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|| AVI MARSHAK |
F.C. I. INTERNATIONAL ALL BREEDS DOG JUDGE
P.O.BOX 22426 TEL-AVIV 61223 ISRAEL
Tel : + 972 (0) 3 6051211 Fax : + 972 (0) 3 6046244
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THE FUTURE OF THE PAST OR THE TALE OF THE EARS & TAILS
BY : AVI MARSHAK ISRAEL
The aim of this article is to try to cover as many aspects as
possible which rise from the prohibition against showing cropped &
docked Dobermanns in many countries around the world. To explore the past,
to deal with the present and to try to foresee the future of our beloved
breed, the Dobermann.
It is funny to think that the future of our breed maybe lies
between the two edges of the dog; the ear and the tail.
In our collective memory, we have and we shall have forever the mental
image of a cropped and docked Dobermann.
Even Dobermann clubs from countries that outlawed cropping such as Norway
and Finland have on their clubs badges the image of a cropped Dobermann,
interesting isnít it?
Let us look back at the "good old days" when we had the freedom to crop
anything that could be cropped.
Ear cropping began centuries ago as a preventive measure because in those
times, there were no antibiotics for infections or anaesthesias, and no
veterinary surgeons to repair cuts, wounds and infections.
The practical dog breeders
learnt to remove those portions of a puppyís anatomy that had the tendency
to tearing; they cropped ears, docked tails, and removed dewclaws.
Looking at the photos of
the early-cropped breeds we can see that all early ear crops were short
Today thank to the modern
medicine, cropped ears are longer and it is very easy to crop but still
it required the hand of the expert, for ears cropping is varied from one
breed to another.
In the F.C.I. list of purebred
dogs there are more than 100 breeds that are customary cropped.
Those who oppose the ear
cropping claim that it is pure cosmetic surgery and it has nothing to do
with the dog health.
Now let us try to answer
the "one million dollars question" that people always ask and probably
will ask in the future: why are Dobermann ears cropped?
Well, I believe that Louis
Dobermann the founder of the breed and many other early breeders had the
vision of breed with standing natural ears. If you can not get natural
standing ears, the aim justifies the means; you achieve your desired goal
So they created a Dobermann
with cropped ears, ears that prevent infections and in the same time improve
the silhouette of the new breed.
Cropped ears create an alert
expression and menacing appearance that brought the Dobermann more fanciers.
So we have learnt that ears
cropping was very popular in the early days and the Dobermann was no exception.
If we take a look at the Bull Terrier history, a cropped breed that was
created for fighting dog sport, once the breeders could get by selecting
breeding small erect ears they stopped cropping.
The late Herman Palmer "Von
Fuerstenfeld" kennel told me many years ago that he played with the idea
to cross the Dobermann with the ancient Pharaoh Hound breed (a breed with
standing natural ears), and to create a Dobermann with natural standing
ears, but as far as I know he has not done it.
Countries like England and
all the Scandinavian countries have since the early years of the 20th century
legislation that prohibits cropping and docking of dogs, this legislation
prohibits showing cropped and docked dogs in dog shows as well.
Lately Holland joined these
countries. Starting 2002, showing cropped and docked dogs in dog shows
in Germany will be prohibited.
On the other hand an attempt
to apply this legislation in Italy was failed.
I donít believe that the
following countries will join this prohibition : France, Portugal, Russia
and rest of new republics in central Europe, and all South America countries.
There are almost 100
breeds that are traditionally docked. Docking is done when the puppies
are 4 days old, it has scientifically established, that the nerves in tail
are not activated and the puppies feel no pain what so ever.
To those people who claim
that dog uses his tail for balance and communication, the answer is very
simple. Puppies that have been docked have not encountered any problems
with balance or communication...
The reason for docking Dobermann
is very simple, the Dobermann used to be a police dog and service dog and
by docking the tail we, prevented the criminal from grabbing the dog by
his tail during action.
In his book "The Dobermann
Pinscher" 1959 edition, Philipp Gruennig disclosed that in the past there
were Dobermann that borne with "Bob Tail": natural short tail, however
these blood lines lost, for the Dobermann breeders concentrated their breeding
efforts to improve the production of deep tan markings.
THE LEAGAL SITUATION
The European Convention
for Protection of Pet Animals, that was held in Strasbourg, France in 13.11.1987
calls for the prohibition against docking tails, cropping ears and removal
of dew claws, it deals also with many other aspects of keeping and breeding
of pet animals.
Although it calls for the
prohibition against docking and cropping, it specifically recognizes the
rights of nations which otherwise accept the Convention, to reserve their
position on the issue.
Unfortunately, so far many
governments ratified these Convention resolutions and the result is prohibition
against docking, cropping and showing cropped and docked dogs.
In Britain the prestigious
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon decided not to press for Britain to
sign up the controversial European Convention for the Protection of Pet
Today Europe and tomorrow?
Any American, Canadian or Australian dog lovers believing they are safe
from those seeking to ban tail docking or ears cropping, may be interested
to know what their veterinary associations have to say on the matter.
In the USA, the Association
of Veterinarians for Animal Rights opposes to various surgeries done to
meet "breed standards".
In Canada, the Canadian
Veterinary Medical Association also opposes surgical alteration of any
animal, for cosmetic purposes.
In Australia, the Australian
Veterinary Association calls on the states to ban cosmetic operations.
When the "flood" has
started, and more countries adopted the anti cropping and docking legislation,
the World Kennel Club, F.C.I initiated an elegant wise step to meet the
The Standard Committee of
the F.C.I stating published a circular :
"The fact that in more than a hundred breeds ears are either cropped or
uncropped and tails docked or left their natural length should no longer
influence the judgement at any exhibitions (National, International and
All shapes should be judged without distinction since the cropping of ears
and docking of tails are in some countries legally prohibited.
The judgement, however takes into account whether the ears are well-cropped
or not, whether the natural shapes and carriage of the ears in accordance
with the standard and whether the tails are either correctly docked or the
tails correctly carried."
This circular is a preliminary
step, but it does not solve the many problems and questions that have been
risen by the anti-cropping and docking legislation.
The F.C.I (Federation Cynological
International) or the World Kennel Club
Customarily recognizes breeds
standard that is recognized by the leading non-organizations (the AKC and
the English Kennel Club).
Under the F.C.I jurisdiction,
only the national club of the country of the origin has the authority to
alter the breed standard.
The German Dobermann Club
(Dobemann-Verein e.v.) - the standard-patron of the Dobermann, is the only
organization that authorized to alter the Dobermann standard.
Let see what changes have
been inserted in the Dobermann standard re-ears and tails.
In the 1994 standard under
the ears paragraph it is written:
ear, which is set high, is carried erect and cropped to a length in proportion
to the head. In a country where cropping is not permitted the
uncropped ear is equally recognized.
size preferred and with the front edge lying close to the cheeks).
Here the standard provides
us with reasonable answers in accordance with the spirit of the F.C.I standards
Re-Tails it is written:
is high set and docked short whereby approximately two tail vertebrae remain
visible. In countries where docking is legally not permitted the
tail may remain natural".
Here the standard also follows
the spirit of the above-mentioned circular, however it does not disclose
us any specific details such as: what is natural, what is the desired length
of the tail, what is the tailís shape etc.
So far so good, the fact
that cropped ears and docked tails are not included under the disqualifying
fault paragraph gives us some hope for the future.
To conclude, let us all
hope that docked tails and cropped ears will not be defined by the standard-
patron, the German Dobermann Club, as disqualifying faults; this might
be a "coup de grace" for the Dobermann breed.
If worst comes to
worst, we shall have to put extreme efforts in breeding Dobermanns with
small ears or we shall search for the natural standing ears.
Re-tails, we donít know
yet what will be the shape, the length of the tails, shall we breed for
the German Shepherd type tail? Than we shall look for a long slanted croup,
or shall we breed for the curled tail that occurs in two basic varieties:
single and double curl over the back, with many variations? It is well
known in the breeding field that ounce you try to improve something in
the dog you may loose something else, this what happens in the sport of
the purebred dogs.
As you are already aware
of the many problems that lay ahead of us and I have not scratched yet
the bottom of the "barrel", let us be optimistic and face the future with
a positive hope.
JUDGING & JUDGES
The fact that in many
countries Dobermanns nowadays are being shown uncopped and undocked in
the dog shows can affect the judging and the handling methods.
Natural ear changes the
silhouette of the head; the head appears broader at the base of the skull,
and less cone-shaped due to the natural hanging ears. When judging uncropped
Dobermann it is easier to see clearly the parallel lines in head while
judging a cropped Dobermann, part of the skull between the ears remains
invisible in profile because of the cropped ears.
The smart professional handler
always lifts the natural ears up in order to emphasize the correct shape
of skull and the parallel lines, by doing this it improves the expression
Being a specialist Dobermann
judge and F.C.I. International All Breeds Dog Judge, let me share with
you my judging experiences.
My first overseas judging
assignment was in South Africa, here most of the handlers lifted the ears
in order to enable me to see the real shape of the head, those who did
not do so, were requested kindly by me to lift up the ears.
So far I have judged many
uncropped and undocked Dobermann in the Scandinavian countries, I know
exactly what to look for, but maybe the fact of being an All Breed Dog
Judge, who uses to various forms of silhouettes ears shapes etc, helps
me to absorb the "new version" of the Dobermann silhouette.
To absorb the "new version"
yes, but this will never change my intimate mental image of the cropped
and docked Dobermann with piercing expression that radiates alertness...
In one of my Scandinavian show I met an exhibitor who shoved the long tail
into his jacket sleeve, but of course he could not run...
Training new judges to the
breed can be a little complicated for these new judges may get as a matter
of course the new image of the Dobermann, and thus they may have the wrong
idea of the correct Dobermann head.
Whenever I see my " ideal
Dobermann" in the ring, or outside, it is like having a "Mental orgasm".
QUO VADIS ?
The Dobermann had
rich and interesting past, but the question is, does he have a future?
Does the metamorphosis, that the Dobermann is now undergoing, will affect
the popularity of the breed? This is a "one million dollars question"...
What is a Dobermann? My
answer is very simple, the Dobermann is everything that the individual
expects him to be, whether he is cropped or uncropped, whether he is docked
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