Canine Ear Cropping Banned in Manitoba

Under a new provincial bylaw, Manitoba vets can no longer perform ear cropping surgery on dogs, The Winnipeg Free Press reports. Anyone performing this surgery can be charged under Manitoba’s Animal Care Act.

Ear cropping is a common cosmetic surgery performed on puppies of certain breeds, usually between the ages of seven to 12 weeks. It’s used by breeders and dog owners to achieve breed standards, specifically, the perky ears Doberman pinschers and miniature pinschers are known for.

A Doberman owner quoted in the story said that his dog is the only one of his litter to have natural ears. He said, “We werenít going to show him. But we were told it would be better for him hygienically.”† He remained steadfast and spared his dog the painful surgery and long recovery time. In fact, there is no medical reason for ear cropping. The story of ear hygiene seems to be a myth some breeders and dog showers will use as an excuse when they are questioned.

There are, however, many hygienic and other reasons not to crop a dog’s ears. The surgery involves removing two-thirds of the ear flap, leaving the edges ragged and bloody, and cutting into the dog’s nerves. Besides the risk of infection, the dog has to be put under general anesthesia for the procedure, which is also inherently risky for young puppies. After the initial surgery, the dog needs to have his ears taped back for six weeks, in order to train them into the desired shape. It’s not unlike female foot-binding as practiced in Old Japan.

The fine is $5, 000 for a first offense, and much higher on repeat offenses. But in fact, a majority of vets already oppose this surgery and did not offer the service. Violation of the ban within the province is unlikely.

Still, the bylaw has upset some breeders, who are blaming outspoken vets for its passing. Gaylene Robertson, quoted in the article, said, “It should be left as a choice for individual vets. And itís an issue of our rights. Itís going down a slippery slope on our rights.”

Although ear cropping may now be illegal in Manitoba, with Newfoundland and Labrador having banned the practice previously, and several other provinces apparently ready to follow suit, another controversial surgery remains on the books.

Tail docking, which simply involves snipping off the end of a dog’s tail, again primarily for cosmetic purposes, has been banned in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but nowhere else in Canada, so far. Both docking and cropping are performed only on certain breeds, where there is a common belief among breeders and dog showers that this is what the breed is “supposed” to look like. However, dogs from breeds that are commonly cropped and/or docked (which include Dobermans, boxers and Australian shepherds) can and do win dog shows with natural ears and tails.

The Humane Society has long had a policy against these surgeries, and will not subject rescued animals to them, whatever breed they happen to be. Of course, animals taken in from a seizure or surrendered by their owners will likely have had the surgery done already, since it’s performed at a young age. Manitoba breeders, or Canadian breeders, as more and more provinces pass the bylaw, will retain the option of getting the surgery done in the United States or elsewhere.

But if the difficulty or expense is too great, maybe they’ll have to give up their aesthetic preferences, or stop breeding altogether. Although I’m not a big fan of buying purebreds in the first place, I would be happy if the cropped-ear Doberman became a rare specimen, instead of the standard most of us have come to expect. I hate to see any animal suffer for human vanity.

Related stories:

Think Global, Work Local: Pet Ownership as Social Justice

The Power of Humane Education

79 Dogs Seized from Illegal Manitoba Breeding Operation

Photo credit: jsmjr

204 comments

Fiona T.
Fi T.3 years ago

This is ridiculous

federico bortoletto

Bellissima notizia. IL taglio delle orecchie è solo un'inutile crudeltà.

vanessa stewart s.
vanessa stewart4 years ago

what cruel people homo sapiens are

LM Small
Ann Khorite4 years ago

EDITOR!!!!

"It’s not unlike female foot-binding as practiced in Old Japan."

China, not Japan. And "not unlike" should ALWAYS be changed to the less-pompous "like."

Yay for Manitoba!

Terrakian D.
Terrakian Dragon4 years ago

Along with the program to encourage potential adopters to take in black dogs, this ban is something I am so glad to see my home province doing. I cheer them on so hard! I've always hated tail-cocking and ear-clipping- I knew it was so unnecessary, somehow, before I ever found out the real reasons for it to be a stupid idea... So nice to see my home-town (Winnipeg) doing something right, for a change! :-D

Oh, and by the way, someone should let the author know that foot-binding was never practised in Old Japan (to my knowledge, anyway). It was a Chinese practice that continued into the 20th Century (though it was already becoming far less common by WWI).

signed, an ex-pat Canuck in the Mountains of San Bernardino. :-)

Rhonda L.
Rhonda L.4 years ago

As a veterinary technician, I would like to add that another important reason to NOT crop ears is that when this is done the animal loses as much as 20% of it's hearing. For this reason the breed "standard" SHOULD be changed to what is healthiest for the animal -whole ears and tails. Natural is healthiest.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

good news

Abe G.
Abe G.4 years ago

Bet republicans would never vote for such a measure here in the USA. Definately not here in Arizona.

Carrie Anne Brown

great news :) thanks for sharing :)

New G.
W. C.4 years ago

Great news, thank you.