Ear cropping refers to the procedure of trimming an animal’s ear. Most commonly performed on puppies aged between four and six months, it involves removing two thirds of the ear under anesthetic. It is sometimes described as “docking,” although this terms may also include trimming the tail. Global debate on ear cropping is heated and divided. People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA), cite its cruelty, arguing that in most cases ear cropping is cosmetic, while the American Kennel Club (AKC) states that it preserves “breed character.” In November 2008, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revised its policy to oppose cosmetic-related ear cropping, and urged the AKC to remove it from their “breeding standards.”
Most European countries have outlawed ear cropping. In 1987, the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals banned “surgical operations for the purposes of modifying the appearance,” including ear cropping and tail docking. Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania and Switzerland have signed and ratified the Convention without reservations. It has also been signed by Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal, although with reservations often relating to medical exceptions. Both Italy and the Netherlands have signed the Convention without ratifying it, meaning that they agree in principle but have not committed themselves to the terms of the treaty. In 2007, the UK Kennel Club banned dogs with cropped ears from participating in dog shows.
America and Canada
Although ear cropping has not been prohibited within the United States, many veterinarians are refusing to perform the procedure. In 2009 Banfield Veterinary Group, the largest privately held veterinary practice in the US, banned cosmetic ear cropping from its procedures. The Canadian Kennel Club authorizes the exhibition of “uncropped” dogs in shows, but according to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), ear cropping remains largely in practice. Ear cropping is common in Great Danes, Dobermans and Boxers.
The Rest of the World
In 2004, Australia outlawed ear cropping and tail docking, except when performed under medical circumstances by a veterinarian. It has also been prohibited in New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Bolivia and the Virgin Islands.