How Dog Ear Cropping Is Done
Ears perform some vital functions for dogs. They are powerful hearing devices and effective means of communication. In certain breeds, they are floppy to protect the vulnerable ear drums from invading insects or rain. In others, they are raised high on the top of the head to function as state-of-the-art hearing aids. So when the question "Should a dog's ears be mutilated?" arises, the answer should be a bold and loud "NO" even if only the ear tips would be affected.
After all, would you, as a sound of mind human, want your ears chopped off? Unless there would be a good medical reason, the answer should ba a loud and bold "NO" as well. The worse fact is that ear cropping in dogs are performed mainly for aesthetic reasons.
Having worked at a veterinarian hospital, I remember my first encounter with an ear cropping case. A couple had scheduled an appointment with me to have their Pitbull terrier's ears clipped. Unknowingly, I thought the dog's ears needed the hair clipped so I scheduled it as a normal appointment. When the owner asked me how long it would take and I told them 15 minutes, they looked very surprised. Only after taking them in the room have I realized they were really referring to an ear crop! That was embarrassingly the day I learned about this uneccessary procedure.
After that famous day, I have witnessed various ear croppings. Aside from the sadness of seeing those precious ear tips fall to the ground, I noticed that recovery was often hastened by complications and that sometimes the ears would not stand up as requested, necessitating further surgeries to correct the unwanted floppiness.
While ear croppings are not strictly dictated by many AKC breed standards, dogs of certain breeds with uncropped ears are often severely penalized, This makes it sound like if a Doberman does not comply with this standard, it is denied the right to be called a Doberman.
Breeds Affected by the Ear Cropping Trend
- Great Danes
- Doberman pinschers
- Miniature pinschers
- American Pit bull Terriers
A Closer Look Into the Procedure
In order for ear croppings to be effective, puppies must undergo this procedure at a very tender age, usually between 7-12 weeks old. General anesthesia is performed and comes with the potential risks involved in operating on such young pups. About 2/3 of the ear is removed during the procedure along with important nerve endings. Stitches are then applied throughout the cut and the pup's ears will have to be bandaged for several weeks.
Ear cropping is not an easy procedure. Not many vets are trained on how to perform them appropriately and abiding to the breed's standards. Bandaging to maintain the erect position may be necessary for extended periods of time post surgery. Many times these bandages will need to be checked and replaced by the veterinarian every week. Worse, the procedure comes with its usual risks such as the risks of general anesthesia and post surgery complications.
Ears may develop infections or bleeding. On rare occasions, they may need to be amputated should major complications arise.
A dog with cropped ears will have painful and sensitive ears for weeks following surgery. Some may develop phantom pains just as any amputated body part. Regardless of the expensive and unneccessary surgery, there still are no guarantees on the success rate of the procedure.
A common alarmed call I used to get was from owners concerned that, post ear cropping, their pup's ears were still not standing up. I have witnessed owners putting so much emphasis on keeping those ears straight up that they have actually caused more problems in their pups than necessary. I have heard of owners giving extra calcium supplements along with vitamin D to increase the ear's portability, only to have created major growth problems due to over supplementation.
Banning Ear Cropping
It comes as no surprise that the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals has focused on banning ear cropping and tail docking. According to Wikipedia, England and Wales have effectively set an example by considering these illegal practices to such an extent that dogs with cropped ears are actually prohibited from entering in any Kennel club event!
Of course, with the practice of ear cropping comes a multitude of people defending this practice. Excuses include medical benefits of lowering chances of ear infections and general injuries. Such excuses are unacceptable and unethical. Of course, the less of an ear means the less of a chance of ear problems and so forth. If we would adhere to such excuses, then we can cut off toes to lessen the chances of pododermtitis, we we cut off tails to lessen the chances of tail infections and so forth in a mutilation spree of body parts.
Others may state the procedure is not painful to the pup. Of course, while under surgery there will be no pain, but there is strong evidence of pain upon awakening from the anaesthesia and during recovery as the pup yelps as it bumps his ears against surfaces. It is no wonder why vets offer the option of taking home pain meds when the dog is discharged from the hospital after an ear cropping.
Ear cropping for cosmetic reasons is really unacceptable.
Dogs are not fashion accessories. Dogs are living creatures. They deserve to have their ears the way nature intended to. As humans we have no right whatsoever on deciding on their behalf, especially for futile cosmetic reasons. My verdict is therefore that ear croppings should not only not be permitted but should actually be illegal. Dogs have ears for a reason. By cropping them, we are not listening to nature's will.
Viewer Discretion Advised
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.