Image Alt
 • Fashion  • Can Real Fur Ever Be Ethical? We Asked the Experts…
Can Real Fur Ever Be Ethical

Can Real Fur Ever Be Ethical? We Asked the Experts…

There’s a lot of debate around whether or not fur can ever be ethical. With brands using comforting labels to suggest that the fur they use was sourced in a more ethical way, it can be confusing. So we asked the experts, Clair Linzey and Andrew Linzey, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, co-authors of An Ethical Critique of Fur Factory Farming to see what they say.


It is estimated that around 100 million animals are killed by the fur industry each year. It is hard to be exact, as many countries only count the pelts produced not the number of animals killed, and some countries do not keep count at all. Almost all fur comes from fur factory farms. Animals are kept in rows of barren wire cages in open-sided sheds. A typical cage for a fox measures just 0.8 metres squares or two and a half feet squared. 

Dr Clair Linzey

Comforting labels 

Labels such as “Welfur” and “Furmark” are tools used by the fur industry to suggest that the animals killed for their fur live a good life beforehand. The reality is sadly far from a good life. On the contrary, the fur factory farm system is inherently inhumane. It causes suffering either mental or physical, or both. Welfur, the best welfare standard the industry provides, does not prevent the infliction of major harms on animals, such as unhealed injuries, half tails missing, and severely bent feet.


After a life spent entirely in close confinement, unable to exercise their natural behaviours, they are inhumanely killed. Most killing in fur farms is done by electrocution, gassing, neck breaking, or poison. Once recent study of fur farming in China found foxes were being electrocuted, beaten and skinned alive. 


Environmental impact

It is not just the sentient animals that are affected by the choice to support the fur industry. Fur has a huge environmental impact, far worse than faux fur. Scientific studies indicate that fur farming contaminates the water supplies in the area surrounding the farms. While all textile production has an environmental impact, fur farming is one of the worst. A 2011 Delft report concluded that the environmental impact of mink fur was two to twenty-eight times higher than other common textiles. Moreover, studies have found that the process of treating the fur to make it a wearable textile, involves exposing humans to toxic chemicals with long term health implications.

Andrew Linzey

Human health

Fur farming also has a large impact on human public health as demonstrated by the recent pandemic. Fur farms were some of the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the animals are kept in such close conditions, that the virus spread easily from one animal to another. The worst COVID-19 outbreak hit mink farms in Denmark, which suspended mink fur farming until 2022, and embarked on a massive programme of “culling” (killing) fur farmed mink. The decision was taken to kill 17 million mink as more than one in five farms were revealed to have been infected. Many other countries also saw COVID-19 spread in their fur farms including the US, and nine other EU member states. 


Although the fur industry has been impacted by the resulting legislation banning fur production and sales in some parts of the world, there are still millions in cages. By choosing not to buy fur, consumers can choose not to support this inhumane industry. Although fur farming is banned in Britain, we can help end the fur trade, by encouraging law makers to end the import of fur.



In ethical terms, to show that something is necessary requires more than a simple appeal to what is fashionable, or even desirable. Human wants do not by themselves constitute moral necessity. Some ethicists hold that deliberately causing animals suffering is intrinsically wrong. Others hold that the good procured must be essential and that no alternative means are available. Some also hold that because humans are moral agents capable of knowing right and wrong, we should not be the kind of people to cause animal suffering.  Such actions damage ourselves, inter alia, through desensitisation. Viewed from each of these perspectives it can be seen immediately that fur farming fails basic moral tests. The wearing of fur, while conceivably pleasant, fashionable, or even desirable, cannot reasonably be defined as essential. Fur is a luxury item.



Fur does not just kill sentient animals, it ruins the environment, and puts humans at risk of further zoonotic pandemics, and toxic chemicals. When there are other fashionable alternatives to fur, there really is no reason to support this cruel industry.


Since fur is a luxury, vanity product, the most fashionable and ethical choice possible is to not buy fur.



Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey direct the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. They are also the authors of An Ethical Critique of Fur Factory Farming.

phone food photography tips



We don’t spam!

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active

Who we are

Suggested text: Our website address is:


Suggested text: When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection. An anonymized string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.


Suggested text: If you upload images to the website, you should avoid uploading images with embedded location data (EXIF GPS) included. Visitors to the website can download and extract any location data from images on the website.


Suggested text: If you leave a comment on our site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year. If you visit our login page, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser. When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select "Remember Me", your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed. If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.

Embedded content from other websites

Suggested text: Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website. These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Who we share your data with

Suggested text: If you request a password reset, your IP address will be included in the reset email.

How long we retain your data

Suggested text: If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognize and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue. For users that register on our website (if any), we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

What rights you have over your data

Suggested text: If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

Where your data is sent

Suggested text: Visitor comments may be checked through an automated spam detection service.
Save settings
Cookies settings