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Can Vet J. 2010 October; 51(10): 1057.
PMCID: PMC2942041

Tail docking and ear cropping — A comment

Dear Sir,

In response to the letters sent by Dr. Michael Steen and Dr. Ken Langelier (Can Vet J 2010;51:121), first, I wish to address the statements made by Dr. Micheal Steen concerning the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). Perhaps Dr. Steen can provide documentation and the name of the individual who made the stated promise to the class of 1990. The CKC did put a motion forward in 1994 to ban ear cropping by 2000. This motion was soundly defeated. It should be noted that breed standards are not in the hands of the CKC but rather with the individual breed clubs. The CKC does not have the power to change the standards of any breed. This was upheld by the Minister of Agriculture some years ago.

Secondly, I wish to address Dr. Steen’s statement about pain in neonatal puppies. It has been scientifically proven that neonatal puppies do not have enough development of pain sensors at 3 to 5 days of age to consciously feel pain. This is why they are docked at such a young age.

Thirdly, I would like to address Dr. Steen’s statement saying that breeders only want to uphold their “breed standards.” Of course they do! They are there for a very good reason: health and preservation of the breed; not for “cosmetic” reasons as the animal activists would like the public and the veterinary community to believe. Most docked breeds are working dogs. The standard is there to protect the dog. Dewclaws are ripped off, tails are bloodied by the enthusiastic nature of some dog breeds and won’t heal, leading to amputations later in life. The old English sheep dog is docked for sanitary reasons and to avoid maggot infestation leading to infections. (oh ... that is why lambs are docked, right?) These problems are just as common if not more so in the pet population of today. As with the docking of sheep and swine, docking of puppy tails in certain breeds is just good animal husbandry.

None of the reasons Dr. Steen listed for the discontinuation of the right of veterinarians to choose to do or not to do these preventative procedures can tolerate the light of logic or dispassionate discussion. Any animal loving person with an ounce of common sense can see these arguments are nonsense. Individual veterinarians are clearly able to make this decision on an individual basis in consultation with their clients. Breeders clearly want these procedures available to them via professional caregivers using the most up-to-date techniques science has to offer.

Some members of the veterinary community continue to peddle these procedures as cosmetic or cruel even when evidence to the contrary exists. Animal activists are not for the animals but the elimination of the animals.

Articles from The Canadian Veterinary Journal are provided here courtesy of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association