Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Ear cropping is illegal in the UK and involves the ear flaps being removed. The procedure is painful as it cuts through cartilage and can take weeks to heal, numerous bandage changes and risk of infection. It is usually carried out at 7-12 weeks of age. I have personally seen cases where the 'breeder' has literally hacked the ears off the puppies with a pair of scissors when they were a few weeks old, with out any form of anaesthesia or pain relief. Sadly this is not a one of case. There is a worrying trend towards the normalisation of this mutilation purely for cosmetic reasons. The procedure is simply carried out to change a dogs natural appearance for human satisfaction.
The British Veterinary Association has seen as alarming increase in dogs with cropped ears. Over the last 5 years there has been over 250% increase in cases seen. Over half of vets in the UK have seen dogs with cropped ears in the last year. Many dogs are said to be imported from countries where ear cropping is legal and are sold legitimately, these imported dogs fuel the increasing demand leading to a rise in backstreet methods being used in the UK. This is also used as a cover up for illegally cropped dogs as many young pups are seen with cropped ears and it is illegal to import a puppy less than 15 weeks of age. Approximately 130000 puppies in the US are cropped each year. When done legally in these countries the dog should be under anaesthetic and done by a vet.
Experts believe the main reason for the increase in ear cropping is from stars and celebs sharing photos on social media of their own dogs with cropped ears. These influencers appear to be endorsing the look and don't maybe realise they are sharing something that is illegal in many countries. There are companies in the UK that sell imported security dogs to high profile clients for £10k's, a lot of these dogs have cropped ears. Animal welfare experts want celebs to use their position to speak out about how the look is un-natural.
What dogs are cropped?
Ear cropping is mainly done on guarding breeds such as Mastiffs, Dobermans, American Bullies, Great Danes, Boxers, Cane Corsos. It is thought this cosmetic procedure gives the dog a more aggressive and intimidating appearance. Dobermans then get their ears splinted to point upwards which is completely un-natural for the breed.
The rubbish people use to justify cropping
Ear cropping is 100% only of cosmetic value, there are NO BENEFITS for the dog. This is backed up by veterinary and scientific research. In fact ear cropping can have significant negative implications on their behaviour , health and socialisation.
Here are some of the reasons people 'say' they crop ears:
Some claim it prevents ear infections, if this were true why is it not uncommon for dogs with cropped ears to get ear infections. Ear infections develop for a number of reasons and the flap of the ear has no impact.
Some claim that it is keeping in line with 'breed standards' which is again cosmetic- the breed looks like humans wish rather than how they were born.
Breeders see it as a minor procedure, it is in fact an amputation and when done for medical reasons requires a general anaesthetic, pain relief, bandages and several days/ weeks of recovery.
Why floppy ears can be a benefit
Ears have a function, floppy ears have developed to prevent water going into the ear canals, and protect the ears from insects and burrs and other irritants. Dogs ears move independently of each other and move to the direction of sound and the outer ear captures sound waves to funnel them into the ear canal . Dogs use their ears to communicate with humans and other animals, we have all seen how dogs facial expressions are impacted by ear movement.
Ear cropping is illegal in the UK under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, unless carried out for medical reasons, for example a skin tumour on the ear. If found guilty of ear cropping up to 5 years in prison and a large fine is the punishment.
To protect our precious pooches we need to try and stop this painful, unnecessary mutilation #cutthecrop.