Cut the crop & keep the flop

Dog ear cropping has been banned in the UK for the last 15 years, but the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have seen an alarming rise in cases. A recent BVA survey found 6 in 10 vets had been presented with dogs with cropped ears during the last year.

As a nation of animal lovers, this increase is shocking. Ear cropping is an abhorrent and completely pointless procedure, which puts the dog through unnecessary pain and suffering.

But what is more shocking is the fact not everyone understands what ear cropping is or why it’s so controversial. While activists such as Ricky Gervais, Gemma Atkinson and Cat the Vet have been very vocal in campaigning for changes in the law (and succeeding), the sad fact is seeing dogs with cropped ears is becoming normal.

Hands up, in the past without thinking we have posted an image of a dog with cropped ears, but took it down again as soon as we realised our mistake. But this highlights why raising awareness is so important.

So with that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about why ear cropping is a form of abuse dressed up as a fashion trend.

What is ear cropping?

If you’ve ever seen a Dobermann or Staffordshire bull terrier with upright ears, then it’s had it’s ears cropped. Don’t know what we’re talking about?  Then take a look at this picture of England footballer John Stones with his new dog.

Ear cropping removes part or all of a dog’s ears and is often followed by taping so the ears heal upright.  Because it’s illegal in the UK, it’s often done by owners with kitchen knives and scissors and without any anaesthesia or pain relief.

Why is it so wrong?

Cropping a dog’s ears has no medical benefit whatsoever. It is a painful non-essential procedure that can actually be detrimental to a dog’s health, behaviour and welfare.

Dogs need their ears, not just to hear, but to communicate with other animals and also with  their owners. How are you meant to know whether your dog is feeling happy, relaxed, scared or worried if you can’t tell from the position of their ears?  How are you, your vet or even passers-by meant to know your dog is feeling aggressive, if they can’t lie their ears flat against their head? And if you don’t know then you can’t take the appropriate precautions, which could be dangerous for both you and your dog.

And like any operation, ear cropping carries risks. It can lead to hearing loss and infection even if it is performed by a vet.

The only time a dog’s ears should ever be cropped is because of disease of the ears, such as skin cancer.

Want to understand more about why it’s so wrong? Then take a look at this great blog from Cat the Vet, who dispels some of the common myths around ear cropping.

Why do people do it?

Vanity. Sorry to be so brutal, but there is no reason whatsoever to crop a dog’s ears. It is an unnecessary mutilation which is done because people like the look or think it makes the dog look tougher, fiercer or more like a wolf.

And sadly the number of cases is rising because of social media and celebrities sharing photos of their own ear-cropped dogs. Unfortunately, this just perpetuates the myth that having a dog with cropped ears is acceptable, and more worryingly makes it seem normal.

It’s also not helped by unclear official breed standards. “Normally dropped, but may be erect”. That’s the description on the Kennel Club’s website about a Dobermann’s ears. It’s not surprising that people think cropped ears are acceptable.

Why are there so many dogs with cropped ears if it’s illegal in the UK?

Sadly, not all countries have outlawed ear cropping, most notably the USA. As it’s not illegal in the UK to own a dog with cropped ears, import one into the country, or take dogs abroad to have the procedure done,  people are simply going abroad to get their designer dog.

And the more dogs you see with cropped ears the more it fuels the trend and desire for an ear-cropped dog. In fact, unless people do their research, they might not even realise their dog breed of choice should have floppy ears.

The good news is the Government recently announced plans to ban the import of dogs with cropped ears. There is also a petition to close some of the loopholes to stop the rising number of ear-cropped dogs in the UK.

If you love animals at all, you might like to sign it.