Dog Ear Crops Tail Docks and Dewclaw Removal

June 16, 2014

Ear Cropping, Tail Docking and Dewclaw Removal. What is it, should you do it?

Ear Cropping

dog ear cropping

Ear cropping is most often done when puppies are between eight and 12 weeks old and for cosmetic reasons only. The pup is put under general anesthesia, the veterinarian will cut the ear cartilage and skin into the desired shape, the skin is then sutured together along the cut edges, and the ears are taped upright using cardboard tubes, tongue depressors, gauze rolls, or various other contraptions for support.

The stitches are removed seven to 10 days after surgery, but the ears usually need to be taped and supported for weeks to months after that before they will stay upright on their own. Potential medical complications include persistent bleeding, swelling, or infection in the first week or two after surgery. Sometimes the ears won’t stand upright despite months of taping, the tips may twist or bend or the shape of the ears may not be to the owner’s liking. Many vets don’t crop ears because they feel it isn’t worth the aggravation. To find a vet who is experienced in ear crops in your breed of dog, ask breeders in your area for their recommendations.

Tail Docking

dog tail docking

Tail Docking is the removal of all or part of a dog’s tail. It was initially done to prevent a dog from contracting rabies. Now that we know that this is not true, it is done mainly for cosmetic reasons. Tail docking is usually done when the puppy is three to five days old. The puppies are not anesthetized because the anesthetic risk at that age is felt to outweigh the pain the puppies feel during the procedure. The tails are amputated with surgical scissors or a scalpel. The skin of the tail is closed with surgical glue or a couple of sutures.

The American Kennel Club, the largest breed registry in the United States, specifies docking in more than 40 breeds. Veterinarians generally dock puppies within a week after birth but sometimes perform the surgery on older dogs for medical reasons, such as a tail-beater’s constant fractures from whipping it against hard objects.

Complications are rare and primarily cosmetic—the end of the tail may feel lumpy or bony after it’s healed, and it may be slightly longer or shorter than desired.

Dewclaw Removal

Dog Dew Claw

A dewclaw is the innermost toe (of five) on each foot. Dewclaws are found up around the ankle or not at all—some dogs are born without them. There’s medical justification for removing them if the nails curve close to the skin and will be difficult to keep trimmed, or if the hair on the puppy’s legs will be groomed and the dewclaws are likely to get nicked repeatedly by the clippers or scissors. Otherwise, removing dewclaws is a cosmetic choice.

Like Tail Docking, Dewclaw Removal is generally done when the puppy is three to five days old, using surgical scissors or a scalpel. The puppy is not put under anesthesia.

My personal advice would be not to undergo any of these procedures unless your vet agrees on any Crop, Dock and Toe for health reasons.

What dew you think? Do you have any tails to tell?

15 thoughts on “Dog Ear Crops Tail Docks and Dewclaw Removal”

  1. After reading Crop, Dock and Toe, I have decided to never crop my dogs ears, dock my dog’s tail or remove the dewclaw unless the veterinarian convinces me that it would be necessary for health reasons. I don’t like the fact that dogs body parts are amputated without anesthesia if it’s solely for cosmetic reasons. I understand that there is an anesthesia health risk for young puppies and that that risk outweighs the pain they will feel, but pain for cosmetic reasons does not make sense to me. If the dewclaw is going to be constantly nicked by grooming clippers, I would possibly consider removing the dewclaw if it caused less pain to the dog in the long run; however, since removing the dewclaw is done when the puppy is only 3 – 5 days old, there may be no way to know if it will be a problem when the dog is older. I would have to do research on the breed and the grooming of that breed and discuss it at length with my dog’s veterinarian before I did anything. I say that unless the dog’s health is at risk, it’s more humane to NOT crop their ears, dock their tails or remove their dewclaw.

  2. I have mixed feelings on it all. I don’t think the animals should go through that stuff for no reason though.

  3. I hope that if people do have this done to their animals that they do it while their young and really only if need be.

  4. All three of these procedures sound painful. Even if the nerve endings are not fully grown yet. The only way I would consider having these done is if the vet deemed it necessary or if it was hurting the animal.

  5. Tail docking to stop rabies. Wow. Declawing is not always done just for cosmetic purpose. My parents have a dog that had two dewclaws on one foot. It hurt him because it would catch. New info : ).

  6. I like the info supplied n unfortunately i witnessed a tail docking done in a dirty garage, done w a hatchet, to a Rott female pup, 2 months old. Clean cut, not much blood..i had to hold her for the job..i cried when she yelped at the cut. I nvr want to see that again. As for ears n dewclaws being done, i nvr took any of my dogs for that. Unfortunately for certain breeds, its a standard set up by the Am. Kennel Assoc., and some buyers wont even look at dogs without ears cropped, tails docked. E.g. Dobermans.

  7. The tail docking and dewclaw removal sound painful. I have mix feeling about ear cropping. Good Information to learn