dog ear cropping

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

Dog ear cropping is the practice of removing part of a dog’s outer ear so that they stand erect. Doberman ear cropping is extremely common and is how they get their unique look. Other dogs that often have the procedure performed on them are Pitbulls or pugs.

Historically, it was a procedure that was carried out to diminish health complications through ear infections but also to minimize any hurt coming to working dogs that were likely to be bitten by other livestock, or even in dogfights with other canines. It is believed that some cultures even started the practice to make their dogs look more wolf-like to protect them from that very species. In Boxers, it was often carried out with the intention of improving their hearing by removing much of the outer ear flap. It was a procedure that was often carried out by fairly rudimentary and blunt equipment so much so that puppies were often left with no ears at all. These days, laser ear clipping can be used to complete the procedure.

Clipping dog ears has long been a controversial topic. Some countries now ban the practice though it is still performed in many places around the globe, either surgically or by performing laser ear cropping which has been thought to improve a dog’s ears’ healing time.

So should you have your dog’s ears clipped? Here we look at several reasons why the practice should not take place.

cropped ear dog

It is Essentially a Form of a Plastic Surgery

The reasons that clipping dog ears are so controversial is that it often appears that the sole point of clipping them is purely for aesthetic reasons. In that light, there is a much-supported school of thought that there is simply no real medical reason to clip a dog’s ears. It is thought that people want to have their dog’s ears clipped as that is what has been done in the past to make certain breeds look like certain breeds.

Therefore, by putting your dog through the procedure of ear clipping or ear cropping, owners are subjecting their dog to an unnecessary surgery and general anesthetic. This is akin to plastic surgery given that the procedure is not for any other reason but how a dog will look afterward. Bearing this in mind, owners should never make their dogs undergo the procedure lightly.

It Does not Help Fight Ear Infections

Many vets dispute the much claimed medical benefits that dogs receive from having the surgery carried out. Many that want the procedure are under false pretences that it will protect their dog from future ear infections, particularly if they have a Great Dane, Doberman or Miniature Schnauzer. In fact, these breeds are not the breeds that commonly suffer from ear infections – ears cropped or not. Instead, spaniels, who rarely have their ears clipped, suffer from ear infections so it is a bit of a misnomer to put a Great Dane under the knife with the intention of preventing future pain.

Most vets would refute the medical benefit claims as all breeds are susceptible to ear infections and clipping ears have not been seen to help fight ear infections in any way. It is, therefore, again, seen as a totally pointless procedure that puts a dog’s well being at risk with zero benefits to them.

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It Further Popularizes the Practice

Most of us buy a dog as we love their company and character. Some go one further however and buy a dog because they are a fashionable accessory to have if the breed that is chosen is considered stylish or chic at that moment in time. This has a direct impact on ear clipping as it means that some dogs are purchased with the sole purpose of looking a particular way.

This is the problem with fashionable dogs that are required to look a certain way to fit the mold. It means that owners often undergo the unnecessary procedure simply so their dog looks best when walking down the street with them on the latest must-have lead.

Again this is pointless and quite at the detriment of a dog’s health and general well being. It is with certain breeds that this ear cropping with fashion in mind is most common. Doberman ear cropping, miniature schnauzer ear cropping, and great dane ear cropping are all breeds that seem to have to undergo this procedure more than other dogs out there.

Given that it is for looks only and our pets have no say in the matter, it is a shame to make a living creature go through pain simply for what we think looks better.

cane corso cropped ear

There is a Black Market for the Procedure

The cost of dog ear cropping can vary as so few reputable vets will perform the operation without a valid medical reason. Therefore the sky’s the limit in terms of the cost of dog ear cropping for those that perform the procedure – either legally or illegally. This fuels the black market for such a procedure and means you can put your dog at further risk by having the act carried out by someone who is not properly trained. This increases the chance of infection in your dog afterward and that can lead to more painful procedures at the vet, not to mention costly veterinary bills for you.

In the States, where ear cropping is still legal, the procedure is not taught at veterinary school. This means that even in a medically developed nation such as America, vets have to find their way to learn the surgery on the job. This is just a small indication of how dangerous the surgery can be.

It’s an Elective Surgery

There are some that will argue that ear cropping ear clipping is as much an elective surgery as that of neutering a male dog or spaying a bitch. This is a fairly short-sighted view as it negates the point that there is simply no greater reason for the procedure of ear cropping to occur in the first place. Given that the chance of ear infections are not diminished in dogs that have had their ears clipped, and that many people simply have it performed to make their dog look a certain way, it is obtuse to say that it is akin to having a dog neutered.

Neutering and spaying have a wealth of benefits other than eradicating negative behavior in the form of humping, disobedience, and aggression. Neutering helps keep dog stray numbers down and therefore diseases between dogs are reduced. Amongst many other benefits.

The same simply cannot be said of ear clipping.

It Does Not Always Work

Not only is the surgical procedure pointless, but additionally it sometimes does not work either. Owners have their dog’s ears clipped so that they stand on end – almost to attention.

However, even after clipping dogs’ ears not ears will stand to attention owing to a weakness in the cartilage or for other reasons. This is made worse by the fact that these procedures are often carried out by those who are not properly trained and are simply trying to make a quick buck. If they knew what they were doing mistakes like cropping the ear in the wrong place so the ear still remains too heavy to stand on end, or by not knowing that a dog’s ears are too low down their skull to ever stand erect on their own – cropping or not.

The results can therefore not be guaranteed so again, it makes owners guilty of putting their dogs through unnecessary pain for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

It Helps Promote Puppy Farms

Puppy farms are growing in notoriety as places that breed dogs in unsanitary conditions with little attention being paid to either the puppies and their health or their mother’s.

Bitches are often made to become pregnant too frequently, which is bad for their own bodies but also means that the very puppies that they bear have to be taken away from their mothers far too early. This means that those puppies are then likely to be poorly through malnourishment.

american staffordshire cropped ear

Puppy farms, particularly ones that produce Dobermans, are often the culprits who perform dog ear clippings as they are the places that are more likely to ignore the health and safety of a dog all in the name of making more money when they come to sell a puppy. By not tolerating ear clipping, there is a cut down on the need for dogs that are deemed in fashion or as stylish. As such, this will consequently cut down on the demand for such dogs from puppy farms.

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It Can Cause Psychological Damage

Surgery is extremely stressful and anxiety-ridden time for dogs. As they cannot understand what is happening to them, the act of purely going somewhere and being put under anesthetic is difficult enough for them to get over. However, even when the anesthetic is administered, it can be a nerve-wracking time for them. That’s not to mention the recovery and healing process that they then consequently go through to get over the procedure.

Having ears clipped is exceptionally painful and sometimes dogs have to suffer further by having their ears placed into splints to encourage further standing up of their ears. It means your dog could be in constant pain if you choose to have their ears cropped. And this is before the risk of infection from the very surgery itself is taken into consideration. This is a massive danger and one of the reasons that vets don’t undertake any surgical procedure lightly.

It is another reason that so many veterinary professionals do not advocate ear cropping in any form, at any stage, in any breed.

Creates and Perpetuates Stereotypes

One of the reasons that Doberman ear cropping is popular is because people like their Doberman dog to look like they think they should. This will often be because they buy into the stereotype that when they have their ears cropped and they then consequently always point North, they look fiercer. This fierce look is what so many Dobermans are bought for.

This is an excellent reason not to have a dog’s ears cropped. By doing so, owners are guilty of perpetuating stereotypes that encourage further unnecessary ear clipping in dogs. Therefore, by going against the norm and not requiring certain breeds to look certain ways, dog owners can help prevent pointless suffering in animals through a practice that so many governments and animal experts deem as nothing short of animal cruelty.

doberman cropped ear

It’s hard therefore to find any reason to condone dog ear clipping. The reason it is banned in so many countries by so many governments across the globe is that it amounts to animal cruelty and is totally unnecessary.

Any surgical procedure should always be carried out having taken into account the benefits in the face of all the risks. As such, surgery is so often conducted as a last resort for medical problems given that it can be so dangerous in dogs. Bearing that in mind, having a surgical procedure such as ear cropping that has absolutely no benefits to the dog, means that having it performed on a pet canine is ultimately totally unnecessary and taking your dog’s life into your own hands for purely selfish, aesthetic reasons.

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Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.