‘Cropping’ An Animal’s Ears or Tail … Is It Really Acceptable?

‘Cropping’ is the surgical removal of part or all of an animal’s tail or ears. Although deemed illegal in most countries, especially in Europe, unfortunately many animal owners still continue this practice for fashionable or cosmetic reasons.

Historically, cropping was a practice confined to fighting or herd dogs who either in defence of the flocks or their owner, would perhaps need to fight other animals. In these cases, tails and ears were two very vulnerable areas, posing an easy target for another attacking animal. Cropping the ears of livestock-guardian dogs might still be traditional in some cultures. However, it is mostly a well-known practice attributed to owners of dogs who participate in illegal dog-fighting pits.

Unfortunately, today, most cases of cropping have no practical use at all. The metropolitan myth that cropping a dog’s ear or tail is ‘healthy’ for the animal has no medical basis whatsoever, and in fact nowadays, most veterinarians refuse to carry out this procedure, even in countries where it is still legal (unlike the removal of animal’s reproductive organs, which is often a preventive measure for many types of serious illnesses, especially if the dog or cat in question is unmated).

The same could be, of course, said for declawing, which is a practice involving the full removal of an animal’s claws. Most people seem to do this in the belief that without claws, cats would be easier to manage, being unable to claw at furniture or draperies. Now, if that’s not selfish, I don’t know what is. One is basically destroying part of the animal in order to protect one’s possessions. Declawing is considered an act of animal cruelty in most countries. If you don’t want your pet to spoil your things, simply don’t get one!

Cropping was also carried out on livestock as an ownership marker. However, this is now illegal, as well. After this was recognised as being abusive and superfluous, livestock owners started to use ear clips instead.

‘Cropping’ is an unneeded and terrifying process, in that it usually takes place when a puppy is usually between seven and twelve weeks of age. If the puppy is older, the procedure is more painful and the animal has a greater memory of the pain involved. In reality, owners nowadays tend to crop a pup’s tail or ears for cosmetic reasons. In fact, this is most commonly performed on boxers, cocker spaniels, pitbulls, dobermans and great danes. These individuals want their puppy to look fiercer or ‘cooler,’ as part of their own fashion statement, so that when they go out with their mutilated dog on a leash, they too will appear macho or ‘tough’.

This is reprehensible since the mutilation would be taking place for no other reason than the selfish need to make a statement. After all, animals have no emotions and don’t feel pain right? Of course, I am being sarcastically blunt here, but I really can’t understand what such people would be thinking. Would they cut off their children’s toes or ears to make a fashion statement? Of course not! The sole thought is disgusting and awful, so why do they even consider doing the same to other living beings?


As you may have surmised, I love animals with a passion and one thing I am violently opposed to, is this inhumane and brutish practice of docking the tails and ears of puppies who have no way of giving their consent, much less of voicing their opposition.

Apart from it being a futile and barbarous practice, cropping an animal often leads to further suffering, due to infections. Not to mention the fact that this IS essentially a mutilation. Animals use their tails to balance their bodies, run faster, and to waive off pests like flies and gnats. Depriving them of a part of their natural body makes them less functional, much as you or I would be, if we cut off an arm or a leg for no reason.


Tail docking consists of severing the spinal cord, and cutting through the vast network of these nerves is incredibly painful and can lead to recurrent chronic neuralgia (phantom pain). Also, removing a significant amount of cartilage, flesh and nerve on a newborn puppy causes a significant strain on their developing immune system, not to mention the emotional trauma which leads them to trust human beings less.

And who can blame them?