Ear Cropping No Longer Makes the “Cut” in Western Canada

Veterinarians who perform medically unnecessary ear crops could face discipline in British Columbia.

A practice that has faced much controversy over the years and has been banned in some countries, is now coming to an end in British Columbia, Canada.

Doberman Ears, photo by Gina Cioli

Veterinary regulators called a ban to cosmetic ear cropping on dogs, a practice often performed on breeds such as Boxers, Dobermans and Great Danes. British Columbia veterinarians who defy the ear cropping ban will face disciplinary action on charges of unethical practice of veterinary medicine. 

“Ear cropping is an unnecessary procedure unless carried out in cases of injury or for reasons of health concerns,” says Larry Odegard, the CEO and registrar at the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia, which oversees the province’s more than 1,600 practitioners.

Many of Canada’s provinces, including: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, do not allow ear cropping. The practice is still allowed in Ontario, despite the fact that the 4,400-member Ontario Veterinary Medical Association opposes the practice. Cosmetic surgery is unnecessary and recommending that breed associations change their standards, spokeswoman Melissa Carlaw says.

The change means that purebred dogs whose ears are not cropped could be banned from certain breed competitions. 

Many dog breeders, owners and organizations still do endorse cosmetic procedures and it is part of the breed standard when showing certain breeds. An American Kennel Club policy states: “Ear cropping, tail docking and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided.”

In the United Kingdom, however, the Kennel Club has changed to support the ban on ear cropping and has gone as far to prohibit dogs with cropped ears from competing in shows. The College of Veterinarians of British Columbia, hope that breed associations here in Canada and North America will follow suit. 

Scientific evidence doesn’t support “a welfare or medical benefit for ear cropping,” the regulatory body notes, “but evidence does show a detrimental effect on behavior and canine communication.”

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) approves of ear cropping only “to alleviate suffering or for reasons of welfare,” CEO Craig Daniell says. “For nearly two decades we have been on record opposing procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, devocalization and declawing that impact an animal’s ability to experience good welfare and to express natural behaviors.” 

Ear cropping is ear cropping is currently prohibited in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe and is regulated in parts of the United States. Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington State impose certain restrictions, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

An AVMA policy statement opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs “when done solely for cosmetic purposes” and encourages that the procedures be eliminated from breed standards.

What do you think about ear cropping? Do you have a dog with cropped ears? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Correction: Article originally stated that Ontario banned ear cropping, but while the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association opposes the practice, it is still allowed. 

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