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Why Some Think It’s a Bad Idea to Dock a Dog's Tail.

Tail docking is banned in many parts of the world, including Australia and the U.K. In the U.S., these procedures are unregulated -- meaning they are not banned or controlled. But they are highly controversial. New York and Vermont have considered legislation to ban them, but neither state has so far. The American Kennel Club (AKC) says the practices are “integral to defining and preserving breed character” in certain breeds. But the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes docking and cropping. “The most common reason for cropping and docking is to give a dog a certain look. That means it poses unnecessary risks,” Patterson-Kane says. Docked tails can also develop a neuroma, or nerve tumor. This can cause pain and make your dog snappy if her tail is touched. Studies show that dogs communicate emotions like anger and excitement by wagging their tails, so docking “may interfere with your dog’s ability to interact with other dogs,” says Andy Roark, a veterinarian at Cleveland Park Animal Hospital in Greenville, S.C. Unclear Benefits Though docking and cropping are done mostly for appearance’s sake, many owners and breeders say removing hunting and farm dogs’ tails might prevent injuries during chases or herding. Others say docking keeps energetic breeds like boxers from hurting their tails by thumping them against walls or dog crates. Some owners believe ear cropping lowers the odds of infections. James Serpell, PhD, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that docking itself could be considered an injury. On the other hand, he says, “research shows that an intact tail is unlikely to become injured, and if it does, injuries are usually minor and heal easily.” Research shows that at least 80 percent of dogs won’t get ear infections, “and the breeds that are most likely to get them, such as cocker spaniels and poodles, don’t get their ears docked,” Patterson-Kane says.

TO BE CLEAR........