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CVMA Policies on Canines

The CVMA supports dangerous animal legislation by state, county, or municipal governments provided that legislation does not refer to specific breeds or classes of animals. This legislation should be directed at fostering safety and protection of the general public from animals classified as dangerous.



  • If vicious dog issues are addressed on a community-by-community basis, it will only lead to confusion. It will be lawful to own a “vicious dog” in one city, and merely yards away, it will be unlawful to own the very same dog.
  • Dog owners may actually be less likely to license their dogs and get necessary vaccinations, such as rabies vaccinations, if they believe they will be identified as owners of so-called “vicious breeds.” This will put the public health at risk.
  • Determining which dog breeds are “vicious” will be extremely difficult. In addition, while many pit bulls are easily discernable, many are mixed breeds. Who will determine what percentage of the breed needs to be present in the mix of the dog to constitute a “vicious dog”?
  • To enact breed-specific legislation – such as spay and neuter requirements for “pit bull”-type dogs – will simply push irresponsible dog owners toward other breeds.
  • Not only will a change like this create confusion for the veterinary community, animal control, and humane societies, but dog owners will have extreme difficulty when moving to different communities.
  • Many pit bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and other large dog breeds have been raised in loving homes and are highly trained. It would be unfair to penalize responsible dog owners by placing these animals in the same class and category of “vicious dogs.”

Canine devocalization should only be performed by licensed veterinarians as a final alternative to euthanasia or abandonment after behavioral modification or consideration of an alternative environment have failed. Informed consent of the above, as well as discussion of potential complications from the procedure, should be obtained. Post-operative pain management is necessary.


(July 2010; Rev September 2019)

The CVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The CVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.


(January 2010)

The CVMA is opposed to removal or reduction of healthy teeth of dogs as a method of reducing bite-related injuries. This approach to managing aggression does not address the cause of the behavior. The welfare of the patient may be adversely affected because the animal is subjected to dental procedures that are painful, invasive, and do not address the problem. Removal or reduction of teeth for nonmedical reasons may also create oral pathologic conditions.


In addition, dogs may still cause severe injury with any remaining teeth, and removal or reduction of teeth may provide owners with a false sense of security. Injury prevention and the welfare of the dog are best addressed through behavioral assessment and modification by a qualified behaviorist.


(January 2011)

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