Dockers should be Docked

Tail docking (amputation), cropping ears (cutting and stitching to make them stand up), de-barking (surgically reducing or removing vocal chord tissues), filing teeth, removing of dewclaw (cutting off that extra toe higher up on the inside of the forepaw used to facilitate gripping), subjecting pups to continuous confinement in pens (to stunt their growth), and being painfully tattooed (for some frivolous reason linked to human vanity) are frequent torturous practices inflicted upon puppies by so-called dog lovers.

In England during the Georgian period a tax was levied on non-working dogs and as all working dogs had their tails docked (to avoid it coming in their way) it facilitated differentiating between the two. To avoid paying this tax, people began docking other dogs’ tails as well and so commenced the extremely cruel practice of tail docking in particular breeds. Now, it is claimed to be a traditional, normal procedure and done for the ‘look’ of particular show dogs to meet their breed registration standards.

The American Kennel Club mistakenly feels that tail docking and ear cropping are “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health” so at dog shows breeds like Boxers are severely penalized otherwise. Breeders ridiculously justify cropping ears of Boxers and Doberman Pinschers saying it makes these guard dogs look more ferocious.

Tail docking or bobbing involves shortening the normal or would be natural length of the dog’s tail. It is done either by cutting off the blood supply to the end part of the tail by putting on a rubber ligature for several days after which the dead end supposedly dries and drops off; or by gruesomely cutting the tail off at the desired juncture. This needless and painful amputation is carried out without anaesthesia almost immediately after a pup is born or definitely before it is a fortnight old. The poor puppy begins life in pain and the adverse after effects frequently continue to span its entire life.

It is barbaric, unethical and absolutely unacceptable to carry out amputation on young, healthy puppies, discarding almost their entire tails for human vanity. Tails are dogs’ rudders that keep them in balance when moving. Dogs also use their tails for communication – the commonly known happy greeting expressed by wagging, as well as to convey anger, aggression, caution, and other feelings. Surely, good enough reasons for not chopping off their tails.

Ear cropping in dogs is another alteration which is done under sedation around 10 weeks of age. It involves incisions beginning at the top of the ears and finishing close to the head. The ears are then sutured and typically an aluminum frame with tape is fixed over the pup’s head to keep its ears upright. The contraption has to remain on for as long as 21 days – three whole weeks beginning with oozing blood, acute pain and total discomfort. It is followed by another 5 weeks or so of continued pain (particularly for those pups whose ears flop even slightly) till the ears are permanently deformed to perceived perfection.

Animal activists who consider docking tails and cropping ears nothing less than cruel amputation and mutilation of innocent puppies’ bodies have been successful in getting the practices banned in their countries. Way back in 1989, Sweden was the first to ban tail docking for cosmetic purposes. Many countries have followed suit. In Europe ear cropping is illegal although some countries have made exceptions allowing the docking of tails.

Beauty Without Cruelty therefore hopes it won’t be long before India also bans these two and other cruel practices upon dogs to change their natural beauty and structures. BWC has approached several authorities to ban docking, cropping and de-barking in India. In fact, India is one of the eighteen countries that have not banned the docking of dogs tails.

BWC has therefore been continuously requesting the Government of India of ban all dog mutilations – docking tails, cropping ears, de-barking, filing teeth and removing dewclaws. Detailed information is available at

Although this BWC campaign was taken up around mid-2009, it was in the Spring 2011 issue of Compassionate Friend that readers were asked to “Spread the word…” by informing veterinarians, kennel club officials and pedigreed dog-owners that tail docking/amputating, cropping ears, de-barking and removing dewclaws of dogs carried out for aesthetic reasons was cruel and illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Summer 2011 edition then carried two articles with pictures on cropping and docking.

Hence, BWC was pleased when in September 2011, the Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India issued an advisory to the Veterinary Council of India, State Veterinary Councils, State Animal Welfare Boards and Kennel Clubs informing them that “the practice of non-therapeutic tail docking and ear cropping is seen in the light of mutilation which amounts to cruelty to animals as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and is therefore a punishable offence”. It went on to say “to stop this cruel practice with immediate effect failing which strict action against veterinary practitioners that are found guilty of docking tails and ear cropping of pups will be initiated by AWBI”; and the Kennel Clubs were directed “to stop registration of pups/dogs with docked tail and cropped ears, and discontinue participation of such dogs (with docked tails/cropped ears) in dog shows”.


However, this directive resulted in a writ petition being filed in the Madras High Court by the Kennel Club of India. In February 2013 the Judge quashed the notice issued by the Veterinary Council (on the basis of the advisory from the AWBI Chairman) directing all registered veterinarians in the country to stop the surgical procedures. BWC now hopes the judgement will be adequately challenged by the AWBI in the Supreme Court or some other appropriate action is taken by the Government.

BWC calls upon animal lovers to do their bit: create an awareness of the suffering and condemn dogs’ bodies being mutilated and altered.

 Page last updated on 28/02/13