Dog Ear Cropping: History of The Legalisation

Dog Ear Cropping is the practice of surgically cutting or removing the ears of dogs. This practice also includes tapping the ears so that they point up straight. This is an old practice which was done for health reasons or for cosmetic purposes. Now ear cropping in dogs has been made illegal in most countries around the world, but is ear cropping illegal in the UK? Today we are talking about the history and of this practice and how its controversy does not stop now that it is illegal.

What is ear cropping?
Traditionally, cropping was done to dogs as it was thought that it would stop ear infections of working dogs. It was also done to dogs whose jobs were to fight whether that was to protect livestock from predators or to fight in dog or bear pits. This was because the ears were the easiest target and so they were cut off. In some pastoral cultures this is still done to protect dogs from wolves and other predators from attacking them. This was done for over 300 years by shepherds when the dogs were only 6 weeks old. They believed that feeding the dogs the cut part of the ear would make the dog stronger.
The modern day
In the last 100 years the procedure has become popular for aesthetic reasons with celebrities making it popular very recently and the breed standard for some show dogs. The procedure is now done on puppies 7-12 weeks old and called scientifically cosmetic otoplasty. Vets are not trained to do this procedure in their normal training as it is illegal in many countries. So they have to learn on the job causing many things to go wrong especially in puppy mills. Ear cropping gone wrong unfortunately has affected a lot of pooches throughout the world.

In 2006 the British government made cropping illegal in the UK. This made it illegal for anyone to carry out this practice or send a dog to a vet in the Uk to perform this procedure. In 2021 the Animal Welfare Act was updated to include fiercer punishment for those who have cropped their dogs ears receiving 5 years of jail and an unlimited fine. This was due to what the RSPCA had a rise of ear cropping calls with the number rising from 1 dog in 2015 to 12 in 2020 to battersea kennels alone. In England there was a 236% increase in calls in 2020. There is however a loophole which has been exploited by dog owners in recent years. This is where dogs are either brought abroad or sent to a vet outside the UK to get the procedure done. Again this was debated in parliament in 2021 where it was made illegal to import any dogs who had their tails docked or their ears cropped to stop the practice from happening. This is thanks to a mass media campaign called “Flop Don’t Crop!” which saw animal charities and the public petition the government for action.

Why it is bad for dogs
The RSPCA says that the cropping of dogs’ ears is cruel but why is that? Well there are lots of health and lifestyle determinants which come from cropping. One of these is that dog’s ears are designed to move independently of each other to optimally hear where the sound is coming from. The outer part of the ear acts as a funnel for the soundwaves and by cropping it is possible that their hearing will be affected. Cropping also stops a dog from communicating with its ears as this is how a dog will talk to other dogs. Their ears show their emotions and by cropping you are stopping this communication.

The practice of ear cropping has a long history but is now believed by many to be cruel to the animal. There is only one way in the UK that a dog can legally have their ears cropped and that is if it is a medical procedure done if a pet has a bad enough ear infection or tumour. Only then is ear cropping legal and can be done in the UK. Otherwise cropping is illegal under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act and can be prosecuted through jail time for those who practice it. But you can help by rescuing dogs who have had their ears cropped or by donating to charities like the RSPCA.

“The Master has failed more times than the Beginner has ever tried.” — Stephen McCranie

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