Ethical Issues

Are You A Believer In This Myth?

We have all  come to associate certain dog breeds with a particular look, but what if we knew about the pain associated with getting that look. Do dogs go through Phantom limb syndrome? If so does it ever go away or does it stay like it does in a high percentage of human amputees?

Healthy Pets

By Dr. Karen Becker

Recently, researchers in British Columbia conducted a study of people’s awareness and perceptions around the practice of tail docking and ear cropping of dogs. Past studies have primarily involved dog breeders and veterinarians; however, this study was designed for the general public. The study peaked my interested because, as writer Karen Brulliard points out in her article for the Washington Post: “Dogs are born with ears and tails. They should get to keep them.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never performed these strictly cosmetic surgeries on any dog. I also refuse to do cat declaws or dog devocalization (“debarking”) — two other medically unnecessary, “for human convenience only” procedures that are cruel and unquestionably inhumane. Study Featured 4 Breeds That Are Often Tail­Docked and Ear­Cropped Experiment 1 in the B.C. study involved 810 U.S. residents, including 474 men and 336 women with a mean age of 44. Of the 810 participants, 318 were a primary caregiver of a dog. For the study, the researchers used images of four dog breeds — the Doberman Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Boxer and Brussels Griffon. Dogs belonging to each of these breeds are routinely subjected to tail docking and ear cropping. The participants were shown two pictures of one of the four breeds, one natural (with the tail and ears the dog was born with), and one with docked tail and cropped ears.

Canadian researchers conducted a study of the general public’s awareness and perceptions of tail docking and ear cropping of dogs The researchers learned that a significant percentage of people seem to believe some dogs of certain breeds are simply born with cropped ears and docked tails They also learned that surgically altered dogs are perceived as more aggressive and dominant than dogs with their natural tails and ears Researchers believe many people turn a blind eye to what’s involved in tail docking and ear cropping because it makes them uncomfortable The biggest advocates of these medically unnecessary procedures in the U.S. are dog breeders and the American Kennel Club.

The participants were shown two pictures of one of the four breeds, one natural (with the tail and ears the dog was born with), and one with docked tail and cropped ears.

They were told the dog pairs were siblings, and asked to explain why they thought the ears and tails looked different. Many Study Participants Claimed to Believe Dogs Are Born With Docked Tails and Cropped Ears The researchers reported that 58 percent of participants correctly answered that the dogs with cropped ears and docked tails had been surgically altered after they were born. However, astonishingly, the other 42 percent claimed not to know that dogs are not born with docked tails and cropped ears. These people believed the appearance of the shorter ears and tails was simply a genetic variation. They believed dogs of the same breed vary in appearance up to and including tails and ears of different shapes and sizes. Miniature Schnauzer: natural Miniature Schnauzer: surgically altered Not surprisingly, dog owners were more apt to answer correctly than non­-owners. Surgically Altered Dogs Are Perceived as More Aggressive, Dominant Experiment 2 of the study involved 392 U.S. residents, including 241 men and 151 women with a mean age of 34. Of this second group, 149 were a primary caregiver of a dog. In this experiment, the researchers wanted to learn if the physical appearance of the dogs caused the participants to make assumptions about their personality traits. Participants in experiment 2 perceived the surgically altered dogs as more aggressive towards both people and other dogs — and more dominant — than the natural dogs. They perceived the natural dogs as more playful and more attractive. Study Also Revealed How Owners of ‘Modified’ Dogs Are Perceived by Others In a third experiment involving 420 U.S. residents, 235 men and 151 women with a mean age of 34 years, the researchers evaluated how owners of natural vs. surgically altered dogs are perceived. Study participants viewed owners of surgically altered dogs as “more aggressive, more narcissistic, less playful, less talkative and less warm than owners of natural dogs.” Interestingly, gender also played a role in these perceptions. If the owner of an altered dog was female, she was perceived by the participants as being more aggressive, dominant, narcissistic and competent than the female owner of a natural dog. Male owners of surgically altered dogs were viewed as more narcissistic, less warm and less competent than male owners of natural dogs. Brussels Griffon: natural Brussels Griffon: surgically altered Study Co­Author Believes People ‘Just Don’t Want to Know About’ the Details of Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Marina A. G. von Keyserlingk, Ph.D., an animal welfare professor at the University of British Columbia and co­author of the study, told the Washington Post the study results suggest it simply doesn’t occur to many people that the physical appearance Ear Cropping: Never Make Your Puppy Endure This Cruel Procedure… No Matter What These Dogs Live a Life of Silent Torture, Even Though They Weren’t Directly Abused.

Massachusetts Becomes First State to Criminalize Devocalization of Dogs and Cats 3 Sort Comments by : Top Rated Newest Oldest Top Poster of dogs may be the result of human decisions forced on them. Co­author Katelyn Mills, a graduate student studying under von Keyserlingk, believes the lack of awareness could be deliberate. “People disconnect themselves from things if they find it uncomfortable,” Mills said. “They don’t want to know about it.” “They’re not particularly pleasant procedures to know about,” says the Post’s Bruilliard. “Tail­docking is performed by veterinarians or breeders when puppies are [3] to [5] days old, either by cutting the tail with scissors or a scalpel or putting an elastic band around it that restricts circulation and makes it fall off. Anesthetic is rarely used.

“Veterinarians usually, but not always, do ear­cropping on 7­ to 12­week­old puppies and use anesthetic. After cutting the ears into the owner’s chosen shape (Dobermans might get a ‘military crop’ or a ‘show crop’), the ears are held upright for months, at first in a styrofoam cup and then with tape, until they heal and stand on their own.”

We believe that the natural look is beautiful and should be kept. What do you think? The study piqued my interest because, as writer Karen Brulliard points out in her article for the Washington Post: “Dogs are born with ears and tails. They should get to keep them.”

Compare the Natural Look on the Left with the Altered on the Right

Compare the Natural Look on the Left with the Altered on the Right

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