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I have never been in "contact" with so many american dog- and catowners and seing that I was somewhat wrong about the american handler system, I would like to ask three questions. Just so that i dont carry on making sweeping judgements. :-)

1. Debarking.
I have met a few people in New York with de-barked dogs. = dogs that have had their vocal-cords cut so that noone is disturbed by their barking. These people were not what I would call "proper" dog people, but none the less... How often is this actually done? I have never heard of a swedish vet that would perform an operation like that.

2. Castration.
Only recently are we allowed to castrate dogs in Sweden for other than medical reasons. I have heard that this is done quite frequantly on both dogs and bitches in the US that are considered "pets". And, at an early age as well. If this is so, how do you deal with the setters coats? The few castrated (all for medical reasons) irish setters I have seen, all have that fluffy and weird coat that is almost impossible to deal with.

3. Declawing.
Surgically removing the claws on cats that are living indoors. As I understand it, this operation is done so that they dont scratch the furniture. To me this sounds cruel and is nothing a vet in Sweden would perform either. But I have met a few of those declawed cats in America, so this makes me think it is after all done quite often. Is this correct?

Please dont misunderstand me, I am not attacking or accusing anyone american, I would just like to know!
And preferably understand the practice.

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Also Setters are declawed as I read on another forum some years ago - but only the 5th toe on the front paw of course, not all of them :)
Declawing - yes, the dew claws are often taken out as it adds to the cleaner outline of the pasterns. My dog still has them, and among the ones I have seen it is quite unusual...
My Rua does not have her dew claws(not my doing!) but I do not remove dew claws from any puppies that I breed! I also dont believe in trimming whiskers on my dogs whether they are shown or not! They need their whiskers!! I think there should be as little interference as possible with mother nature unless for sound health reasons!
I think quite a lot of English breeders also remove the 5th toe.
Alenka
All 1,2,3: disgusting. Same for shaving whiskers for shows - they have a function. Henk ten Klooster.
Thank you Ginger for this long and detailed reply.

I can see your point about the debarking if that was the last way out, but as you say, setters are not known to do a lot of barking anyhow. Do you have any of your own puppybuyers wanting to debark their dogs? I think I would hit the roof, but perhaps only becourse this is not anything we would ever do here.

Of course I think that castration for medical reasons is 100% acceptable! I am more talking about the general castration (as I have understood it) of purebred pets. In Jaipur (India) all street-dogs are caught and castrated and then let out again. Fantastic! It keeps the population down and also the fighting between rival dogs. But when it comes to pets, I find it stange. Do we keep tighter controll of our dogs in the northern parts of Europe? Like not a lot of running about? (In fact none if I just speak about Sweden.) I must say that during my visits to the US I dont recall a lot of wild running dogs. In fact quite the oposite...most dogs seemed to spend all of their lives locked up in backyards. (California, Louisiana, Texas) So is there a need for castrating at all? You mention the cancer-risk, I wonder if there are facts backing this up? I know of only one dog that actually had cancer of the testicles. And thats out of many hundreds that I have come in contact with. Do you then have a situation where you can spot a "non-show"-setter a mile off? Due to its coat?

Declawing of cats, i can not see the point. But I am glad to note that yours can still climb trees and catch mice! I would have thought that would be impossible.

As for removing dewclaws on dogs, I always thought that this was to prevent injuries. All my dogs (except a bloodhound) have always had their dewclaws and I have never had a single injury. But then once I had, I may think very differantly about it.

So thank you once again for this reply Ginger, and its interesting to note that what we are used to, becomes acceptable.
Although the same practice may be totally unacceptable in an other countries!
i think the spaying and neutering in the US is more about 'no puppies for those dogs that are "not good enough" for show' (please correct me if i am wrong, don't want to sound as laura almighty :-) ), not because of the street dog effect. they are sold with special contracts and so on. on the other hand i don't really know what criterias are used to evaluate a pup at the age of 8/12 weeks, or more (US tends to hold the pups until a later age before final decision as far as i know). i agree to some point that a pet puppy can be spotted at first glace due to very incorrect conformation for example. but a quite nicely build pup, though not the best in the litter, why selling him/her as a 'pet only'? that pup might be better than the pick of the litter at another breeder.
one of the most beautiful bitches i know, berboss highlight, she is said to have been a very ugly pup and youngster!!! and she turned into a swan.

sorry for turning from the topic slightly. maybe worth another topic: how to evaluate puppies, which criterias do you have :-) what is good enough for shows? (or field work, agility, etc).
If a breeder assumes that he or she can tell a certain winner at the age of 8-10 weeks, they may do well to read the story of one of the greatest studdogs in modern (well "fairly" modern) times. Wendover Gentleman. Sold as a pet to the milkman. Riding a milkvan for the first couple of years. Never near a show to begin with. "Discovered" by Mr James when the milkman wanted to find a new home for his dog.

Now he would not have been much good "without" would he?

PS The story is on my blogg.
I think a new thread should be started by Laura on 'how to evaluate puppies for show' - or else I'll get carried away under the wrong heading...

To get back to Ursula's topic 'American Questions' may I, for political correctness, put the question slightly differently? Do you consider it correct to expect the dog to fit in with our lifestile rather than us adapting to suit their needs and allow a normal canine (or feline) behaviour? Dog is considered to be man's best friend... and on this site there is a great way for making new friends: you send a request and feel honoured, gratified, pleased etc. if your request is accepted. How many dog owners 'request' the friendship of their dog rather than taking it for granted? And if any kind of problem occurs which does not quite fit in with the owner's expectations, is it obviously the 'best friend' who is at fault? Never even considering that maybe this friend's needs were not respected... sorry if I'm getting carried away & if this sounds incomprehensible, but being active in dog training classes for 'normal' pet dogs I get to see so many people who just do not have the first idea of how a dog functions...

There are some very interesting german books available on dog behaviour and certainly more than one in english. I know 'The Culture Clash' by Jean Donaldson is well worth reading. I think once we know more about the reasons behind certain behaviour we will stop using methods like 'debarking' 'de-clawing' 'cutting off whiskers' and the electric training collar...
We are not born barbarians but we sometimes become barbaric without even realizing!

Must stop now, this site is consuming soooooo much time;-)
I can't answer any of these question from an American view, but I can from a Canadian view!

1. Debarking - I know my vet wouldn't do it, but I'm also sure that if someone wanted to have their dog debarked, they would be able to find a vet to do it for them. I have never met anyone with a debarked dog, but under certain circumstances, I can imagine people wanting to have it done. Unfortunately, non dog owning neighbours are very intolerant of dogs that bark. One of my neighbours was complaining about my dogs barking a few months ago. Luckily she complained to her landlord who mentioned it to me before she contacted the dog pound. When I got the details, I could tell him to tell her that it was not my dogs barking because the times she indicated were when I was at work and my dogs are always inside the house when I am not home. The dog pound would have issued a ticket to me which would have required a court appearance, and although I'm sure I would have been found not guilty, it would have taken time and frustration before getting to that point.

2. Castration - yes, this is expected of every pet dog owner if you do not have a breeders licence and if you live in a city. It is normally done at 6 months of age. The extreme numbers of both dogs and cats that are put to sleep every month is saddening. Unfortunately there are plenty of people who do not castrate and who allow their dogs to have puppies every 6 months and these are the ones who keep the shelters busy in this area.

3. Declawing cats - I know people who have declawed cats, but these cats were obtained at an older age after this had already been done. Again, I know my vet will not do it, but it would be possible to find one that will.

Dewclaws - Chester came to me with his dewclaws removed (he came from the U.S.), but my first setter (bred in Canada) did not have his removed and never had a problem with them. I haven't been to a show in ages, but will have to take one in soon to see if the dogs have had them removed or not.
I would like to ask the question again: How would you as american breeder react if one of your puppybuyer just casually mentioned that they were going to have their dog debarked? Would you take it in your stride? Would you consider training instead?
I personally even think those lemon collars are something I would not be prepared to use.

I find this discussion very interesting.
It clearly shows that we are good at moving boundrys forward and accepting (even if not actually liking) what is acceptable in the society in which we live.
I think we all feel like that Ginger...we all want our puppies to have good, loving and PERMANENT homes.
But once the dog is sold, that is it.
We can only hope.

But also during this discussion I have found out that at least this part of what is (at times) done to dogs and cats in America was correct. But to be honest I still do not understand it. And I still think its cruel to de-bark and de-claw.
This is NOT criticising YOU Ginger.
It just shows up the differances in our differant cultures.

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