Issue Background

Ear Cropping,Tail Docking, Dewclaw Removal and Debarking

Purebred dogs have traditionally been bred and raised for specific purposes. For certain breeds, ear cropping and tail docking remain part of the accepted standards, as these procedures help the dog better and more safely perform these tasks for which they are originally bred. In the same way, dewclaw removal can, for certain dogs, prevent a much more painful and dangerous injury in the future.

Debarking, or “bark softening” is a veterinary procedure that humanely softens a dog’s bark. The dog may still bark, but at a softer volume. When performed correctly by a licensed veterinarian, the procedure is non-invasive, takes just a couple minutes to perform, and has no lasting negative effects.  In certain circumstances, this procedure could be the difference between the dog being sent to a shelter or staying in a loving home when all other training attempts have failed.

The American Kennel Club has no tolerance for animal cruelty and mistreatment. We support laws that target irresponsible and cruel owners and establish good standards for dog care. Ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal and debarking are long-accepted animal husbandry practices and do not constitute animal cruelty. These procedures can ensure the health and safety of certain dogs and should not be banned.  The AKC believes that all decisions regarding appropriate medical care for dogs should be made by the owner in conjunction with their veterinarian and not subject to arbitrary government regulation.

“These are not procedures of convenience, but rather safe and standard animal husbandry practices designed to protect the safety and welfare of dogs.”