A petition launched by leading veterinary and welfare bodies asking the government to take urgent legislative action to #cutthecrop and end ear cropping in dogs, has recently reached 100,000 signatures. So, what is ear cropping, why is it a problem and why is it still happening?

What is ear cropping?

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure whereby the outer ear, or the floppy part, is removed. This involves cutting through the ear cartilage, which is extremely painful and is often done without pain relief or anaesthetic.  Commonly the ear is then temporarily ‘splinted’, meaning it is pulled up and secured to something like cardboard to encourage it to stay upright permanently. 

During the healing process, which will take several weeks, the bandages of the ears will need to be changed multiple times which will also be very painful. It is possible for the surgical wounds to become infected which means more discomfort and stress for the dog.

But surely there must be benefits to the procedure if it is being carried out?

Put simply ear cropping is a painful and totally unnecessary mutilation. It is carried out purely for cosmetic purposes to please humans. It is thought by some that the appearance of ear-cropped dogs makes them look fiercer or more intimidating.

There are individuals that will claim medical/ lifestyle benefits for dogs with cropped ears. These theories have been proven untrue time and time again. It is now commonly recognised that there are no plausible health benefits to the procedure. Not just this, but there is a whole stack of evidence that shows it can actually have long term damaging effects to the dog. These issues include;

Fear induced behaviour

Given that this procedure often takes place when puppies are as young as two or three months old and without suitable pain relief it can leave the pups wary of humans and vets alike for the short or long term.

Communicating / body language

Without the power of speech animals, including dogs, communicate through their body language. A dog will be able to tell you if it is happy, relaxed, worried or on high alert by the placement of its ears. So, taking these away can seriously impact their ability to let us – and other animals – know how they are feeling.


The natural shape of a dog’s ear aids them in, unsurprisingly, hearing. If you have ever watched your dog closely you will notice the ears will move towards the direction of the sound to effectively funnel the sound waves into the ear. They can even move each ear independently from the other!

Isn’t ear cropping already illegal?

Yes, in the UK ear cropping has been illegal since the Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into force. However, it is still legal in the US and certain countries in Europe. Unfortunately, it is not illegal to import or sell dogs that have had their ears cropped in other countries, or even take dogs abroad to have the procedure done.

Vetster option 01 (Blog)

These significant loopholes can act as a smokescreen, which allows this barbaric act to happen here in the UK. Given this means it will be done illegally, it is likely it will be done with crude instruments in less than suitable environments with no pain relief or anaesthetic and insufficient aftercare.

What can I do to help?

Be aware when looking for puppies, especially breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, American Bulldogs or Great Danes. If you see any sign of ear cropping you can report the breeder / seller to your local authority, the RSPCA or SPCA in Scotland.

The good news is that the petition has been signed by enough people for a debate in Parliament. But now we need to keep up the pressure to make sure something is done!

Sign the petition here.

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