Dog Ear Cropping/Clipping


Multiple pieces of legislation apply to dog owners in Northern Ireland. This guide will help you understand your responsibilities, but it is not to be considered legal advice. The information below applies to Northern Ireland only. The rules may be different in the Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.

Ear Cropping/Clipping

Ear cropping, (sometimes also referred to as docking or clipping) is an unnecessary mutilation where part of the dog’s ear is cut off. The dog’s ear is then sometimes attached to a splint to shape them into an upright position. Mutilating dogs in this way causes unnecessary suffering to the dog and has no welfare benefits.

It is against the law to dock or crop a dog’s ear in part or whole. It is an offence to carry out ear cropping; to cause such a procedure to be carried out, or to permit another person to carry out the procedure. This means that, as well as an offence being committed by the person carrying out the procedure, an owner commits an offence if they send their dog abroad to have their ears cropped, or if they allow someone else to crop the dog’s ears in this country.

Currently it is still lawful to import a dog into Northern Ireland which has had its ears cropped abroad.  Note that this is not the case in the Republic of Ireland where all dogs with cropped ears must have official documentation.

What can happen if I break the law?

Owners can be taken to court and face a sentence of up to 5 years, and a fine of up to £20,000.


Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 section 5.

Sentencing Guidelines – Magistrates’ Court – Animal Offences | Judiciary NI

Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (revised) [Republic of Ireland]