No topic can elicit more debate among schnauzer owners than the issue of ear cropping and tail docking.
In many countries (UK, EU, and Australia), tail docking and ear cropping are banned so dog owners there don’t have to make any decision regarding their dogs. The Philippines is among a handful of countries (including the US, some parts of Canada, and most Asian countries) where both can still be done legally.
Let me first state that half of the schnauzers in my pack have natural ears and tails, while the other half are ear cropped and tail docked. Among my dogs with cropped ears, most had the procedure when they were puppies living in another country (Brazil, South Korea, and Thailand). I have one dog whose ear cropping was done in the Philippines. I have also experienced caring for a pack of puppies that were ear cropped.
Among puppies born in my household, I have had about half tail docked by a vet in the first five days of life. The rest kept their natural tails.
From my personal experience, this is what I can say:
- Ear cropping is painful for the dog. Although there are many breeders who would say that the pain is minimal and goes away, I can tell you that dogs would be in pain for the first 24-48 hours. I have vivid memories of a puppy who, despite pain medication, cried throughout the night. She also scratched so hard and dislodged her e-cone, so much that her wound bled. It was a traumatic experience not only for her, but also for me, so much that I no longer ear crop my puppies.
- The discomfort persists for a week or two. While the wound is healing, the dog will find the whole thing itchy. Some dogs will take this lightly, but others would be generally uncomfortable.
- Pain medications are necessary after ear cropping. I don’t think I have to explain why. I was really shocked to find out that some vets in the Philippines do not give pain killers post treatment.
- Not all ears will stand after cropping. After the operation, the ears have to be posted so that they would stand. This could go from 2 weeks to a month. Some dogs will find this uncomfortable. And there’s still no guarantee that the dog’s ears will stand, especially if he had soft floppy ears to begin with.
- There are fewer vets who perform ear cropping surgery in the Philippines. The younger vets no longer do this. However, majority of vets still perform tail docking, which is a simpler procedure.
- Tail docking is not pain-free. A lot of people say that puppies cannot feel pain when they are young, but I’ve heard some puppies scream in pain when their tails are cut. Some puppies hardly react though. Among those puppies that cry, some show discomfort for an hour or so, with a number being uncomfortable for as long as a night. Healing is usually fast.
I’ve always believed that the decision to ear crop and tail dock is a personal one, and I would respect whatever your decision is. Those who are part of the show circuit, for instance, may have a reason to ear crop their dogs (although you can also show a dog with natural ears — I am a proud owner of natural-eared champions who attained their titles as swiftly as their ear-cropped brethren).
However, if your schnauzer will be a home companion, do give a thought if it’s worth letting the dog go through the pain of the ear cropping process and the discomforts of the healing process. If you should decide to ear crop, please make sure it is done by a real vet and spend a lot of time comforting your dog and ensuring that after-wound care is done properly.