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Tail Docking and Dew Claw Removal

For Yorkshire Terriers specifically, the practice of tail docking and dewclaw removal may vary by breeder, location, and regional laws. While some breed standards might historically call for these practices, there is a growing movement towards ethical treatment of animals, which involves avoiding unnecessary and potentially painful procedures. Here’s why some argue against these practices:

  1. Pain and Health Risks: Both procedures involve the risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding, and improper healing. Tail docking involves the removal of a part of the tail, which can cause pain and potentially affect a dog’s balance and communication (dogs use their tails to communicate emotions). Dewclaws, if removed, might lead to potential health issues as they serve a purpose in stabilizing a dog’s leg and might provide some functionality, although some argue that they are vestigial in certain breeds.
  2. Health complications: Tail docking and dewclaw removal can lead to health issues. Tail docking might result in neuromas (abnormal growth of nerve cells), which can cause chronic pain for the dog. Declawing can lead to lameness, balance issues, and behavioral problems due to the alteration in their natural gait and balance.
  3. Natural behaviors: Dogs use their tails for communication and balance. Tail docking can affect their ability to express themselves through body language, potentially leading to misinterpretations of their signals by other dogs or humans.
  4. Ethical Concerns: Tail docking and dewclaw removal are considered by some to be unnecessary and without significant medical benefits for the pet. It is seen as a form of cosmetic surgery that may cause the animal unnecessary discomfort resulting in ethical questions about performing them solely for the owner’s preference.
  5. Breed Standards and Tradition: While tail docking and dewclaw removal have historically been performed in some breeds for various reasons (such as preventing injury in working dogs), many countries have banned these procedures unless for medical reasons. Some breed standards may still include these procedures, and some breeders might continue the practice to adhere to these standards or traditions, even if the practical necessity is no longer relevant.

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Article by Dr. Christine Zinc DVM, which shows that the dew claws do serve a purpose. They provide stability to the leg, especially when the dog is running and turning. There are five muscles that attach to the dew claw and when the toe is removed the muscles atrophy. This can lead to a moderate amount of pain and arthritis when the dog is older. Dogs also use their dew claws to hold things between their front feet, groom themselves, and pull themselves up. Dew Claws do have a purpose.