Ear-cropping and other forms of animal mutilation such as dewclaw removal and tail-docking are, sadly, very popular in the US. You might know the traditional ‘scary guard dog’ in a movie with upright pointy ears – this is achieved through ear-cropping.
These procedures are often carried out on certain breeds for ‘show’ purposes, but this notion is considered outdated by a majority of veterinary experts.
What is ear-cropping?
Cropping involves cutting off the floppy part of a dog’s ears while they are still a puppy. Sometimes, the cropped ears are taped to a hard surface for a few weeks, so they heal in an upright position. This is extremely painful for dogs and usually happens for unnecessary, cosmetic reasons.
However, on rare occasions, ear-cropping may be performed by a vet for medical reasons.
Ear-cropping is most commonly seen in breeds such as the Doberman, Boxer, Mastiff, Great Dane, and Cane Corso.
Is ear-cropping legal in the US?
Unfortunately, ear-cropping is legal in the US, but there are currently nine states that have specific regulations for this controversial and painful procedure.
Ear-cropping is prohibited in New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, unless performed by a licensed vet while the dog is under anaesthetic.
Washington prohibits ear-cropping unless it’s considered a husbandry practice and laws in Maryland require ear-cropping to be “appropriate on the animal”.
The state of Illinois prohibits animal torture except if the alteration of an animal is performed by a licensed veterinarian. Maine makes the same exception to its law against the mutilation of an animal by irreparably damaging body parts.
What is dewclaw removal?
A dewclaw is the little claw that looks like a small thumb on a cat or dog’s inner leg, just up from the paw. They may not seem very useful, which is why some people have them removed from their pets, but front dewclaws can help animals hold things, such as a chew or toy. Dewclaws also help stabilize their ankles.
There is no reason, medical or cosmetic, to have dewclaws removed unless it is diseased, badly injured or at risk of injury. The only outcome is likely to be pain and discomfort for the pet.
Does pet insurance cover ear-cropping and dewclaw removal?
All pet insurance companies differ, but Paw Protect doesn’t cover ear-cropping and only covers dewclaw removal if it’s deemed medically necessary by a licensed vet.
Although these practices, along with tail-docking and devocalizing, are still common in the US and are technically legal, they are extremely painful for your pet. This kind of animal mutilation is usually unnecessary and only carried out for cosmetic purposes, which is classed as animal cruelty in some states.
As champions of animal welfare, we support the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in its opposition of ear-cropping and tail-docking for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA also encourages the elimination of ear-cropping and tail docking from breed standards.