The Central Asian Ovtcharka traditionally has both its ears and tail docked; indeed, engravings and drawings dating back to Assyrian times shows dogs similar to today's Central Asian Shepherd with their ears and tails cut. Owners claim that this is due to the fact that these dogs often had to do battle with large predators, as well as prove themselves in dog fights. Natural ears and tails provided convenient locations for opponents to grab on and pull, causing damage. A major blood vessel runs through the ears of dogs and if the ear is bitten badly, this vessel could break; a great deal of blood could be lost and the dog could die. What's more, claim owners, when tails and ears are bitten, they easily get infected and often have to be amputated anyway in certain working breeds.
Nowadays, obviously, many breeds do not perform the same jobs they once did, at least not under the same circumstances, and the majority of dogs whose ears and tails were once docked are not exposed to the same hardships their forebears were exposed to. Still, owners and handlers of dogs such as the Central Asian Shepherd, continue to dock the tails and ears of their canines. Many CASs in Central Asia are still used in legal dogfights and so the majority of these dogs have their ears and tails cut, but those in European countries and in America are not used in fights (at least not legal ones) and owners who do cut ears and tails claim to do so to maintain tradition. These dogs originally had their tails and ears docked and so it would go against the breed standard to not do so today, or so the logic goes. In many European countries it has now become illegal to crop ears and tails and so the breed standard has changed. In America, the UKC allows both docked and undocked dogs.
Owners of Central Asian Ovtcharkas also claim that cropping ears allows air to circulate better into the dog's ears and thus cuts down on the risk of ear infection. In the harsh conditions under which this breed developed, even something as insignificant as an ear infection could have led the dog to not be able to perform its duties and so put its family and itself at risk. Ears are usually cropped around 6 weeks of age, while tails are docked in the first few days of a puppy's life. Whereas ear cropping is usually done under sedation, tail docking is often done with the puppy fully awake. Tail hair is removed and the tail is sterilized; a tourniquet and a clamp are placed on the tail, at the desired length, and the unwanted portion is cut off with a scalpel. There are those who claim that the dogs aren't affected by docking, while veterinarians claim that the pain from the docking surgery could last for the dog's entire life and actually cause behavioral problems. Technically, there is no medical basis for docking and there has been no evidence that dogs with docked ears and tails suffer fewer injuries when fighting or working.