If you hadn't guessed from the title of this post, this debate will not be light hearted like the last was. This is a topic I feel very, very strongly about, and I know people on the "other side" feel just as passionate about it as I do. I will be respectful in this, and I ask that you do the same if you comment. If you cannot act like a civil adult, please close this window and go elsewhere. Refer to the below photo, and let's begin!
Both Dachshund girls are entirely natural, including their dew claws left. Pike is docked, and had his dews removed (twice, in the case of his front leg). I'll break it down into the three categories.
Dew Claw Removal
I am so against this. When I say dew removal, I'm talking about front dew claws that are attached by bone. I am okay with dew claw removal if it is to remove rear dews on a breed where that is not standard, although I would prefer to see it done in conjunction with a spay/neuter or other procedure, rather than as a newborn.
Nola and Olivia are constantly using their dew claws. They use them to grip chews and toys, to turn when they run, to dig, and when they need to jump or climb. I've seen both girls use one leg to brace against the dirt (with the dew sunk in) while they use the other to dig. I've seen them make break neck turns with the use of their dews, where if Pike were to take that turn he'd be unable to do so. Dew claws, everything else a normal dog is born with, are their for a reason!
Here is just one use for them:
Additionally, removing dew claws greatly increases your dog's risk of developing carpal arthritis, especially in an active dog. Check out this for more on that.
Or, god forbid, you have a dog like Pike. Pike's dew claws were removed shortly after birth by a veterinarian. When he was 4-5 months old, I was horrified to find that his left dew was growing back. In addition to that, it was growing flat to the leg and curving back towards his skin. It was twisted and mangled looking, and our vet removed it when he was neutered. The initial removal hadn't been clean, and the bone had grown back incorrectly. It was a nasty surgery, and he had to have an antibiotic shot to prevent a bone infection. The recovery was longer than that of his neuter, and it caused him significantly more pain than his neuter.
The issue worsened his (then minor) toe out, and if you touch both his legs the one with the second removal feels like it belongs to another dog. He also has scars on both legs from it, and a scar from his dock.
People claim that dew claws often rip off. I've had dogs for quite a while, and have been around even more, and I've yet to see ripped dews. These are/were active dogs, too! Not a single issue with natural dogs, but many issues with my removed dew boy. I don't believe that's a coincidence, and if I have any say at all in the matter I won't have another dog with removed dews.
People also say that dew claws are difficult to trim, so they should be removed. I'll just let that sink in for a minute: remove a body part because you are too lazy to care for it. I really don't like trimming my nails, so would you suggest I hack off my fingers? The dew claw is fairly easy to trim if you use a Dremel.
And finally, another issue I have with both dew removal and docking: it is almost always done when the puppy is 0-5 days old, without any pain medication, and often not done by a veterinarian. Newborn puppies do feel pain (source and chapter 2, part 2.2 and 2.3), and I find it cruel to do it.
Again, I'm completely against this. The girls use their tails for balance and communication all the time, and their tail is usually the first subtle or not so subtle indicator of how they feel. With Pike, I have to rely on different methods to know what he's feeling, and it's often when he's deeper into whatever it is (for example, fear). One example is when I'm walking the dogs and we're approached by another person or animal. The dogs walk ahead of me on loose lead most of the time, so I can't see their facial expression. Nola has a dozen different things she'll do with her tail that clue me in as to how she'll take whatever is ahead, where Pike has nothing. The communication a dog does with their tail is amazing.
A frequent argument for docking is that the tail will become injured if left natural while the dog is working. Okay, I could maybe see this (ignoring the glaring issue of removing a body part so a hypothetical problem doesn't arise), until you look around at similar breeds. The breeds primarily docked a herders and sporting dogs. Aussies are a docked herder, yet so many others who do similar tasks are not! Border Collies, English Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Kelpies, Koolies, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Collies, Shelties, and Bearded Collies are all left natural without serious problem.
The same could be said for pointers and spaniels. Do you know one breed that has horrible, common issues with split tails and similar issues? Is it a docked breed? Nope! It's the Labrador Retriever, a breed that is left natural.
An argument that's very common in the Aussie community is that a natural Aussie looks similar to a Border Collie. That really only holds true in working line dogs, and so what if they look similar? Do you really need to remove your dog's tail just so Joe Blow will recognize the breed?
Another argument that I saw on a Facebook group the other day in favor of pro-docking was someone liked the "wiggle butt" look. My dachshunds' butts wiggle. Removing a tall because you like the way a dog's body shakes in lieu of how a tailed dog wags is sad to me.
And let's be honest: so few dogs dogs do what they were originally bred today that it's pretty asinine to cling to that as your reasoning. I wish people would just come out and say they prefer the look of a docked dog, rather than using a flimsy justification. I can say that I like the look of a docked Doberman, although not enough to want to pursue one.
The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes cosmetic docking (and cropping), and rightly so IMO. While searching for links for this post, I came across this article on how dogs use their tails in agility. I found it quite interesting! This publication also has some good information on docking, and though they are a little extreme with some of their wording, they do make good points on the injuries that can result from a dock.
Pike is docked, my parents' Aussie and Poodles are docked. Together, that's 5 docked dogs I know well. Every last one of them will randomly bite just beyond their tails (poodles) or where the tail would be. Again, I don't think that's a coincidence and it's horribly sad to see.
I am not for cropping, but feel less strongly about it that the other two. I am against all forms of cosmetic surgery in dogs, but cropping is done under anesthesia by a vet (except for in the cases of home hack jobs), with proper after care and pain medication. Ears do need to be posted, from anywhere from 6 to 12 months after the crop is done. Again, I am not for this, but don't feel especially strong about it.
Cosmetic Surgeries and Altering
Oddly enough, spaying and neutering is almost always brought up as a counter argument whenever you oppose cosmetic surgery. I'm sorry, but that's laughable to me. Cosmetic surgeries are just that - purely cosmetic with absolutely no purpose besides looks and 0 health benefits.
Spaying and neutering, while it does have some risks and there's significant findings saying delayed altering is beneficial in large breeds (nothing much seems said on smaller dogs. If you find otherwise, I'd be interested in reading it.), does have a purpose and offers some health benefits. Population control being the number one benefit, and that is why I am pro-altering for the general population. Realistically, most people can't or won't properly handle an intact dog, and the risk of breeding is too great.
So there we have it! Comment below and tell me where you stand, and why!