The practice of surgically altering ear shape and tail length began in a time when dogs were used for working or hunting large wild game, or were legally “pitted” against each other in dog fighting arenas.
In this day and age, there is no value or health reason to justify cropping a dog’s ears or docking the tail. These unnecessary and painful surgeries do not prevent medical problems and are rarely advocated by veterinarians. These procedures are still grudgingly performed (tail docking in pups between two and five days of age, ear cropping about three months of age), mainly to accommodate pet owners or breeders that aspire to traditional standards of breed appearance. As ear cropping and tail docking in many breeds loses popularity, these procedures may become obsolete some day.