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Ear cropping, tail docking and dewclaw removal originated as means to prevent injuries. Hundreds of years ago, dog owners removed those parts of puppies' ears and tails that were likely to be snagged or torn while hunting and working. Dewclaws (rudimentary 5th toes on the inside of dog's ankles) were removed for the same reason. Dogs that were bred for fighting had their ears and tails removed to prevent loose appendages from becoming convenient grips for their opponent's teeth.
Today, the practice of altering tails and ears is primarily a matter of continuing a tradition rather than fulfilling a need. Considered cosmetic surgery, these operations are elective and should be performed after careful consideration.
Ear Cropping:

In early days, ears were cropped very short. The technique was clumsy with no regard to balance or aesthetics. With the development of anesthesia, cropping techniques became more sophisticated and "artistic". We perform all types of ear copping procedures and have performed 100s of procedures. We recommend Laser Surgery to decrease pain, better nerve sealing, and faster overall recovery. (Add Link)

Today there is no reason, other than personal choice, to crop ears. There are some breeds that are preferred to have cropped ears. Those breeds include Great Danes, Boxers, Dobermans, Pitbulls, American Stratfordshire terrier, Schnauzers, Brussels Griffons and Miniature Pinschers.

Dog fanciers that support ear cropping defend it as being beneficial for the dog's ear health. They believe cropped ears have fewer incidences of ear infections because of increased light and air circulation.

If you elect to crop your puppy's ears, it is best to have it done as early as possible -- six weeks of age in the larger breeds and not more than 9 weeks of age for the small breeds. Since the ear cartilage is permanently set by the time a dog is 4 months old, ears cropped after this age may never stand up properly.

The surgery involves reshaping, sculpturing and contouring the outer ear flap in order to achieve an ear that will be erect, balanced and in proportion to the dog's head and body. After the surgery, the amputated ear will be taped into place. Follow-up visits at extra costs involve stretching the healing ear along its edges and re-taping. The ears are kept in the taped position until the muscles and cartilage of the ears heal enough to stand on their own.

We do not guarantee that the ears will stand as that depends on various factors one of which is the strength of the pet’s cartilage.

Post-operatively, the pet should be monitored closely. We recommend tranquilizers to keep your pet mellow after surgery. We also prescribe pain medications to make your pet recover comfortably. Please make sure that you keep the Elizabethan collar on at all times. Make sure your dog does not cause any damage to the ears or bandages. If there are any problems with the bandages or the ears, your pet should be brought into the hospital immediately. The time required for ears to stand varies according to breed, conformation, age at time of cropping and cartilage strength. Your pet will need to come in for a recheck in 3-4 days to have the bandages changed and again another 7 days later. Your pet may need additional rechecks or more frequent rechecks depending on your pet’s needs. There are additional fees for these rechecks and bandage changes. Please consult an staff member for more information.

Tail Docking:

Tails are cropped when puppies are just a few days old. For this reason, we request that you wait for your puppies to take home immediately after surgery. The amount of tail removed is determined by the standard for that particular breed.

Breeds that have their tails routinely docked include Airedales, Old English Sheepdogs, Cocker Spaniels, Griffons, Grosser Munsterlanders, Kerry Blue Terriers, Irish Terriers, Poodles, Sealyham Terriers, Welsh Terriers, Weimaraners, Yorkshire Terriers, Boxers and if the tail is considered too long, the German short-haired and wire-haired Pointers.

When you take a puppy to the vet to have the tail docked, the hair on the tail will be removed and the tail will be sterilized. A tourniquet will be applied to stop bleeding. A clamp is then placed at the length of tail desired and a scalpel used to cut off the remaining tail. A few sutures will be taken to prevent bleeding and the tail will be bandaged.

Be sure you and your veterinarian agree on just how much tail is to be removed. It is important to keep the incision clean post-operatively.

AVMA POSITON ON EAR CROPPING: Ear cropping and tail docking in dogs for cosmetic reasons are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures , as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.
Dewclaw Removal:

Dewclaws are usually present on the inside of the front paws and sometimes on the back paws as well. The practice of removing dewclaws was originally done because working and hunting dogs would catch and injure their dewclaws on underbrush. Although most dogs benefit from having their dewclaws removed, some dogs, especially dogs breed for sheep herding, such as the Briard, have a breed standard that requires that the dewclaws be left intact.

Since dewclaws have the tendency to become torn and even household dogs can get their dewclaws caught in the carpet, their removal is generally accepted and encouraged. If this surgery is elected, it is best done at about three days of age.

If allowed to grow too long, the dewclaw can penetrate the footpad and caused a painful infection.
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