Have you seen a rise in the number of dogs with cropped ears?

We have.

When questioned the owners state that they purchased their dogs abroad, with Russia being a particular ‘hot spot’ for breeding and importation.

It seems as though this barbaric practice, and the public’s acceptance of dogs with cropped ears, is on the increase even though it has been illegal in Britain for many years (albeit the law on the Isle of Man is slightly more vague).

In the past it was common for dogs such as Dobermans to have their ears cropped (i.e. to have approximately a third of the ear cut off, length-wise) and then splinted to encourage them to grow upright. Boxers, German shepherds and spaniels were also commonly cropped, and now there is a growing trend for bull breeds to have their ears almost completely removed.

The RSPCA has seen a phenomenal 1,075% increase in the number of reports of ear cropping in England and Wales in the last five years.

The biggest problem dogs with cropped ears face is the period after surgery, when it is not uncommon for them to develop chronic wound infections due to knives not being sterilised and poor hygiene practices.

This causes even more unnecessary pain and suffering for the dog and delayed healing, and in the worst cases dogs require corrective surgery to remove infected, damaged tissue on the ears.

Ear cropping is mutilation and involves inflicting pain for no purpose – it is cosmetic and, sadly, deemed fashionable by some people; and it is of no benefit whatsoever to the dog.

Added to this, dogs can also develop complex behavioural issues as a result of the cropping.

They can react badly to being handled around their head or neck areas, making putting on a collar difficult, for example.

And dogs communicate through body language – by cropping their ears other dogs and people find their signals harder to read.

There is good news on the horizon, though, which should help crack down on this alarmingly rising trend.

A ban on the importation of dogs with cropped ears is likely to be introduced in the UK next year as part of the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, which is currently in the report stage at the House of Commons. This should impact on the availability of dogs with cropped ears in the Isle of Man, even though we don’t have the relevant legislation.

There is currently nothing to prevent a dog with cropped ears from being imported, but vets and other practitioners (groomers, trainers, etc), and the Manx community in general, should ask questions and establish where the cropping took place and the current owner’s role in the process.

If you suspect the cropping has been undertaken by the current owner please report your concerns to the ManxSPCA, or to the police.

On a happier note, we have a very, very handsome seven-year-old Weimaraner in our rescue kennels at the moment – with perfect ears.

He’s called Merlin (Merly or Moo) and he’s with us because he didn’t get on with his family’s female Labrador.

He is a bit picky about the dogs he likes, but other than that he has no vices – he loves people, and is best friends with anyone who will give him a cuddle.

Merlin enjoys walks although his recall isn’t 100% - but this is simply down to his exuberance and playfulness.

His favourite walks are beach ones, and the toys he likes to play with most are tennis balls.

His previous owners describe him as a dog who most of all ‘just wants to be loved’.

We’re sure this adorable dog won’t be in our kennels for long.