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    Is Cropping Dogs Ears Bad?

    February 17, 2023 | 3 min read

    Updated February 17, 2023



    Published: February 19, 2023 

    Summary: In this blog, we learn all about dog ear cropping (sometimes called ear docking). Learn about ear cropping, why it’s a popular practice for some dog owners, and also why it’s controversial…


    Ear Cropping

    Ear cropping (or docking) is an unnecessary procedure where a dog’s outer ears are cut, altered, or removed. This is a purely aesthetic surgery that is conducted by owners who simply prefer the way it looks when they’re cropped. It’s more commonly seen in breeds like Dobermans, Pitbulls, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Boxers, Cane Corsos, and American Bulldogs.

    Does Ear Cropping Hurt Dogs?

    Quite frankly, yes. It’s very painful for a dog to have their ears cropped. In some countries, like the United Kingdom, the procedure is illegal because of the pain and distress it can inflict on a dog. The practice of docking also requires a dog to go through an uncomfortable recovery, as well as an unpleasant experience during the procedure itself. 

    Like any surgery, having a dog’s ears unnecessarily cropped can lead to infections and loss of blood too. Signs of infection include discharge from the ear’s wound, redness, swelling, or heat. If you have a dog with recently cropped ears and spot any of these signs, they need to see a licensed veterinarian with haste.

    a black Staffie dog sits by concrete steps with cropped ears

    Why Do People Crop Dogs Ears?

    Some owners like the fiercer look ear cropping can give a dog; they think it looks more “cool”. Cropping a dog’s ears is a very selfish process and not in the best interest of any pup. 

    Some vets may require to interfere with a dog’s outer ear (called a “pinnectomy”) because of injury, trauma, or to remove a suspicious or threatening growth. But, this is always conducted professionally and properly, under anesthetic, and managed with appropriate pain relief.

    Why You Shouldn’t Crop Your Dog’s Ears

    Your pup uses their ears to express emotions and to communicate effectively. Ear cropping hinders their ability to do this enormously. Other dogs may also miss cues your dog is trying to convey to them via their ears and misunderstand your dog’s feelings - which can lead to problem behavior and unnecessary stress in your dog’s life. 

    The outer ears are designed to capture sound and funnel it clearly down the ear canal. This could also become affected if a dog’s ears are cosmetically docked. 

    Additionally, ear cropping usually takes place when a dog is very young – usually between 6-12 weeks old. This is when a dog’s brain is still in a significant stage of development and this traumatic experience can affect them emotionally for the rest of their life. It can make a dog incredibly wary of people, lower their confidence and hinder their ability to trust. 

    Some breeders may claim cropping a dog’s ears is beneficial to them, but this isn’t true. Ear cropping does not prevent ear infections or improve their hearing. 

    Dog ear cropping is entirely done to satisfy an owner’s taste and any loving pet parent would choose not to do this to their dog. That said, it’s important to not assume an owner has done this to their dog if you see a dog out and about with cropped ears – they may have been rescued from a shelter after the docking took place or imported from another country where the act is legal and not been a choice of the apparent owner.

    a black Staffie dog stands by a dark brown wall panting, with cropped ears

    Is Ear Cropping Legal?

    Unfortunately, out of fifty states in America, ear cropping is only regulated in nine. In Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts it is completely prohibited unless carried out by a licensed, professional vet under appropriate anesthetic. In Illinois, it is illegal to inflict torture on an animal but ear docking can take place with a licensed vet under anesthetic. Similarly, in Maine, it is against the law to mutilate an animal or irreparably damage an animal’s body part. But it is legal to get a dog’s ears cropped by a licensed veterinarian. 

    In Washington, ear cropping is prohibited unless the particular case is considered a customary husbandry practice. 

    Here at PetLab Co., we don’t believe in unnecessary pain being inflicted on dogs and this extends to the practice of ear cropping. There are many petitions you can find online to sign and share on your social media pages to help get legislation in the U.S. put through to ban this unnecessary cosmetic procedure by law.


    “Ear Cropping In Dogs” Blue Cross, Aug. 12 2021

    “State Laws Governing Elective Surgical Procedures” AVMA Sep. 2019

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    The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
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