Cosmetic Surgery

Some husbandry practices are influenced by the artificiality of our modern (and appearance-conscious) society.  Cosmetic surgery is one such example.  Cosmetic surgery is an unmistakably poor practice because it is unnecessarily painful and functionally useless if not detrimental.  Some of the most common physical modifications involve the tail and ears.  Tail docking, for example, was a widespread practice in American history.

About one third of all recognized pure breed dogs were subjected to tail docking at some point in history (Bennett & Perini, 2003).  While tail docking and ear cropping might have served useful purposes in the past, today they are a testament to America's makeover culture.  This change is further supported by the controversy that these practices provoke. 

Some European countries have actually banned tail docking and ear cropping.  In the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons sharply criticizes the practice, which can only be performed in that country by a veterinary surgeon.  In the United States, however, tail docking is legal and commonly performed, even though two studies suggest that tail docking affects the communication abilities of the dog (see Leaver and Reimchenm, 2008 and Aucott, 2013).

Aucott, J. (2013).  Effects of paedomorphosis on signaling behaviors in dyadic encounters of the domestic dog.  Journal of Undergraduate Research, Spring 2013, 65-73.

Leaver, S.D. & Reimchen, T.E. (2008).  Behavioral responses of Canis familiaris to different tail lengths of a remotely-controlled life-size dog replica.  Behaviour, 145(3), 377-390.