Rigorous breeding standards insist that some canine breeds have long bushy tails, while other must have them cropped; some dogs to have floppy ears, and others to have short cropped ears, or ones that stand up on end. Whatever the case might be, pet surgeries are common, with a growing trend that mirrors the human fascination with cosmetic surgery. Below are some of the controversial surgeries that dogs have been forced to undergo.
- Ear cropping & docking: This usually occurs with dogs whose breeds are distinguished by a particular placement of their ears. Breeders will either crop or dock the ears to make them stand up, or be limited to a certain size, in keeping with the breed’s standard appearance. This is a regular occurrence for breeds like Boston Terriers, Schnauzers, Boxers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers. The surgeries are typically conducted when the puppy is between 8-12 weeks old.
- Tail docking: Docking a dog’s tail was originally an ancient practice in Rome, where it was believed that dogs with shortened tails could not contract rabies, and docked tails could prevent the dog from injury or getting caught in a chase. However an increased number of dog breeds with docked tails began to occur with the dog breed shoes of the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, the popular opinion is that cosmetic pet tail docking is widely considered to be unnecessary and cruel. However there are those who believe cropping the tails of their guard dogs or hunting dogs is a sensible way to protect them from potential attack or entrapment. It is a controversial surgery that some denounce and others defend.
- Debarking: This refers to the removal of excess tissue in a dog’s vocal chords. Though this does not eliminate the barking altogether, the purpose of this surgery is to decrease the sound of the dog’s vocalization. Many people argue that certain dog breeds require this procedure to avoid being abandoned or removed based on the loudness of their barking. The actual spaying and neutering of a dog is far more intense than a simple trimming of the vocal chords. Though this surgery is not necessary for all dog breeds, some groups of dogs make their presence more acceptable by having their barking ability inhibited partially. This is often applied to herding dogs that were initially bred to communicate with their owner over a great distance. Often Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies benefit from having the volume of their vocalizations decreased.
- Other plastic surgeries: Pet owners are beginning to take their pets in for cosmetic surgery procedures of a wide variety including: Testicular implants (or “neuticals”), canine vulvoplasty, canine rhinoplasty, canine breast reduction, face lifts, and eye replacement surgeries, etc. The list will continue to expand as people think of other adjustments they can make in their dog’s appearance.