Ear cropping of dogs is illegal in the UK but some breeders are offering it

NEWS AND COMMENT: Some dog breeders in the UK are allegedly offering customers the option to mutilate the ears of puppies as part of a trend popularised by celebrities on social media. It is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The Times reports that influencers on social media and sportsmen and sportswomen have posted images of dogs that are the victims of cosmetic ear cropping.

American bully dogs with cropped ears

American bully dogs with cropped ears. Photo: Hope Rescue

The key problem is highlighted by a leading veterinarian in the UK, Daniella Dos Santos, who said: “There is a loophole that allows the importation of dogs with cropped ears, and that’s acting as a smokescreen.”

She said that she was devastated by what has been exposed by the BBC. She said that the operation to improves the status of the dog in the eyes of the owners and that there are no health benefits for the dogs at all.

For me, it is sadly reminiscent of cat declawing which is also the mutilation of an animal for the convenience of a customer. Part of the dog’s ear flap is removed when they are a puppy. It is painful and unnecessary. Paula Boyden of the Dogs Trust said that some animals can develop infections and some don’t like people touching their ears as a consequence. And also, the mutilation can result in behavioural issues because dogs communicate with their ears.

The BBC investigated this and found that dog breeders were offering to have the ears of their puppies cut and to supply false documents to make it appear that the procedure was carried out abroad.

Celebrities and sports people such as Marcus Ratchford of Manchester United football club, Leigh-Anne Pinnock of the Little Mix Cats pop group, and Jack Fincham, a former Love Island winner are among the celebrities who have bought pets that appear to have been victims of this operation.

Ear cropping of dogs is illegal in the UK under the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Ear cropping of dogs is illegal in the UK under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Photo:Screenshot from BBC video.

It is said that their dogs had the operation abroad or they were adopted from rescue kennels but The Times said that they are not suggesting that the rescue shelters are involved with criminal behaviour.

Breeders are offering the procedure for between £500 and £1500. One man who has an Instagram account, Moheiz Adam, allegedly offered to sell an undercover journalist an American bully puppy for £13,000. He said that it would have a pet passport and a microchip and that “If questions are asked, you basically [say] that’s how you bought it, from an Irishman. It came from Europe and that’s all you know.”

Allegedly, he also said in a video call: “All of my dogs have been done by him, and let’s just say as long as you get it done at the right age, it looks 10 out of 10”. And he also said in referring to the ear of a puppy he was selling to a customer: “That will all come off.”

Adam later told the BBC that he had not arranged for any dogs to have the operation because he knew that it was illegal.

The cropping of the ears creates pointed ear flaps which is apparently how some people like them. It gives the dogs a striking appearance; more aggressive and intimidating. Yes, more status to those dog owners who seeks status vicariously through their aggressive-looking dog.

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Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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