The Instigator
Con (against)
14 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
40 Points

Mutilating dogs for aesthetic reasons

Do you like this debate?NoYes-6
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,988 times Debate No: 7752
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (34)
Votes (11)




This is a debate on the mutilation of dogs, namely ear and tail docking and ear cropping, for aesthetic reasons. I shall be taking the 'against' role.

I would like to begin with some definitions: Aesthetic and mutilation were taken from

- Aesthetic
1. Pertaining to a sense of the beautiful or to the science of aesthetics.
2. Having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.
3. Pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.

- Mutilation: (Oxford Dictionary)
1. To injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.
2. To deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

- Tail docking: (The Veterinary Dictionary)
1. The surgical removal of a tail, but with approximately 2.5 inches left.

- Ear docking: (The Veterinary Dictionary)
1. The surgical removal of an ear exterior.

- Ear cropping: (The Veterinary Dictionary)
1. To artificially manipulate ears to point upwards through surgery.

Please inform if these definitons are not satisfactory.

I will begin by introducing the topic, but I shall leave the beginning of the debate to my opponent.

It is popular belief that wolves were domesticated by Man thousands of years ago, for companionship and slave work (such as hunting). In modern society, dogs are still kept for work and as companions. They are all born with a tail and two ears; however, it has been common practice to crop ears and to dock the tails and sometimes the ears of particular breeds, such as the doberman, rottweiler, great dane and pitt bull. My question is why? It is still done in USA and many other countries; however, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 prohibited the docking of tails and cropping of ears of dogs purely for aesthetic reasons, in the UK.

Thank you to the person who takes up this debate :)


I thank my opponent for starting this debate, and I hope it turns out well. My other animal rights debate have usually garnered poor argument from the other side, so I do hope that this one will not fall to the same fate ;)

I agree with all of my opponent's definitions and terms.

Finally, I want to note to the audience that my main arguments in this debate are not necessarily ones I support. Recently, I've been somewhat bored with a repeat of debates I have been doing. Therefore, I've put it to myself to use either 1) arguments I rarely use and/or 2. argument I don't support. Of course, I personally am still against animal rights :). Anyway, no more time for small talk, onto the debate:

Animals do not have rights

Simply put, because animals do not have consciousness, they do not deserve rights. How then, does consciousness arise in an organism? I will argue along the same lines of Julian Jaynes and his ideas of bicameralism, which originated in his book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"[1]. Language is a primary, if not necessary, part of subjective consciousness and in general, higher forms of abstract thinking.


Because animals do not have language, but instead communication, they do not have access consciousness, thus meaning they are not on the same moral platform as humans, thus meaning mutilating dogs for aesthetic reasons is a-okay.

I'm sorry, but that is all. There is a 2000 character limit, so I can't espouse more arguments. This will do for now.

Debate Round No. 1


First of all, I'd like to thank The Skeptic for taking me up on this controversial and interesting topic. I am sorry to hear that your previous 'animal rights' opponents 'garnered poor argument' hopefully I will not be added to that list. Also, the 2,000 character limit is so we can get straight to the point.

I completely agree with the majority of your previous post:
- Animals do not have rights.
- Dogs do not have language and therefore do not have higher forms of abstract thinking.
- Dogs are not on the same moral platform as humans.

This information would be valid in an 'Animals Should Have Rights' debate; however, it does not justify why it is 'a-okay' to mutilate a dog for aesthetic reasons, it purely implies that humans have a conscience.

Humans have a unique ability to be aware of their surroundings (consciousness), thus resulting in emotions and feelings which, traditionally speaking, dogs do not possess. Humans also have the fundamental ability of knowing what is morally and ethically right and wrong. What makes it morally and ethically right to mutilate a dog purely for aesthetics? What are the benefits?

I shall allow my opponent to 'expose more arguments' before I continue. Make them good :)


My opponent has conceded this debate unwittingly

My opponent actually agrees with many of my points! In fact, she even complies with my argument that animals don't have rights, and thus are not on the same moral platform as humans.

She goes on to say that this would only be valid in an "Animals Should Have Rights" debate, and that this has nothing to do with this debate. I'm sorry to say that my opponent is gravely mistaken. When we are talking about the ethics of mutilating dogs for aesthetic reasons, then whether or not they have rights is CRUCIAL. If something were to have no rights, then it is effectively amoral. Rocks have no rights, so we can do whatever we want to them (unless you throw it at a person, who has rights).

It's simple. Once my opponent has admitted that animals don't have rights, then she has conceded this debate. In fact, I was going to argue along the lines of relieving animals of unnecessary suffering (animal welfare), but it seems my opponent has taken the extra stride for me :).


The vote is clear and obvious: PRO.
Debate Round No. 2


Actually, my opponent is very much mistaken in his assumption that I have 'unwittingly' agreed wholly to his side of the debate. A good debater is one who can see both sides of the argument and can admit to facts, manipulating them to suit his or her argument. Looking at The Skeptics debating record, I thought he would've known this. Now, let's proceed.

To begin with, the fact that animals do not have rights is not crucial. This is because 'Rights' are Man made, just like laws and regulations. Animals have no need for this, since they have no conscience. This has already been established. However, animals do have a brain. They experience the same reactions to certain stimuli as humans do, such as stress, anxiety, contentment, pain, etc. Therefore, dogs cannot be compared to rocks - another invalid point. Dogs work in social groups, just like humans. Although they do not have 'spoken language' they do have communication. Dogs communicate primarily through body language. The ears and tail are two of the most important factors associated with this type of communication.

Now, what is crucial is that humans DO have consciousness and thus the ability to choose what is right and wrong. My argument is, what is actually 'right' about cropping and docking? The answer is nothing. There are no benefits to this practice whatsoever, thus making it 'wrong'. Is it right for a human to kick his dog or set fire to his horse's mane, just because he needed to let off some steam? No, it is not.

Just because animals do not have rights, it does not mean it is right to mutilate perfectly healthy body parts.

As you can see, my argument still stands and my opponent has managed to waste two rounds without actually putting forward a valid argument.


Again, my opponent does not seem to understand the importance of rights, especially in a debate involving ethics. Because she has yet to leave this pool of misunderstanding, this debate won't seem to be able to lift off it's feet, once again.

Relevance of rights

{quote}To begin with, the fact that animals do not have rights is not crucial. This is because 'Rights' are Man made, just like laws and regulations.{endquote}

If rights are purely man made, then are they not subject to change - perhaps by the majority? Are you saying that it's feasible that the right to life can be revoked? OF COURSE rights are crucial to this debate - in fact, most debates. If it's been established that animals don't have any rights (which my opponent has conceded to), then by definition they are amoral.

{quote}My argument is, what is actually 'right' about cropping and docking? The answer is nothing.{endquote}

There can be many reasons. For many animals, it serves for more so of a preventive method from potential harms, such as docking the tails of horses to prevent it being tangled with agricultural instruments.

In relevance to dogs, cropping and docking is usually done to either protect the dog from infections due to bug bites (usually the ear), to prevent hunting dogs to get their tail caught, and usually for "aesthetic purposes". EVEN IF it's as trivial as making the dog look nicer, it still is NOT immoral. It's, in fact, amoral because my opponent has conceded that dogs have no rights.

{quote}Just because animals do not have rights, it does not mean it is right to mutilate perfectly healthy body parts.{endquote}

QUITE to the contrary.


If my opponent cannot even come to understand the relevance of rights, then this debate will go nowhere. Anyone with a modicum of philosophical knowledge knows that any debate with the word "wrong" or "immoral" in it HAS TO de
Debate Round No. 3


Definitions -
Characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for people and animals, esp. for the suffering or distressed.

Entitlements. Some rights (human rights) belong to everyone by virtue of being human; some rights (legal rights) belong to people by virtue of their belonging to a particular political state.

1. Animals do not have rights and it is highly unlikely they will ever have rights. This is because they are incapable of being rational. Fair enough, there is nothing that can be done about it.
2. Rights are Man made. If it wasn't for Man, there would be no need for 'Rights'. Rights are put into place to ensure the civility of human-kind.
3. Animals have something called 'Freedoms'. These are not 'rights' but moral guidelines for people. They are guidelines to ensure good animal welfare. A human (as they are conscious) should abide by them, as no human should want to hurt another living being, human or animal.

The 5 Animal Freedoms:
1. Freedom from discomfort.
2. Freedom to express natural behaviour.
3. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.
4. Freedom from pain and suffering.
5. Freedom injury and disease.
Docking and cropping defies the point of these Freedoms.

4. Animals, by definition, are indeed amoral. However, humans are not. Dogs are the owners responsibility. Docking and cropping is inhumane.
5. Cropping ears in many cases leads to infections. Docking tails can lead to genital problems if done incorrectly. Any type of surgery to remove ears or tails holds a high risk of infections and disease. This will inevitably cause the dog pain and suffering.
6. Docking for medical reasons is justified. Docking for the sake of it, is not.

-- Owners are responsible for their pets. Dogs are amoral; however, their owners are not, which makes the decision of docking and cropping purely for aesthetic reasons inhumane, therefore immoral. --


My opponent sets out some definitions and attempts to salvage her forfeit. Since there isn't much to refute (the majoriy is reiterating things that have been said or definitions), I shall go along and quote certain sentences in which there is an actual argument:

{quote}Animals have something called 'Freedoms'. These are not 'rights' but moral guidelines for people. They are guidelines to ensure good animal welfare. A human (as they are conscious) should abide by them, as no human should want to hurt another living being, human or animal.{endquote}

Again, you are making a peculiar philosophical claim - with no reason to back it up. If you agree that an animal has no rights, and is essentially amoral, there IS NO burden that humans need to abide by to the animal. Humans are allowed to do ANYTHING with an animal, as long it doesn't affect others in a negative way. Take a rock for example. Should I be able to do anything with it? Of course! I can chuck it in a river, bury it, or take it home as a pet rock. However, if I throw it at someone (which violates an entity with rights), then it becomes an issue of right or wrong.

{quote}Docking and cropping defies the point of these Freedoms.{endquote}

Hilarious. You list 5 "animal freedoms", say docking and cropping violate these points, and say case closed? OBVIOUSLY, this entire debate has been about whether or not they even deserve freedoms, which is just another way of saying rights. You have given up this claim, so there is nothing more to be said on this.

{quote}Owners are responsible for their pets. Dogs are amoral; however, their owners are not, which makes the decision of docking and cropping purely for aesthetic reasons inhumane, therefore immoral.{endquote}

...seriously? The owner is the one doing the docking! Nothing you do can be considered immoral UNLESS it affects another person (one with rights) in a negative manner. Dogs have no rights, ergo no "wrong".

Debate Round No. 4
34 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 9 years ago
Most people don't carve out their stomachs with screwdrivers, but simply make them look pretty :)"
Granted, I haven't seen a pre-mutilation poodle tail, but post-mutilation that thing is OOGLY.
Posted by TheSkeptic 9 years ago
A conscience is just a mental faculty that develops with the appropriate level of consciousness.
Posted by PervRat 9 years ago
Sorry, Con, but from the beginning, this was not even a good debate as you did not define exactly what you were on the "pro" or "con" of. Was this meant to be "Mutilating animals for aesthic reasons is wrong?" Because you did not even state this in defining this debate. My regrets to the one arguing the "Pro" side for this debate being too easy.

I was against mutilating animals for aesthic reasons, and though the "Pro" side had the stronger (or more accurately, the less weak side) arguments, I am certainly not convinced to change my position after, but for grammar, conduct and supporting arguments, I had to go with "Pro." I saw no sources from either, so that's a neutral.

I feel the "Pro" side was weak, especially on conduct, but the "Con" side was simply far weaker and could not, in my judgement, collect the vote, nor could I even call it close to a tie in these categories.

I feel quite strongly animals have both a conscience and a consciousness, though I consider these seperate things whereas both of you (especially the Con) seemed to confuse them.
Posted by TheSkeptic 9 years ago

The distinction between animal communication and human language is NOT just in the ability of human language to be spoken or written. There are many things that are different, such as the arbitrariness of the sound of a word in relation to the meaning of the word.
Posted by alto2osu 9 years ago
Though I don't generally support the manipulation of animal anatomy unless it is to prevent a specific health related disorder, I find that the affirmation (pro, what have you) has my vote. Just in terms of Biology 101, dogs do not reflect upon situations...McBain, that's a pretty inaccurate claim. A dog who is kicked as punishment has a memory of being kicked for a specific behavior, and correlates the negative response to that behavior. Hence, it will generally react accordingly to avoid being kicked. But, that's instinctual. It cannot be characterized as a reflection of any kind, which implies rationality or deeper cognitive ability. Though I want to be swayed by the negation's arguments regarding humans being able to create a morality with regards to hurting a creature that can, in fact, feel pain (no matter what its rights status is), that argument is never properly carried through the rounds. Technically, the rights of the animal don't matter in this debate, but you were never able to articulate why that was properly, and so the affirmation got away with it.
Posted by McBain 9 years ago
Since when aren't animals capable of introspection and higher abstract thinking. True they don't have the same capacity as humans in that regard, but certain animals have been taught basic mathematics. If you kick your dog to punish it, likely it will reflect upon that event. Apes also experience different moods which are indicative of introspection as well. You seem to fail to realize there are different degrees and forms of language in the animal kingdom, or are making it exclusive to written language only, and we differ in opinion there I suppose. In fact due to the lack of "language," I would claim that animals experience introspection more often than humans do. It would serve people if they would think about something before they open their mouth.

"Animals DON'T have language, but rather communication. There is a vastly important difference. If you talk to any psychologist or linguist, they can reaffirm this."

You realize this is EXACTLY what I said don't you?
Posted by animea 9 years ago
New, you could have argued a different definition of consciousness. Then, if you establish dogs have consciousness then you can argue dogs have rights
Posted by newc_25 9 years ago

The debate was hilarious. I don't actually give a toss about the mutilation of dogs. I just merely wanted to bring about awareness and some other kind of debate. Funnily enough, my next argument was going to be about animal rights.

Seriously though, animals do not have rights and everything I said about animals not having rights is true. What rights do animals have? If someone can actually answer that question, I would be grateful. However, if anyone says "they have the right to live" I will seriously punch something, because it is just not true. Unfortunately, rights are subject to change and manipulation. Think about it. Not too long ago, black people and women did not have any rights, over anything. They do now.

Well anyway, a huge thank you to The Skeptic. That was the most trivial debate I could be bothered to come up with.

Love to ya all xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Posted by TheSkeptic 9 years ago

I'll take that as you conceding :)
Now go run along.
Posted by alltimelow 9 years ago
face it, you were pwned, overanalyzer, *cough* i mean philosopher
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 11 through 11 records.
Vote Placed by TheSkeptic 9 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05