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Painful Procedures for Dogs


Humans can opt against cosmetic surgery, but dogs aren’t so lucky. We choose for them—and we often choose painful, unnecessary procedures such as ear-cropping and tail-docking. To give certain breeds so-called “desirable” traits, unscrupulous veterinarians perform cruel, disfiguring surgeries that cause dogs great suffering.

Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just 8 to 12 weeks old. At this stage in their development, the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup. The process of taping and re-taping a pup’s ears to force them to stand erect after they have been cropped can be agonizing for the dog

Puppies are normally just a few days old when their tails are docked. They are generally not even given any anesthetics to numb the pain of having their tails cut off. Compassionate veterinarians object to the arbitrary removal of body parts used for communication, balance, and expression.

Dogs “talk” to their human companions and other dogs using their ears and tails.

It is ridiculous to perform medically unnecessary procedures that simply perpetuate the image that dogs are fashion accessories. This image is promoted by the American Kennel Club at its canine beauty pageants and by breeders who believe that “their” breed will be “ruined” if it does not maintain the image handed down by parent breed clubs decades ago.

These procedures are so cruel that they are banned in many European countries. For example, British kennel clubs outlawed ear-cropping a century ago, and cosmetic tail-docking was stopped in Great Britain in 1993.

Sadly, some veterinarians still see nothing wrong with mutilating a dog whose guardian is willing to pay for it. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that “ear-cropping and tail-docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries.”

In response to the tail-docking (amputation) requirements for certain breeds in the Westminster Kennel Club’s (WKC) internationally promoted annual dog show, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a complaint with New York officials against the club, alleging criminal violations of the state’s anti-cruelty law, which prohibits unjustified mutilations of animals.


Are Your Neighbors Barking Mad?

Don’t wait for a visit from animal control, a court summons, or—worst of all—for frustrated neighbors to strike before you solve your dog’s barking problem. PETA’s caseworkers are flooded with calls from people who have been ordered to subject their dog to a cruel surgery of convenience, called “debarking,” as a means to try to remedy their excessive barking. But barking is a dog’s means of communicating many feelings—fear, frustration, pain, boredom, or even happiness. This cruel procedure strips dogs of their natural ability to vocalize and communicate. Depriving them of their primary means of expression is unjustifiably cruel.

Debarking, or devocalization, is an invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a large amount of laryngeal tissue. It involves a great deal of pain post-operatively. Because this procedure is superfluous and inherently cruel, many veterinarians condemn and refuse to perform it.

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

If your dog has a barking problem, don’t accept debarking as a solution. Instead, deal with the problem for what it is: a symptom of boredom and loneliness! There are lots of simple and effective solutions:

  • Most importantly, if your dog spends all day outdoors alone in a yard, bring him or her inside to become part of the family, where companion animals belong!
  • Call your local humane society for a referral to a humane trainer, animal behaviorist or helpful veterinarian, and never attempt to use shock or citronella collars as a solution. Click here [link:] for more information on humane training methods.
  • Ask your vet or local humane society to refer you to a dog walker, doggie daycare center, or dog park, where dogs can talk all they want.
  • If you have been ordered by the court to either debark or euthanize your dog or move, you probably need to hire a lawyer.
  • Raise awareness about cruel debarking by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Commenting is closed.
  • samiamten says:

    @ Kevin: “The ears reduce the risk of ear infection and the tails make Dobermans not look stupid.” No data supports your claims regarding ear infections. Funny that you don’t want dobermans to “look stupid” but you have no problem doing it to yourself.

  • Maria says:

    Thank you for the info. I am so ashamed to even say we was considering having tail docked on our Yorkie because we thot it was something she suppose to have done but after watching youtube on surgery and another video where man had dull scissors trying to cut tail on 1 day old pup… made me sick. Thank you for this website. We have decided Bella is perfect the way she is.

  • Luci says:

    Oh boy, I never actually make a comment on these things when I see that someone whos made a comment needs some education but in this instance I just have to. Kevin: My doberman’s ears and tail are in tact, she has never had an ear infection and I can assure you that vanity is only a human trait, she doesnt look in the mirror and think oh god, if only I didnt have a tail, I would be so much more attractive, the reason we would “correct” a childs ear that curled up over their head (whatever the hell that means) is because we would want to save him or her from possible ridicule at school and later on in life and because we as humans see it as a “fault” Now I really dont think that when my doberman goes to the park all the other dogs pick on her because she has a “stupid looking” tail. Im not even gonna go into the nervous system comment u had because I mean really?? as soon as you are born trust me that nervous system is firing away,if you would like to test the fact, try putting a hot iron to your future new born babies skin and let me know what you observe. Now please dont retaliate to this comment by spewing some nasty words out of rage, rather take the time to acknowledge that you were just very poorly misinformed and decide to open your eyes and your mind from this day forward

  • Kevin says:

    Wow. I am always amazed when people who have no clue are more than wiling to comment on the pain and cruelty of a procedure that they have obviously never seen. So that means you have never taken you young daughter to get their ears pierced. when the tails are done, the nervous system is not yet developed yet so it does not hurt and the ears are done with a local. Most puppies are playing minutes after the procedure. The ears reduce the risk of ear infection and the tails make Dobermans not look stupid. Tell me, if your kid had and ear that curled up over their head, would you do something about it or would you just name them dumbo.

  • Spencer says:

    Pam, I have a pembroke welsh corgi and it has a tail. 1 3rd of all pembrokes are born with a tail so maybe YOU should do your research

  • tots says:

    but MO, why in the world do it in the first place? Let me get this straight: you CHOPPED OFF a piece of LIVING, BREATHING being that feels pain and to you that is PERFECTLY OKAY AND NORMAL? Well, let’s go ahead and chop off our baby’s ears if they stick out to much. Oh, and let’s do their feet while we’re at it, because big feet are seen as ugly. And why not the tips of their noses too?

    same concept. cruel even if it’s “painless”

  • sandystarr28 says:

    I have 3 Jack Rusell terriers. Jill, I rescued from an unscrupulous breeder when she was three months old. Her tail was already cropped, but it was a chop job, much longer than it was supposed to be. So why crop it at all if you don’t do it right? My husband had a fiine looking Jack named of course, Jack. We fought over the dogs in the divorce, and I got Jill. I was going to have her spayed, but she was already pregnant. Being full-blooded, I thought I could sell the pups. WELL, I thought I had to have their tails docked or noone would buy them. The vet assured me it wouldn’t hurt. The first dew claw he removed was so traumatic for me, I made him use anesthesia for the rest. Two pups had their tails docked, one had his dew claws removed, and I felt so guilty that I’ve had all three, Jill and her two pups, Rocky and Skippy ever since. Ten years now, and I would never do these procedures again.

  • Allison says:

    There is no reason, ever, to crop or dock any dog. The only appropriate time to cut something off is when it threatens the dog’s life. Breeders are evil and so are those who patronize them.

  • Mo says:

    Whenever I see articles relating to cropping/docking and the ‘horrendous pain’ puppies go through because of it, I have to LOL to myself. I am the proud owner of 3 healthy, happy, and friendly docked/cropped Dobermans. They have absolutely NO ‘psychological aftereffects’ from being cropped/docked. Their ears still work as do their tails and their communication is not affected at all. Nor is their balance (all my dogs are agility champions)or the ability to ‘express’ themselves. As a matter of fact, when done by a qualified and experienced vet. both procedures are not only safe but, relatively painless. The pups are playing hours after the cropping surgery. As far as taping and retaping the ears (racking is what it’s called) being agonizing… this only happens with inexperienced idiots who don’t know what they are doing. All of my dogs stood quietly and happily during retaping. But yes, let’s outlaw it completely and then we will see backyard ‘chop-shops’ doing these procedures with no anesthetic. Maybe when that happens we will finally start to see the ‘horrendous’ torture that misinformed people (who probably never even observed the procedures or owned a docked/cropped dog) keep yapping about. I certainly haven’t seen any of this horrendous harm and I’ve been a Doberman enthusiast for over 30 years.

  • Marchella says:

    I am very upset with my neighbors. I have lived on my street for over 2 years now and my son brought a puppy home he is red nose pit he is sooooooooo cute. My neighor hates the dog and reported it mind you this puppy is only 14 weeks old and just started barking the last two weeks he has learned that he has a voice (lol) this dog loves kids and people he is shy and playful just a baby. This lady got mad cause he bark but everyone on my street has a dog he only bark cause he saw a stranger in the yard next door. She reported it to the animal control people mind you this was just one time cause the dog is a house dog i let him on the porch one morning to get fresh air. She wants him layed down sooooooooo sad.

  • Pam says:

    Pembroke’s have a natural bobbed tail (no tail) they are born that way so the breeder didn’t have to dock it. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the one that has its tail from birth(and is to keep it.) Do the research before commenting or getting a breed.

  • Sue says:

    Kristy, while I’m sure you try to explain, rather than becoming frustrated perhaps you can show these people the equal compassion that you have for your friend. Calmly and peacefully describe that while you are entirely against cruel, hideous actions such as tail docking, the disfigurement was done without your knowledge or approval. But that even after such cruelty there was still a life to care for – to love – and you are the person to offer that love.

    Please remember, such comments are coming from those who are truly troubled for the Corgi who shares your life. Confirming that you understand and share their concern will certainly make life more pleasant for all, and you may well make some wonderful friends in the process. 🙂

  • Kristy says:

    I think that a lot of people need to wake up and stop making OWNERS feel bad if their dog’s tail has been docked. It HAS to happen before the dog is 6 days old, there is ZERO chance that a breeder would let an owner take a puppy and make decisions for it at that age. I’m so furious when I go around town with my Pembroke Corgi and people scowl at me and ask me why I cut her tail off. I DID NOT! My mother bought the puppy for me for Christmas, what should I do, dump her in a pound? NO I will keep her. It’s not my fault her tail was docked and my mom bought her for me, she knew my boyfriend and I had been searching the local shelters and papers for a corgi in need of a home for about a year and a half, and she found a breeder near where we live, she bought the puppy for us in kindness, I know I feel bad that she bought it but that doesn’t make me love her (the dog or the mom) any less. And I’m tired of being a bad person because of something that I had no control over.

  • Barbara says:

    I have been doing dog rescue for 10 years. I have taken in dogs that were estimated to be 15 years old, and I can attest to the fact that any age dog can be trained. In fact, the older dogs learn faster than puppies! Most learn housetraining in as little as two days. So don’t ever let a dog’s age and thoughts of trainability deter you from adopting an older pet.

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