally, in a pointed dissent, N.Y. Supreme Court (Appellate Division) Justice Ellerin states, “Assuming arguendo that the protection of hunting dogs against tail injuries justifies docking the tails of hunting dogs, it is not a justification for docking the tails of non-hunting dogs . . . for the purposes of AKC competitions.”
  5. From a very lay-oriented article in WSJ: “Some dogs growl before biting and some don’t; the canine body speaks louder than the voice. That is why dogs whose tails are docked or ears cropped lose some of their linguistic fluency.”
  6. Noonan G, Rand J, Blackshaw J, et al. Behavioural observations of puppies undergoing tail docking. Appl Anim Behav Sci 1996;4: 335-342. Also Fitzgerald M. (1994). – The neurobiology of fetal and neonatal pain. In A textbook of pain (P.D. Wall & R. Melzack, eds), 3rd Ed. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 153-163
  7. “It has also been suggested that accidental tail trauma to the adult dog causes more suffering than amputation early in life. However, puppies are rarely provided analgesia when their tails are docked and the short-and long-term effects of painful procedures in neonates of many species are well documented.” LaPrarie JL, Murphy AZ. Long Term Impact of Neonatal Injury in Male and Female Rats: Sex Differences, Mechanisms and Clinical Implications. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 2010;31:193-202.
  8. “A survey conducted in Australia in 1996 found that 76% of veterinarians surveyed believed that tail docking causes significant to severe pain, with none believing that no pain is experienced. In contrast, 82% of dog breeders believed that docked puppies experience no, or only mild pain.” Bennett and Perini, “Tail docking in dogs: a review of the issues,” Australian Veterinary Journal, April 2003, vol. 81, no. 4, p. 209.
  9. “Indeed, whereas most veterinarians state that tail docking causes significant or severe pain and should not be continued (despite its potential as a source of income), most breeders believe that docking is not painful or causes little pain, and want it to continue. It is reasonable to assume that veterinarians, being in closer contact with animals that are suffering through being ill or wounded, are better informed on tail damage than breeders. Moreover, veterinarians are trained to recognise typical pain behaviour, and this recognition significantly increases the ability to distinguish between painful and less painful treatments, for instance in rats (44). Such divided opinions raise questions about the vested interests of the breeders, the breed societies which set the breed standards and the information which they distribute to their members and elsewhere.”
  10. “These justifications for docking working dogs’ tails lack substantial scientific support. In the largest study to date on tail injuries in dogs the incidence was 0.23% and it was calculated that approximately 500 dogs need to be docked to prevent one tail injury.”   Diesel G, Pfeiffer D, Crispin S, et al. Risk factors for tail injuries in dogs in Great Britain. Vet Rec 2010;166:812-817.
  11. “Otitis externa incidence, however, is most closely associated with particular breeds within each group (whether ears are hanging or erect), and is especially prevalent in Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and German Shepherd Dogs. … (But) no group deems a high incidence of otitis externa a valid reason for advocating routine cropping of the ears of Cocker Spaniels or Poodles. … Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels seem to be predisposed to otitis externa due to a greater density of apocrine glands and a predisposition to proliferative ceruminous gland hyperplasia (i.e., proliferation of cells) and ectasia (i.e., dilation or distension). This clustering of risk factors suggests the risk of otitis externa in pedigreed dogs must be considered on a breed-by-breed basis, and that grouping study samples by ear shape (e.g., pendulous or erect) may not be justified”
  12. “Differences between breeds that are docked and those that are not are often minor.  For example among the very similar Pointer, German Longhaired Pointer and German Shorthaired Pointer, only the German Shorthaired Pointer is traditionally docked.”
  13. “Based on current knowledge and ethical considerations, authors of many previous articles, as well as official veterinary associations, have concluded that tail docking cannot be considered as a prophylactic measure to prevent damage caused by practices such as hunting. From an ethical point of view, these articles and opinions examine which item carries most weight: the suffering of the whole newborn population of traditionally docked breeds or the pain felt by the few individuals possibly requiring an amputation in adulthood.”
  14. “How it came about: The AVMA position on Ear Cropping and Tail Docking of Dogs, most recently approved in 1999, was up for evaluation by the Animal Welfare Committee as part regular reviews of all AVMA policies by their oversight councils and committees. “The reason this came up is because of the review requirement. We were not approached by the HSUS; we were not approached by PETA; nor did anyone else call to ask us to change the policy,” Dr. Golab said.
  15. “I think we can all agree that snipping off puppies ears and tails serves no purpose other than to satisfy some archaic notion of how a dog should look by an out-of-touch institution.”
  16. “A local schnauzer breeder with whom you have worked for the last five years wants to buy a bottle of Innovar-vet…”
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  • Reply Dolores June 23, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Not going to argue..A standard poodle with a long tail looks just ridiculous- totally breaks the elegance of the look. Sorry- I wouldn’t buy a poodle unless it had a cropped tail .The next generation can do as it wishes..

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      It looks ridiculous to you because your brain is used to a certain shape. Retrain your brain, voila, tail looks wonderful. All it takes is getting over the novelty, as has been seen in the European cropping/docking bans.

      The Poodle dock used to be much shorter; now an “elegant” dock is long and the short dock looks petsy. Did the platonic ideal of “poodle tail” change? Of course not. It was just breeder preference. An undocked tail will be elegant just as quickly as a longer dock was.

      • Reply Dolores July 30, 2015 at 8:29 pm

        Joanna- I belong to a standard poodle facebook page so I indeed see a lot of undocked tails- and with the exception of a few ( maybe Arreau’s standard poodles) I don’t find them at all to my liking The poodles just look odd, and when the tails curl over their backs, they look downright homely…Many of the tails are so long that they appear to radically change the elegant look of a standard, and if said poodle didn’t have the typical poodle cut- it would look like a doodle! To each his own..

        • Reply Michael Romanos July 30, 2015 at 10:11 pm

          Cropping of dogs ears is banned in many countries in the world and not just in Western Europe. There is simply NO GOOD reason for this savage act.

          Docking of dogs tails is banned in at least 35 countries and not just in Western Europe

          Docking of tails is at present allowed in New Zealand ( which has a population of dogs just below the USA on a per capita basis) but only by way of the banding method at an age of three day old.

          Docking is destroying a most dog-valued part of their anatomy and in almost all cases is titally un-necessary and the developed world by an d large will fall into gear w with this subject.

          I have had a story published on the aspect of neutering and spaying of dogs which especially in the USA is another example of miscued veterinary advice If anyone wopuld like a copy of this article, contact me by email:

          • Dolores July 30, 2015 at 10:28 pm

            Coals to Newcastle , Michael Romanos-as you are preaching to the converted. Your stats are wasted on me because they are not news and they don’t change my opinion. But you’ll be happy to know that I don’t believe in early spay /neuter.

    • Reply Lisa June 23, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      My friends undocked standard poodles Win repeatedly in the agility ring. Trust me, they don’t look “wrong” headed for MACH7

      • Reply Joanna Kimball June 23, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        Love this.

        • Reply Krista June 24, 2015 at 1:57 am

          I own a poodle and I love the longer dock that’s in style now. I do find undocked poodle tails look odd to me, perhaps they need to be groomed differently? I will continue to own poodles once they are no longer docked, I’m not giving up my favourite breed over a couple inches of tail!

          • Bernie McDowell June 24, 2015 at 2:18 am

            Good for you Krista. All of my Rotties have been docked…if or should I say when the dock ban takes effect, I would still own a tailed Rottweiler. They are gorgeous both ways.


      • Reply Lisa June 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm

        Oops, I goofed. MACH10

    • Reply Dave July 31, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Poodle’s look ridiculous no matter what.

      • Reply Jeff August 1, 2015 at 6:16 am

        We have a troll

        • Reply Dolores August 1, 2015 at 10:30 am

          Dave’s sentence makes no sense- clearly he doesn’t know the difference between possessive and plural nouns 🙂

  • Reply bestuvall June 23, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    so then what about juvenile castration of both sexes.. many studies point to the harm it does to ALL dogs. It is a surgery that is done ONLY for owner convenience at that age and yet I do not see the AVMA speaking out about the horrible trauma of castration of over 83% of all owned dogs. Guess it just depends on whose ox is being gored.
    1) The “Then I’ll take my ball and go home” solution: If we’re not allowed to dock or crop, threaten to stop breeding.

    All this would do is confirm to the entire world that the right to be able to cut off pieces of your dogs is more important to you than the dogs themselves. It would be a very public admission of an extremely unattractive attitude, and would turn the public against show breeders with great efficiency.

    point made but show breeders are already turned against because they DO NOT castrate their pets.. so much so that in many places castration is the LAW and breeders who do not conform are breaking those laws… so do we need more laws?

  • Reply bestuvall June 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    e. That is why dogs whose tails are docked or ears cropped lose some of their linguistic fluency.”
    really? my breed has natural prick ears as do many breeds so have they “lost theirlinguistic fluency( what ever that means) should I glue their ears down?

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 23, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      I used that article as an example of a very low-level “layman’s” understanding, sort of “what people with very little experience with dogs think” – it’s obviously not an example of particularly deep thinking.

      What the author is referring to is something like this: and concomitantly to the VERY short ear crop that prevents normal ear communication.

    • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      It’s simple and incontrovertible ….dogs use ears and tails to communicate ( and tails for many other things )

  • Reply Kelsey June 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    I find it hard to believe that docking and cropping is going to disappear in the United States anytime soon. I even find it hard to believe that it will disappear in the next 30 years, but maybe I’m wrong. I haven’t heard of any people in my breed who have had trouble finding someone to dock their puppies. Show people aren’t the only one who want to keep docking, either. Hunting people undoubtedly want to keep docking, as well as ranchers with herding stock dogs. That said, I’m not opposed to leaving dogs natural. I have Field Spaniels and our standard already allows for natural tails. I think many spaniel breeds do, though not all, and of course many judges will still overlook dogs with natural tails. We recently had a dog with a tail gain mutiple group placements in my breed though. His breeder was fortunate that his tail was set and carried correctly; I’m sure many others would not be as nice if left natural.

    Anyway, I’ll wait and see, but I have my doubts that either practice will be leaving us anytime soon. If anything I think cropping could be outlawed before docking is.

  • Reply Hannah June 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Dobermans are my breed so this is a subject near and dear to my heart. I am not a breeder but I have heard from many that they will completely abandon the breed should cropping/docking become illegal. This is totally ludicrous to me in that I love so much more about Dobes than their ears and nubs.

    That said, as long as I have the option to, I will continue to own cropped/docked Dobes. But if/when that option is taken away, I am prepared to learn to love the houndy look of a natural Dobe.

    My state has technically had an anti-cropping law on the books since the early aughts yet at least three vets that I know of openly crop and advertise that they do. And within 3 hours of me are at least five cropping vets. I really think you are wrong that it will disappear so quickly.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 23, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      My reply to you and to Kelsey is the same – what is going to change in the next 25-30 years is that an entire generation of vets will retire and new ones will take their place. I agree that most breeders are still going to be yelling about wanting to crop and dock long until they have absolutely no choice – but what’s going to happen is that they will have absolutely no choice.

      Docking and cropping is not just ignored in vet school; it’s actively taught AGAINST. So within that period of time, twenty-five to thirty years, the option of cropping is going to go away whether breeders like it or not.

      But I honestly think that the groundswell of legislation is going to be a huge factor too. It’s already a major argument in many areas of the country, and it’s going to continue to be.

      • Reply Hannah June 24, 2015 at 12:48 pm

        Vets that just plain prefer the look, or who are passionate about cropped breeds, will always be around, though. Those retiring vets can and do pass on their knowledge to younger vets who are already practicing. The vet that cropped my first Dobe retired shortly thereafter. I looked up his protege, at a different clinic fifty miles away, to do my next Dobe. They have never taught cropping in vet school; it has always been something that just a small percentage of vets pursue learning afterward. Or at least that is my impression.

        The vet that cropped my current Dobe is not much older than me (and I am 30). He is very passionate about it. I doubt that unless the laws change he would stop, and I do think he will teach any younger vets that come to him that want to learn.

        Regardless, barring tragedy, I look forward to 30+/- more years of cropped Dobies via his hands.

      • Reply bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 12:19 am

        Vet school? you mean the place where people become animal doctors and never even breed a dog or whelp a litter? Where spay/neuter is a mantra exactly like no crop /no dock. It is fine for the AVMA is publish their “neutral ” policy on castration of dogs but you will be hard pressed to find a student that does not think that all of their patients should be castrated. The Dr. Hutch’s of the dog world are few and far between and people travel to see a real repro vet just like they do when they need a crop. few vets have any idea what to do with a sick puppy a stuck puppy or a bitch in trouble much less anything about the actual breeding of dogs. My point is this we can mandate against something that is only done ONCE in a dogs life and has no further repercussions while forcing by LAW that dog owners have a surgery that will influence their pets for the rest of its life. Makes no sense whatsoever. Meanwhile I have seen many photos of undocked dogs where the tail is held over to the backside of the dog to give the impression that the tail is docked.. in fact I saw a cocker spaniel handler stuff the skinny end of the dogs tail inside of his sleeve to give the correct docked look to the dogs tail. So if this is going away what about bark softening that going away as well? in fact why should the owner of any dog have any say over the care of their pet. why not just let the vets and the government take over? oh but we still have to pay the bills. Why should any dog have any surgery at all if it is only for owner convenience or “vanity” . let’s get rid of debarking, cropping, docking, dew claw removal, and mandatory castration. That should make vets happy

        • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:32 pm

          Really ? The continues comparison between spay/neuter and D/C is an attempt to not discuss issues about D/C. There ARE valid reasons to spay/neuter …..adoption dogs from shelters or rescue . They cannot and won’t be allowed to be adopted without the procedures for obvious reasons . As for mandated general spay and neuter across the Board and especially at early ages …I oppose that , as does the AVMA ….

          • Tina July 31, 2015 at 3:09 pm

            Why continue the obviously AR agenda of the term ‘adoption’. Whether you obtain a dog from a shelter or a breeder you are purchasing it. If no money changes hands, then you have been gifted with the dog. To use the term ‘adoption’ you are offending those people, including my grandchildren, who have been humiliated by their classmates who taunt them with comparisons to shelter dogs!

          • Jeff August 1, 2015 at 6:18 am

            You’re kidding Geez

        • Reply Liz July 17, 2015 at 12:51 am

          ‘Wah why should anyone tell me whether I can or can’t maim my dog!’

        • Reply Dave July 31, 2015 at 4:19 pm

          Considering non-neutered male dogs are responsible for 80% of all dog attacks on humans, I think it is irresponsible not to neuter your male dog unless you are a breeder. If you are a breeder, you non-neutered male dog should be kept away from children.

          • Jeff August 1, 2015 at 6:15 am

            Off topic. But not accurate

          • Tina August 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm

            Please cite your source for this information. It is completely inaccurate. Lots of good reasons to keep a male dog intact besides breeding. Look up some of the recent studies done on this. Educate yourself.

          • Michael Romanos September 8, 2015 at 10:34 pm

            Dave is completely wrong. The USA is obsessed with neutering male dogs. In many European countries neutering is discouraged and these countries do not have a dog behavioural problem. What we need to do is discourage Americans owning typically dangerous breeds of dogs and the more challenging types of dogs and be better owners and being licenced to own a dog thus having to pass tests to be certified.

      • Reply Charlie D July 26, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        Ms Kimball,
        Quite frankly I think articles expressing the defeatist attitude where a minority of people is one of the biggest detriments to a free society. The words in your post regarding “….. yelling about wanting to crop and dock long until they have absolutely NO CHOICE (emphasis mine) ……. ” is a typical argument where one group of people who don’t want to do something just don’t do it and another group of people who don’t want to do something want to take away everyone’s choice to do that thing. You speak of the “groundswell”, well there is only a ground swell where those that wnt to stop a group of people from doing something are portrayed as being EVIL. Those that want to crop and dock their dogs are NOT evil. They are ordinary people that want the right to CHOICE maintained as it says in the Constitution of the United States of America. I wish you would put as much effort into upholding that RIGHT as you do in denigrating and perpetuating the sentiment of removing the Rights of those that wish to do what they feel is correct for their situations.

        • Reply Jeff July 27, 2015 at 6:01 pm

          There is no ” right” to crop or dock. Especially in the constitution ! We have those choices at this time

        • Reply Michael Romanos July 27, 2015 at 11:21 pm

          This aspect about free-choice and anything to do with being “free” is very much an American-thing. It is afterall part of the USA national anthem but it is an incorrect stance as in actual fact the USA is less “free” than many other countries and carries to this day a racial aversion to real ethical and moral human freedom. So a ban on the docking of dogs tails unless there is a medical reason for it or a removal because of potential harmful injury associated with actual farm herding, does not reduce the freedom of a country but in actual fact it increases the freedom of a part of that country in-so-much as a dog remaining in a natural an advantageous state.

          Among a number of advantages for a tail is the use of a tail as a counter-balance when a dog is running or jumping or even just walking over a narrow plank and in the case of keeping a dog warm as tails such as those of a Pembroke Corgi can envelope part of a dog’s body and there is the importance of tails as communicators and the extra sociological scent that is near the tips of the tails.

  • Reply Metropolis June 23, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks for the facts and scientific support. Docking was banned in Australia in 2004 except for medical reasons. I have had my breed – vizslas – since 1999, and started breeding in 2010, so I am familiar with docked and undocked dogs. I have owned one vizsla I needed to dock at 18 months because after wiping blood off the wall for months and keeping a bandaid on the end of his tail, a conservative vet told me it should be docked because the risk of infection meant infection could move down the bone in the tail and eventually kill the dog. My vet had told ne of studies that showed significant reduction in aggression between rottweilers and boxers once docking was banned, because of how dogs use tails to communicate. I have docked a 14 month old that I rehomed, for the same reason. I know another vizsla whose long thin tail used to bleed alot, but repulsed by the idea of docking, his owners preferred to keep a bandaid on. I have had a vet tell me of another vizsla that he docked for medical reasons, only to find that infection was already in the bone, and the tail died almost as soon as it was operated on, up to about 4″ from the hindquarters where it ended up. I had a pup born with a kink at the end of her tail which needed to be docked for medical reasons due to the bent bit being more likely to be weak and injured if knocked, hence risk of infection. I hope you who assume all breeders who dock only do so due to vanity are starting to see a trend here – maybe some docking is for nedical reasons. NOW, having had more experience managing adult docked tails than many dog owners, let’s discuss management. Most owners don’t want to look cruel, so they let their dog wave its bandaged tail around for the 2 weeks an adult tail is supposed to take to heal. Invariably the bandaged tail touches something, no matter how careful you are – a wall, a person’s leg – and this retards the healing process so that instead of 2 weeks, it usually takes 2 months. The owner is stressed that their dog now has a huge gaping wound, not just a bleeding tail, and the dog is fed up from 2 months of being bandaged. After a month of this with my first docked adult, my vet advised strapping my adult’s docked tail to his hind leg to prevent movement and support the injury, apparently the way footballers strap injuries. Guess what, once strapped, it healed within 2 weeks. My second docked adult, I asked the vet to strap from the beginning rather than waste time with a ton of cotton wool, and the tail took 3 weeks to heal (it got wet in the second week, which slowed things). A good friend with an adult had to dock his tail for getting caught in a door, and with extremely good care and a ton of bandaging but no strapping, it took 2 months to heal. People don’t want to strap docked adult tails because they think it looks cruel. I have seen no behavioural difference in my strapped dogs, and have posted photos on Facebook to show people how, but still people won’t do it. So to those prejudiced people who are so ignorant as to assume all docking is done from vanity, I wish you luck breeding thick tails that don’t ever bleed. If and when they do, from my experience the statistics are more like 1 in 30, I hope you have a vet who understands how to strap a tail so it is comfortable for the dog, and talks you into it, or you talk him into it. Otherwise, I wish you and your bleeding tailed adult dogs good luck, either not getting infected if you refuse to dock, or healing without more infection and discomfort during the 8 or more weeks you will take to heal if your tail is not strapped. And to the prejudiced people who have been so biassed as to assume all human intervention with tails is cruel, and the only happy tail is one left to swing naturally, bandaged or not, I hope you don’t have the stress I did 4 weeks into my first docking, when the tail would not heal and I thought I may be responsible for my docking having a worse risk of infection than it originally did. Ms Kimball, I would be grateful if you would allow that some breeders, who enjoy their dogs tails, do have medical reasons to dock. I look forward to your article on the best way to manage docked adult tails while healing.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 23, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Hello and thank you for your experiences.

      The number of tail injuries that eventually lead to amputation (the proper term for it is amputation, not docking, when it is done therapeutically and in adulthood) has been established by multiple studies. found that the incidence of tail injuries, period, to be a quarter of a percent (so 1:400, not anywhere close to 1:30) and most of those do not require amputation.

      “Happy tail” is something that occurs in all smooth-coated breeds, and it’s something that is much more a factor of coat than of tail. It occurs in all kinds of breeds that are never docked; allowing more universal docking will not prevent most cases. The key, as you have already found, is immobilizing the tail. There are many ways to do this; one of the simplest is just putting a pair of sweatpants of appropriate size on the dog.

      • Reply Paul Pomes, DVM July 17, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        I’ve found that cutting the end off a syringe case of the appropriate size and taping it on so that the tail tip is protected works wonders.

        Paul Pomes, DVM

      • Reply Metropolis September 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm

        Could you please elaborate on using sweatpants to immobilize amputated tails. Do you cut holes to enable the dog to toilet while wearing the pants, or do you remove them for it to toilet? I am wondering if tights may be preferable. I will not strap if I can find an alternative that works as well. From the 3 cases of amputated adult tails that I have known, nothing the vets recommended to protect the tail and allow it to heal worked in less than 2 months, except for the strapping.

  • Reply Bernie McDowell June 24, 2015 at 12:36 am


    I agree with you…but it might take most 20 years to stop docking…but I think it will happen.

    I personally think that one of the biggest problems of moving forward on the crop/dock issue with breed fanciers lies squarely with the Parent Clubs. Bans would become moot, if the Parent Clubs wrote their Standards to welcome either natural or docked and cropped. The American Kennel Club should also take a stronger stand on the breed Parent Clubs that mandate cropping/docking. Although many clubs do not actually spell out the dock/crop mandates…the ambiguous language in these standards cause too much confusion and tension.

    About 3 years ago, I became very involved in the effort to get the American Rottweiler Club to specifically write a description of a natural tail into our Standard. The best we could accomplish was to NOT have the Standard call a natural tail a “fault”. We wanted the tail description to be the same as the European standard but what we have is no description of a natural tail at all. In the last few years we have at least 5 new Champions with natural tails…maybe more…but unfortunately, it is still more common for the natural tailed Rottie to be overlooked by the judges. When you spoke of the many Vets who are retiring and being replaced by doctors who will not dock or crop…maybe that will happen with Judges in the AKC rings…we can only hope.

    People need to admit that cropping or docking is something they visually prefer. There is no proven or logical reason that the tail our dogs are born with would interfere with any part of their lives. The Rottweiler is in the Working Dog Group. They pretty much do it all and a natural tail would not hamper any of these jobs…for every reason anyone comes up with…there are breeds that work with a tail. Certainly, all have ears of various sizes. If docking is objectionable…cropping is ridiculous.

    The European Union does not allow docking or cropping. I believe the ban started in the 1990’s. Everyone got used to it and those dogs look just as fabulous as their docked cousins in the US.

    I believe that if it were a choice…if the natural dog could honestly compete with the altered dogs in the AKC Show Ring…we would eventually see more and more natural dogs.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 24, 2015 at 12:43 am

      I have been very aware of the Rottweiler tail issue; I was a very loud happy person when Dutch finished and a very loud UNhappy person when members of the ARC took out those ads telling judges that “The Rottweiler is a docked breed” (with veiled threats that if they put up any tails the club was going to refuse to hire them). I’ve been THRILLED to see the tails finish since then.

      Thank you so much for your comments – very encouraging and great to see someone who really THINKS about this.

    • Reply bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 12:24 am

      I do not understand this you want a standard that calls for docking to be changed to accommodate your dogs here in the USA but not vice versa.

      • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

        ….we have a choice ( unless the people in breed clubs had their way and threw out any uncropped and undocked dogs ( AKC won’t allow that thank goodness) ….so your point ( and one I see repeatedly misused in this discussion ) is we should be as closed minded and ignorant as those ” Europeans ” you complain about who have removed choices ? Though you want to be as exclusionary in the opposite direction ?

    • Reply Metropolis September 8, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      I have put syringes on docked adult tails (referred to that way by several vets Ms Kimball, but thanks for correcting me with the term ‘amputated’ – I won’t correct the medical professionals when they are trying to share knowledge), used hair rollers with cotton inside to allow a wider margin to protect the tail, and used a ton of cotton wool. Still did not protect my vizsla’s tail sufficiently. Maybe because they are docked at 2/3 – that’s right, plenty of length left to communicate with other dogs. Ms Kimball, please do not correct my personal breed specific information – I know 5 vizslas with long thin tails that have bled from hitting objects when being wagged – I am not confident that I have met more than 150. I definitely have not met and do not know 2000. You know, when someone supports your principle – don’t dock just for vanity – but also points out there are problems with your recommended approach, and provides evidence from experience, you don’t have to be defensive. You could acknowledge that maybe their experience is different to yours, and that they have provided food for thought. I also commend the readers who comment on how ignorant many vets are about breeding. Let me add to that breed temperament, breed characteristics and reasons for breeding. I always consult my vet about medical issues I have not previously encountered, and I refuse to self-diagnose. It would be nice if vets also recognised their limitations. Every time I took a vizsla to my vets, whoever attended me would comment on how well behaved my vizslas are, usually the vizslas they see are stupid. For the first 6 vizslas I took to the vet, we had the same conversation. I would point out that it is an intelligent breed that enjoys discipline, my vet would rebut me by the evidence of all the ‘stupid’ vizslas they had as patients. Finally one day I said ‘You are blaming the dog, but the human is the one who trains it, so maybe you should be looking at the human as the one who is stupid’. Shortly after that, while my dogs continued to be complimented, I noticed that the several different staff I dealt with had ceased to label the breed stupid. I hope they had learned. I have not heard of tracksuit pants protecting a docked tail like strapping. I will look into it, because I would avoid strapping if I could achieve the same results without having so much tape on the dog’s leg.

      • Reply Jeff September 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm

        5 ? That’s it ? Five tails that bled ! That comment is exactly why the AVMA says there isn’t medical justification. So clean the scrap and apply antibiotic ointment. I bet pads, feet,legs and ears on those five have a greater chance of injury. Maybe cropping would solve that ?!

        The rest of the post about vets isn’t really the topic

        • Reply Metropolis September 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

          Jeff, if you had read my post, you would have seen that I was referring to personal experience, and that all dogs amputated were done on medical advice that more harm could be done through infection entering wounds that repeatedly opened than by leaving them. I do not understand or like cropping. I like full tails. It is ignorant to assume that everyone who docks does so solely for appearance.

  • Reply Jeff Shaver June 24, 2015 at 2:39 am

    Well. Very interesting article. Been there and done that , as they say ! Owning bone of those tailed Ch Rottweilers has been an experience. Good mostly. Bad from a few people. Attitudes are changing !

  • Reply Bernie McDowell June 24, 2015 at 2:45 am

    I know Dutch’s Mom…a fun lady. I know most of the people who have finished their tailed Rotties since Dutch. One of the best was the bitch who took Winners Bitch at the 2013 ARC National in California. To say there was mixed reactions would be an understatement. This was just the beginning. Having it take place at our National was icing on the cake. There are many deserving Rottweilers out there…they should have a chance, tail and all!

    • Reply bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 12:26 am

      so then why shouldn’t the docked ones “Have a chance” too in other places if they were docked in a country that allows for it?

      • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

        Get on it and change the laws of the EU , for a start . Good luck . The issue is what do we do . Here.

  • Reply Ruth June 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Not a fan of cropping/docking, though as long as its done by a vet I’ll tolerate it. But I have to admit that I prefer the look of some breeds cropped or docked. On the other hand I don’t own those breeds, so its not an issue for me that way…..

    My issue with banning cropping/docking has to do with the way the laws get written. I’ve not read, by any stretch, all of the laws on the subject. But NY state keeps trying to put laws on the books that not only forbid someone to do it, but would make it illegal to own a cropped/docked dog unless you can prove it was done before the ban went into effect. That would make it illegal to host an event where cropped/docked dogs are featured. That would make it illegal to even travel THROUGH NY state with a cropped/docked dog. So far common sense has prevailed and the proposed bills haven’t gone anywhere. But they keep popping up, with basically the same language……I’m hoping that its just part of the latest trend in NY, which seems to be to see how many f*cking stupid animal bills they can get on the table, and that once the trend runs its course a bit more sense will prevail. But I’m highly concerned that before that happens one of these will end up as actual law!

  • Reply K June 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I can’t argue with the peer-reviewed research you present, but I do have vivid memories of the agony a little Golden/Cocker cross I know was put through almost daily to get brush and burs out of her gorgeous tail. Yes, I know that the setters get to “keep theirs” but I can’t imagine the pain of a dock being more for that particular dog than the recurring pain of having her tail/feathers pulled. She lived on a farm with lots of woods and brush and LIVED to go run through the horse pasture or down to the creek and do all of those things that a gundog was bred to do… I don’t know, would docking or shaving the tail or the almost daily yanking of it have been less painful and traumatic for her?

    Also, how do you feel about dewclaws? I like their function and I DO see dogs use them, but I have also seen far too many ingrowns come into rescue (or into grooming salons and vet’s offices – it is incredible that even “good” owners don’t notice them under anything but the shortest fur until it’s far too late!) and I’ve had some pretty nasty dewclaw injuries as well. At what level is the chance of later injury/trauma too high or balanced against a too low pain or complication risk to justify their removal?

    Finally, with centuries of cropping and docking in these breeds, what do you think will be the effect on the genetic diversity if suddenly tails/ears are left and it is suddenly discovered that a certain percentage of them are weak or ugly or incorrect? Does there need to be a time period where “any tail goes” with a gradual progression toward a set standard? How would that work?

    • Reply Jeff Shaver June 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Hi ” K” :

      How do Goldens and other tailed dogs with hair survive those burs when hunting ? Brushing and grooming are worse than amputation? I just cannot grasp that concept.

      Love Dewclaws and haven’t removed them in 30 years …and not a single injury . Should we encourage people to remove dogs’ parts because those people can’t learn to properly groom those parts ?

      What tails look like : The best example I can give is the Rottweiler in Germany. When they had to add wording to the standard after 1998 …they left it pretty open…the only tail not allowed is one that looks like a Basenji or Akita . The wording says ” kink tail , ring tail with strong lateral deviation” ….Besides ….tail set and tail carriage are not the same thing …set is how it comes off the back while carriage conveys the way a dogs’ tail looks overall ….Carriage varies depending on emotion and activity . A relaxed dog tail may hang straight down while the same dog alert may have it touch the back …..

      • Reply K June 24, 2015 at 11:15 pm

        Hey Jeff,

        The difference is in how the dogs are hunted. My first job was a gundog training kennel, so I do have a bit of experience here. A tail is VERY useful in the water, which is why the retrievers are not docked. A Golden Retriever should NOT be put through heavy burs/brush in their historical job – they should leave a duck blind or skiff and hit the water and bring back a duck. The Setters and Pointers should run through a mostly open field and point to the clumps of brush where the birds are concealed, then hold the point while the hunter walks forward to flush the birds. A Spaniel, on the other hand, is SUPPOSED to flush, meaning that their entire job is to enter brush to scare up the birds it contains. Thus, virtually all of the Spaniels were traditionally docked, whereas the waterfowl retrievers and many of the pointers/setters got to keep their tails. Similarly, the docked herding breeds were/are the breeds that naturally carry their tails high and/or were also used for draft work. A high-carried tail is a greater liability around stock and any tail is a greater liability around the wheels of a cart.
        As for it not being worse than an amputation… I don’t know. We’re talking about an hour or more at least every other day, and a lot of tugging and pulling. Does your dog like their tail groomed? Do they like having a hard tangle pulled out of their tail? Certainly if it only happened occasionally, I wouldn’t think of comparing it, but I would consider the almost daily process to be at least as painful and traumatic for the dog as recurring “happy tail.” And I can say with certainty that it is possible for a dog to become tangled to the point of not being able to get out of the brush from a heavily feathered tail.
        Dewclaws – I prefer my own dogs to have them, but know that not everyone remembers to look at even normal nails, and the dozens or hundreds of pet owners I have met who are unwilling or unable to trim them, I kind of view it like neutering. I know that I can handle an intact dog, and based on the most recent science, I want to keep any future males intact (pyo still scares the crap out of me, so spaying is probably going to continue) but I’m just not sure that I want all puppy buyers or shelter adopters to be trusted to handle that. I trim nails weekly and when I have had a ripped dew, I know enough to promptly and properly deal with it (which is good considering it always happens as many miles as possible from the trail head). How many of your puppy buyers will trim nails weekly?

        • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:39 pm

          1) almost no dogs in the breeds at question actually do what they were originally bred for..
          2)Having to groom a dog as justification for avoiding need grooming by preemptively removing body parts? I cannot make sense out of that anymore than saying hunting dogs get burs in their pads and need medical care should have their pads removed to avoid the burs .
          3)Pet owners not properly caring for their dogs doesn’t mean we should make our dogs more easy for those owners to have , does it ?

          • K June 26, 2015 at 12:15 am

            But some still do work/hunt… does that mean that I should be allowed to crop/dock if I can prove I am going to work the dog? My experience is with people who actually hunt to put food on the table. Every time they have to pick a dog out of the brush, they cannot be hunting. The dog has a single purpose. Docking the heavily feathered spaniels makes it easier and more convenient for the dog to fulfill that purpose. I am not saying that I am “pro crop/dock”, my breed of choice doesn’t have either done, but I am saying that I understand why it is functional for certain working dogs.
            Joanne is making a case that the pain and trauma caused to the dog make the procedure unethical, and her argument is compelling, I would just like to hear her specifically talk about the actual benefits to certain working dogs (the other that comes to mind are the terriers who actually go to ground and are dug out, too much tail = chopped off by a shovel, too little = no handle to get pulled out of a tight situation) and why it is STILL not justified in those cases.
            Removing dews is the same reasoning that Joanne uses when she talks about RR breeders who cull the ridgeless pups – the knowledge that some portion of them will suffer terribly. Similarly, I have personally witnessed working in a kennel, a vet’s office, and as a groomer a high proportion of dogs who ended up suffering terribly with ingrown dewclaws. Certainly a much higher proportion than I have ever seen with ear or tail injuries. At what point is removal justified? I am incredibly grateful when we get a dog into rescue that has horrible nails but someone removed the dews – because if the nails are that long, the dews would be well back into the leg.

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 12:19 am

            Wow. Too much here to handle by cell phone ! Later !

          • Joanna Kimball June 26, 2015 at 5:29 am

            I breed and own a herding breed. My dogs are put on stock as soon as they can run; their exercise pen is a large area deep in our New England woods. They do the job of good small-farm dogs. We frequently sell to people who use our dogs as full-time farm dogs, agility dogs, barn dogs, herding, tracking, and nosework. You know how many tails have been hurt, broken, or even shaved? Zero. Somehow, thousands of years of owning tails has not made Cardigans not able to do their historic work. But if you ask a typical Pembroke corgi breeder why their tails are docked, they will reply “They are working dogs, so the tail is a liability.” Now not only is that UNTRUE historically (Pems came out of the Welsh hills with a mixture of bobtails and long tails; they are docked because of a decision made by early show breeders that long-tailed Pems might be confused with Cardigans), it is UNTRUE when it comes to logic and experience.

            If the heavily feathered spaniels are docked, why are the setters not docked? Or, if you want to compare dogs whose jobs are EXACTLY the same, let’s look at NAVHDA upland bird dogs. GSP: Docked long. English pointer: Undocked. English setter: undocked. GWP/Korthals: Docked short. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon: Docked long. Braque: Docked very short. Pointing Labs: Undocked. Munsterlander: Undocked. Spinone: Docked long. Gordon setter: Undocked. Pudelpointer: Docked very long. Flatcoat: Undocked. Irish and Red and White Setters: Undocked. Weimaraner: Docked short. It is COMPLETELY inconsistent. You will literally have these dogs working beside each other in the field and one will have a tail and the other will not, and both handlers will tell you that their tail is that way because they’re field dogs.

            Now, the terriers – I have to admit that I have never heard the shovel argument. That’s completely new to me. However, having both a go-to-ground terrier mix and a shovel in my house, I can say that at NO TIME has that terrier EVER had his tail in a place where I could cut it off with a shovel, and I can’t even imagine how you could do that. If you were a complete drunken boob with the shovel, I can see you hitting the dog’s thigh or foot, but the tail is nowhere near where you are putting the shovel when you’re digging out game.

            And WOW, dewclaws are NOTHING like ridgeless ridgebacks. I’ve said in the past (and still say) that it is not my decision as to how breeders deal with puppies that they believe must be euthanized, with the key word being MUST. I do not agree with the decision they’ve made when they euth ridgeless puppies; I would never do it myself. I am glad that the tradition is falling by the wayside, and look forward to it being gone forever. But sooner or later every breeder has a puppy they have to put down for some reason, and the critical consideration is that they are CAUSING NO PAIN.

            Dogs have no idea how long they are “supposed” to live and they do not fear death. So the dog simply has a short happy life versus a long happy life. Since I have myself put puppies down, I don’t believe I can tell other breeders that they are NOT allowed to put puppies down. However, I do believe that they can be told that there are cruel and painful ways to put puppies down (like the freezer) and they should never, never do those things, and that there are painless ways to put puppies down. And if research or evidence shows that the reason they believed they HAD to put the puppy down is not valid, then it stops being a personal decision and becomes an ethical question. And they have to stop.

            Causing pain by removing parts of a healthy dog’s body for no good reason is NEVER justifiable. Not “sometimes” or “under certain circumstances” or “if you really, really believe it looks better” or any other nonsense. Never. And “because I don’t want to trim dewclaws” is one of the stupider bad reasons that could possibly exist.

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 5:41 pm

            Yet I still support the choice to do these procedures .

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm

            There are no verifiable benefits medically for docking or cropping …. Unless you fight dogs. The statistics prove it. You shouldnt be required to preemptively remove parts because they could , maybe , need treading or grooming

          • K June 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

            Joanne – You list a bunch of POINTING breeds and then say “see? the flushing breeds don’t need to be docked.” Here is a setter doing what it was bred to do: note that the dog is not entering the heavy brush. Here is a spaniel doing what it was bred to do: notice how it is leaping into the heavy brush. In order to make an actual comparison, you need to make a case that the function and hunting styles are at least similar and that the coat and tail anatomy are at least similar! Of course a short-coated or a wire-coated dog or a pointing dog or a herding dog is going to be different! The Musterlander is a pointer and retriever, not a flushing spaniel. I agree that 99.9% of the time docking serves no purpose for the modern dog or dog owner other than history, tradition, or cosmetics, but the people who started docking did occasionally have more than two brain cells and an actual, legitimate reason.
            As for your terrier, how many times has he entered the burrow of a woodchuck recently? Or a badger? Or a fox? A good terrier will enter the burrows of all three, but there are times when they will corner and not be able to kill the prey (and be unwilling to come out) or when they will become trapped underground. The tail was traditionally used as a “handle” to pull them out, but a long tail would be hit by a shovel while following the tunnels of the burrow to dig to the point where the tail could be grabbed.
            Again, I am NOT pro crop/dock but would like to see a GOOD argument specifically addressing these concerns – not a list of breeds with an entirely different function or anecdotes from owning a non-working dog of a similar breed! I just hang out with people who actually work their flushing spaniels and make these arguments and would like to know if there is an argument that specifically addresses their concerns.

          • Joanna Kimball June 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            The reason I specifically listed NAVHDA upland bird dogs is that they ARE doing the SAME JOB and their tail anatomy is THE EXACT SAME. The NAVHDA natural ability tests and utility tests and trials do not separate the dogs by breed or by function; every dog is expected to both hunt birds and swim to retrieve. The two most common breeds being used, in my observations, are the English Pointer and the GWP/Korthals pointer. One is undocked, the other is docked. EXACT same job. EXACT same terrain.

            The people who started docking did it because they believed there was a magic worm in the dog’s tail. Looking to them for justification is going to be a no-win.

            Go to ground terriers do not leave their tails on the ground behind them. They are all high-set-tail breeds and their tails go straight up or curl over the back. Their back LEGS are often stretched behind them as they dig (they stand on their back toes); none of them have tails longer than their own back legs. That’s why I say that you could hit a thigh or a foot but you would not hit a tail. You would not hit ANYTHING if you have even a tiny bit of intelligence. That’s also probably why, in all the reasons I’ve ever heard for docking terrier tails, nobody has ever talked about hitting one with a shovel. They usually refer to docking making the tail “stronger” so you can pull them out of a hole, as though cutting off the end of something confers special strength to the part left behind.

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

            Spaniels. Coats. Burs. Enough said

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 5:34 pm

            Spaniels. Right ? Burs . Right ?

            If burs in a tail are a problem requiring pre removal ….. Their long flowing coats should be bred out or kept shaved

          • K June 26, 2015 at 5:53 pm

            Jeff – I am not pro dock, I do not own a docked breed, I never plan to own a docked dog. But I still haven’t heard anything that explains why every long-coated breed developed specifically to flush was docked. The short-coated dogs and the wire coated dogs I totally get, and I would like to see all of them not docked, but what do I tell my friend who has a spaniel to put food on the table and breeds her to make more strictly functional hunting dogs?Leave the tails and just, oh, just spend hours during or after every hunting brushing out the tail… oh, just shave the tail… oh, just get a different breed… oh, just tell the new owners that they didn’t want to hunt anyway… oh, just breed out the long coat…?
            I don’t see how I can be more clear that I am not trying to argue for docking, I am looking for actual arguments against docking in the specific cases where people I know own and breed working dogs and have these arguments for docking. The terrier thing always felt shaky at best, Joanne, and I see that argument, but is there even one example of a working long-coated flushing dog (not pointing, not retrieving) that wasn’t historically docked that I can point to? I can’t find even one.

          • JeffS June 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm

            Ask your friend how she grooms the rest of the dog after hunting. Take the extra ten minutes to care for her valuable dog ….. Brush the tail too … Them give them a nice meal for a job well done

            Because all of a group of dogs is docked doesn’t mean there were or are reasons to do it.

            History is full of examples of false reasons for these procedures. Some say the Rottweiler was docked to prevent herding and drafting injuries. Bologna. There is not one historical shred of proof a single dog was injured with a tail performing those jobs. It’s folklore

          • Joanna Kimball June 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

            I feel like you’re trying so hard to split hairs that it’s hurting your point. We say “Here are a list of dogs that work heavy cover that are not docked,” and you say “But no, only flushing breeds.” We give a list of dogs that includes flushing breeds (Flatcoats, Goldens, AWS, etc.) and you say “But no, only breeds developed ONLY for flushing.” You’re down to like four breeds at this point. If I list the German spaniel (undocked) will you say “But no, only breeds developed ONLY for flushing and ONLY in the UK”? Plenty of flushing dogs are undocked. Plenty of heavy cover dogs are undocked. Plenty of EVERY JOB dogs are undocked. It is simply a cosmetic preference.

            And I have to say – seriously? Burrs? Like the ENTIRE dog is made of Teflon except the tail, which is velcro? You’re going to comb out the legs and the belly and the ears and the pants every time that dog comes in from the field. Add six inches of tail, for heavens sakes.

          • Jeff Shaver June 26, 2015 at 7:14 pm

            I addressed the additional reference to grooming the rest of the dog !

          • K June 26, 2015 at 6:04 pm

            Joanne – the NAVHDA specifically lists “pointing” and “steadiness on game” in all levels of their tests. They are not testing for a flushing dog, they are testing a pointing dog. There is a difference: the spaniels would actually be docked for setting or pointing in a spaniel hunt test, which the NAVHDA does not offer.

          • Angela December 7, 2016 at 10:29 pm

            I have Aussies and until May of this year I also owned a BC with a glorious long fringe on her tail. She detested having her tail brushed so much so that she’d chew the burrs out of her tail and then vomit the burrs/hair up an hour later. On a few occasions she got into a heavy clump of them, got her tail stuck to her britches and went nuts trying to get them out. It’s not a matter of being too lazy too groom a tail but seeing what the dog goes through when you have to pull burrs out of thick, heavy fringe. Obviously my Aussies don’t have that problem and I always felt bad that my beloved BC had to put up with it.

          • Joanna Kimball December 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm

            So instead of grooming her tail (which might include cutting some hair off if she won’t tolerate having it combed), you wish you’d cut her tail off? Isn’t that a bit like wishing you could cut your arm off so you wouldn’t have to cut your fingernails anymore?

      • Reply K June 26, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        Joanne – PLEASE never call the AWS or any of the retrievers a “flushing breed.” It’s not true. Some of them are used to flush, but some of them are also used for a hundred other things that they were not historically bred or originally developed to do. It is about as wrong as saying that the drovers, gatherers, and tenders as herding styles are identical! A Border Collie doesn’t move sheep the same was a Belgian does, and both are different than a Standard Schnauzer, and a dog bred for waterfowl retrieving is not the same as a dog bred to point or to flush. A flushing dog is a dog that was bred to work upland (not primarily in water), on land birds (pheasant, quail, etc), and to that was not bred to point or set but to move continuously to flushing. I would accept any long-coated dog that meets that description! I want to know how they make it work.
        I am not talking about “burs getting into the coat” at the end of the day only, although that is a huge pain, and anyone who had pulled them from a long-coated dog knows that the tail features are a hundred times worse than any other part of the coat. I am talking about a dog whose profuse tail featherings prevent it from quartering easily through heavy brush. I do not want to hear why this is not actually a problem until you have hunted over an undocked spaniel in heavy brush. I have had this problem with the little dog I mentioned above – and not even hunting, just her running around a typical brush-filled property. So is the correct decision to shave/trim that coat, to breed the coat shorter, or what?
        Again, I am not “pro” dock, but I am looking for a solution to an existing problem with leaving the flushing spaniel breeds as they currently exist undocked.

        • Reply K June 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm

          Also, actual research on working spaniels:

          “To prevent one tail injury in one shooting season, between two and 18 spaniels or HPRs would need to be docked as puppies. The authors believe that this work provides the best available evidence on which to base a consultation for changes to the legislation on tail docking in working dogs in Scotland. Docking the tails of HPRs and spaniels by one-third would significantly decrease the risk of tail injury sustained while working in these breeds.”

        • Reply Joanna Kimball June 27, 2015 at 3:20 am

          I’m going to repeat: You are making your categories so small that only a few breeds are included, and refusing to realize that I’ve provided MANY heavy cover small dogs.

          • K June 27, 2015 at 11:20 pm

            OK, I have to leave this conversation. I do not think that all dogs of traditionally docked breeds should be docked, I don’t think that any dogs of most of the traditionally docked breeds should be docked, but I don’t think you are the right person to try and make an argument about why this applies to actually worked flushing spaniels (or if it does). I will continue to look into the issue for my own knowledge, but I feel that the normally friendly tone of your blog is being clogged up by a fruitless back-and-forth where we are just talking past each other. I apologize if I appeared vague in my definitions, or if my tone felt hostile, it was not my intent. The article you posted is, like the one I posted, unfortunately behind a paywall, but I will see what else I can find, from the abstract it appears that they looked at dogs broken down only be breed, while the first looked at breed + the dog had to be active in the field and not a house-pet, which would largely explain any discrepancy, but I can’t access enough to parse the differences between them. I do have to disagree that “an internet survey” is automatically not research. A properly conducted survey with researchers who understand the limitations of the tool is a very powerful research tool.

        • Reply Angie July 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm

          As a professional groomer for 10 years in an area of deep hunting tradition, I groomed a multitude of hunting breeds- spaniels were the bulk, but many goldens, setters, and some other breeds like wirehairs and IWS. Most of the spaniels were docked, but a few were not. Nearly all of my clients came in before fall hunting to have their dog put into a sporting trim before working. Some wanted a complete shave-down, but others just wanted a nice trim-up so the feathering would be easy to brush out. If feathering, particularly on the tails, had a lot of heavy bulk, I would use a thinning shears until the feathering was nice and light, and short enough to easily comb through. If hunters did the pre-hunting groom, their dogs rarely came back full of nastiness (those that didn’t do the pre-groom inevitably had to have the dogs shaved down anyway because of heavy matting). People who are actively showing their dogs don’t trim coat, but they do often wrap, braid, or keep the coat in oil to protect it. As a groomer, I had lots of problems with docked and cropped dogs. I swear the ones with docked tails were more sensitive about having their rears handled and I know this is the case with cropped ears, especially schnauzers. I had so many cropped schnauzers hate having their ears touched, but nearly all the natural dogs were fine. I speculate it is because past groomers nicked the fine edge of the cut ears and sensitized the dogs to being touched, but regardless- I know for sure the cropped dogs were more touchy about it. As a new german shorthair breeder, I had my first litter docked and regretted it terribly. The puppies went into the vet happy and contented and came out crying and shaking. Obviously traumatized (and I know my vet handles animals with the utmost care and kindness, so they weren’t mistreated). Some had pretty markings on their tails- snips and spots that were cut off, and it made me sad to see something so beautiful be destroyed. One of the pups reacted to his stitches and had to go back in and have the tail treated (he still has a bald spot). The pup I kept- her tail was docked exactly the same length as the others, but grew much longer and now looks funny (I love her, but the tail does look weird). I also had the dewclaws done, which to me is nothing compared to docking, although I used to raise German shepherds which never had dewclaws removed and never had a problem with them (and they run hard! Had pads nearly ripped off and other toenails snapped, but no dewclaw problems). If I raise another litter, I may still do the dews (GSDs have thick dews, but I don’t know if GSPs are attached well as a breed), but won’t dock. After doing it once, I can say that I would never do it again (makes me wonder how people can see their little babies go through the trauma and not feel their pain- I sure did).

          • Dolores July 30, 2015 at 5:09 pm

            My docking story is purely anecdotal too- but just as true as yours.Many many years ago- I acquired my first standard poodle on breeder’s terms, which meant that the bitch placed with me would carry one litter and then she was mine. Muki had 13 puppies, and when it was time to dock their tails, the breeder took them one by one, and docked them on my kitchen table.There was one little yelp and that was it.The puppies were put back with their mother and continued sleeping as though nothing had happened to them.This was a done by a wonderful show breeder who adored her dogs and went on to have many lovely, and very healthy well adjusted dogs. I don’t think it does any good to try to shame people who have a different opinion on the issue, because all it does is to shut down the dialogue.Maybe that’s what is wanted??

          • Jeff July 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm

            These are surgical procedures. They should be done by a veterinarian

          • Angie July 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm

            I’m not trying to shame- it’s just that I’ve seen a lot of problems personally with docking and cropping. Mainly as a pet groomer- I really did see a difference between those that were cropped/docked and those left natural. I doubt it was from having been docked or cropped per se, but maybe in the subsequent handling (or lack of handling) of such parts? I’ve had a docked toy poodle, docked Rottie, and a docked GSP. I’m pretty sure they were all home jobs. The Rottie’s tail was done way too short (he doesn’t even have a nub and has lots of butt-trouble) and someone tried to crop his ears with a scissors (so the vet guessed) when he was a pup. The ears are really ragged and jagged on the edges. My GSP has a decent dock, but she did have a dewclaw come back and it bothers her (and me- the nail is really odd looking). I don’t like to get in the argument about whether docking/cropping should be legally allowed or not, but I would like natural tails and ears to be acceptable in breed standards to be fair to us that like our dogs that way. And I don’t know if my pups were just more sensitive, but they were clearly upset by the process and so was I, and I hate that I feel pressured to do a procedure on my dogs just because it’s the status quo, what is popular, and made to feel like I could never compete with or sell my pups if they aren’t cosmetically altered. I would love to have a doberman (it’s a breed I’ve always wanted), but with the way things are in this country, I can never get one here and certainly can’t show one the way I like them. To me, there’s something warped about the show world when you feel you have to do surgery on your dog to win.

        • Reply Angela December 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm

          I find it remarkable that someone so concerned about the momentary pain of docking is perfectly fine with subjecting a dog to a lifetime of discomfort/stress/pain that could easily be prevented by the procedure. There are ranchers who dock their BCs for just that reason.

          Cutting off my arm to prevent the need of nail trimmings makes about as much sense as amputating a dog’s leg to remove the dewclaw. It would severely interfere with getting a job done if not make it impossible. Being docked doesn’t hinder my Aussies in any way having one was the cause of much discomfort for my BC. She was groomed daily including the tail, was always a good sport about it unless she had burrs in it. She was my beloved companion for 16 years and watching her be miserable bothered me a lot especially when my Aussies don’t have to deal with it.

  • Reply Cropping and docking are going away. Which side of history will your breed be on? | Ruffly Speaking | Our Life + Dogs June 24, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    […] also false that it’s less painful to dock during puppyhood than amputate in adulthood.7 And if you insist on either one of these things, you are not only perpetuating a falsehood,8 you […]

    • Reply Dolores July 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Jeff..this was back in 1973..I am sure many things have changed since then..

      • Reply Jeff Shaver July 30, 2015 at 6:58 pm

        Are you responding to my comment about veterinarians doing docking instead of owners ?

        • Reply Dolores July 30, 2015 at 7:02 pm

          I am, Jeff 🙂

  • Reply Beth Carter June 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I appreciate the points of view but what I see from these articles is that the veterinarian practice is attempting to shape the purebred community.
    I am sorry but this is ass backwards.
    Moreover, until the vets in this country assume a pro-active rather than a reactive posture and until every one of you read the article by Bayer, then, please, do not waste my time putting crap like this out there.
    When the vets can become honest in their professions and answer honest questions about over vaccination, fear mongering, giving unsafe and unwarranted vaccinations, de-sexing juvenile animals while instilling fear to their clients if they wait to maturity, which is best all around for the animal, getting interested in cross-over diseases to humans from parasites and other even more concerning issues– then an only then will I have any respect for the veterinarian community in this country. What other countries have done starts long, long ago in a traceable history on the animal rights movement. Read, study and document before you go espousing that animal rights has nothing to do with what changed other countries.
    Rubbish. Purely.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 24, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      The veterinary community is trying to shape the acceptable standards of care. That is, expressly, the veterinary community’s job. It doesn’t think that it’s “none of their business” if people are advocating cutting pieces off dogs for absolutely no reason. This is categorically not the veterinary community trying to shape the purebred community – it’s the purebred community absolutely REFUSING to look at the truth. So the statements from the veterinary community become stronger and stronger, because they can’t understand how we can still be doing something that makes no sense and hurts dogs.

      I want to ask you specifically: If you know that it hurts puppies, if you know that it does nothing for the dog, why do you still do it?

      I assume you are referring to the Bayer veterinary use study?

      It has absolutely nothing about docking, cropping, or in fact breeders.

      The AVMA has very good position statements on

      Vaccination:; it does not comment on revaccination intervals (that’s the USDA/APHIS’s job) but AAHA does:

      Early neuter:very clear about the risks: ; it is against mandatory spay/neuter in 2009: ; it is extremely public about the newer studies about the risks of neuter:


      • Reply bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 12:33 am

        what the AVMA writes and what really happens is about as far apart as The North Pole is from the South Pole.” It doesn’t think that it’s “none of their business” if people are advocating cutting pieces off dogs for absolutely no reason. ”
        you mean like ears and tails and dewclaws as opposed to ovaries, uteri and testicles? How about letting the owners decide?

        • Reply Joanna Kimball June 25, 2015 at 1:44 am

          Did you read their position statements? It DOES want the owners to decide about spay/neuter.

          • bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm

            what happens in the “real world” is far far from a “position statement”| if you polled most vets that belong to the AVMA I would bet that few of them have even read that statement. But here is another statement from their website:
            “The AVMA supports the concept of pediatric spay/neuter in dogs and cats in an effort to reduce the number of unwanted animals of these species. Just as for other veterinary medical and surgical procedures, veterinarians should use their best medical judgment in deciding at what age spay/neuter should be performed on individual animals.” Nothing about consulting with the client or educating them about the risk of this procedure. The most egregious removal of body parts is the removal of healthy functioning internal organs that contribute to the heth and well being of our pets. Cropping , docking, dewclaws and debarking are minor in comparison and yet we ( and the AVMA and many vets) promote this surgeryall of the time and try to ban things that are much less serious.

          • Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:42 pm

            There are in fact medical reasons to spay and neuter ….not for D/C. I oppose mandated spay and neuter across the Board but some situations clearly call for it ….adoptions and shelter releases etc .

  • Reply Katy June 25, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I’ve been really curious about why cropping/docking started to begin with. I mean, who in the world first thought, “You know, I think my dog would look better without a tail. I think I’ll try it and see how it looks.” (They may have had a legitimate reason, like seeing one or two dogs have an issue, and it so imprinted on them that they never wanted to see it happen again, but I have to doubt they saw it all that often) Is there any literature out there from when each breed decided to start cropping/docking that gives their reasoning? I feel like a lot of the arguments for doing these procedures today are mostly because it’s the way it’s always been done and they’re trying to come up with a reason that “sounds” like it’s reasonable.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      There’s a very, VERY early reference to docking preventing rabies. The “sinew” (actually the spinal cord) inside the tail resembled a worm, and “worms” were thought to cause rabies, so you’d symbolically remove the worm and thus prevent rabies. is a fascinating source on it.

      I do not know the reason each breed *started* docking. But it’s an interesting question, especially when contrasted against when each breed CLUB actually MANDATED docking. I do know that one, in Pems. When Pems were brought down out of the Welsh hills – when the first show breeders began the process of recognizing them as a breed – the tails were of varying lengths. Many were naturally bobbed, some were docked, many were long-tailed. The Cardigans, on the other hand, were all long-tailed and of a very different look and style. There was a movement by a few of the early club members to amalgamate the two breeds, to say that they should properly be considered two different styles of the same breed and bred together. This was vigorously rejected by most of the other breeders, and to avoid the issue of anyone possibly confusing the two breeds they mandated the dock on the Pembroke. So for the Pembroke it was UNDENIABLY, one hundred percent, a cosmetic decision.

    • Reply Jeff S June 25, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      What are you asking ? Bernie doesn’t have a tailed dog. She’s just a reasonable person. You want us to be as closed minded in the opposite direction as the Europeans you complain about ? We cannot change law in Europe. We can recognize the effects and have a sane policy here that is open to natural and surgically altered

    • Reply Jeff Shaver June 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      ….with ALMOST no exception the reasons people thought they would dock and crop …100 , 200 or more years ago are now known to be myth . To prevent rabies ? yes , that is one reason . To avoid taxes on ” luxury ” items like pets in the 19th Century some docked dogs to say ” these aren’t pets , they are working dogs ” . The reason most given in the lore of breed histories is that it helped function or prevented injuries ( and it was OK because it was ” Painless” ). These two premises are now known to be untrue. With very few exceptions these cannot be documented as valid reasons ( Note :The EU changes in 1998 that led to most of the D/C bans DID allow a group to petition and document a real medical need to D/C. ONE gun dog group or pointers did document that their working dogs had a statistically verifiable need to dock …and they have been allowed to do so )

      • Reply Tina July 31, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        As I see it, the main issue in any proposed ban is ‘pain’. You say that scientists have proven that puppies do, indeed, feel pain. Who are these scientists? How many cropped, docked, dew-claw removed litters have they bred and raised? My chosen breed and one that I am passionate about is the Doberman which is cropped, docked and has dewclaws removed. The historical reason for these procedures is that the Doberman was developed as a guard dog and erect ears allowed them to hear better and short tails would not give a ‘bad guy’ a chance to grab them by the tail. Dobermans proved their worth as war dogs, police dogs and personal protection dogs. Although they do still have this function, mostly Dobermans are well loved pets, are active in conformation, obedience, agility, Schutzhund, therapy, guide dogs for the disabled, etc. I’ve bred them for over 40 years, never losing any of them to any of these procedures, and never noticing any undue pain reaction. A quick yelp after docking is the normal response similar to the reaction of a child to ear piercing. Then they are put back with the dam and are quite content. After cropping they are woozy when coming out of the anaesthetic but are soon bouncing around as before surgery. All of my dogs are raised in my home where I am keenly aware and attuned to any discomfort they might experience. So this is my experience and the experience of so many long time breeders of cropped and docked breeds. Why is my experience as a breeder and the experience of countless other breeders discounted whereas the studies of scientists lauded? Do you seriously believe that all breeders are ‘in it for the money’ and that we ‘don’t really love and care for the dogs we breed’, that we are ‘cruel, heartless people who want to mutilate our dogs’. We all know or have heard of scientific studies that have eventually been proven false. Remember the scientific study of the ’50s that placed a whole generation of menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy only to be disproven in the ’90s as very harmful to their health. What are the credentials of these animal scientists? What is their affiliation with animal rights organizations? I know you said that HSUS and PETA did not approach you but surely you must know that there are AR aficionados already in your midst. The AR agenda has slowly and purposefully infiltrated every organization that will serve its purpose. You, of course, will not share their ultimate goal of complete elimination of all domesticated animals as this would put you out of business but you must be aware that they are already within your organization. I know what this proposed ban will do to my beloved breed and to the other cropped, docked, dewclaw removed breeds. The registration numbers in European countries are already down for dogs that were formerly cropped or docked.

        • Reply Jeff August 1, 2015 at 6:27 am

          I’m a breeder. I show. That doesn’t mean I also can’t read . I’m also not “AR” which is thrown about when nothing else of substance is available.

          Having seen litters docked for 30 years …. It causes “pain”. You admit it though what your definition of “undue pain” means is left to our imagination .

          Go to the AVMA website. Cropping doesn’t improve hearing. It doesn’t improve ear health. We do not because we like the look. I support your choice to do that .

          Docking doesn’t aid keeping attackers at bay. That’s silly. Try grabbing a GSD or Malinois by the tail trained for protection . It’s a sure way to BE attacked .

          Dock and crop away. I fully support your choice. But don’t try and justify it with false assertions about history or medicine. It’s because we like the look and it’s familiar

          • Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            No, I’m not kidding. This type of bullying does go on. The term ‘adoption’, ‘furbaby’, etc., are the AR’s attempts to anthropomorphize animals. They are winning as many areas have already declared animals to be sentient beings. If we live with animals we know they are sentient beings, but this is just a first step in changing pet ownership to guardianship with all the legal ramifications that entails, exactly the AR agenda.

          • Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:50 pm

            I am NOT justifying anything. I’m merely stating historical and health reasons that have been mentioned in connection with the Doberman and to clarify why cropping and docking was done historically. My MAIN point is ‘pain’ and why long time breeders’ experiences have not been considered. As well, I have worked with scientists in several different fields. I know what goes on during studies. What is wrong with checking the credentials and affiliations of those scientists? They are not infallible gods. Do you remember the vaccination study that initially claimed vaccinations caused autism only later to be disproven?
            Oh, and by the way, the undue pain I am talking about would be anything greater than the yelps that happen when you inadvertently cut into the quick while clipping nails. Should we ban that procedure too?

          • jeff August 1, 2015 at 4:59 pm

            Please stay on topic . So some “undue pain” is OK ? Why ? Again , I fully support those who wish to dock/crop . Historical reasons why someone did something are often not valid as you know . Many dogs were docked to ” prevent rabies ” ! But people learn medicine advances and we all can learn as well . My comment above was simple . The reasons you advanced above for purportedly beginning these procedures are now known to be invalid

          • Michael Romanos August 2, 2015 at 5:05 am

            The main argument is not to do with pain. It is do with the rights of a dog and the benefits of a tail or normal ears as opposed to any disadvantages/ abnormally dangerous issues in a dog with an intact tail and ears uncropped.

          • Jeff August 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm

            It has to do with whether it is medically necessary. That’s the avma’s issue

          • Michael Romanos August 2, 2015 at 11:40 pm

            Jeff – you are just being pedantic and a bit of a bully.

            Tail docking of dogs is everything – un-necessary pain, a mostly un-necessary medical procedure, removal of several important benefits and is anti dog rights to retain an important body part.

            At present in New Zealand only the banding of tails at a puppy’s age of three days is allowed except for emergency/accident or disease situations that necessitate a veterinary medical procedure. Banding at three days of age does not cause a puppy pain but a limited amount of discomfort.

            I run a Welsh Corgi Club and am looking forward to the banning of tail docking still allowed in some countries in regard to Pembroke Corgis and find that any reasons for the act of docking tails of non actual herd working Pems is completely bizarre.

          • Jeff August 2, 2015 at 11:49 pm

            I think it hilarious that I am all for individual choice and have stopped docking yet criticized for not being radical enough by those wanting a ban and fir being animal rights leaning because I don’t dock !!!

            Pedantic no. Bully ? Non idea where you hit that. I responded briefly indicating it is an issue of whether the procedure is medically necessary ( the AVMA threshold issue) to be able to justify docking in their eyes. In my opinion it is seldom medically necessary . Got it ?

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 12:07 am

            No Jeff – you get it right.

            What;s the real difference between my saying that docking removes the several benefits of a dog having a tail and your implying that docking is an un-necessary medical procedure?

            You are hesitant about a dog’s right to retain a tail he/she was born with and benefits from as do others benefit including humans and other dogs.

          • Jeff August 3, 2015 at 3:42 am

            Not sure what this means

            The lack of medical necessity is the AVMA statement. In all but very rare cases I agree their is no medical reason to preemptively dock

            Right to a tail ? No. Dogs don’t have “rights” like that. WE are responsible to not treat them cruelly … Which is at a minimum what the law may require in various states.

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 5:20 am

            Jeff – it is pretty ignorant to suggest that dogs do not have rights because there are many laws in place that protect dogs, New Zealand for example has a Welfare Act which is law here and has dozens of regulations regarding the welfare of dogs and any broaches can land those responsible in court and incarceration. Included in this is docking of tails and cropping of ears.

          • Jeff August 3, 2015 at 12:15 pm

            No. It isn’t ignorant at all

            You said dogs have a right to keep their tail. Clearly they do not or we would not be having this discussion. Not everyone lives in New Zealand ! We have laws protecting animals from abuse and cruelty.

            Even on your country you admit docking ( banding) cN still be done in some cases. So I guess those dogs lack whatever “right” you were mentioning ?

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 10:01 pm

            Jeff – how do you function?

            You say dogs do not have a right to have their tails kept intact and yet in 35 or so countries in the world they do and this number is growing and will soon consume New Zealand and the USA.

            There are many laws in the USA concerning dogs – state by state – and of course laws for the welfare of dogs are ‘dog rights’ or in other words the rights of dogs.

            USA can taker a lot from the likes of NZ in many ways and the Welfare Act including the partial banning of dog docking is among these.

          • Bernie McDowell August 4, 2015 at 4:46 pm

            I am commenting to Michael, regarding his discussion of animal rights with Jeff…(BTW…this discussion is hard to follow if you are looking for particular responses)

            Laws are enacted in most enlightened countries to protect the welfare of wild and domestic animals ….even in the US. Certainly, the animals benefit from these laws but they are written by humans for the welfare of animals who cannot act for themselves. It takes human intervention for these laws to actually protect an animal.

            My opinion…it is I, who do not have a right to mistreat an animal because, I live in an enlightened country that prohibits such practices. Not all countries do…

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm

            Jeff – I am afraid you are completely wrong if you think there are not specific Canine Rights laws as well as canine restriction laws operating in the USA and in other developed countries and in a host of near-developed countries.

          • Jeff August 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm

            Michael , you need to reread the thread

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 11:27 pm

            Jeff – you disassociate yourself from Animal Rights. Well you seem to now agree with me that there are Canine Rights. There is no difference between Animal Rights and Canine Rights except the latter is of course more specific than the former.

          • Jeff August 4, 2015 at 11:34 pm

            Michael , though it is hard to understand what direction you are going … No. I don’t agree with you

          • Jeff Shaver August 4, 2015 at 4:51 pm

            Michael wrote:”Jeff – how do you function?

            You say dogs do not have a right to have their tails kept intact and yet in 35 or so countries in the world they do and this number is growing and will soon consume New Zealand and the USA.

            There are many laws in the USA concerning dogs – state by state – and of course laws for the welfare of dogs are ‘dog rights’ or in other words the rights of dogs.

            USA can taker a lot from the likes of NZ in many ways and the Welfare Act including the partial banning of dog docking is among these.”

            Michael your comments are all over the place . First you tout that the practices should be banned , then try and justify exceptions for YOUR breed. You stated dogs have a ” right to keep their tail” ….which is totally contrary to the facts you posted indicating even in your country some docking is still allowed ! Obviously it isn’t a ” right” or no exceptions would be allowed for your dogs . Laws are passed by humans to protect against cruel or inhumane treatment of dogs….there are NO bans in this country so even if your definition of a ” right” were accurate ….those ” rights” are not adopted here.

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 10:28 pm

            Jeff – there is a docking ban in some 35 countries and in all there are exceptions and the exceptions are dogs with damaged or injured tails that demand veterinary surgical removal and also in most if not all these countries dogs that are required for regular herding on commercial farms.

            This is a position that the rest of the world should be adhering to including the USA and NZ. In NZ is is illegal to dock a dog’s tail by any other method than banding at three days of age except when vet surgical removal is a necessity through injury or damage.

          • Jeff August 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

            No Michael. There shouldn’t be a ban. And there isn’t in this country. It is the owners choice

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 11:38 pm

            Well it shouldn’t be the owners choice – and it won’t be for much longer – because there are Canine Rights (and Privileges) and as I said at the onset there are the huge benefits of a tail to a dog and the tail of one dog benefits other dogs and it also benefits us humans and there is no benefit from docking a dog’s tail other than if it is damaged or injured beyond repair or for instances where a tail might possibly be considered in grave danger of causing injury to a dog.

          • Bernie McDowell August 3, 2015 at 12:12 am


            If you don’t think banding the tails causes pain, think again. Wrap a rubber band around a small part of your body…your choice. Make sure it is tight…now, see how long it takes for it to hurt. Remember, that little pup has to wear it until the body part falls off….and you think a vet with medication to deaden the area…snip it and put usually one stitch on the nub is barbaric??
            Hell, I have applied a bandaid too tight and it hurt.

            It seems to me that you have a double standard regarding docking…ok for the herding Corgis, but not the ones who don’ t herd. Ok to use the banding method but not the surgical method. Does that mean that all herding dogs get a pass and can get their tails docked? My Rotties herd. Even though there is no reason to dock, other than preference…I am pretty sure that working Corgis can herd with their tails, just as Rotties can.

            As I have already said, my Rotties are docked. I believe that if anyone wants to keep their Rottweilers with tails, they should be treated no differently than my docked dog. I love the breed…not the presence of or absence of their lovely tail. I also expect that in the near future, docking and cropping will be stopped…when that happens I will o wn a tailed Rottweiler.

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 12:22 am

            In all or most of the countries that currently ban docking of dogs tails – there are some 35 of them – one of the exceptions is farm working breeds.

            Because of the nature of Pembroke Corgis as to their herding techniques ( as opposed for example to Cardigan Corgis) the tail does present a danger of being damaged and causing pain well beyond the discomfort of banding.

            But how many Pems are used for actual herding as a full time working dog – few and far between though I did arrange a Corgi for a farming woman in New Zealand only a few weeks ago who wanted to replace her recently passed away Corgis as a cattle herding pet.

          • Joanna Kimball August 3, 2015 at 3:38 am

            Michael, as a Cardigan breeder who is passionately committed to producing dogs who can do their jobs, no, Pems and Cardigans do not have herding styles that are so different that a tail is at risk in one and not in the other.

            The reason Pems are docked and Cardis are not is very well documented and has nothing to do with herding, with taxes, with “droving dogs” or any other mythology. When they were rescued from extinction in Wales, Pems tended to have natural bobs and Cardis did not. There was a lot of concern that in the show ring and by uneducated breeders they would be mistaken for each other and the two breeds might be unwisely merged. Docking was seen to be a shortcut to visually differentiate the breeds. As time went on, the preferred dock became shorter and shorter until – ironically – natural bobtails became undesirable because they were difficult to dock in a pretty way. So now most Pems are fully tailed, instead of the 50-60% bobs that were recorded in the early data. But the origin of the practice was absolutely, positively, the show ring. Not the working ring.

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 5:11 am

            Joanna – I disagree with your theory on the ORIGIN of the docking of Pembroke Corgi tails..

            Their docking goers back hundreds of years and was even encouraged by Welsh governmental authorities of the times, and is a direct correlation to herding in Wales and the techniques of a Pembroke in this regard.

            Cardigan Corgis which are a less athletic type Corgi did not need provisions for their tails to be removed as a herding dog because they have a less direct way of dealing with cattle and sheep.

            I also agree that the Pem is a more valued herding Corgi than the Cardigan and this added to the growth of Pems as herding and then pet dogs as opposed to the Cardigan who of course go back 1400 years before the advent of the Pem.

            I also believe that interspersed with the emergence of the Pem in Wales some 800 year s ago eventually there was a good deal of intermingling of the Cardigan with the Pem so that I believe that few Pems today are “pure” but that some lines of some Cardis are. Just look at the regions the two reasonably similar Corgi breeds are associated with – less than 40 miles apart

            In the early 1930s in Britain the two Corgi breeds were separated by this method: those owners/breeders who considered that their Corgi/s were Pems or Cards could register then in that regard and with that to distinguish the two breeds, Pems tails continued to be docked in contrast with Cardis. And today this of course is no longer relevant and I believe should be resisted everywhere.

          • Joanna Kimball August 3, 2015 at 6:13 am

            Michael – this is something I’ve done a huge amount of research on, since I am a Cardigan breeder and all of my dogs are tested on stock and many go on to herding homes and full-time farm homes.

            1) Yes, my description of why Pembrokes are docked is accurate. It’s reflected in the early breed narratives. There’s no evidence that the unregistered founding (1900-1920s or so) dogs were docked. They were BOBBED, which is very different. When the first show breeders were taking trips into the hills and bringing back dogs of both breeds, around 50-60% of the Pems they brought back were natural bobs. The show breeders were the ones who decided to start docking.
            2) Cardigans are not at all a less athletic type of corgi. And they are extremely direct in dealing with all the stock.
            3) Pems are not a more valued herding corgi. Pems grew popular thanks directly to the Queen – she made the breed visible and desirable in the UK and that passion translated to the US. The Cardigan is an extraordinarily good herding dog and more Cardigans have intact working instinct than Pems at this point, in my experience.
            4) No, mixing of the breeds is not supported by any of the narratives. The farmers were very adamant that they were not mixing and the hand-written pedigrees of those early dogs do not reflect mixing. There’s also a very dramatic difference in the way the breeds look, with the Bronant corgi (which became the Cardigan) being heavy and with twisted legs and large, often lopped, ears. The Cardigans were mixed somewhat with the brindle herder, a now-extinct long-legged Welsh breed, but not with the Pem. The Pem has always been very influenced by the spitz and reflects a lot of northern-dog mixing.
            5) It’s a complete misconception that the two breeds were the same and whoever wanted to could register their dogs however they wanted. There was a short time that the two breeds were registered as one – which, by the way, is how the Kennel Club always did things at that time; they would lump together “Retrievers,” for example, and you had to prove that your breed was separate and therefore become Retrievers (Labrador) or whatever. However, during that time none of the serious established breeders were mixing, and there was a steady effort from day 1 to separate the breeds in registration. During the brief time when they were just “Welsh Corgi” there are a few less established or less educated breeders who registered dogs as things they were not, but those were swiftly weeded out and they disappeared from the pedigrees quickly. There were only 19 Pems who EVER made it into the Cardigan stud book, and only three that went on to contribute to modern pedigrees.

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 8:09 am

            Joanna – as much as I love you as I run a Corgi club , I am afraid you are incorrect in much of what you have retold.

            The world’s most authoritative encylopedia BRITANNICA which is published from British sources (with Corgis being a ‘British” breed) supports my account and I am backed by Bridget Smeeton of New Zealand who is a vastly experienced international Corgi judge and Cardigan Corgi breeder whose puppies are exported world wide and also some are used for daily farm herding.

            Carids are not as athletic or as quick as Pems and for good reasons and not quite as bold or so quick witted and these are the reasons why the majority of Welsh farmers preferred Pems over Cardis for herding and allowed the Pems to overtake the Cardis.

          • Joanna Kimball August 3, 2015 at 7:09 pm

            Going to the encyclopedia to justify your misconceptions about breeds? No. It doesn’t work that way. You have to go to the original breed club minutes and the breed historian books. Thelma Gray’s books and articles and Lloyd-Thomas’s books and articles. Old AKC Gazettes from the 1930s. One is reproduced here, from Lloyd-Thomas, talking about how the farmers actually preferred the Bronant style to the more excitable and less stable Pembrokeshire corgi:

            In the early days of the breeds, Thelma Gray and several others had BOTH breeds. There was not a “very popular” Pem and a less popular Cardigan. They were both being bred in relatively small numbers and had not caught on as popular pets anywhere. It was the attention of the Royal Family that pushed the Pem to the fore and caused its explosion of popularity.

          • Michael romanos August 4, 2015 at 3:45 am

            Those dear people (l have material signed by thelma) were not as reliable nor as plausible as Britannica and you know it.

          • Joanna Kimball August 4, 2015 at 6:54 am

            Michael, I wonder if you think encyclopedia articles come down from the clouds? Articles like the ones on dog breeds are written by entry-level lackeys who consult no breed experts and who don’t even know what colors the dogs come in, much less an accurate picture of their origins.

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 8:48 am

            Joanne – you have resorted to nonsense to support your claims. I agree with Britannica – the world’s most authoritative encyclopaedia that is recognised and celebrated as such and is a British publication which implies that it is more than likely to be legitimised when it comes to subjects emanating from the British Isles.

            Anyway lets put it this way – of all the 338 recognised breeds of dogs in the world today only two are Corgis and both look and are extremely and remarkably similar and perform similar purposeful-bred deeds and in fact come from a little country and from two small regions within that little country only 30 km apart – so you are not going to tell me that these two breeds of Corgis have not mixed and mingled and being inter-bred just as Britannica suggests.

          • Bernie McDowell August 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm

            Encyclopedias like Brittanica (there were several) used to be the easiest source to go to…but in 2015…with all of the original source material available? Do they still print or distribute it? It has been years since I bought a CD set.

            Sorry Michael…I agree with Joanna, I will do my own research.

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 10:51 pm

            I am afraid that I find Britannica’s well defined historical account of Welsh Corgis more plausible than your research.

          • Jeff August 4, 2015 at 10:59 pm

            Encyclopedias are general reference sources. Only.

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 11:46 pm

            The Britannica edition that I have read at the Wellington Public Library through its internal computer service, gave a fairly comprehensive rundown on the history of the two Welsh Corgi breeds including the official separation of the breeds as organised by the Kennel Club ( England).

          • Jeff August 3, 2015 at 12:19 pm

            Michael please document this style of herding so unique to the Pembroke it requires separate docking rules to protect their tails from herding injury !

            There are dozens of tailed herding breeds that herds close in as yours. They seem to have survived just fine , not having their abilities or genes extinguished due to some epidemic of horrible herding injuries !

            Dogs herd with their front end.

          • Michael Romanos August 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

            Jeff – your lack of real knowledge and understanding shows out.

            No need for me to describe how Corgis typically perform their herding techniques. Simply Google for the answer.
            Suffice for me to say that Corgis are dwarf breeds and the world’s smallest herding dogs with the shortest legs and are not quite the same as other herding breeds of dogs.

            I don’t agree with the need to dock the tails of Pems and believe it is a reflection of payment to Welsh and British farmers in centuries well past who were offered money to dock the tails of their valued farm herding dogs. rather than a strong fear of possible damage and injury to the tails.

            However today in 99.8% of all Pems there is no earthly reason for tail docking.

          • Jeff Shaver August 4, 2015 at 4:58 pm

            Michael , again you are not being forthcoming ,and inconsistent in your comments as well . You stated that some Corgis need to be docked because they are ” unique” in how they herd , thus creating some medical need to dock . I responded and asked you to tell us how they herd differently from dozens of other tailed breeds . Your reply :

            “Jeff – your lack of real knowledge and understanding shows out.

            No need for me to describe how Corgis typically perform their herding techniques. Simply Google for the answer.
            Suffice for me to say that Corgis are dwarf breeds and the world’s smallest herding dogs with the shortest legs and are not quite the same as other herding breeds of dogs.

            I don’t agree with the need to dock the tails of Pems and believe it is a reflection of payment to Welsh and British farmers in centuries well past who were offered money to dock the tails of their valued farm herding dogs. rather than a strong fear of possible damage and injury to the tails.

            However today in 99.8% of all Pems there is no earthly reason for tail docking.”

            Your citation to ” Google ” as the answer is not an answer . I in fact did Google it anyway and there is no justification for your statement. Show us what is unique about the Corgi necessitating docking to avoid herding injuries . The same argument was created after the fact to justify why Rottweilers were docked ….are they a ” dwarf” breed too as you gave as the only reason for Corgi docking when herding ? I can tell you in Rottweilers there is no historical record of docking being done to avoid injuries in herding or carting. If you have such information for Corgis please provide it …as Mr. Google is lacking that information

          • Michael Romanos August 4, 2015 at 10:39 pm

            Jeff – I am not detailing how a Pem Corgi in particular works a herd of sheep or more in particular cattle, and consequently puts at some risk their tail from being damaged but the answers can easily be found by Googling with the right question as the subject matter

            But your reference to “historical” aspects of docking as pertaining to the likes of Rottweilers and Pem Corgis is pretty much just that – there is not much these days that needs history to be repeated.

          • Jeff August 4, 2015 at 10:58 pm

            A great non answer

          • Michael Romanos August 5, 2015 at 12:07 am

            Jeff you are obstinate and of course your arguments have been shot to pieces.

            Corgis developed primarily as cattle dogs with Pems when they emerged being the more valued of the two Corgi breeds for herding purposes in Wales.

            Being so short and with short legs, Corgis were difficult for cattle to kick especially whenever they dropped to a down position to avoid the cow’s/cattle kick. Corgis have a ‘hands on’ approach/technique unlike Collies and other farm working breeds of dogs especially those with Collie in their mix who are the eyeing and stalking types for herding and the NZ Huntaway which also has some Collie in the mix and is also famous for their voice.

            Corgis go straight in to get cattle into line and they use the method of nipping at the cattle heels or lower legs to great effect.

            This is part of the Corgi technique for herding and the difference between Pems and Cardis is that many Cardis take a slightly different approach – they are inclined to go more around the herd than straight into amongst them.

            At one stage I exercised a very bold young Labrador with my Corgi of the time and often we had to pass through a herd of cattle and the bold Labrador was as frightened as anything and kept right next to me or raced away in a wide circle while my little Perm had no fears whatever. Yet the only things he wants to herd are my parrot and me and my family.

          • Joanna Kimball August 5, 2015 at 12:19 am

            Michael, you’ve now asserted multiple times that 1) Pems and Cardigans have such completely different herding styles that Pems will get tails hurt if they work, and 2) that Pems were historically more valued as working dogs in Wales. You’ve taken up many hours of my time responding to those two nonsense statements, and you refuse to believe that the experiences OF PEOPLE WHO WITH THEIR OWN HANDS BROUGHT THE DOGS OUT OF THE HILLS is more reliable than the encyclopedia (!!)

            You have 12 hours to provide primary-source research to support these two assertions. If you cannot, I’m deleting this entire portion of the comment thread and you will be put on comment probation.

          • Michael Romanos August 5, 2015 at 12:53 am

            Joanne – you are just as mistaken or mislead as anyone else might be and your endless writings and so-called research won’t do you or me any good because you just don’t want to concede to even reasonable standards of common-sense.

            Oh yeah, the two Corgi breeds did not mix anytime from around 1200 AD to 1900 AD.

            Oh yeah, Pembrokes were not preferred to Cardigans for farming and as pets in Wales and elsewhere in Britain.

            Oh yeah few Pems had tails anyway so that docking as herding dogs wasn’t thought a necessity in Wales or other parts of Britain.

            Oh yeah, oh Yeah.

          • Jeff August 5, 2015 at 12:59 am

            Tick Tock

          • Jeff August 5, 2015 at 12:58 am

            Yes Michael. You sure tore my comments to pieces …. Your only point was that Pembrokes are so unique in how they herd they need docking to protect their tails ( yet at the same time arguing dogs have a right to keep their tails). You cited Google for your source , until pressed. Now you really showed us by comparing herding instincts of Corgis compared to your friends Labrador !!!! Your only comment even directed at the premise is that Corgis go “straight in” . Yet you admit their small size makes it less likely for them to be injured ! Yes Michael. You showed us all

          • Michael Romanos August 5, 2015 at 3:17 am

            Jeff – you are not really worth responding to so I will just give a summary:

            Docking of dogs tails is a senseless, demeaning act that denies dogs their rightful natural inherited benefit and is against the laws of nature and should be banned in all countries (212-odd) and not just the 35 or so that currently ban docking apart from in a few relevant exceptional circumstances.

            Worse still is that in all the countries that do not currently ban docking all but one of them (NZ) allows the tails to be cut off.

            All countries in the world should have governmental canine welfare laws that protect dogs and give them rights that are fitting to such an honoured and revered household companion pet and service being in an increasing and more complex manner.

            Ownership of dogs should be subjected to the owners being licensed having past appropriate tests and their dogs being tested for an acceptable behavioural disposition.

            I note that part of the NZ animal welfare act involving dogs lists debarking as illegal – this is yet another aspect of Canine Rights – a dog should be able to be fully vocal ie to be able and allowed to vocalise, just not disturbingly (incessantly etc) vocal.

          • Jeff August 5, 2015 at 3:58 am

            Michael , your summary is longer than any post you have made so far. Yet as lacking. You call for a ban while trying to rationalize why your breed supposedly needs docking to safely perform it’s actual function. Nice

          • Michael Romanos August 5, 2015 at 5:29 am

            I do not support the docking of tails on Corgis. I have simply stated that farm working Pems had their tails docked because of a payment to farmers by authorities in centuries gone and secondly maybe the apparent dangers of damage or injury to the tail if kept intact with such Pembroke Corgis performing their kind of herding techniques .

            This matter of docking and cropping and indeed neutering and spaying and even debarking is much bigger than just one breed of dog.

        • Reply Jeff August 1, 2015 at 6:30 am

          Forgot ….. Registration numbers are dropping like flies here. There are no bans. What’s your reasoning for that ? Because registrations of purebred dogs worldwide have been declining for two decades. It’s not cropping or docking bans. IF someone leaves a breed because they can no longer dock or crop …. They were liking the dogs for the wrong reasons

          • Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

            Ummm the reason most people choose a particular breed is precisely because they like the LOOK of them! Now you’re telling us that we were liking them for the wrong reasons???

          • jeff August 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm

            I’m telling you that if YOU or some imaginary people …stop breeding , loving and registering their dogs causing a drop in registrations ( which isn’t the cause anyway) then those who turn from their dogs because they now have natural ears and tails cared for only part of their dogs …….and not the heart and soul and function that matters

  • Reply bestuvall June 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    How about this? we stop banning procedures, mandating others making some illegal and allow the owners of the property ( the pet) to choose. You can choose to circumcise your son or not, to pierce the ears of a baby.. heck you can probably tattoo your child.. but dock at tail? Oh the horror..
    In the show ring cropped and docked or hound ears and long tails.. let the judge decide.

    • Reply JeffS June 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      How about we discuss docking and cropping instead of issues like piercing or tattoos ?

      • Reply Ellen June 26, 2015 at 12:01 am

        What would be equivalent on a child would be chopping off the earlobe (or more) because it looks stylish. Or the last knuckle of the little finger because little fingers are supposedly injured more often (not saying that’s true, just an example). Most of Europe has limits on docking and cropping and shd be the case here, too. “The look of the breed” should be what the breed *is*, not how you chop it up. ( I suppose I shouldn’t sidetrack to the horrible ways that people have mutilated their dogs by breeding them. Nope, not going to.)

        • Reply K June 26, 2015 at 5:04 am

          I think that dogs SHOULD have dews, if owners will actually trim them and react in a reasonable way if they are injured. Ingrown dews are (anecdotally from my own experience) both common and incredibly painful for the dog – even a good owner of any breed with a medium-to-long coat will not notice the dew growing and growing if the other nails are being kept short by walking/running/etc unless they are actually looking intentionally at those nails every week or two. Every owner should be looking at nails, of course, and also be able to tape down a torn dew until they can get to the vet, but honestly, many don’t and can’t.

        • Reply K June 26, 2015 at 5:04 am

          I think that dogs SHOULD have dews, if owners will actually trim them and react in a reasonable way if they are injured. Ingrown dews are (anecdotally from my own experience) both common and incredibly painful for the dog – even a good owner of any breed with a medium-to-long coat will not notice the dew growing and growing if the other nails are being kept short by walking/running/etc unless they are actually looking intentionally at those nails every week or two. Every owner should be looking at nails, of course, and also be able to tape down a torn dew until they can get to the vet, but honestly, many don’t and can’t.

          • Deb July 28, 2015 at 10:41 am

            I don’t agree with the views on dew claws. I find it necessary to remove them. I have working breeds that actually WORK. They are out in some rough areas where the dew claw could get caught on something and ripped off. It is not a cosmetic procedure, but one of necessity. I have seen dogs with ripped dew claws that in turn had to be surgically removed when the dog was an adult and it was a horrific sight.

          • Jeff July 28, 2015 at 12:36 pm

            What “might” happen on a very infrequent basis hasn’t seemed good justification for is to remove useful body parts

          • Angie July 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm

            Dew claws are something as a groomer I have had a lot of experience with. Many dogs have dews that are attached firmly with good bone and can withstand a working environment. But then there are dogs whose dews are just a flap of skin with a toenail. Those are the ones that scare me and I have nicked them when I didn’t know they were there (and I was in a shop where a groomer clipped one off entirely by accident- went over it with the clippers, it caught, and off it went). Most of these toes were on small fine-boned dogs, and I don’t remember dewclaw issues with large breeds. I also saw many (I mean many, many) dews curled into the pad- so it seems to be common for owners to not pay attention to those as much (or toenails in general- I think I saw more overgrown toenails than those that were maintained). And I don’t know how you tell on a 3 day old pup if a dewclaw is going to be well-attached or not as an adult, but there is a good point here- maybe breeders should breed towards dogs that have well attached dews with straight claws (and you can’t do that if you cut them off). Same with ears and tails- how do you know if your dog has a proper ear or tail if it is cut off? Does it matter in a doberman if the dog has natural flying-nun ears or a double ring tail? Your BIS winner could have these traits and you’d never know (other countries had these problems- when forced to be natural, they found all kinds of problems they didn’t know they had).

          • Joanna Kimball July 30, 2015 at 4:10 pm

            Angie, I LIKE you.

      • Reply Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm

        Why shouldn’t we compare cropping and docking to circumcision and ear piercing? They are both carried out on puppies on the one hand and babies on the other hand, neither of which have a choice. As well, both are considered minor procedures, although you will likely disagree on that point. I simply can’t understand why all those Dobermans are living full, active lives while having undergone such traumatic procedures (heavy sarcasm)!

        • Reply Jeff August 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm

          Because it’s a diversion. Because a better comparison would be cutting off Half a baby pinky or cutting their ear to look like Mr. Spock

          Read the AVMA position. If you cannot show medical need to perform them , they are opposed. The AVMA is where changes will come from on these issues

    • Reply Kath July 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      While I’m typically opposed to increased regulation in private matters of ownership (within reason), there is a compelling case here for regulating docking/cropping for the sake of animal welfare. I know using the term “animal welfare” when we are talking about a dog living a very happy and otherwise healthy lifestyle sounds extreme, but this ISN’T like an ear piercing or a tattoo. Docking involves the removal of BONE, representing a good chunk of the dog’s spinal column, for no medical reason. Many aesthetic decisions should arguably be left to the eye of the beholder, but the dog’s interest in retaining its body parts should supersede what hobbyists and fanciers arbitrarily decide “looks pretty.”

  • Reply JeffS June 26, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Check this out. The APPD group is advocating for changing bans in Canada. After admitting in the paragraph under the first picture the real reasons these procedures came to be , then assume things that simply are illogical and false.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 26, 2015 at 5:31 am

      Yes, that’s a completely nonsensical article. And the footnotes aren’t even real. (Joanna is now a blogging footnote snob, since she figured out how to do it.)

      • Reply Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        Please enlighten us. How do you as a blogging footnote snob figure out which footnotes are real? I mean no disrespect. I am a relative newbie to the wonders of the internet.

        • Reply Jeff August 2, 2015 at 5:59 pm

          When a “blog” or supposed article of reporting has a footnote. Read the footnote link ! If it refers back to the sane article or done comment from an I identified or unsubstantiated source. …. There you have it

  • Reply Ann June 26, 2015 at 12:36 am

    I am curiuos about dew claw removal. There are breeders that do that, what is your position on that procedure. Seems unnessary to me, I believe they say it is for dog sports and to prevent injury. I have rescues with dew claws and have done various dog sports, without issue.

    • Reply Deb July 28, 2015 at 10:47 am

      I remove dew claws at 2 to 3 days old….when I have the tails docked. I remove dew claws for a reason though. I have working dogs that actually WORK in places that can be harsh terrain at times and dew claws can get caught on things and ripped off. I have seen on someone else’s dog this happen and it is very traumatic for the dog. The dog has to in turn have to have surgery to remove the dangling dew claw and repair the area. That is far more painful on a dog that removing it at right after birth. (Some of my working dogs do tracking and search n rescue work)

      • Reply Jeff July 28, 2015 at 12:35 pm

        We have not ever removed them in over thirty years. Not a single incident . The dogs use them

        • Reply Deb July 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

          I would love to know how dogs use a dew claw. I honestly do not know. This is news to me. I am not trying to be rude or anything like that…I am just trying to learn. You say you have never had an incident. Do you have working dogs that work in rough terrain? Just wondering??? Like heavy brush, rocks and water’s edge…

          • Jeff July 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

            They use them to hold and grip. They are fully attached this. Unlike rear ones. Schutzhund and tracking. The risk is minuscule for a serious dewclaw injury. They are no more likely caught than any other toe. Keep the nails trimmed

  • Reply Nancy Gyes June 26, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Thank you for this article. I hope more breeders as well as owners will take at least some of it to heart and begin to consider the possibility you suggest. I teach agility and see daily how much dogs use their tails while running, jumping and turning. Docked tail dogs are missing part of their anatomy, part of their backbone actually as far as I am concerned. It is so especially sad to see breeders of sport dogs continue to cut off parts of anatomy just because that is a look they are “used to” or for some ancient excuse about tail injury. Yes I am sure it does happen that occasionally a dog might have an injury and need a tail removed later in life, let the decision wait until it is absolutely necessary. Dogs would not have developed over eons to have tails and ears if nature did not think they needed them. I think the partial tails, short or stumpy, or curved or kinked tails will also disappear when those dogs are not bred. When you dock and crop you throw away the evidence of a tail or ear set that could possibly disappear just by human selection. Please please don’t cut off your dogs lovely body parts. Tails are rudders, and useful aids in motion and communication. I especially love the look of poodles and aussies and dobies with tails. Respectfully, Nancy Gyes

  • Reply Danielle Spady June 26, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Love this!! Thank you for writing it, Joanna.

    As for the dewclaw statements… We should not be doing dewclaw removal (fronts specifically, leave the rears dependent on the breed/attachment level) with JQP in mind because they can’t care for their dog’s nails properly anymore than we should start breeding for hyperthyroid dogs to prevent the pet obesity epidemic or turn “maligators” into soft, love-everybody teddy bears that thrive on napping on the couch all day.

    I have aussies and I left tails on my first bredby litter. Yes, they’re all over the place. Are they all pretty? Nope. But I’ve got to start somewhere to get them there. I decided to be proactive after really researching how nerves are formed, develop and heal after injury (hint: it’s not pretty or “painless”). It has nothing to do with speed on an agility course and more to do with communication and nerve pain for my decision.
    If their tails will get injured by cattle- I need to breed a better working dog. If they’ll get injured by gates- I need to screen my homes better. If the grooming is too painful- Again- home screening and breeding for a better coat.
    Communication between the many, many Aussies I’ve seen has been very bold and exaggerated. How could it not be when they can’t show a gentle swish of the tail- they have to SCREAM IN ALL CAPS that they’re friendly- which can be offensive in itself. Now what if they’re worried? Upset? They’ve got to scream louder. I’m not convinced that some of the nasty temperaments in our breed don’t come from nerve pain and not being really heard by other dogs until they end up being offensive at showing any worry or discomfort.

    I can understand docking in smooth coated breeds- my greyhound has had more happy tail than I’d have ever liked to have patched up, but in a tailed breed that should have a moderate coat. I don’t have a good solution for that but on coated breeds or breeds with thicker tails- there shouldn’t be any problems not docking except for those breeders that are stuck on logical fallacies like tradition and bifurcation.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 26, 2015 at 4:50 am

      Thank you so much – a great comment. And we need pictures of those tailed Aussies!

      On the greyhound-type tails – which I absolutely do admit have fragile ends because of the extremely thin coat – it’s odd, don’t you think, that we say “Because this dog has an extremely sparse coat, it is prone to injury over areas of its body where the bone is close to the skin,” and then say “So we should cut off those areas.” Shouldn’t it be “So we should breed for a better coat”? I am certainly not advocating that we change the function of the greyhound by making it a double-coated dog, but you can breed for more coverage on the tail skin for sure.

      • Reply Naomi Snapp June 26, 2015 at 7:40 pm

        As the owner of the sire of Danielle’s litter and also a breeder of tailed aussies, we can definitely get you photos 😉

        Thank you for this article – sharing it far and wide. The references in the footnotes are specatular.

      • Reply Danielle Spady June 26, 2015 at 10:03 pm

        It’s quite strange that we go to artificial means before really looking at breeding- yes, there is a lot that’s more important but we need to start to pick some of the things that we’ll end up relying on “fixing” by specifically ignoring it when choosing a puppy or stud– like ears, coat, libido, rearing skills, all the way to temperament traits that pet people wouldn’t notice because they speuter.

        I find it entertaining that some of the justifications for docking are completely opposing in different breeds. Or at least some of the anecdotes that I’ve read- many aussie breeders swear that there’s no difference in how they run or move and it would not be beneficial to have a tail for things like agility but then there’s the stories of old english sheepdogs being docked so they couldn’t catch/chase rabbits and would stay on the property and herd. ( And greyhounds get happy tail- why not just dock them at birth if they’re unimportant for racing/coursing?

        Watch out what you ask for 🙂
        And a fair number of public photos on my personal profile.

    • Reply Angie July 30, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I especially love the Schipperke tail- how adorable are they with their fluffy plumes! Why on earth would someone cut that off? Some breeds I can kind of understand, but this one I have no idea.

  • Reply Rosie Canfield June 26, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Thank you for posting this! My year and a half old Aussie has a beautiful, thick tail and I can’t imagine him without. As someone who’s shown in conformation for many years and been present at the docking of a litter, there’s something about a tailless puppy that just freaks me out now. Wag on 😉
    My docked Aussie is an asshole who can’t greet other dogs.. Wish he had a tail too!

  • Reply Lynn Whinery June 26, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I’ve bred Australian Shepherds for 20+ years and this issue has always bothered me. It’s always been obvious to me that docking tails is a cosmetic thing. For example, Doberman pincers are docked only because Herr Doberman got a natural bob in a litter and thought it looked good.

    I’ve never thought that docking was painless. I’ve always done it myself, and I will say that doing it when the litter is about 36 hours old is far less painful than waiting until they’re 4 days old, but it definitely hurts. (Though only for about 15 minutes or so, depending on the puppy.)

    In my breed, I have always wished that dogs born with a natural long tail would be left long, and only dock the ones born with bob tails. In Aussies, bob tails can be deformed, having a crook in it, or even a big blob of fat. If naturally long-tailed dogs were left on, it would be far easier for breeders to know which dogs had NBTs. (AKC doesn’t list it on reg certs). This way, breeders could gradually breed out the NBT gene. If everyone were to stop breeding NBTs in one or two years, the gene pool would be bottle-necked, which could have health repercussions. However, if it were done slowly, over a decade or two, there would be no bottle neck.

    There are dogs who have health problems because of their tails. However, none of those breeds require a docked tail. All of the whip tailed breeds have had dogs that needed to have their tails docked due to repeated injuries. Those dogs should be bred to have thicker, or shorter tails.

    I think attention should also be paid to those breeds that have been bred to have short tails. Why not point the finger at those who created screw tailed breeds? Those dogs have definite health issues caused by their tails. Docked dogs don’t have any health issues caused by not having a long tail. Pressure should be put on those breeders to encourage a natural tail!

    While we’re at it, why not rant and rave about the dogs bred to have flat faces, so the dogs can’t breathe, and have to be delivered by C-section? They’re causing a lot more problems than docking tails causes!

    In conclusion, I do feel that docking is done purely for cosmetic reasons, and should be stopped. I disagree that it causes any health issues when a ‘nubbins’ is left. (Rumping is another issue.) HOWEVER, I strongly feel that there are many, many cosmetic issues in the dog world that are causing serious health issues that should be addressed, for example massive heads, domed heads, dwarfy short legged, long bodied dogs, long droopy ears, etc. The veterinary world should be up in arms over those things, instead of making such big issue out of docking.

    While docking should end, I think the issue should be kept in perspective.

  • Reply jena June 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    If the case is pain for the dog then we should stop cutting the foreskin of our little boys. I don’t care one way or the other about docking but I really think cropping should end,.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball June 28, 2015 at 6:09 am

      Bringing in the circumcision question tends to start a biiiiig fight, so I don’t want to let that happen, but you should know that routine circumcision is no longer recommended. And that’s WITH some medical benefits to the procedure under certain circumstances. Dock/crop has no net benefit.

  • Reply Michael Romanos June 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

    I am in New Zealand and run a Corgi club. At present we are not among the 35-odd countries that ban docking but will undoubtedly soon join. At present it is unlawful to dock a dog’s tail in NZ by way of cutting including veterinary surgery unless there is an emergency injury situation. Instead the banding method at age three days can be applied to puppies. But I believe that there is no earthly reason to dock the tails of Pembroke Corgis and of course tails have huge benefits for dogs. As for cropping – how ghastly.

  • Reply Dolores June 29, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I was born and lived in Europe for many years, so I know what undocked standard poodles look like. Not my preference. Not rather cavalier to tell me ‘tough’, ‘just get used to an undocked tail’? That makes it sound like this is just more of a political issue- not much different from the animal rights groups that want to force us to live with our animals on their terms, if at all..
    I presently have three well bred standard poodles. The youngest one is just one year old.Both the one year old, as well as my three year old girl, came from Vermont where there is no problem having vets perform tail docking and dew claw removal.
    “ Vermont already has a sort-of ban, as of 2006 (Vermont didn’t have any vets who would crop, so the ban did not have any teeth, but it was enacted). Once a true ban is enacted, a half-dozen other states will …”

    • Reply Liz July 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      There’s strong science that docking is unnecessary and causes real pain and harms development – read the studies. It sounds like your mind is made up, though. I guess because vets and activists have been wrong about some things, they must be wrong about this. Oh wait, that’s a basic logical fallacy, and just a way to justify amputating your dog’s spine because it ‘looks nice’.

      • Reply Dolores July 27, 2015 at 11:21 pm

        Liz- I’ve had standard poodles for over 43 years- all of them were well developed, healthy, long lived and smart creatures- despite having had their tails cropped.I don’t know how they could have been any more perfect or better developed.
        Not sure what you mean by docking “harms development – read the studies”. I guess I must be slow..Show me how docking tails ‘harms development’..

  • Reply Dolores June 29, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I misread.. What I should have taken away that there are no vets in Vermont who will ‘dock ears’.Sorry about that..
    And don’t get me started on veterinarians..When I walk into our vets’ office, I know they see dollar signs since I have 3 dogs. I love the constant stream of emails from them reminding me to come in for all kinds of $$ testing, titering and $$ shots..

  • Reply CoreyTee July 22, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    When I first began my search for the dog I wanted in the early 2000s, I refused to purchase any dog that had ears or tails cropped and docked. I thought it was ugly and you absolutely could not convince me, something that is an extension of the spine, is not used. I watch my current dogs lure course and use their long tails for balance and as a sort of rudder around tight turns. Another poster mentioned that RR puppies are culled if they are ridgeless or have some other anomaly. I can assure you that the club’s code of ethics changed this several years ago and this is no longer the case. All ridgeless puppies are to be placed in pet homes on a spay/neuter contract so as not to contribute to the gene pool (although there is talk we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this one and limiting ourselves just because a dog is ridgeless).

    The ridge is something we cannot change… cropping and docking is. It is cruel, painful and there is absolutely no reason to do it unless the dog is already having trouble. I had an adult Ridgeback’s dewclaws removed when I first began in performance The dewclaws were getting infected repeatedly and would not heal. Looking back, I would highly advise against this type of surgery and feel the same about neonatal dewclaw removal. I have seen several dewclaws that have grown back on various dogs… so why bother, unless they absolutely need to come off. Some puppies when they are born have faults that make them a pet from the beginning. Why remove their dewclaws if they are going to a pet home with virtually no chance of problems? Many people who lure course their dogs wrap feet with dew claws. This eliminates the problem completely.

    After over a decade of being involved in the fancy I plan to breed my first litter next year. All puppies will go home at eight weeks….. with their dewclaws.

  • Reply Sheridan July 24, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I live in Australia and we have had the docking ban since 2004. For almost all breeds I completely agree. Cosmetic docking is atrocious. But….I have working German Shorthaired Pointers who hunt Deer in thick cover.
    Personally I love the look of a full length tail but due to the light coat cover and lack of fat and muscle on the end of my dogs tails they are constantly a sore and bloody mess. Since the ban I have had 9 out of 11 of my dogs tails amputated by the time they are 2 years old, after months of strapping and infected wounds. I always strap all my full tailed dogs while they are working to try and minimise the damage.
    The 2 that were not amputated were quail and duck dogs and worked in a completely different landscape, open fields.
    Due to our hotter climate our dogs coats are finer and give no protection to bony tail tips. Traditional length docking by European standards is to leave 66% of the tail on and takes only this bony tip. This is the perfect length for my dogs. They have enough tail to communicate and enough removed to prevent injury.
    I don’t believe that GSPs that are only show dogs and pets should be docked but I believe that most serious working GSPs exempt.

  • Reply Deb July 28, 2015 at 11:13 am

    In my opinion, the government needs to stay out of decisions that I make for MY dogs. This should be left up to the dog owner and not a government decision. I have working dogs (Giant and Standard Schnauzers). They are bred for both the show ring and to work. Yes, some of the dogs in their pedigrees have tails and ears, but they were all imports from countries that ban the practice of cropping/docking. Now, with that said, I have a planned breedings coming up and have 3 dogs that are going to some overseas countries/buyers that do not allow these practices unless the dog comes from a country that does them and the dog comes with vet papers stating the dock/crop was done by the vet and so on. So, people in the banned countries still want the cropped/docked dogs. A few years back, someone was trying to show a dog with a tail in Giants only to be disqualified by the judge for having a tail. That is or was the mindset that we are faced with. Now, I have been breeding my Standards for natural ears for years now, but know if I plan on showing them any further than just a CH or want a CH faster then they must be cropped. Most all of the pet Standards that I place are done so with natural ears unless the puppy buyer requests the ears to be cropped and the same with Giants. However, I have far more Giants cropped than Standards. Docking is a must for the show ring. I personally like the look of the cropped/docked Schnauzers. I have a personal protection Giant and he looks more intimidating with cropped ears than he would have if he had been left with natural ears. I also remove the dew claws of all of my puppies for safety reasons. Many of my dogs go on to do real work and in rough terrain sometimes. A dew claw can easily get caught and ripped on dogs that are working in places like this. I have 8 Schnauzers…my 4 Giants all have cropped ears and then 2 of my Standards have cropped and 2 have natural….one came that way to me and one I left natural because she had correct natural ears. I will end with saying again, that I really do not feel that the government should be making laws concerning what we can and can’t do with our dogs.

    • Reply Jeff July 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Judges CAN NOT DQ a natural ear or tail. Government can and dies make decisions about lots of things including out dogs. Right or wrong. Numbers we can own. Leash laws. Breed specific dangerous dog laws. Anti cruelty statutes.

      • Reply Deb July 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        Judges CAN DQ a tail if the breed standard is not written to contain wording to specifically address natural tails. Some standards are written to say the tails are docked and judges read this to mean that undocked tails are not allowed. Been there, seen that happen. As far as the government making decisions on animals, it is understood about cruelty and such, but when you get into what I am allowed to do to my personal dogs that does not cause harm to them, then the government should stay out of it. It is all AR driven when it comes to what the AR activists considers cosmetic. Take for example a Giant that I own. I had planned on leaving her ears natural. They were small and should have been fine left alone and uncropped. However, the way the ears were set, they did not fall properly for show and required cropping. I tried every method of taping and gluing know to natural ears out there with no avail. She still had flyaway ears. I HAD to crop in order to show her. Was I suppose to make her a very expensive pet in my pack? I could not afford to do that. She was of import pedigree and purchased for a reason. Sometimes there is a necessity behind cropping. I have a trained protection dog that I would have no other way than cropped as he looks much more intimidating with cropped ears IMO. Now, the upcoming litter will most likely have natural ears for pet homes as it is much easier on the new owner and the puppy when they go to their home. It is not that I am buying into the AR movement, but to the ease of transitioning the puppy in their new home.

        • Reply Jeff July 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm

          Under NO circumstances can a judge DQ because of natural ears or tail. Period. Ever. No matter what the standard says. In fact standards cannot have a DQ for natural ears or tail. Period

          So you corrected a genetic fault , incorrect ear set , with surgery so you could breed her this passing on incorrect ear set ?

  • Reply Mary July 28, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Well, Ms. Kimball, you are not only rude, but pretty ignorant as well. Who are you to tell us to ‘shut your mouths’? Yes, I could talk about history, tradition, the myth that they need tails and drop ears to communicate with other dogs (all wild canids have PRICK ears!), the total ignoring of spay/neuter that is much more dangerous with lasting negative affects that don’t even compare to the small crop/dock procedures, and on and on. I can also tell you that it is not only breeders that want cropped and docked, most puppy buyers still want cropped and docked. In fact, most people that rescue want cropped and docked! I could address all your points, point by point. Painful? Maybe a pinch for tails, but they are immediately comforted when put back with the litter. They wake up after cropping wanting to eat and play, so this is not the traumatic procedure you want to make it out to be. But here is a whopping big reason not to ban the procedures. It is statistically proven that when crop/dock are banned, registrations of litters drops dramatically. Breeders get fed up not only with being told what they can and cannot do, even with this simple procedure. and they stop breeding! The numbers prove that as the drops happen right after bans. This causes the gene pools to shrink, and that is never a good thing for any breed. You end up magnifying genetic diseases. Without a healthy gene pool, the breed will become extinct. But then that is what you bleeding heart animal rights people want. That is the end game. No animals for any of us. So if you don’t want to crop/dock your pets, don’t. But you have absolutely NO RIGHT to tell others what to do!

    • Reply Joanna Kimball July 28, 2015 at 9:27 pm


      And, Mary – as I said, YES IT HURTS. You don’t believe it hurts, which changes absolutely nothing. You don’t have to believe that water is wet for it to be a fact.

      I’ve read the supposed narratives about registrations dropping after bans, and they are not controlled or accurate; there’s no proven correlation. Registrations in the US have dropped by more than half, and we didn’t impose a docking or cropping ban. Maybe if we DID, people would start respecting us as authorities on dogs again.

    • Reply Jeff July 28, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      There is no such statistical proof. Just scare mongering. I’m sure you’re gonna reply with the Doberman stats from England. Ignoring completely that registrations were in a free fall before docking was banned

      • Reply Bernie McDowell July 29, 2015 at 2:04 am

        I think some of us are missing the”choice” part of this discussion.

        Mary…calling Ms Kimball rude and ignorant for speaking out on her own website speaks volumes for my perception of you.

        We all have opinions and as long as we can speak our mind without being rude, I laud Joanna for giving us this forum.

        If you can’t play nice…go to another sandbox.


        • Reply Mary July 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm

          Bernie, Play nice, me? I consider someone who tells us to SHUT OUR MOUTHS quite rude, don’t you? That was Joanna who said that. Sorry, I am quite fed up with people who meddle in something that is none of their business, really. Breed standards belong to the breed clubs, back by reputable breeders. Neither crop or dock are traumatic procedures. In contrast, my bitch’s spay and gastropexy knocked her for a loop for a couple weeks! Nothing but leash walking for over two weeks. Yet people clamor for those procedures to be done. I didn’t plan for my girl to ever be spayed, but circumstances changed so we had to do it, but at least she was done at six years old.
          This is my last post, so have at it…

          • Jeff July 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm

            It is physically impossible to crop or dock without causing physical trauma ! What are you talking about ? You cut veins , tendons , arteries , cartilage and sometimes through bone . It is tissue and structure trauma and they do cause pain. Hopefully the vet uses proper numbing or anesthesia to do these procedures properly …. Which I DO support you continuing to do Mary

      • Reply Mary July 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm

        Yes there is statistical proof.
        Jeff, you go from breed to breed trying to force changes to undocked and uncropped. You failed in Rotties, although some breeders (who SAY they breed to the standard) are leaving tails on. Yourself included, although your kennel website says you breed to the standard. Right. Then you went to Silky Terriers. Now you are meddling with my breed, Doberman Pinschers. Who do you think you are to do that?
        I hope the link works. It is in the RRCD Group’s files.

        • Reply Jeff July 30, 2015 at 8:15 pm

          No. The links don’t work for me. Please post it in another format. But considering it’s from the group in Canada trying to reverse decisions banning those practices ( which I support those efforts ) I am sure it is just what I said you would post. Registrations declining are from the lack of growth in purebred registrations. A problem we should be addressing. If people aren’t registering or breeding their dogs their because they joe have ears and or tails it simply shows a lack of real care for their breeds. I love my breed docked or not.

          I’m not meddling at all. I support full choice for all owners and show people and don’t support penalties for dogs being shown in a natural state. End of story. You disagree. Terrific

          • Tina August 1, 2015 at 2:32 pm

            But…do you not realize that declining registrations stems mainly from the AR agenda of purposefully denigrating anything to do with purebred dogs towards their ultimate goal of elimination of all domesticated animals, pets included? I should have thought that fact was absolutely clear to anyone involved in the breeding of dogs.

          • Jeff August 2, 2015 at 12:36 pm

            Partly yes , but now we are on a different topic. Mandated Speuter … Breeder regulations etc. Not cropping and docking ! We don’t yet have bans on the procedures here but AKC registrations are down about 40% from the boom of the 1980s and early 90s. There are other reasons too… Economy , the computer boom and a general decline in purebred sport participants

    • Reply Dolores August 2, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      Tina and Mary-there’s nothing more to be gained by adding another comment to this discussion. I should have noted Ms. Kimball’s “Shut Your Mouth” and realized that this was going to be strictly a one sided discourse and any one who had a contrary position will be hammered.So it’s totally pointless. I don’t know why I thought that people could have divergent, civil opinions- I am afraid this one just mirrors the prevailing Zeitgeist..
      There is a much nicer discussion on Facebook on the same topic..with 298 replies of varying opinion..and every response is totally civil.

      • Reply Jeff August 3, 2015 at 12:59 am

        I think all views have been stated here

      • Reply Joanna Kimball August 3, 2015 at 3:41 am

        Dolores, I have done zero censoring of the comments except when someone made personal attacks. Those were removed no matter which side they were on.

        I will not tolerate anybody defending cropping/docking based on the idea that they don’t hurt. That has been disproven over and over and over and by so many dozens of studies, dating back over a hundred years, that it is LAUGHABLE (and very sad) that breeders continue to believe it. You’re ignoring what is RIGHT in front of you, quite literally.

        • Reply Dolores November 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm

          Many, many years ago,I’ve had a litter of 12 standard poodles docked by the breeder right on my dining room table- I saw the whole procedure.There was one yelp, and it was done and the puppies went right back to sleeping with their momma.. probably less pain than all the babies felt that used to be circumcised without an anesthetic during that same era..
          Obviously, we are on different wave lengths, and I give thanks that we live in a nation where there are still divergent views allowed..

          • Jeff November 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

            Yes. A wavelength of denial. And a wavelength of reality.

          • Michael Romanos November 26, 2015 at 11:40 pm

            I can’t help but think that those who support the docking of tails of dogs as being ignorant. The docking is of no benefit to a dog but a tail has several important benefits to a dog. Some people will say it is also a dog’s right and not a privilege to have their undamaged tail left intact. Some people in the USA talk about their rights to dock a dog’s tail and the aspects of “freedom” to choose yet these same people do not realise that under the guise of “freedom” the USA ranks only sixteenth in the world and the vast majority of countries ahead of the USA ban dog tail docking except in special/emergency situations.

            New Zealand, where I live, does not yet ban the docking of dogs tails but we do ban docking by cutting. The only legal way here is banding of puppies at the age of three-four days. USA is in line with countries like China as far as docking goes and China has a poor overall record of respecting animals.

          • Metropolis November 27, 2015 at 12:05 am

            I an confident that digs whose thin tail ends split and bleed when they hit walls while wagging, resulting in the tail becoming infected and the bone dying, would say there are benefits to tail docking. There are certainly benefits to not docking, but let’s not deny the benefits of docking. It is not all about appearance.

          • Jeff November 27, 2015 at 12:12 am

            If tails are that defective breed better ones. You might read the AVMA studies confirming no justification statistically to dock. There are far more limb injuries. You could prevent those too with amputation !

          • Metropolis November 27, 2015 at 12:28 am

            Jeff, when a breed goes from docked to undocked overnight, noone knows what to expect of the tails. You have obviously not bred anything to be so facetious and insensitive. Are we supposed to put down every dog with good temperament and conformation with a thin tail ending? Thoughtless responses like yours do nothing to encourage thinking.

          • Jeff November 27, 2015 at 12:32 am

            Thoughtless ? How about your assumption that tails will result in otherwise good dogs being put down !

            FYI we have produced over 50 AKC champions and have now stopped docking. Worldwide breeders that have stopped docking have apparently survived with tails. It’s not some life altering issue.

            Besides …. If the tails are that bad then docking only hides the fault. You’re not correcting it genetically

          • Metropolis November 27, 2015 at 12:46 am

            Jeff, the comment was made ‘There are no benefits to tail docking’ or ‘ There is no good reason to dock tails’. Sorry, I know 3 adults that needed docking. One I owned, one I bred, one I simply know. All were docked on veterinary advice. I gather you have not experienced the need to dock an adult. Apparently neither has the person who made the original comment. It would be convenient if it were all about aesthetics, but it isn’t.

          • Jeff November 27, 2015 at 1:02 am

            It is aesthetics.

            You’re talking apples to oranges. Sure a very tiny fraction of dogs may have an injury requiring amputation.

            The question is statistically are those risks enough to justify prophylacticaly remove all tails in a breed.

            The answer to the last questions is resoundingly …. No. Read the AVMA stats

          • Michael Romanos November 27, 2015 at 12:27 am

            Metropolis – your assessment that dogs can have their tails damaged through wagging them to the extent that they become infected etc so that amputating them beforehand will prevent this, is simply ridiculous. And you know it.

            Let’s therefore amputate people’s limbs just in case they are subsequently greatly damaged by terrorists.

            I think that all of us – canine and humans – are born with risks being part of living.

            Surgical clinical procedures are always a possibility when measures necessitate it but not as some kind of warped notion of what could transpire.

          • Metropolis November 27, 2015 at 12:39 am

            Michael, in a litter of 9, one dog lacked bone and as an adult his tail end was bleeding from knocking objects when wagging.

            Veterinanry advice was that it was a medical risk of infection which could result in the bone dying unless docked.

            The vet had just had to amputate a tail for this reason.

            Ny post was replying to the ignorant comment that there are no benefits in tail docking.

            Apparently you people who are blind to any view of but your own and have never put in the effort to breed good dogs don’t believe any dog has issues with its tail, or that overnight a breed always docked will have perfect tails when first allowed to keep them, or maybe you would prefer those who do have tail issues not to exist because they are inconvenient to your extreme views.

            I prefer tails in my breed, but I have also dealt with adults that have needed to be docked for health reasons – not appearance. So rash statements such as ‘ there is no reason to dock a tail’ welcome an informed response.

            The emotion inherent in all responses from those who reply to my posts, which see both sides of the issue, have consistently demonstrated refusal to see both sides of the issue, and inexperience in dealing with adult dogs with tail injuries.

          • Jeff November 27, 2015 at 12:51 am

            Why don’t you just dock all your dogs ?

          • Michael Romanos November 27, 2015 at 1:18 am

            There are NO BENEFITS for dogs to have their tails docked. Of course any stupid person would know that if the tail was damaged or injured to the extent that it had to be amputated then this clinical procedure is warranted.

            You and people like you – who mainly reside in the USA – are simply ignorant or choose to be ignorant. It’s a bit like those who support Donald Trump.The way a dog’s wags his tail can tell people very much how he feels. Whether it wags from left to right or right to left or stays steady of trends downwards or upwards. We know which way Trump and his supporters would wag if only they had tails.

  • Reply Claudia August 9, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    I hope you are right with your future vision. I am glad that in Germany and many other countries it is prohibited. A Giant Schnauzer or Doberman look much more friendly without cropped ears, can express themselves better with their undocked tail and why should there be cut off pieces of their body? Sorry, for those who don’t like the looks anymore, get yourself another dog if it is just for your sense of beauty. For me it is just as important not to spay or neuter your dog without a reason based on health issues.

    • Reply Tina August 9, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Dobermans are not supposed to ‘look much more friendly’. They were developed as guard and personal protection dogs, not lap dogs. Their look was said to ‘scare the devil himself’. That is one reason that they have been cropped and docked since the inception of the breed. As such, for a hundred years they have led full, productive lives interacting with humans and other dogs in a myriad of performance venues, and are able to express themselves very well. If you don’t want a cropped/docked breed, don’t buy one.

  • Reply Angela December 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    # 1 is indeed an option. I don’t care what others say about me or if they think me shallow. That goes double for anyone trying to tell me what I should be doing, thinking or feeling based on “their” value system. “I” have to live with the dogs and looks happen to be important to me. I was in Rottweilers when living in Germany and still have contacts in the breed there. One thing that’s happening, no surprise, is the emergence of an unofficial “preferred” tail set. We see it here with color or ear set. You don’t see a lot color in Borzois and only one ear set in Aussies. Those preferences narrow an already small gene pool.

  • Reply Gate December 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    This rant is quite so rude and filled with an entitled opinion. It makes it nearly impossible to find any merit in what you are trying to say. You sound like an SWJ hiding behind a keyboard with your opinion and how everyone else in the world is wrong unless they prescribe to what you believe is correct. Telling people to essentially shut up is no way to communicate, especially if you want to incite a mass change of opinion.

    Also if cropping/docking is so inhumane, how horrible are the parents who circumcise their male infant’s penis? Clearly by your opinion all of those parents must be that they are truly evil and male circumcision should definitely be illegal. Cutting off the tip of the sex organ for cosmetic reasons, how absurd! And those poor babies never get to have a choice! ….

    See how ridiculous this sounds?

    If docking/ cropping becomes totally illegal everywhere it will not stop people from doing it, it will only force people to find alternative means of getting it done. I personally think, regardless of your stance for cropping/docking, keeping it legal and allowing Clubs, breeders and owners choose if they want it done and having vets intelligently and professionally educate owners on the process and complications then allowing them to make their own decision is the correct path. Keep docking/cropping standard, so that the dogs that undergo the procedure can have it done correctly, by a skilled professional and in a safe/clean environment. And if the goal is to have docking and cropping no longer be desired then to truly speak to those in power to make that happen, don’t force it to happen by legislation that never leads to a good outcome.

    • Reply Joanna Kimball December 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      OK, first, I don’t know why on EARTH people who want to keep docking/cropping always bring up baby penises in the next breath, but since you all seem to be obsessed with it – routine circumcision has not been recommended in the United States for many years. Its rate has steadily fallen, the procedure is no longer covered by many insurance plans, and your baby doctor will tell you that it’s not necessary and usually not indicated. And in most of the world, it’s seen as a completely bizarre decision for any but religious purposes. So yeah, absurd.

      Dog ears and tails are not religions. And if crop/dock are banned we already know what will happen, because it has been banned in most of the world. What happens is that breeders kick up a giant fuss, threaten to leave their breeds, have heated discussions with big arm-waving motions at a few Nationals, and then everybody gets used to the tail and ears and breeding goes on as normal. The next generation of breeders of those breeds, who were introduced to them as tailed and eared dogs, loves the look from the beginning and starts asking their friends in the US why weird US breeders cut ears and tails off.

      • Reply Jeff December 9, 2016 at 10:50 pm

        If a person leaves a breed over this they didn’t love the breed anyway

    • Reply michael romanos December 9, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Legislation and regulation does most often give a great and correct outcome and so if that is what is required for cropping and docking to be discontinued with, so be it.

      Dog owners have been given the facts and if they cannot see the utter craziness in cropping dogs ears and the disabilities presented to dogs with docked tails, then there is as much hope for mankind as there is with those who voted in Trump. That 35-odd countries now ban docking and cropping apart from some exceptions i to barring docking and this was done through Governmental legislation in every case, I don’t see any dog owners in those particular countries revolting the system.

    • Reply Jeff December 9, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      If it is banned those wanting to do it in their own will be committing a crime too

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