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two dogs, one with cropped ears, one without

What is ear cropping in dogs?

Ear cropping, sometimes known as ear clipping or docking, is an illegal mutilation and serves no benefit to dogs.

It is an unnecessary cosmetic procedure where part of the dog’s ear is cut off. Often, the dog’s ear is attached to a hard surface to shape them into an upright position, a process known as splinting.  

Cropping is often performed on breeds such as Mastiff's and Doberman's ears.

Key takeaways

  • Ear cropping is an illegal and unnecessary procedure in the UK, causing pain and offering no benefits to the dog.
  • The practice is often done without anesthesia, leading to significant pain, potential infections, and it impairs a dogs ability to communicate.
  • Despite claims, there's no scientific evidence that ear cropping improves hearing or reduces infections.
  • Increasing trends in ear cropping are being influenced by celebrity endorsements.

Why is ear cropping in dogs a problem?

We’ve started to see a rise of dogs with cropped ears in the UK. Celebrity influencers are buying dogs with cropped ears, in doing so they are endorsing this cruel and painful procedure.

Online searches for ‘dog ear cropping’ have surged and vets have also reported an increase in the number of dogs coming into practices with cropped ears. 

The rise in cases is a concerning trend and we want to help educate people on the realities of this illegal process, how it affects dogs and what steps should be considered when purchasing a dog.


A doberman with cropped ears shown with a doberman with normal floppy ears

What is wrong with ear cropping in dogs?

Ear cropping is illegal in the UK under the Animal Welfare Act. The procedure is often performed without anaesthesia or pain relief by unqualified people, which can be incredibly painful for the dog. Dogs are also prone to catching infections as their wounds heal. 

It might sound obvious, but dogs need their ears. Ears are essential for dogs to communicate how they’re feeling. The position of their ears let us know if they are happy or anxious. Without their full ear, floppy or upright, they can struggle to communicate their emotions.

There are claims that ear cropping has benefits for dogs, such as improving hearing and lowering the risk of ear infection, but there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.  

Why do people crop dogs ears?

Celebrities with large online followings have shown off pet dogs with cropped ears on social media. 

As their name suggests, influencers have a lot of power when it comes to dictating trends, whether its fashion, viral songs or the type of pets people buy.  

Although it may not be their intention, celebrity influencers are glamourising ear cropping, despite the fact that it is illegal in the UK.

Dogs with cropped ears are presented as ‘tough’, and this look is absorbed by millions of followers who want to replicate their favourite celebrities, which has undoubtedly contributed to the rise of ear cropping.

a dog with cropped ears for article on what is ear cropping in dogs

How you can help stop ear cropping

Please research when looking to purchase breeds such as Dobermans or Mastiffs. Check out UK breeders and avoid any that have imported dogs with cropped ears.

We want to bring an end to ear cropping, that’s why we’re supporting the British Vets Association’s #CutTheCrop campaign. Ear cropping is a needlessly painful and cruel mutilation, please help end ear cropping by signing the petition.

BVA banner on why do people crop dogs ears

Need more info?

If you need further advice on pet care, have a chat with your local vet. Find your nearest vet using our find a vet page.

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