Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Tale of Ears and Tails by Avi Marshak

  1. I came across this article and found it very interesting on the subject of cropping and docking.  Many things are deeply rooted in our past and it appears that this might be another one.  I don't know how many remember the good old days anymore but many of the sayings and knowledge we have today is because way back in the early beginnings it did have a purpose. 

    I want to thank Dobermann Review for preserving and making this article available for us.

    It appears that cropping and docking might have been one of these.  Today the AR groups want to scream that it is all about looks - the cosmetic and I am quite sure that vets have sold us out.  Why would they do that?? - well they could it be that they make a lot more money when they have to do an emergency tail amputation due to injury.that what they make from docking a 4 day old puppy to help prevent the injury.

    No on can claim it a terrible ear crop if it was forced on them due to injury - they can only work with what is remaining so beauty certainly would not apply.  Today's vets have run a muck and run scared but I fail to see how you can claim one surgery illegal while allowing others.  Read the article and see what you learn from it.

    A good article written by Avi Marshak
    (FCI International, all breeds & Dobermann specialist dog judge)

    Tale of Ears and Tails - The Future of the Past, by Avi Marshak

    The aim of this article is to try to cover as maney aspects as possible which rise from the prohibition against showing cropped & docked Dobermnns 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 isn't 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 anesthesias, and no veterinary surgeons to repair cuts, wounds and infections. The practical dog breeders learned to remove those portions of a puppy's anatomy that had the tendency of 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 and crude. 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 cannot get natural standing ears, the aim justifies the means; you achieve your desired goal by cropping. 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 Furstenfeld" 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 don't 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 Groennig 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 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 Animals. 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 new challenge. 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 judgment at any exhibitions (National, International and World). All shapes should be judged without distinction since the cropping of ears and docking of tails are in some countries legally prohibited. The judgment, 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 raised by the anti-cropping and docking legislation. The F.C.I (Federation Cynological International) or the World Kennel Club Customarily recognizes breed's 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:

    The 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 (medium 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 committee circular.Re-Tails it is written:

    It 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 tail's 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 don't 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.

    The fact that in many counties 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 as well. 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 uncroped 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".

    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 or undocked...

Sunday, February 5, 2012



The world of purebred dogs is definitely divided -  The good the bad the Ugly - 
I would like to start by taking a look at the beginnings of Purebred dogs and then the show world.  Why is it so divided  as far as show breeders and BYB go???  

It is divided because the nature of the sport goes against the very heart of the purpose - dedicated people working to produce the best example possible.

First if we look at the reason that brought about the purebred dog world we would have to go way back in time.  People had tasks that they needed  fulfilled so they looked at Man's best friend to help.  They noticed that certain dogs were really strong in certain task so they started breeding these dogs to each other with the specific purpose in mind to make sure more of the dogs would work or meet the requirements for which they were bred.  They wanted them to breed true to that task and a certain look, otherwise they wanted them to breed true to both form and function.

As men will be men they of course wanted to start pitting their best effort against someone else's best effort and the dog show world had its humble beginnings.  I am sure that even way back then that there were poeple who thought they were crazy.  This pursuite of excellence and competing to see whose dog could top whose dog.  But folks that is how it started - around a pub and a few good  men bragging about the days activities of field trailing.  From that Westminister was born and the rest is history.  

Dog showing as a sport is second only in organized sports to  -------- you guessed it Horse Racing.

So from the beginning I think the differences were there -  There were the BYB who had a dog and of course no one neutered their dog back then so they let nature take care of it self and didn't really give it a second thought.

But for the purebred dog world it was a big difference - there was a purpose - a passion.  Since dogs pretty much roamed loose in the old days they would mate with whoever was available but the purebred dogs were put up and carefully screened and mated with a specific purpose.  Breeders kept meticulious records  of matings and the results.  Hence the American Kennel Club was formed to help promote this sport and make these records more available to the public.  These purposes became the guideline or standard for each breed.   You can't have one without the other.  Purebred dogs must adhere to the standard.  

Most backyard breeders BYB are not even aware of a standard or the purpose of breeding.  Doming next 
Dog show Fancy - Sport or Cult???

Dobs4ever -Dogs Under Fire

Friday, February 3, 2012

Web sites and RED FLAGS

It appears that there needs to be some help with reading web pages and what they actually mean.  They all use certain "sales terms".  So how do you analyze a web site and how do you recognize RED FLAGS?

Is it just a case of having just enough knowledge to be dangerous???  In other words BYB have been around enough and in a lot of cases just copy and paste or steal phrases from good web sites -  I think the biggest is
BRED FOR temperament, confirmation (intential misspelling), working, health and longevity) 

People must use a little common sense and learn to break it down by asking the right questions -  Temperament - if you have never worked or trained a dog yourself in PP - how do you know what good temperament is???  Because a dog runs the fence line and barks like it would eat you alive does not mean it has correct temperament especailly if that same dog if you actually entered the yard in a threatening way RAN. 

Conformation -  This one really gets me when they can't spell it to begin with yet they will sell you a show puppy -  Folks it is dead serious to me when I say show puppy to someone looking for a show prospect in a young puppy.  If there is any question I prefer to just place the dog as a pet.  But someone who has never shown would not recognize a good show prospect if they tried.  Shouldn't you at least ask if they have ever produced a chamipion out of their breeding???

Working drives -  To recognise true working drive that holds up under pressure -  Should the person at least have titled in some obedience venue to have an idea of what it takes to get a dog to competion level???? in anything??

Health and longevity -  Of course every breeder hopes for this BUT can they produce a 5 generation pedigree and tell you about the dogs in the pedigree - strengths, weaknesses, health issues etc.  Vet checked is not health tested - they are two totally different things.   A dog in early stages of liver failure can still look good on the outside while things are going on and changing on the inside.  A full blood panel can help eliminate at least most of the serious issues and show that at that time the dog did not show any signs of problem -  EX:  kidney, liver etc.

PENDING is another RED FLAG also - I have seen people put pending when in 2 to 3 weeks if they had actually done the test or trial they would have the results. Why not just wait and publish the results???I have seen things that were pending for years.  It should be a RED FLAG and I would ask them to call me back when the results are in.

PayPal - Puppies are a living breathing thing not just a commodity like WalMart - to me it speaks more to the commercial breeder. This speaks volume breeder as Paypal charges a fee just like a credit card company.

Pricing - should be based on the quality, health testing, showing and knowledge of the breeder along with the kind of support they provide throughout the life of the puppy.  I have been contacted many times by people who bought a puppy with the promise of "lifetime support" UNTIL there was a problem and then the breeder STOPPED responding.
               a.   AKC registration should be a must
               b.  Titles and awards on their own dogs - not dogs back in the pedigree
              c.   Member of at least one of the breed clubs - DPCA (Doberman Pinscher Club of America or UDC  United Doberman Club -  it shows that they agree to follow a COE and that they are at least aware that there is a correct standard for the Doberman Pinscher.- It also shows they are active in more than just breeding.
              d.  Health tested no just vet checked as well as knowledge of the past pedigree and any health issues.  There is NO test that says cardio clear -  Very misleading and untrue statement.
              e.  Charging extra for ear cropping - Since it is a cropped and docked breed I would not want a breeder who tried to cut corners.
              f.   Price should be based on whether you are getting pet puppy or show puppy NOT color and not registration.   ALL puppies should be AKC registered.  To do less says you do not care about trying to preserve quality.

Contract -  I would not go into any business deal without requiring a contract.  This spells out exactly what is expected of both parties.

Z factored - AKC reg does give you a way to know if you are buying Z factored or not so ask for Registration numbers of the sire and dam.  Last year there was a web site where the first page was right out  of the DPCA web site - all about the importance of breeding quality and that dogs being bred should be shown and titled -  All written to impress the novice -  then as you moved on through the site and looked at pictures the dogs were roached (humped back) and z factored - that means they are out of albino stock which is banned by their own  breed club because albinoism is a serious genetic defect that can cause a whole set of problems specifically related to the albino mutation.

Unfortunatley JQP is very gullible - If it is printed on a web site it must be true -  PLEASE ask questions  about each of the above.  The breeder should be comfortable and open to answering any and all questions.  If they get angry I would sya they are trying to hide something.  RUN.

Dobs4ever -