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The Truth About Cropping a Dog's Ears

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The Natural World Explorers Society is dedicated to exploring, understanding, protecting, and enjoying nature.

A Doberman Pinscher puppy with its ears taped.

A Doberman Pinscher puppy with its ears taped.

Do Dogs' Ears Need to Be Cropped?

Ear cropping is an all too common practice with dogs. This is especially true for Boxers, Great Danes, Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bull Terriers, Miniature Pinscher, Manchester Terriers, Bouvier des Flanders, Neapolitan Mastiffs, and Affenpinschers. Many people debate whether this procedure is right for their dog, and will use the internet to help make their decision. It is my hope that this article will sway people against ear cropping.

Are There Any Benefits to Cropping a Dog's Ears?

Despite what some people believe, cropping the ears does not reduce a dog’s chances of getting ear infections. The floppy ears of a dog are nature's way of protecting the ear from insects, water, and dirt. A dog’s hearing will not be improved by cropping the ears. Barring an injury, there is no medical reason for ear cropping. It is a cosmetic procedure for people who want to change their pet’s natural appearance.

Are Cropped Ears More Beautiful or Natural?

Some people feel cropping gives a breed its “standard” look. However, this standard look is not natural at all. We debate the “standard” look all the time in our human lives. People who are having plastic surgery to stay younger and only end up looking alien in appearance. Then there are those who augment their body parts, only to have people mock how “unnatural” they look. We humans put ourselves through these painful procedures in order to reach these arbitrary standards of beauty and then as a society we debate the morality of forcing these narrow notions of beauty on others. Why should we force our perceived views of beauty on our pets who have no voice.

Would you want somebody to force you into plastic surgery because you didn’t meet their standards of beauty?

Potential Complications of Cropping a Dog's Ears

Just how plastic surgery can go horribly wrong in humans, the same is true for animals. In any type of procedure there is the potential for complications. Just because you want to achieve the standard look in your pet, does not mean you are guaranteed it. Look at those Hollywood stars who spend millions of dollars, only to have their lips get a little too big, their facial features become uneven or their skin no longer fits on their face. If the dogs cartilage in the pinna is too thin to support the weight of the ear or the ear is set too low on the head, the procedure will not work. If the ear crop was too long or scar tissue forms along the ear margin, the standard look you were hoping for will not happen and the pain the animal endures from surgery will have been for nothing. In some cases more serious side effects, like gangrene, may occur.

Would you still love your dog if the procedure doesn’t take? Why are you doing it then?

Beyond the physical pain, there is the emotional trauma that animals go through. Many dogs undergo a dramatic change in their personality after the surgery. They can become more aggressive or overly timid. This can be especially true when people approach their head or ears. Think of all the dogs you have seen getting a good scratch behind the ears. Not only are the dogs loving it, but you can see the joy in the person sharing this tender moment with their furry companion.

Would you rather have a dog with ears sticking up, or a dog you can scratch behind the ears as he leans up against you?

Cropping a Dog's Ears: What Is Lost

As any animal behaviorist or even human communication expert will tell you, body language is extremely important in communication. This is particularly true in animals that do not possess the complex verbal language skills of humans. A dog can communicate a lot of information to other animals and people by using their ears. When dogs stick their ears up, down, forward or in any combination they are telling us something. By cropping a dog’s ear, you are crippling one of their communication methods.

Would you limit your ability to communicate for beauty?

Do I look happy?

Do I look happy?

Before Ear-Cropping Surgery

When done professionally, this is a surgery. (I am assuming nobody reading this article would ever consider disfiguring their pet through illegal cropping methods.) As with any procedure the patient will not be allowed to eat for 12 hours before the operation. This is done to prevent vomiting or aspiration while while the patient is under sedation.

A dog will not understand why he/she is being starved.

The Surgery

Once the patient has been sedated, an incision will be made from the top of the ear and move down till it reaches close to the head. The ear is then stitched together and disinfected. A firm piece of material is then secured around the head and ears.

The dog may be under for the procedure, but if you sliced your ear off would it stop hurting the moment they stop cutting or continue hurting well after surgery?

Recovery After the Surgery

The dog’s ears will hurt, they will bleed for a few days, and the dog will continually try to remove the brace and bandages. The brace will have to stay on for 21 days as you disinfect and clean the wounds on the ears twice a day. After 7 days you will return to the vet, so that the stitches can be removed. If adequate care at the proper times is not met, chances are the surgery will not be successful.

Are you willing to put your beloved pet through all that pain? Are you able to be vigilant for 3 weeks as your pet recovers?

Sources

PetMD

Wikipedia

Vetinfo.com

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.

Comments

Mmm on August 16, 2020:

This artical was definitely written by a veagan.

Chris on June 29, 2020:

Not sure how you obtained your knowledge but sorry, through experience you are wrong. Ive cropped all 13 of my dobermans that ive had through the years. None of them tried to remove the "posts" (correct term) They showed no signs of pain! In fact that same night they were up playing. As for being starved, if they were, you are right they would not understand, however, for example my dogs eat twice a day evening and morning. I my vet always does his crops first thing in the morning, My dogs are fed as soon as they come home. The bleeding for a few days, nope! Not if the vet knows what he is doing.

I agree with Kat, below......Your assessment comes from lack of experience with a cropped dog!

Kat on February 20, 2020:

Floppy ears are domesticated not natural as seen in any wild canine, wolf, fox, Coyote, ect.

The surgery is preformed so young and with cartlidge unhardened, they do not feel it and are medicated so they don't feel it post surgery.

They do not become timid or aggressive after surgery, and 95% of the time they don't care that they're wearing a cone or bandages.

Bandaging is a bonding experience with the owner and dog where they receive plenty of those "ear rubs" you think they didn't get. Mine love getting their ears reposted.

As said it's no different than the majority of people that circumcise their children.

Dr. B on September 24, 2019:

The article has a very obvious bias and makes comparisons that are not equivalent. Plastic surgery and ear clipping is comparing apples to oranges.

MB on November 07, 2018:

Upright ears are natural. It is because of domestication that the ears are floppy.

Jason on April 02, 2018:

No different than us humans circumcising our young males. The dogs are young babies just like our kids when they get cut. Always get my dogs ears cropped and in two weeks their healed.

Anthony on October 25, 2017:

A good article. Thanks for giving me these things to think about.