Download The Full December 2022 Issue PDF

  • Safe Dog Food Storage
  • Predictably Calming
  • Broken or Split Nails
  • Had Too Much to Drink?
  • Training for Beginners
  • Canine Diabetes
  • Beware of Ice-Melts
  • To Dock or Not?
  • A Real Head-Banger
  • Beg Pardon
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  1. I would like to comment on the “To Dock or Not” article in this issue. The author is very obviously biased in this article and suggests that all tails on dogs from breeders are removed without concern for the puppies’ well being. I have been active in purebred dogs for 40 years and I can say, at least with the many, many responsible breeders that I know, great care is taken with each and every litter and these breeders do their absolute best to minimize trauma to their puppies. They take their litters to veterinarians for the procedure and rely on a professional to make things as medically safe as possible.
    The author also misrepresented the AKC by stating that the AKC is responsible for creating each breed standard. The truth is that the AKC maintains the breed standards, but the Parent Club for each breed creates the standard and makes decisions about the parameters for their breed.
    Finally, the author compares certain breeds with docked tails to other breeds without docked tails without taking into consideration the function of any of the breeds mentioned. German Shepherd Dogs are a boundary herding breed, meaning they are a “living fence” to contain livestock. The conditions that they routinely work in are pastures where they watch over livestock. Labrador Retrievers are water retrievers. They wait in a duck blind until their human downs a bird then the swim out to retrieve the bird. Pointers are upland bird dogs. They hunt in often very rough cover where their feet, bellies and tails can become torn up while hunting and retrieving the birds for the hunter.
    I do understand that many people do not approve of the practice of docking. I just wish that the article was a bit more balanced so that both sides of the picture were covered fairly.

  2. I’m not a fan of docking in general because it causes unnecessary pain for most dogs that get it and because it creates difficulties in communication both with other dogs and humans. That said, I encountered a Vizsla owner at an event who had gone to Hungary twice to get puppies there and observed numerous active hunting Vs, many of who had broken knobby tail joints and several of who he said had active sores from hitting heavy brush when wagging with excitement while hunting/retrieving. Seems to me that docking is the lesser evil for those Vizslas, GSPs and other breeds who have serious hunting careers.
    But what should breeders do who want to provide dogs to people who don’t want to hunt but appreciate pointer/retriever breeds for their energy and temperament? Without the advantage of conformation awards (dependent on meeting breed standards) it becomes more difficult to place dogs with discerning owners. The USA is unlikely to enact European no docking laws, so it seems that compassionate dog owners have to rely on persuading breed associations to modify their standards.