Post and photograph – Yvonne
Post and photograph – Yvonne
Americans of the canine show circuit and other people who are dog “savvy” probably know that most European nations do not crop their dogs ears or dock the tail. England and most European countries have banned ear cropping and tail docking and view these procedures as unnecessary and inhumane. Some docking of the tail is permitted in countries that have partial bans. If tail docking is done, surgery must be performed by a veterinarian. And tail docking is only done in working and hunting/retrieving breeds. On the other hand in the USA, the American Kennel Club specifies that certain breeds are not eligible for showing unless ears are cropped and the tail docked. Some well versed authorities who work with, treat, or show certain dog breeds claim that it is in the best interest of the dog to either crop the ears or the dock the tail or both depending on the standards for a particular breed. The reason or excuse given is that the dog actually benefits from its ears standing up, but in my biased and humble opinion the dog looks as if it is on permanent alert. An outdated belief is that a dog is more aggressive and threatening if the ears stand up.
Does this improve the dog’s hearing and appearance? Some breeds (according to AKC standards) must have a docked tail. Cutting off the tail is usually done when the puppy is only a few days old. Breeders of the unfortunate puppy believe that the pain receptors are not as developed, thus docking is done when the pup is very young. Perhaps all of this is true but, is it possible to determine the degree of pain in an animal ? A few unlucky dog breeds must have ears cropped and the tail docked. To name a few: Great Dane, Boxer, Standard and Miniature Schnauzer, Pit Bull Terrier, Doberman Picher, and Miniature Pinscher. The Jack Russell Terrier, Wire Haired Fox Terrier, Smooth Haired Fox Terrier, German Short Haired Pointer, Hungarian Visla, Weimaraner, and Brittany Spaniel are subjected to only tail docking, which is in my opinion barbaric, as well. The breeds listed here, are but a sampling of dog breeds that have cropped and/or docked so that the dog conforms to breed standards.
Many veterinarians in the USA no longer crop ears and some also refuse to dock tails. It appears these vets are listening to the other side of the pond where bans now protect the victims that can not speak for themselves. The fact remains that owners want their dog to conform to the standards of the breed even though their dog is not and never will be a show dog. Researchers say that a dog needs its tail for balance and as a means of communicating to other dogs and humans. The tail tells it all sometimes.
Remember that old saying that if a dog wags its tail it will not bite? It is sad to say but a dog with a wagging tail does bite people who are unfamiliar. It isn’t about the wag but the carriage of the tail that tells it all. Some dogs wag their tail and if you make eye contact then you are really in a fix. The placement of the tail; high, low, straight out or tucked between the legs all denote a particular mood and intended action of the dog. And just how do dogs communicate that have no tail or a docked tail? So my argument is if the ears are cropped and the tail docked, does this really improve the dog’s ability to perform his job and does it improve the dogs appearance? Could these surgeries be called inhumane? Will American dog breeders ever follow the actions of the English and the Europeans and ban ear cropping of all breeds and limit tail docking for certain breeds?
Please comment and add your opinion.
Post by: Yvonne
Purebred and pedigree are two words that are often mistaken as meaning the same. I will attempt to simplify the words but the meanings can actually be confusing, if paying attention to detail is over looked.
Purebred is a dog that has been created to breed true of a certain type, with all offspring that have continued to look the same for many generations. For example the dogs with the same physical attributes are mated with repeated matings and sometimes within a small gene pool which means lots of inbreeding. So a dog as a breed may be recognized by the AKC but the progeny of the original breeding just might not have “papers” proving that he/she is of pedigreed stock. I want to make it clear that a dog does not need to have a pedigree with papers in order to be a good dog or a good specimen. For example quite a number of dogs are bred purely as working dogs and some of these breeders keep records but they are recorded in other registries rather than the AKC. And, some breeders of working dogs simply do not enter their dogs in any kind of registry.
There will always be individuals attempting to create a new breed. With each successive generation the breeders are hoping and applying for AKC regconition with years and years going by before the breed is finally deemed acceptable by AKC standards. Getting a little deeper here: it is up to the breeders of what ever dog they have created, to set a standard for the breed. This includes color or colors, and every physical feature of the dog which includes height, weight, ears, tails, etc. etc. A breed standard is complicated and one must study the breed closely in order to really know a breed.
A pedigree dog means one that has a record- an ancestry record that is. In other words if you buy a purebred dog from a breeder of good reputation then most likely you can get a dog that has “papers” as in American Kennel Club registration papers. This organization keeps records of all puppies with papers that are sent in by the breeder and the owner also sends in the final papers with a ridiculous sounding name such as “Othello the Great of Isle Dogdoright.” Well that is just a tiny stretch of the imagination. But I’m sure there are some of y0u that have a dog/dogs with a funny sounding name with AKC registration papers. A (pedigree) therefore really means a (purebred) dog that has a long history of all of its descendants- mother, father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. etc. and on down the line.
Some of my dogs are mutts and over half just happen to be purebred. I did not go looking for any of my dogs-they either arrived on our property or I found them in a hospital parking lot, apartment complex near my home, or starving on the street, Two of them were saved from the needle of death – one from the Ft Worth city animal shelter and one from the shelter in the town where I live. None of my dogs have a pedigree paper and yet they are all very smart and mostly free of any inherited disease with the exception of Kippy who is a mutt and developed a hernia that required surgery. My other little dog has chronic eye problems. I love all my dogs for their loyalty and companionsip. I can not imagine not having a bevy of dogs around me- and one major attribute is that my pets keep me safe. Each one of them can hold their own as a guard dog.
Folks who own a purebred dog with a known pedigree can laugh all they want but the truth of the matter, to me, is the heart of any dog. I am a strong proponent mutts. Throughout my life almost all of the dogs that I have been fortunate to call mine, have been mutts. This assortment of mutts were smart, loyal, watchful and, loving. Each of my dogs brought a different personality and all of them lived to 13-15 years of age with no health problems to deal with. Maybe I was lucky. 🙂
A mutt simply means that it has no known history of its pedigree or that it is clearly not a purebred dog. It is generally the result of random breeding but often this type of breeding actually produces a healthier animal (as a rule).
Then there is the dog of mixed breeding which some people still call a mutt (if you are a snob). Numerous individuals intentionally cross breed two breeds in order to create desired traits. This is often seen in rural areas where farmers and ranchers are looking for a dog that has a little extra special something. It may be to create a better hunting dog or herding dog. In central Texas the Border collie is often crossed with an Australian Shepherd and these dogs are indeed pretty, very smart and, are often much healthier than their ancestors.
The smartest dog that I have ever owned happens to be a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd cross. I have taught him a number of tricks. If he were not intelligent, he would still be my favorite dog of all my dogs.
An example of a mixed breed dog is the Labradoodle which has become quite popular. Obviously the name implies that this dog is poodle and labrador cross. I wrote an earlier post about the fascinating history of this breed.
Look for a re-posted “Designer Dogs, The Pros And The Cons July 27,2011 (All about the labradoodle that is considered a mutt by AKC standards)
Post and photography Yvonne Daniel