The Whole Truth About Ear Cropping
As a trainer, I have the joy of working with a wide variety of dog breeds. With this, I have also learned much about the different purebred show standards - some of which include tail docking. Others include ear cropping.
This practice, controversial to say the least, is a left-over from a time when some dogs were used exclusively for sport or work. Because their tails and ears were especially vulnerable, cropping or docking was viewed as a preventative measure.
Today of course, the dog's place in society is very different. "Sports" like dog fighting are illegal and working dogs aren't just working dogs, they're companions too. There are now laws to protect dogs from cruelty and abuse. Accordingly, MANY countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Virgin Islands, Wales) have banned the practice of ear cropping, which is now done purely for aesthetic reasons.
Unfortunately, the US has yet to join the ranks of countries which recognize the practice for what it is - cruel and unnecessary - probably because there are so many falsehoods on the subject floating around.
Here are just a few I'd like to dispel!
Question: Is ear cropping actually painful for a dog?
Answer: YES! Though the dog is anesthetized at the time of the operation, the ears are cut, stitches are required, bandages and change of bandages are necessary and the ears bleed easily. Puppies have awoken from the anesthesia screaming even though pain medication is prescribed and administered. Recovery time is weeks and it can sometimes take up to 6 months to get the full results.
Question: Does ear cropping actually prevent ear infections or enhance hearing in dogs?
Answer: While this is a typical justification of the procedure, there is no medical reason or proof of this.
Question: They've been cropping dogs ears for a long time. There must be a good reason for ear cropping, right?
Answer: A hundred years ago, ear cropping was done for sports such as dog-fighting, bear-baiting and hunting animals that might fight back, and for work such as defending livestock from predators. Yet, statistics on dog ear injuries show the practice was unnecessary then and even more unnecessary if it is done for purely cosmetic purposes.
Unfortunately the AKC (American Kennel Club) still seems to be stuck in the olden days. It has only been under enormous pressure that they even accept "Show Ring" dogs without ear cropping, and those they do accept receive a steep penalty for that. Despite the fact that the procedure actually hinders the dog's abilities, they persist in advocating the practice.
Question: People spay and neuter their dogs. How is ear cropping any different?
Answer: UGGGHHH! If you have been reading my blogs, you will know that I am pro spay and neuter! Every year millions of pets are put to sleep simply because they have no where to go. This procedure is extremely important to approaching this problem. Spaying and neutering also prevents major diseases like cancer and pyometra. Ear cropping is purely cosmetic.
Question: Okay. Maybe people shouldn't try it at home, but what about having a veterinarian do it? Veterinarians must understand the benefits of ear cropping.
Answer: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) views ear cropping as a cosmetic procedure only, and is opposed to the practice. More veterinarians are refusing to crop ears due to their understanding and knowledge of the procedure being extremely painful and unnecessary.