Today’s post is going to be quick and simple. The anti-ear cropping argument is misleading, and I think we need to talk about it.
This morning somebody started a post in a Facebook group. It was one of THOSE posts. The “this is a hot topic and the initial take on it is controversial” type of conversation that results in a lot of participation, quickly.
They started the thread with a rant about how ear cropping in dogs is painful, torture, abusive, and wrong. Let’s be honest here though, it’s not that simple.
The Anti-Ear Cropping Argument is Misleading
Ear cropping is a simple surgical procedure that is done under anesthesia, and ideally only by veterinarians who are very experienced with the process. The puppies are up playing within hours as if nothing happened. They don’t care about their missing ear flaps.
Ear cropping is less invasive than a spay or stomach tack.
If you walk around a dog show in the U.S., you’ll see hundreds of cropped dogs. The solid majority of them are among some of the most well-kept and cared for dogs in the Country. They are fed an appropriate diet and kept lean and muscular. Their nails are short. They receive a lot of training and enrichment.
Those dogs who were cropped as puppies for their breed standard are far from abused and as adults, they still don’t care about their ears.
Things That Are More Abusive Than Ear Cropping
This is why the anti-crop argument is misleading. There are many, many things happening in the world of dogs that are infinitely more harmful, abusive, and damaging than ear cropping (which is none of those things to begin with). These are the things affecting dogs and the short lives they share with us.
Let’s list them out.
Obesity is an epidemic in pets. They are overfed and under-exercised and left to rot on our couches in the name of ‘love’. Many dog owners celebrate this problem by engaging in the idea that overweight pets are cute or ‘all muscle’.
A dog that is allowed to become sedentary and obese is more likely to suffer from boredom, bladder stones, diabetes, cancer, heart problems, joint pain, joint damage, and complications associated with anesthesia.
But let’s keep talking about ear cropping…
Poor Grooming Habits
From pelted Doodles to eagle talons for nails, poor husbandry is epidemic in pets.
Groomers see it every day. Bad teeth, overgrown nails, skin suffering from mites, fleas, and bites (lack of prevention), and coated dogs (such as Doodles who are often sold as ‘easy to groom and hypoallergenic’) with pelted coats that have to be sheered off like a sheep.
The solid majority of pet owners are neglecting at least one of these things. If we want to cry ‘abuse and torture’, let’s please start with basic care items. Not ear cropping.
Lack of Enrichment & Training
Many pet dogs are bored out of their minds.
They chew up the couch to satisfy these missing needs, and when the owners find the mess the dog is often met with the harsh, abusive training tactics listed above. People pull out their phones and take “funny” videos of their “guilty” dog, who is literally just terrified that their owner has turned into an intimidating monster.
So many others are also shocked when at 9 months of age, their sweet 80 pound puppy is pulling them all over the place and lunging at dogs. How could this happen, their dog had “graduated” puppy class and spent time at the dog park for socialization!?
Dogs are living their lives in our homes, often offered little more than a 15 minute walk each day where they are expected to move by our side on pavement and not sniff, explore, run, dig, or climb.
But let’s keep talking about how ear cropping is “abuse”.
Holistic Woo & Anti-Veterinarian Belief Systems
There is nothing wrong with taking a holistic approach to pet care, if you honor the original intent of the world (to address the whole body, and that means utilizing every tool available for health including science).
However, pet owners who walk down the path of disregarding science, modern medicine, and veterinarians in the name of being ‘holistic’ as it’s been defined by a few predatory influencers, are treading in dangerous, neglectful, and often abusive territory.
It is not ok to let a dog suffer in the name of ‘holistic’ treatments. Essential oils don’t cure everything and may be toxic. Broken bones cannot be healed with mud baths and Reiki. Pumpkin seeds are not going to prevent or cure heartworms.
Veterinarians are not money-hungry shills for “big food & big pharma”. These conspiracies are wild and extremely harmful to our pets.
Unethical Breeders & Unethical Rescues
Among the most harmful practices in the world of dogs, far worst than a simple ear-crop procedure, are the poor ethics of so many breeders and rescues.
Skipping health testing, breeding dogs with poor temperaments and structure, telling owners that the dog will be hypoallergenic and family-friendly because it’s a ‘doodle’, and giving puppy buyers unscientific advice about vaccines and nutrition are abhorrent.
That doesn’t even touch on the unethical rescues who pipe their budget towards dogs who are suffering beyond repair (and thus can provide sob-story material for social media). They do this, meanwhile rejecting (“no kill”, which actually means shipped to or left at a kill shelter) or euthanizing healthy adult dogs that don’t bring in the donations or adoption requests.
What about the rescues that adopt known-aggressive dogs out to unsuspecting and underprepared owners? Or the ones who buy entire litters of cute puppies at auctions and sell them as ‘rescue dogs’ or ‘meat trade dogs’?
But ear-cropping is torture and abuse, got it.
You Don’t Have to Like Ear Cropping
My Great Danes have intact ears. I’ll probably never choose to crop a puppy. I can respect pro-crop dog owners’ choices and have dogs with intact ears at the same time.
Most Great Danes keep their natural ears. Some don’t, and that’s ok as long as the procedure was done in an informed manner by a highly skilled and experienced veterinarian.
I think it’s important when throwing around words such as “abuse” and “torture” that we are being realistic. If ear cropping is defined by those terms, it is implied that spaying/neutering or any other simple, common surgical procedure is also abuse and torture.
We have SO many other things in the world of dogs to concern ourselves with; I’ll never understand why so much time and effort is wasted on inflammatory, misleading, and incorrect remarks about a procedure most dog owners know little to nothing about.