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Cropping Boxers Essay, Research Paper

Throw around words such as boxer and ear cropping and people will probably figure you re referring to the sport know as boxing. Specifically to a notorious world championship bout in which one boxer did indeed crop the ear of another. Our discussion is here, though, it focuses on an entirely different species of boxers, and an entirely different style of ear cropping. The boxer, of course is the boxer dog. A breed that by custom and by standards typically undergoes a surgical procedure designed to turn it s naturally floppy-style ear into ears that stand tall, stiff, and erect.(Abraham 8)

Meanwhile at the other end of the Boxer s well muscled physique, we find it s tail, or what s left of it. The tail you see also undergoes a surgical procedure. The tail is docked, meaning, in layman s terms, that it is cut short.(Abraham10) It leaves the Boxer with that characteristic stub that wiggles rather furiously when the Boxer is pleased, which for this rather friendly breed is much of the time.

Consequently, the dog we see fitting the classic mold outline in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Boxer breed standard is a bit different from the portrait we would see if the pup were allowed to grow up without surgical intervention. These procedures lie at the heart of a rather heated debate, especially in the Boxer world. Unlike many other cropped and docked breeds, the Boxer s breed standard offers no choice regarding whether the tail or, most significantly, the ears may be left natural and still satisfy the

standard s guide lines.(Vickers 4) This is a restriction that many enthusiasts hope to see changed in the future.

In the show ring, if a dog is found to have been cosmetically altered to mold it into the breed standard s image, that dog is disqualified unless the surgeries in question are tail docking, or ear cropping. The reasons for

cropping and docking are rooted in canine history, particularly in the history of fighting dogs, such as the Boxer, which once boasted baiting careers with bulls or bears.(Abraham 17) Cropped ears, while not only creating a fierce more threatening appearance, reduced the risk of damage and injury to the ear, and a docked tail removed a convenient handle for opponents to grab onto.

Folklore also holds that working dogs were not taxed, so the docked tail of a working dog marked it as a non taxable item. However, this theory is not universally accepted. I do not believe this to be true because docking goes back centuries in so many different countries. , says Peter Squires, member of the council of Docked breeds, an organization working to prevent the prohibition of tail docking worldwide. It seems a bit far fetched to believe that each country started docking for tax reasons. Different breed experts claim that docking originated in their own breeds for specific, mostly working reasons, some to prevent damage when working specific terrain, others to offer

less appendage to bulls when baiting them. Exactly which country first started docking is probably lost in the mist of time. (Squires 4)

Yet history and tradition are of no concern to those who oppose cropping and docking, saying that the practices are unnecessary, painful, and in the case of cropping, invite anesthesia risks and infection. The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), for example beliefs that because these surgical procedures are not in the best interest of the dog, veterinarians should not perform them. Period. Critics further claim that a docked tail throws a dog off balance and removes an important communication tool. Were you to conduct a poll, however, of dog people, pet owners, and show people you would, likely find fewer objections voiced against tail docking than those voiced against ear cropping. The reason lies in the nature of the procedures and the ages of the dogs on which they are performed.

The docking of a tail typically occurs when a pup is only 2 to 5 days old. (Wallner4) At the age the procedure is done without anesthesia is presumed to be relatively painless because of the infant puppy s immature nervous system.(Fritsch 2) It involves a swift snip, a couple of stitches and is over quickly.

Cropping, on the other hand, is a long and often hard process for puppy and owneralike. It usually begins when a puppy is 2 to 3 months old, or specifically for the Boxer,when it weighs about 10 to 15 pounds.(Abraham 52) With the puppy under general anesthesia, the skin around the rims of the ears are then trained to stand up on their own with tape, frames, braces, or any of the many new and improved advanced systems, each claiming to be more comfortable, more effective, and more sanitary that the others


Pain, itching, bleeding, and infection are all side effects the make the post-surgical period of ear cropping a most unpleasant period lasting weeks or sometimes months. During this time the puppy must endure wearing a strange contraption on its head and the associated itching and pinching. The pup s owners must keep the site clean and safe from injury as well as a persistent puppy attempting to pull the stitches out, which is not always possible. Then, once the bandages are removed, there s no guarantee the results will be precisely what everyone had hoed and what is called for in the breed standard.(Wallner 4) Yet it is the emotional side effects of cropping about which the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) is most concerned.

Of course, cropping and docking are at times medically necessary, such as cases in which tumors develop, or the aftermath s of fights, accidents, or other trauma that shreds the ear flaps or injures the tail. Some in favor of cosmetic cropping insist that a cropped ear is healthier because it increases air circulation to the inner ear and may prevent infection. Also heard is the claim that the Boxer s most acute sense is it s hearing, so cropping helps it hear even better.

The debate over docking, and especially cropping, is rather a tangled web particularly for the Boxer, fans of which must address not only the humane issues of the procedures themselves, but also the goings on within their own breed. It s a debate heard around the world, involving breeders, animal welfare advocates, pet owners, veterinarian, and even groomers or handlers.

From the organizational end, the AKC has taken no stand for or against cropping and docking, instead allowing each individual parent breed club to battle it out among themselves and draft their own breed standards. The veterinary organization , however, are looking to take a more proactive role, inspired in part by what is happening in the rest of the world.

Cropping is illegal in much of Europe. The United Kingdom outlawed cropping years ago, and Norway prohibited both cropping and docking. South of the equator the trend continues. Australia has forbidden cropping and is possibly headed towards outlawing docking as well.

So what does the future hold for the debate that follows the Boxer around, not just into the show ring, but into the pet s home, as well? It s hard to say. Though the rest of the world seems to be going the way of prohibiting cropping, and in some cases docking, and though many American Boxer breeds believe America will eventually follow suit, stubborn Americans refuse to embrace the metric system, and they may refuse this world wide trend, too.

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