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Ear cropping of dogs

Ads with ear cropping or other modifications are not accepted on dogs.ie. Imported dogs with these modifications will also not be accepted. WARNING: some images in the article may be upsetting to some readers.

Performing of these modifications such as ear cropping is purely done for cosmetic reasons, serves no purpose, and causes the animals a lot of pain and anguish throughout their entire lives. Dogs use their ears to communicate emotions to other dogs and humans.

For these reasons, ads with dogs that have their ears cropped / modified will not be accepted. Ads from sellers who post these ads will also be reported to the ISPCA and / or relevant authorities.

ear cropped versus non cropped
A doberman (left) with cropped ears, versus non-cropped (right)

In 2007, the UK Kennel Club and in 2014 the Irish Kennel Club, banned dogs with cropped ears from participating in dog shows.

It is against the law to perform this surgery in Ireland and Europe. It’s important to note, it does not necessarily mean that all dogs you see on the streets with cropped ears have been done illegally, it is possible and legal, to import dogs into Ireland where these procedure was preformed legally abroad.

Since September 2023 a new law “Ear-Cropping of Dogs Regulations 2023”, S.I. No. 412/2023, has been enacted. This clarified that you need to be in possession of evidence that your dogs’ ears have been cropped in accordance of the laws and you need to apply for permission to bring such a dog into the country.

Note: It is still legal to crop ears of dogs in the US, Canada and parts of Russia. Despite it being legal to own a dog that’s has had its ear cropped, dogs.ie will not publish ads of dogs where their ears have been cropped. Our goal by not allowing ads with cropped ears is not to popularise this activity.

Ear cropping – Nyla’s owner was charged for animal cruelty in September 2021

How to spot cropped ears

Certain breeds tend to more frequently have their ears cropped, these include Doberman Pinschers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Boxers, even Great Danes, Boston Terrier and Schnauzers are sometimes cropped.

Examples of dogs with cropped ears

Cropped ears are more pointy and tend to always be up to look alert
After cropping ears tend be tapped in position which also causes pain
James Tavernier (Rangers football player) poses with an American bully dog with its ears cropped
Young puppy who has just has it’s ears cropped (in Belgium)

Dogs’ ears and emotions

Dogs’ ears can communicate whether they are relaxed, anxious, afraid. Here is a quick summary of possible positions and emotions that go along with them

No.Dog Ear PositionMeaning
1Neutral PositionA relaxed & happy dog
2Pricked/Attentive EarsAn attentive or focused dog
3Pricked/Alert EarsA dog on high alert
4Dropped Back/Pinned EarsA dog is both happy and nervous at the same time, maybe anxious
5Extremely Pinned EarsA fearful dog, cowering, very afraid
6Ears Changing PositionsA concerned or confused dog

How ear cropping is done

A licensed vet or a back yard vet will usually perform the surgery when the puppy is between 8 to 12 weeks old.

The barbaric procedure involves removing a portion of the ear’s outer edge using a scalpel or surgical scissors. It is generally done while under general anaesthesia. The remaining part of the ear is then sutured, and the wound is dressed. There are even different cropping styles, such as battle crop (shortest), short crop, show crop, and long crop, depending on the owner’s preference and the dog’s intended purpose (e.g., show dog or companion).

Ear taping

Some breeds, such Doberman Pinchers will have their ears taped. After the surgery, the ears are taped and placed in a supportive rack or cup to hold them in the desired upright position. The taping process typically involves wrapping the ears with a soft, hypoallergenic tape and attaching them to a foam support or brace.

Taping and re-taping may continue for several weeks or months, depending on the puppy’s healing progress and ear cartilage strength. It is essential to monitor the ears closely during this period to avoid infection or other complications. Needless to say such a procedure is very painful to a young puppy.

Ear cropping in the media

  • 2023: Plans to update the laws around Ear Cropping [source]
  • 2022: An Oireachtas Committee recommends ban on owning dogs with cropped ears [source].
  • 2020: Roscommon man convicted of ear cropping with the ISPCA [source].

Dew claw remove

One other possible modification to dogs is the removal of dew claws.

Note: it is still legal to perform tail docking in Ireland under certain controlled circumstances and only for certain breeds. These ads do require additional documentation before an ad can be published.


Updated on September 1, 2023
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  1. The breeder we bought our Kerry blue from used carpet glue to stick down the pups ears. The vet had to remove it causing stress and hurt to the poor thing. One of the ears was that bad some of the skin came off with the glue. Barbaric treatment.

  2. Hi James this is terrible, I hope that you’ve report this barbaric treatment to the ISPCA or local Gardai.

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