Well, my recent article about dangerous dogs has certainly got you talking and I received a number of emails concerning readers’ experiences when out walking their own dogs or when with their children/grandchildren. A number of the stories were quite disturbing and it is clearly evident that something urgently needs to happen to the cowardly thugs who abuse, brandish and goad these poor animals into action.

Another thing that happened after this piece went out was several readers sent ads of cropped puppies being advertised in their areas. Usually the pups (of the Presa Canario/Boerboel breeds and their crosses) were said to be six months old and it was alluded that they had been imported…but there does seem to be an awful lot of cropped puppies being imported into this country and it does beg the question…is cropping actually taking place In the UK? We all know that the ‘fearsome’ look of these dogs is all important to a number of those who own them and the barbarically close cropping of these dogs ears certainly adds something quite unsettling to the looks of the poor animal that has to endure this particular mutilation.

Rawdon B. Lee wrote about the cropping of dogs in the 1903 updated version of his classic on terriers where the original sketches of ‘Bull Terriers, English White Terriers, Black and Tan Terriers and Toy Terriers’ were replaced and ‘in their stead are given drawings in which the ears are shown in their natural state.’

Lee (who was no fan of the practice) also wrote;

‘This cruelty was originally perpetrated in order that when fighting, the ears would not afford hold for an opponent’s teeth. So the aural appendages were cut right off. Later the operation became a much more artistic piece of work, and the ears were shaped as to stand straight up, almost to a point, with an inward curve rather than an outward one…

The mutilation, usually done when the animal was seven to ten months old, was a troublesome operation, requiring considerable skill and nerve on the part of the operator. In many cases it was customary to place the dog under chloroform or some other anaesthetic whilst the operation was being performed, and ingenious contrivances, to which the patient was fastened with straps, were often brought into use…

Early in 1895 a prosecution for cruelty to dogs was successfully carried out, the cruelty in question being the ‘cropping’ or cutting the ears of a certain terrier. Two defendants in the case were, in default of the payment of a heavy fine, sentenced to imprisonment. Following the conviction, the Kennel Club decided that in future this mutilation must be abolished, and passed a rule to the effect that no dog, of whatever breed or variety, if cropped after March 31st 1895, can win a prize at any show held under Kennel Club Rules. So far as Irish Terriers were concerned, a similar rule has been in place since 1889.

Sadly the practice (even after a hundred or so years) hasn’t been confined to the history books and it reminded me of a case reported in Dog World back in 2015 concerning nineteen year old Tibor Baranyi.

Baranyi pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a ‘Dobermann type’ dog by the cropping of its ears.

The RSPCA was tipped off by a family who had responded to an advert offering a French Bulldog but had obviously been deeply disturbed by seeing a number of Dobermann puppies with cropped ears and docked tails.

When the premises were eventually raided the presence of a number of ear splints and dressings in the house suggested a turnover of cropped puppies on an ‘almost semi-industrial scale’.

When interviewed, Baranyi claimed the dogs were all ‘family pets and had been brought over from Hungary three days before’ and he denied that they were for sale.

As I stated, I have seen several dogs with closely cropped ears on our city streets.

So, is this particular ‘loop-hole’ still being used as a defence?

Has the cropping of dogs ears made an unwelcome comeback to Britain?

Published on Dog World online on 22nd May 2017