Cropping is the removal of part or all of the pinnae or auricles, the external visible flap of the ear, of an animal; it sometimes involves taping to make the ears pointy. Most commonly performed on dogs, it is an ancient practice that was once done for perceived health, practical or cosmetic reasons. In modern times, it is banned in many nations, but is still legal in a limited number of countries. Where permitted, it is seen only in certain breeds of dog such as the Pit bull, Miniature Pinscher, Doberman Pinscher, Schnauzer, Great Dane, Boxer, Caucasian Shepherd Dog and Beauceron.
The veterinary procedure is known as cosmetic otoplasty. Current veterinary science provides no medical or physical advantage to the animal from the procedure, leading to concerns over animal cruelty related to performing unnecessary surgery on the animals. In addition to the bans in place in countries around the world, it is described in some veterinary texts as “no longer considered ethical.”
Cropping of large portions of the pinnae of other animals is rare, although the clipping of identifying shapes in the pinnae of livestock, called earmarks, was common prior to the introduction of compulsory ear tags. Removal of portions of the ear of laboratory mice for identification, i.e. ear-notching, is still used. The practice of cropping for cosmetic purposes is rare in non-canines, although some selectively bred animals have naturally small ears which can be mistaken for cropping.