However, she also opens the article with the obviously-meant-to-be-facetious comparison that she wanted her (grown) German Shepherd to "look more tough", so decided to dock and crop the (adult) dog. This is simply not done. A tail dock at an adult age is a full on amputation, and that dog will miss his or her tail. A tail dock done to a puppy is minimal, done at 3ish days before the bones have ossified, and with appropriate pain management and anesthetic. Ears must be cropped prior to 12 weeks, or you'll end up with a crop and flop, so might as well have gone natural anyway. I also found the article to be rather anthropomorphic, but as I attribute thoughts and feelings to Elka all the time, I don't really want to be a hypocrite. Just thought I'd mention.
Some docked breeds that come to mind are also breeds that people seem to think are aggressive just by existing: Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Boxers. Is this a medical objection workaround to justifying breed prejudice? Not what I expect from Dogster, so maybe I'm reading into it too much. The comments on the article are frequently well thought out and in depth, and worth the read if you have a chance.
I've talked about my thoughts on cropping and docking previously, in my The Doberman: Do Looks Make the Breed? post, and in my The Doberman: Ear Cropping and Posting post. It's familiar ground for me at this point, and a topic I don't need to get all incensed about. It can be a choice. Some reputable breeders will leave ears natural, some reputable working breeders are leaving their dogs entirely natural, for the purpose of being able to compete in countries where cropping and docking is banned (and who knows, maybe some of those breeders wanted natural dogs all along).
Cropping and docking can certainly be considered cosmetic. Some dog breeds have a problem with Happy Tail Syndrome, where they get a repetative and difficult to heal injury from wagging their tail and whapping it on things, sometimes resulting in persistently reopening scabs or even broken bones. A dog with Happy Tail has medical justification for a dock (and I think they only kinda do the end, not a full on dock), and will miss that tail I'm sure. Dobermans, when their tails are natural, carry them erect and in kind of a loose curl over their backs. Such tails are not the long whippy ones, typically, and are at less risk for those kinds of injuries resulting in an adult dock. However, because the Doberman is a docked breed and has been since its inception, tail qualities have not been selected for in breeding. Not all lines will carry their tails "properly", or even have strong tails. It didn't used to matter.
Ear cropping is perhaps a bit more justifiable. There is hearsay evidence that erect ears are less prone to infection, and are better at pinpoint hearing. Again, I don't have an science to cite here, and there just might not be any. Dogs hear better than humans anyway, so I guess opening those vectors just a little bit is only marginally comparable, if at all. Short, stiff, erect ears are less likely to get caught on things and torn up, though. One of the commenters on the Dogster article claims both professional biology experience and also having raised working Dobermans, and brings this up. Again, I don't think anybody's ever compared, say, 50 natural eared Dobermans and 50 cropped Dobermans over a working career and judged their cumulative ear health against one another. But it would be interesting.
I can tell you my limited first hand experience: I've known several docked dogs, none of whom seemed to behave in any way that was significantly different from their naturally tailed brethren. I've only had one cropped dog, Elka, and her ears bothered her considerably less than her spay did. She would fall asleep in my lap when we retaped her ears. She was sent home with a preventative antibiotic course, and painkillers. She had painkillers after her spay as well, and a cone, and was thoroughly miserable. She moved unhappily, slept a lot, and oh yeah, that's when she developed her idiopathic head tremors. But would I have an unspayed dog? No, I don't think I would. I don't want to deal with the responsibility of managing a bitch in heat, and I don't want to breed dogs.
Arguably, purely cosmetic procedures performed on dogs is a questionable ethical move. I get that. Any time anesthetic is used, it's a risk. Arguably, dogs are here because humans interfered with them by merit of co-existing. The Doberman exists because some dude in Germany in the 1800's went "I want a dog like this, like this and like this". And every breed we have is like that. Border collies, a dog left entirely natural, was selected for concentration and intelligence and working drive. Jack Russell Terrier, a docked breed, was created for their tenacity. Mastiffs. Great Danes. Everything at Westminster is like that because humans made them that way. If you want a natural Doberman, or Great Dane, or Rottweiler or any breed, I'm not going to stop you. I'm not going to castigate you for it. With appropriate medical care, even "cosmetic" (or depending on your circles, "arguably preventative") surgery is not abuse.