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Should Ear Cropping and Tail Docking be Made Illegal?

Updated on December 31, 2012

I love my ears, why can't you?

Medically Necessary or Cosmetic surgery?

Recently, Banfield Pet hospitals have started discontinuing both ear crops and tail docking procedures because both practices are considered primarily cosmetic procedures that go against the overall health and wellness standards its internal panel of experienced veterinarians strive to offer. The practicing veterinarians of this largest veterinary practice in the world (more than 730 hospitals across the states) however will still offer both procedures only when deemed ''medically necessary''.

Medically necessary is really the wording that helps make the difference between something performed only with the client's interest in mind from something performed with the dog's interest in mind. Indeed, both ear crops and tail docks are mostly performed for aesthetic reasons, in other words just to make the dog look more '' visually appealing'' to the owner's eyes.

For those not familiar with these terms, ear cropping consists of cutting off up to about two/thirds of the dog's ears when the puppy is between the age of 9 to 12 weeks old. This surgery requires general anesthesia and good follow up care to ensure the dog's ear stand up properly. Tail docking on the other hand, is the mutilation of a dog's tail and is done when the puppy is only 3 to 5 days old. It is generally done without the use of anesthetics.

Both of these procedures cause pain in dogs, but what makes them more relevant, is the fact that in most cases, such surgeries are done when not medically necessary. This means that both practices are somewhat similar to the ''cosmetic surgery'' used in humans. While many people are favorable to making both practices illegal, there are many who often refer to ''their rights'' to perform such surgeries on their dogs.

Whose Rights are we Talking About?

Yet, one must realize what rights are being considered. The right to make of a dog an object to please the owner's ego? The right to transform an animal into a fashion accessory? The right to perform cosmetic surgery on a defenseless animal? Some will state that in order to show their dogs in the show ring and make money, they must have their dog's ears cropped and tails docked. 

This is mostly fault of breed clubs that have elected for many years to make ear cropping a ''breed standard.''. In other words, the practice of ear cropping is perceived as ''preserving breed character'', giving once again more importance to looks  than the animal's wellbeing. This causes in show dog owners the need to get their dogs cropped in order to adhere to the breed standards and win ribbons. 

The AVMA has attempted several times to oppose ear cropping and tail docking when done for cosmetic reasons only. However, the AKC has posed a ''deaf ear'' to such requests and has held tight to maintaining its ''breed standards''. Yet, according toVeterinarynewsdvm360, out of 70 veterinarians polled about ear cropping, 80% claimed they would be in favor of banning forever such surgeries.

As of today, ear cropping is banned in many civilized European countries, Australia, Israel, Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand while it  is considered an illegal practice in Newfoundland and Labrador under the 1978 Animal Protection Act. Hopefully, one day such practices will be banned from the rest of the world and dogs will finally receive the same unconditional love they have provided humans for centuries. As Gandhi claimed, ''The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.''

Vet explains why Ear Crops Should not be Performed


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    • truthfornow profile image

      Marie Hurt 

      7 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I can't imagine doing these things to any dogs. I love big floppy ears and wagging tails as nature intended. Some people treat pets like things instead of beings to be loved and cherished. Hope that one day these practices stop completely.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      7 years ago

      Thank you Mary. My Rotts are docked as well. They get done at 3 days old so did not have a choice just asi n your case. My next batch will certainly be with tails. I have seen them with tails in Europe where this practice is banned and they looked magnificent in all their splendor! You may be interested in these other two articles of mine:

      Best wishes!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I have never approved tail docking and ear cropping on any breed! My Miniature Schnauzer came to me at 8 weeks old with no tail. I was told by the breeder that all her puppies have their tails cut off: that is the acceptable practice for the schnauzer.

      If I had my way, I'd put my little dog's tail back on so she could wag it!

      I voted this Hub UP and will share.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      7 years ago

      I would like to see a criminal pulls a mad Doberman's tail or ears! Regardless, they are still cosmetic procedures and dogs were meant to have ears and a tail. Tails are important for balance, communication and they also helps stabilize the vertebral column and the extensor muscles of the back. They have a function. Comparing a dog's tail to the hair of a soldier or cop is like comparing apples to oranges.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is just another way the bureaucracy makes money by creating laws that nobody wants and then fines one for not following the law. Tail docking in war/guard dogs, which the Doberman image is, was done to make their job as a war/guard dog easier. Crim's can pull a dog by the tail/ears. Ever see the short hair on a soldier/cop?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I hate Ear cropping and tail dockind it is so cruel we are making our dogs fashion disasters this is totally cruel puppy's ears are adorable and they should be able to keep them how would you like it if someone chopped your ears and removed your leg or something! I am only young and I live in Aus where they have finally banned tail docking but it is still going on in this world why are we so selfish????

    • profile image

      Angel Waggoner 

      9 years ago

      I have 3 horses and i watch the draft horses pull the cart of blocks at our shows in Belleville, West Virginia..... I am entirely against tail docking and ear cropping. It is cruel to all animals and there owners sometimes. We just bought a horses with no tail. Her name is April and she is a draft horse. I want to outlaw docking and cropping, then I will work my way around the world to stop all of the animal cruelity that you see today...and testing animals that is just abuse in my notion.

    • profile image

      Angel Waggoner 

      9 years ago

      i love the donkeys i am working on a school project on ear and tail docking i hope to outlaw it in west virginia and then work my way around the world!!!

    • dingyskipper profile image


      9 years ago from Northamptonshire

      This practise is now illegal in our country. I was so used to seeing spaniels with a wagging stump the first one I saw with a big waggy tail was a delight. You now how they wag their whole rear end, you should see it with a tail attached.

      It has to be said that a lot of dog showers were upset about it, but I think the breeders were even more so, for years it did not matter how long or hairy a tail was, because you just lopped it off! Now the buyers want a nice tail too.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      9 years ago

      This is what really makes ear cropping a disgusting practice: humans are turning dogs into objects. If humans need cosmetic surgery to fix stuff they do not like, fine. Dogs have no sense of aesthetic models to adhere to, therefore they are happy with their ears and not conscious about them. It is problematic owners that want to change a dog just for their egoism. I say if you do not like your dog as is, get a stuffed animal!

      It is not a coincidence that ear cropping is banned in so many countries. Banfield vet hospitals are refusing to crop as well and the AVMA has been battling this issue for years.

      More and more vets are refusing to crop because tired of dealing with unhappy owners when their crops do not turn out to be as they want. Not to mention the pain section.

      I hate comparing ear crops with circumcision, ear piercings, etc. they are totally different procedures carried out for different purposes. The main point is ear crops are only carried out for cosmetic reasons only, therefore they are not medically necessary. Dogs should be loved as is and if owners really love their dogs they should not put them through unnecessary surgeries as thus. While this may sound like an opinion, fact is, the law is intervening on this and more and more states are making the practice illegal and for very good reasons..

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i for one like it. its been around for a while now. your just saying it should be banned cuz u herd of bad results or know of some one how knows someone that is usually the case. ask around and im sure there are people around you that are not happy with them selves that's why they made plastic surgery. i know that goes against God and all that other happy crap. what if u had something abnormal with u would u not want it fixed? and do u not get a new born son circumcised? yeah sure people says it stays clean easier but i think that's just the moms just being lazy and not wanting to clean them every time they change their diapers. so what's the harm with cropping their ears its a look that brought people to be interested into the breed. I know that's what first got me into looking at Doberman then i found out that they have a history with the United States Marine Corps in WWII and that they were bread to be the perfect guard dog and with their own owners and families. so how is it cruel and unusual punishment when babies dont have a right to deny a circumcision? Its for their own good.... yeah right.

    • Happyontheinside profile image


      10 years ago from Scotland

      I'm from Scotland where I am pretty sure it is illegal just don't see it anymore - and rightly so...I certainly wouldn't like it if someone cut my ear off - why should it be any different for animals?

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      I for one am against this pratice, it is cruel and unusual punishment. Most dogs are not show dogs, and even if there are show dogs this practice should be outlawed.


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