Protecting and Preserving the Heritage of our Purebred Dogs.

Why is it important to trim and remove claws in purebred dogs?

If your veterinarian is not familiar with the anatomy of purebred dogs, then he or she may be unfamiliar with the damaging effects that can occur if you wait too long to perform these tasks. The following information addresses the reasons for performing these procedures at an earlier age in certain breeds.

In general, the breeder or other breeders of certain purebred dogs have been managing their breeding stock for low-docking and high-docking. In doing so, a significant number of these breeders have recognized a strong correlation between the age at which an animal is docked and its probability for developing osteoarthritis later in life.

The following breeds are known to have a correlation between early docking/ear cropping and decreased incidence of hip dysplasia:

Bouvier des Flandres


Bracco Italiano

Doberman Pinscher

Pembroke Welsh Corgi


In all cases, it has been shown that damage to the growth plate occurs during a specific window of time, and that this damage has a big impact on the long-term health of an animal.

In Canada, there is "The Association for the Preservation of Purebred Dogs," which is funded by , etc.

The mission of the Thoroughbred Dog Preservation Association was to educate the public and breeders about the importance of docking and cropping as well as horny claw removal in purebred dogs. After working for a year to recruit volunteers and raise support, it became apparent that the attempt to ban docking and cropping was just one of many tactics used by anti-breeding groups to divide purebred communities in order to eliminate the practice of further purebred dog breeding.

In studies done on Boxers, it was found that, if tail docking was performed after day 21 but before day 35 from birth, the incidence of hip dysplasia increased to nearly 28%, compared with only 7% when docked by day 21. In another study done on Bouvier des Flandres, similar results were found:

The incidence of hip dysplasia was significantly higher in those dogs docked between days 42 and 56 than in those docked by day 21.

Also important to note is what happens when docking is performed at or after sexual maturity (day 56). When this occurs during both sexes,a significant number of these dogs will develop a condition known as hip dysplasia regardless of docking. The same is true for the removal of dewclaws in many breeds.

In contrast, what might occur if docking/cropping were not performed? In one study involving 597 working farm collies, it was found that there was a 23% incidence of congenital ocular disorders, and an 18% incidence or heritable heart disease in this population. These studies clearly illustrate why certain procedures should be performed on purebreds at an earlier age, rather than left to chance with regard to their long-term health issues.

When did the practice of docking tails and removing third eyelids begin? There are reports from several hundred years ago chronicling the docking of tails in foxhounds, greyhounds and terriers. The exact timing of these procedures has not been documented or when ear cropping was first performed.

Historically, dewclaw removal was performed on farm animals to prevent injury to their feet while working around livestock handling facilities. Since this procedure is performed in utero, it would be imрossible to know exactly when that procedure began. pping in purebred dogs.

What are the most common breeds where docking tails and removing third eyelids are done? The majority of dogs having their tails docked are large/giant breed dogs such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Boxers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers. Other breeds that are docked include Bullmastiffs, Scottish Deerhounds and Whippets. However, several of these breeds now ban the surgery unless it is considered medically necessary.

When do most vets recommend docking? 

What concerns many vets is the age at which tail docking is performed.

"The consensus among veterinarians who routinely perform these procedures is to remove tails between day 3 and 7 after birth so as not to disrupt the blood supply to this structure."