Why these dogs have cropped ears and no tail?

Ear Cropping & Tail Docking - Cutting Through the Controversy

[Authored by Meredith Halfpenny]

How often have you heard the expression, “The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog”? Probably more times than you can count. While it seems like nothing more than a funny quip, it does highlight a current trend; people attaching human emotions and qualities to their dogs. This humanizing of dogs has created a hostile environment toward “cosmetic procedures” on dogs, mainly ear cropping and docking. The irony in this is that cosmetic procedures for us humans are more popular than ever before. 

Referring to ear crops and tail docking as a “cosmetic procedure” suggests that it has no true function other than enhancing beauty. For many working breeds, this is simply not correct. The Central Asian Shepherd is a livestock guardian / working dog, who's ears are cropped close to the head and who's tails are docked in a bob. Livestock guardian breeds are at risk for attack by the likes of coyotes, wolves, fox, badgers or other vermin dependent on locality. Ears and tails are easy targets for predators as they try to neutralize a livestock guardian dog and feast on the flock.

A close friend had two dogs involved in a scrum with a coyote. One dog ended up with a shredded ear and half their tail gone; the other dog was more fortunate and only suffered scarring to the face and body. In this scenario, it's easy to see the benefits of cropped ears and a docked tail would go far beyond “beauty enhancement”. The procedures would actually prevent serious, painful injury to the dog. For a working dog, cropping and docking improves their chances to fight off a predator and offers them protection from injury while doing the job.

Humanizing our guardian dogs depreciates their value as true working animals and trusted companions. Our desire to coddle them and protect them from harm or discomfort goes against the very purpose of their breeding. These are rough dogs, bred to do a job which entails the possibility of danger and attack by predators. Wishing to save your dog from the pain of an ear crop, done at such an early age they will quickly forget it, seems virtuous and noble. However, when your dog comes walking up to you with bloody shreds of what wasit's ear hanging from their head, that decision not to crop may seem far less virtuous.

Some readers of this article may be thinking, wait a minute – I don't plan to use my dog for livestock guarding or as a working dog! They will just be a family and property guardian, why would they need to be cropped and docked? While your dog may not be out with a flock, they will consider you, their family, as their flock. If you are out for a walk and an aggressive off-leash dog charges you, your dog will react and protect you. Cropped ears will be advantageous in this situation for your dog. Also consider the fact that vermin like coyotes are now prevalent in many urban areas as well, making an encounter with your dog a real possibility.

Working breeds who have traditionally been cropped and docked throughout history deserve to have that tradition respected. While we as humans seem to be trending toward 'softness', shying away from discomfort or controversy, we must not let that softness infect the working breeds. If you have a strong aversion to cropping or docking, choose a breed which is left “all natural”. Please respect the forefathers of the guardian breeds like the Central Asian Shepherd; Men who decided that cropped ears and a docked tail protected their dogs and enhanced their ability to do their job.

There is nothing wrong with loving your dog and wanting the best life for your beloved companion. The problems arise when we decide to listen to the echo chamber that is social media, where baseless opinions and virtue signaling abound. This is where you will undoubtedly be subjected to scathing remarks from the “My dog is my fur child” keyboard warrior gang if you own a dog with cropped ears or a docked tail. These folks believe raw feeding is barbaric and prong collars (“spike collars”) are even more abhorrent than medieval torture devices.

Amid this increasing social media static, it's important to stay grounded in reality. The Central Asian Shepherd is cropped and docked for a functional purpose, as are many other livestock guardian / working breeds of dog. Stop placing human emotions and qualities on these dogs; It is only a detriment to these breeds as a whole. Drown out the noise and  focus on respecting these breeds as they were envisioned by their forefathers. 


The Central Asian Shepherd and the Service-Emo-Therapy Dog Trend .

A service dog is one “trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities,” according to the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). ... While service dogs do provide comfort and emotional support for their owners, they only meet the federal definition if they do a job the owner can’t perform themselves.

Having a dog who acts as a therapy-service-emotional dog is certainly an appealing thought. Your dog could travel with you anywhere; bring joy to people in need; perform charitable works; all while serving as a wonderful ambassador for your breed. It all sounds pretty wonderful on the surface, but let's dig a little deeper.

 Let's talk about serving as a wonderful ambassador for your breed. If your breed of choice is a Golden Retriever, a Labrador or other gentle, joyful type, therapy-service work could be a job which is well suited to their innate friendly disposition. Since you're reading an article with Central Asian Shepherd in the title, posted on a Central Asian Shepherd breeder's website, I'm guessing your breed of choice is NOT the Golden Retriever.

 The Central Asian Shepherd is a part of the Guardian group of the United Kennel Club. The FCI standard for the breed states it is a 'guard and watch dog'. Like most other breeds that fall into this category, the CAS has an intimidating look. The tightly cropped ears, muscular stature and stern gaze let strangers know to keep a respectful distance. An important aspect of a service-emotional support ,therapy dog is a cuddly, cute, puppy-esque look that immediately brings happiness to the person seeing the dog for the first time. The look of a CAS does not say “Hug me!” at first glance. The intimidating look of the CAS is the first strike against using the breed for therapy work.

 The second strike is the staunchly independent nature of this breed. The CAS has a history which is deeply rooted in guarding livestock. More often than not, this task was carried out without assistance from a human shepherd. As such, the CAS is a dog which has been an independent thinker for hundreds of years. They are analytical, clever dogs who have little need for their owner's input. This trait, so deeply ingrained in the very DNA of this breed, means they have little interest in performing tasks just to please their owner. You may find it difficult to ask your CAS to perform the tasks required for therapy work if they don't find it interesting or practical.

 Lastly, the third strike against using the CAS for service-emotional,therapy work, is their territorial nature and keen guarding instinct. The CAS can be raised in a pack, but it is difficult to get them to accept strange dogs from outside their circle. You may be able to train your CAS to ignore other dogs in public, but if a strange dog lunges at you or them? All bets are off. This is not a breed that will submit and remain calm when challenged by an aggressive dog. The CAS is also very adept at judging people and will not hesitate to let you know they find someone untrustworthy. Asking your CAS to allow a person to pet them, hug them, touch them etc. will not work if the dog feels there is something 'off'about that person.

 While therapy work seems like a great way to get your breed out there in a very positive way, it may not actually work out that way with a guardian breed like the CAS. Even if they seem very loving and happy to accept strangers as a young dog, their territorial nature will one day kick in with maturity. You simply cannot override the DNA of the dog because you wish to prove to the world what a wonderful breed you've chosen. We all want to be good ambassadors for our chosen breed and prove to the world that they can 'do it all!', but we also need to be honest with ourselves.

 If you want a loyal, loving companion for your family, who will perform the task of guarding your home, livestock and property, the CAS may be the breed for you. If you're looking for an adorable, huggable, people-loving dog to use as a therapy animal, do yourself a favor and choose a breed which has been proven as suitable to that role. It's best to respect history and the intended purpose of your breed, rather than learn a hard lesson with a lot of heartache. 

 For further reading on this topic, check out this excellent and in depth article - 



Authored by Meredith Halfpenny

About author: Meredith Halfpenny spent the last decade owning Presa Canario dogs, a dominant guardian breed, as well as an Alapaha Blueblood Bulldog and a Shiba Inu. After many years advocating for the bully breeds, Meredith and her family decided to try something different. They imported a female Central Asian Shepherd from Moscow, Russia.When Mishka the CAS is not carefully watching over the family’s rural property, she participates in UKC shows and enjoys long hikes around Port Dover. Mishka retains the traditional build, type and temperament which respect the history of the breed as a functional, working animal.