Dog Ear Cropping: Should You Have Your Dog’s Ears Cropped?

Dog ear cropping is plagued with issues and controversies. The practice has been labeled unnecessary and cruel, yet many dog enthusiasts continue to have the procedure done on their dogs. 

Dog Ear Cropping - Boxer Dog with cropped ears

Dogs have different ear shapes and sizes. Dachshunds, Labradors, Poodles, Rottweilers, and many other dog breeds have floppy ears. German Shepherds, Corgis, and Siberian Huskies are born with naturally upright ears. However, some dogs with floppy ears, such as Great Danes, Pit Bulls, and Doberman Pinschers, generally undergo ear-cropping procedures to meet their breed standards and attain the desirable appearance of their breed.  

Dog ear cropping or otoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the pinna, which is a part of the outer ear.  The procedure is unrestricted in the United States. But some veterinarians refuse to do ear cropping services. And some who do only does the procedure if the puppy is less than 4 months-old or if the puppy is less than 20 pounds. Dog ear cropping can cost between $150 and $650. 

Dog Breeds Fit To Undergo Ear Cropping

Dog breeds that are known to traditionally known to have cropped ears include the following. 

Reasons for Dog Ear Cropping 

Line of work 

Dogs were bred to serve different purposes. Even each dog breed’s appearance is intended to look the way they are fit to do a certain task. For example, Dachshunds were made short and long so they could dig holes and crawl to badger burrows.  

Luckily, the desired appearance that works well for their purpose is attainable genetically. However, that isn’t the case for other dog breeds. For this reason, breeders had to find a way to alter the looks of their dogs to give them an advantage for their line of work or decrease the chance of getting in trouble while they are on the job.  

One good example is the Great Dane, who was originally bred to hunt boars. The ears of these giant dogs were cropped to prevent them from getting ripped by wild boars during a hunt.  

Another example is the Doberman Pinscher, a dog that was bred for guarding and protection. Doberman ears were traditionally cropped to make their appearance more intimidating and scare potential attackers.  

Bull-baiting dogs, herding dogs, and dogs who were used to fight before also had their ears cropped. Cropping was done to prevent the dogs’ ears from getting easily hurt, torn, or ripped by attackers – whether it’s an opposing dog or flock predators. 

Enhance hearing 

When a dog has floppy ears, the extra length of his ears hinders his hearing ability. In contrast, dogs with upright or cropped ears can hear the sounds directly – enabling them to move their ears and locate sources of sounds easily.  

Preventing health problems 

Many dog owners and breeders feel doing so decreases the risk of ear infections and hematoma 

To keep breeds’ traditional appearance 

Nowadays, dogs are generally bred for companionship and not for the purpose they are bred. Great Danes generally do not hunt boars anymore. Dog-fighting has been banned in several countries, too. Hence, the need to crop the ears of breeds are no longer necessary. 

However, dogs’ ear cropping is still done among to keep their breed’s traditional appearance and perform in dog shows in countries where ear cropping hasn’t been banned. 

Controversy Around Dog Ear Cropping 

Dog ear cropping can be painful and it can put dogs at unnecessary risk, especially when dogs undergoing ear cropping need to be anesthetized. Because this procedure causes unnecessary pain and risks in dogs, organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Humane Society, have long been protesting against cosmetic dog ear cropping. They urge lawmakers to make the procedure illegal unless it is “medically necessary.” 

Dog lovers around the country have also been pressuring the American Kennel Club to ban ear cropping and tail docking as well. But the AKC has backed these practices – stating that ear cropping and tail docking is integral in “defining and preserving” breeds and their appearance. The kennel club has also added that the practice helps enhance the health and senses of the breeds.  

In fact, some countries have banned the practice. Some countries even made it illegal to own dogs with cropped ears even if the cropping didn’t happen inside their country. Countries that banned the practice include Austria, Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, South Africa and more. 

Dog Ear Cropping: Should You Have Your Puppy’s Ears Cropped?

The decision to crop your puppy’s ears lies in you and you alone. Your decision should be based on rationality – why you consider having the procedure done and the risks dog ear cropping can bring to your pet. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? 

If you are hesitant to have your dog’s ears cropped, do not fret. More and more pet owners are starting to love the “natural look.” In fact, there is a social media trend called “Let ‘em flop,” wherein many Pit-bull owners encourage other pet parents to allow their dogs have naturally floppy ears. 

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