Myths About Dog Ear Cropping
Recently, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has considered the practice of ear cropping for cosmetic purposes only, medically unnecessary, and therefore has opposed its practice. While the battle has been going on for quite a while, the AVMA is now directly attempting to ask breed clubs within the AKC to eliminate both ear cropping and tail docking practices from breed standards.
More and more veterinarians are recently refusing to crop ears. The reason why many veterinarians oppose to it is because they consider the practice unnecessary and painful. Not to mention the fact that not all ear croppings have a happy ending. In some cases, the ears may not ''stand'' as owners may like. This scenario creates frustrating situations for both veterinarians and owners.
The AKC still seems to have trouble accepting that ear cropping is really only for cosmetic purposes. They claim the practice of ear cropping and tail docking is “integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health.'' Unfortunately, this is far from true. There are absolutely no real medical benefits when it comes to cropping ears.
Rather, in some cases, complications may arise from the ear cropping practice itself. Ears may get infected, the pinna may not stay erect as wished, there may be bleeding, not to mention the risks associated with putting a puppy under general anesthesia for just cosmetic purposes.
Did you know?
Victorian painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer refused to paint any animal with cropped ears. He considered them as "injured in point of health and beauty." (Source: Leonardo’s Choice: Genetic Technologies and Animals)
Myths and Reasons Why Ear Cropping is Still Practiced
1) It Prevents Ear Infections
Some people may claim that upright ears tend to develop less ear infections. First of all, if this was true, cropping ears for this sole purpose would be an exaggerated preventive method.
Because all tissues have the potential for infections, this would translate into cutting toes, appendages, and tails for the simple fact of preventing infection. It is also not uncommon for dogs with cropped ears to develop ear infections because ear infections set in for a variety of reasons.
On top of this, according to American Veterinary Medical Association it would be inaccurate to make claims that dogs with floppy ears are more likely to develop ear infections. A predisposition to ear infections should be looked at a breed-by-breed basis. Interestingly, one of the dog breeds most predisposed to ear infections is the German shepherd which ironically is equipped with erect ears!
The AVMA explains that while some dogs breeds, such as the Dalmatian and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog were cropped in this past, once this tradition waned, there were no apparent detrimental effects. The AVMA therefore concludes that " it cannot be assumed that ear cropping has a medical purpose."
2) It is a Standard of the Breed
Dogs are born with full length ears as a result of domestication and because humans have been selectively breeding dogs for specific looks and purposes. Like it or not, floppy ears have become a part of the package.
Humans though as spoiled and fastidious beings have decided that those floppy ears are a big no-no and therefore after crafting some breeds in a certain way have decided to subject them to cosmetic surgeries. Dogs though shouldn't be treated as objects that we can morph on a whim with drastic measures just because we don't like something about them.
But it's the breed standard! Well, if a dog is born with floppy ears because that's how we bred them to be, who are we to decide one day that it's no longer acceptable? More and more dog owners are straying away from standards because they have no purpose. Most dogs are no longer working dogs and fortunately dog fighting is outlawed in most places. So unless you are planning to show your dog in the ring and plan to win a lot of trophies, what's the purpose?
Dog owners who refuse to crop and dock tails have come to appreciate their dogs for who they truly are.
3) A Boxer (Or Other Cropped-Ear Breed) Is Not a Boxer with Full-Length Ears
People and breeders really have grown accustomed to cropped ears. They associate them with the breed standard. They have been fixated on the idea that pinnas must be erect, and they believe that refraining from having them that way makes their dogs look like half a dog. They fear changes and they feel their dog breed is stripped from its dignity and breed status. They are perhaps also afraid to be ridulculized by others.
Yet, humanity evolves, and often for the better. Jets fly faster, we reach out to others with a click of a mouse, we talk from different countries. The day may also come where dogs will be different from what they are now. We may look back and think of how naïve they looked without tails and without ear tips. We may actually laugh at our mistakes, just as the first cars developed made us smile.
4) Ear Cropping Is Like Getting Ears Pierced
Ear piercing is to ear cropping like an injection to an arm is to an arm amputation. There is really a lot of differences. Ear piercing requires no anesthesia, whereas ear cropping requires total general anesthesia. Ear piercing consists of a little needle prick and the procedure is over. Ear cropping consists of general anesthesia and weeks of recovery and bandages. People would not get their ears pierced as often if they had to go through general anesthesia and getting almost more than half their ear chopped off!
5) Ear Cropping Is Like Spaying and Neutering
Many pro ear croppers, when confronted with the unnecessary practice of ear cropping, may state that if the practice is considered painful, then people must not spay or neuter their pets. However, there is a big difference in this scenario.
Spaying and neutering can help prevent some diseases such as testicular cancer and pyometra. More of all, it prevents hundreds of dogs to be euthanized because of the pet overpopulation problem. If you visit a shelter, you will see how many dogs are put to sleep a day, and that is disgusting until we as humans learn to be responsible owners.
Interestingly, some exemplary countries have started to not neuter and yet, they are not contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. This is because they are being very responsible and adamant in not letting their dogs roam free.
6) Owners Have a Right to Crop Ears
Sure, you can crop your dog's ears, but what is the purpose? It's not medically necessary. You are not going to show your dog in the ring. Who cares what others think? If you just like the look, admit it's for that purpose. Don't come up with millions of excuses just to justify that.
However, consider that dogs are not fashion accessories and shouldn't be primarily used to boost a human's ego. Ear cropping is taken seriously and banned in many countries nowadays. The right was taken away in these countries because the practice interferes with the dog's well being and has been deemed unnecessary.
Dogs use ears for communication, and dogs cropped very shortly (think battle crop) no longer can use them to communicate effectively. These dogs also have little protection against bugs and other irritants from entering the ear canal.
7) Ear Cropping Is Not Painful
There is proof that the procedure is not a walk in the park. Pain meds are often prescribed for recovery. Puppies may yelp as they hit their ears against furniture. They are obliged to wear cones for many weeks to allow the ears to stand up correctly. Owners and breeders often may say that their dogs act normally but dogs are very well known for their stoicism. And since dogs cannot talk, it is unfair to presume that they are free of pain.
8) Ear Cropping Helps Dogs Hear Better
You may have heard that many dog breeds are cropped to help them be good guard dogs and to therefore hear better. How true is this? Well, it may help to a minimum perhaps. An ear flap shouldn't impact hearing to a significant extent of making dogs with floppy ears poor guardians, just like having humans can still hear if they have long hair in front of their ears.
But don't take my word for this: consider that there are amazing guardian dogs such as Rottweilers who have floppy ears and are alert to all noises.
9) There Are More Important Factors to Consider
It is true, the Animal Welfare Organization may focus on bigger issues than ear cropping. But then why should owners spend so much money for dog cosmetic surgery when they can donate to shelters or other charities? There are so many more proficuous ways to spend money other than turning dogs into fashion accessories.
Ears have a function and there is a reason why dogs were born with a complete set of ears. Floppy ears help prevent water from going into the ear canal and protect the ears from insects and burrs and other irritants.
Dogs need their ears to effectively communicate their feelings, keep debris and bugs away and last but not least as a statement of who they are and who they were meant to be.
More and more dogs are showing their full length ears and long tails as owners and breeders are educated about the disadvantages and uneccessity of ear cropping.
Did you know?
According to a 2016 study, "Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions" dogs with cropped ears and docked tails appear to be negatively perceived by the public and this same negative perception carries over to the dog's owners.
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.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli