WHY WE CROP AND DOCK
Updated: May 2, 2020
Amid the ever-growing controversy in the States when it comes to cropping and docking and it's ban in many counties in Europe, I feel like its time to touch on this sensitive subject and state my opinion. Before you call PETA on me, I must say this is only my opinion and of course you are entitled to make your mind up about how you feel. I respect everyone's opinion.
Let's make one thing clear first... I truly believe that every Dobermann bred within standards of the breed is beautiful. Cropped and docked, or natural - both have their appeals. Most of us can agree that our love for the breed doesn't only stem from the fact that they look "fierce" or "cool", but rather it is their temperaments that win our hearts and we love them regardless.
That being said, I love nothing more than a cropped and docked Dobermann... Sue me!
Now lets get to the why...
Dobermans have famously long and compared to their size thin tails. Now I know this isn't a rule, but in my experience, leaving natural tails on this breed and many others such as the Hungarian Vizsla is a recipe for disaster. In my days of raising Vizslas I cannot tell you how many times I've experienced a spliced tip or even a broken tail and it was never pretty. Not to get too graphic, but you can only witness your walls look like a scene of a Dexter episode so many times before you realize that whip of a tail is not doing anyone any favors. I really tried getting into the "more humane" natural look, but I just couldn't see the humane part in it.
Simply put, with high energy and high drive breeds such a Dobermann, their tail is hurt (and bleeding) more often than not. Wether they slammed it on the edge of a table, or hurt it while playing, once that sucker opens up everything around your dog looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. Although I appreciate "fine art" as much as the next person I do not enjoy watching my dogs constantly get hurt nor do I appreciate the clean-up after the fact. I'd wrap them in bubble wrap if I could, but it's not really practical and I'd probably go through a lot of bubble wrap so not economical either. I won't even go into the heartbreak of having your dog get his tail caught in some shrub and breaking it. They're miserable, you're miserable... You get the picture (pun intended).
The part that I don't understand about the whole "cropping and docking is cruel" mentality is why would anyone insist on sparing their dog from a simple procedure that many argue the puppy doesn't even feel when done only to watch your dog get hurt over and over again later in life. Even if they do feel it, they are too young to remember it, whereas I can bet good money on the fact that that same dog will most definitely feel and remember each time it hurts its tail when grown.
Cropping of the ears , I'll admit, is more cosmetic than anything although here too I have seen many benefits with dogs who've had theirs cropped vs dogs who are natural. First and foremost, I have yet to have a cropped Dobermann have an ear infection. I'm no scientist nor doctor but I've been around dogs long enough to realize that it definitely helps. Being that Dobermanns are among the top 10 breeds prone to ear infections due to their deep ear canals, I'd say being able to say that my dogs have never had one is pretty darn good. My dog's ears are NEVER smelly and they generally require super minimal maintenance and care to keep them that way. There's also claims that cropping improves their hearing and also once again prevents injury and subsequent medical interventions with working dogs. I can definitely see the latter being the case. Dobermanns are working bred dogs which means - chances are - they will be put to work likely in protection sports. Having the ear cropped minimizes chance of injury on the field while training and trialing.
Obviously looks play a big role in this as well. I'm not about to sit here and pretend they don't. I like a cropped Dobe... I like them a lot. I've seen way too many natural dobermans look like Dobby the House Elf with their ears sticking out to know that I will forever be pro cropping. Then there is always the disproportionate ears, ears where one is up and the other is... well who the hell knows where the other is... You know what I mean... Oh, and please don't go getting offended with me if your dog has ears like this - as stated they all look beautiful to me. Some of my favorite Dobermanns have ears exactly like that. I'm just trying to paint a picture (not a Jackson Pollock thank you very much) as to why I prefer one over the other.
We can all sit here and pretend that we don't care about how they look, but the end of the day it is perfectly understandable to me that when your lashing out big bucks for a reputably bred dog, you'd want the dog to look the part as much as they act the part. Vain? Maybe... But its true. Rescues are of course excluded from this. I love rescues and would take them all in if could.
Now all that being said, I find it extremely important to note that cropping and docking should ONLY be done by trained and experienced professionals. Furthermore, a reputable breeder in the States will NEVER send a puppy home uncropped, rather they will have the crop done and ears healed before they send the puppy to their new home often even including ear posting supplies in their puppy care packets. If you find a breeder that leaves cropping to be done by you, the buyer - this is a big red flag. This of course excludes breeders geared toward working lines who leave ears and tails natural following the FCI standards rather than AKC standards... However, if that puppy has it's tail done yet the breeder is leaving the cropping to you... RUN! There is nothing worse than a botched crop and dock. At that point, why bother doing it? If going down this avenue please make sure to research good experienced vets and ask them to show you examples of their previous work. This is important not only so your dog will look great, but also so everything goes well with healing after the procedure is done. Simply put, not many vets are good at cropping ears. Also, vets are in no way experts in educating people on how to properly post ears. The ones that are recognized for their cropping skills are, but as stated they're few and far between. Which is exactly why reputable breeders will carefully select a veterinarian that is proficient in doing ears and make sure they're done in a timely manner.
Well, there you have it folks. I really hope the U.S. doesn't end up trying to be Europe by banning these procedures. If that happens, I'll still have Dobermanns and love them of course but I'm calling every single one of you that votes for the ban to come clean my walls next time a tail gets busted.