I haven't talked about ear cropping and tail docking much. It's a look that I'm a fan of for the Doberman; in my mind, floppy ears do not fit the breed. In my head, I quail at the thought of Elka with a tail; her hind end awareness is sketchy at best; if she had the Doberman tail, she would have destroyed us all by now. Because the breed was cropped and docked for so long there is not, to my knowledge, yet a standard for the Doberman tail, so in European shows, we tend to see quite a lot of variation, mostly in how curly (or not) the tail tends to be.
So, is a Doberman with ears and tail less of a Doberman? No, I wouldn't say that at all. Temperament and personality are sure to still be intact. But for that signature look, changes are made.
Arguably, Louis Dobermann had these looks in mind, and had he been able to produce a dog with a natural bob tail, and naturally standing ears, he would have. Some have tried to work towards it (I've heard mentions of an outcross to Pharoah Hounds having been tried), but sometimes things like that just don't work out; there's a Doberman body type to be adhered to, and even if you got the ears, something else might go awry, such as the shape of the head, or the brisket. Something's gotta give.
There's a lot of discussion about the benefits of ear cropping, most of it, I'm sure, hearsay. Back when Dobermann was first breeding Dobermans, it could be that the short ear prevented injuries during working, or in the event of a dog fight, and less injury meant less chance of infection. I've also heard it said that the open ear that is achieved by cropping makes for fewer ear infections in general, but I've also heard owners of natural eared Dobermans say that they don't have problems with ear infections. I've heard that the standing ear is optimal for working purposes, so that the flop of the ear does not muffle hearing. I would attribute sources to these statements, but I don't really have any; in my year + of Internet Doberman reading, I've seen a lot of people say a lot of things, recycling statements here and there.
It may seem strange for me to support something that, when it comes down to it, seems like a cosmetic surgery. Certainly I'm not a fan of say, neuticles, unless it gets somebody who would not otherwise be able to handle or appropriately manage an intact male dog to neuter. I'm not in support of the declawing of cats, which removes a portion of bone from each of their toes. So, why cropping and docking?
When you buy a breed, you buy into its looks as well as its personality. I love the Doberman look. Dobermans with cropped ears, I'm told, have an easier time getting adopted out of rescue. Dobermans with cropped ears, in theory, came from a breeder who took the time to make sure that was taken care of before the dogs left their care. Dogs who end up with broken tails, or Happy Tail Syndrome (yes, this is a thing) end up docked anyway, and at an adult age, it's a genuine amputation that requires anesthetics and pain management, plus the Cone of Shame. A puppy docked at three days does not have the completed nerve connections for it to be a major blip on their developmental radar. Happy Tail is fairly rare, I'm sure, but it's on the table.
All in all, Elka seemed to mind being spayed far more than she minded having her ears cropped. We had pain management for both, but the painkillers after her spaying made her trippy and visibly uncomfortable. She had a big incision, and a cone. Her ears? After we emplaced "no scratch", she didn't bother them at all, didn't shake her head, and fell asleep when we retaped them. I'm not a breeder, though, and did not want to deal with managing a female dog in heat. So, spaying was what made the most sense for us.