What is Ear Cropping?
Ear cropping is where they remove a portion of the dogs natural ears and then teach them to stand erect so it creates a well defined polished look to the dog. Ear Cropping is a cosmetic surgery, which means it's sole purpose is to produce a certain look. Ear Cropping is a highly controversy topic full of heated debates. One of the "arguments" is that ear cropping has NO health benefits. Yet there are many who claim that dogs with cropped ears are less likely to have chronic ear infections, especially if the dog spends alot of time in water such as swimming. The veterinarian in the video below talks about how dogs with their ears cropped are less likely to get injured in a fight, sporting activities or any other outdoor sport. With all that said, most veterinarians will say Ear Cropping has NO health benefits as is cosmetic only. Who's right? We'll let you decide.
Is Ear Cropping a Surgery?
Yes, ear cropping is a surgery that should be performed UNDER anesthesia BY A licensed veterinarian who has a sterile surgical environment, proper surgical equipment, artist eye, an interest in this procedure, understands the type of crop for each of the breed standards and most importantly has been to medical school and are trained surgeons. Breeders should NOT be doing "home-crops." Breeders are NOT anesthesiologists. Breeders have NOT gone to medical school to receive their doctor degree. Breeders are NOT surgeons. Breeders do NOT have a proper sterile surgical environment. Yet, sadly, there are breeders who are attempting to preform ear crop surgery on their puppies while they are awake! These are called "home-crops" where the breeder just cuts off the ear at their house or breeding facility. Yes, the puppy is awake the entire time with NO anesthesia or pain meds. They just cut the ears off with products like scissors, sharp knives and other household appliances while someone holds and forces the puppy down. It's bloody, extremely painful and a very inhumane procedure. If you see a puppy that is less then 8 weeks old with it's ears cropped then you know the breeder has cropped the puppies ears because NO reputable vet in the United States is going to do an ear crop surgery on a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old with the exception of Great Danes. They are the only breed we've heard of where a vet sometimes does them at 7 weeks old.
What is the Process to Crop Ears?
As with all surgeries, the puppy will need to fast for 12 hours before the surgery. So do NOT give your puppy any food or water after dinner the night before. Food and water can cause vomiting which puts the "sedated dog" at great risk for aspiration (when they inhale the vomit). Most likely you will drop off the puppy at the hospital in the morning and the puppy will probably spend the night so the vet can monitor its recovery. During the surgery the veterinarian will measure & mark the ears where the incisions will be made. After the ears are cut and shaped, they are disinfected & stitched up. A "rack" or even an inverted paper cup is often placed on the puppies head with some cotton protecting the ears while they are taped over & around the pets head. By securing the ears to the rack or cup, it will start training the ears to stand up in the "alert" position. The ears must be taped or racked correctly, otherwise, you will train the ears to stand incorrectly and that can ruin the entire look of the dog so do NOT try and tape or rack the ears yourself. If the tape or rack fall off (which is usually does) then you have to go back and have the vet re-due it. The after care is much more detailed, precise, and time-involved then a lot of people think. The puppy is usually sent home with some pain medicine and ear ointment that will help prevent the ear from getting infected and also reduce that itchy feeling they get which makes them scratch at their ears.
What is the Aftercare Involved?
The aftercare is very time-involved and you must be dedicated. The ear cropping surgery just shapes the ears, after the surgery is over you will need to train the ears to stand erect. It's important to understand that How the ears are handled during this training time will make a significant difference in the overall finished look you end up with. Even if the vet crops them perfectly ~ you can end up with a bad looking ear crop if your lazy in following through with all the weekly aftercare. And yes, even if you do every thing perfectly the ears can still NOT turn out right. As with any surgery, you always take a risk. So before you crop your puppies ears make sure you are committed to doing the following: Usually (1) week to 10 days after the surgery the dog will have to go back to the vets to get the stitches out but the rack or cup is left on. If you wait even a couple of days to remove the stitches, you can cause scarring to the ears. Then (1) week after the stitches are removed you go back to the vets and take the rack or cup off. At that time the vet will usually start taping the ears. They can not begin the taping process until the edge of the ear has healed to a certain point, otherwise they can cause irreversible damage. The tape should be tight enough to hold, but not so tight it cuts off circulation to the ear, otherwise you can run the risk of the tissue dying & even have the ear (literally) drop off! Yes, that is correct - if you leave the tape on too long or too tight it will kill the ear and fall off. So following the proper procedures is very critical. Do NOT try to tape the ears up yourself unless you have been trained, if you don't tape the ears properly, the ears will not stand up properly. You will continue to take the pet in every single week to have the ears cleaned, disinfected and re-taped until they stand on their own perfectly. If the tape falls off at all during the week, immediately take the pet back to the vets so you don't lose that precious groundwork. Once the ears appear to be standing perfectly on their own, the vets office will remove the tape. However, in the beginning it's common for them to stand up great for a short time after they take the tape off, but then later that day, or even a day or two one or both of the ears start falling again. When this happens, you have to immediately take the pet back to the vets to get them taped up right away. Try not to get frustrated as this is all normal and part of the process. Every dog is different in how long it will take. Some dogs ears are standing beautifully on their own in just a few weeks, others can take months & every once in awhile we still see families tapping upto a year old! Yes, In some cases the ears may never stand and some vet's suggest a 2nd ear crop to correct it, but rarely do those ever work either. Once the damage is done, it's extremley hard (if not nearly impossible) to correct it. We've added some pictures below to show you visually examples of what all this looks like.
Where Do I Find a Veterinarian that Will Crop Ears?
Ear Cropping is NOT just your typical "routine surgery" for most veterinarians. Matter of fact, alot of veterinarians won't even do ear cropping. As you look around for a vet just remember, each breed has their own "standard" in the way that the ears should be cropped. It's so critical to find a vet that is comfortable and familiar with the proper ear crops for each individual breed. In a way, it's kindof a specialist field of interest. Ear cropping truly is a mastered skill, so the experience of the veterinarian is very important. Vets that do NOT do very many ear crops can often cut one ear longer then the other ear or not shape them exactly the same. They can cut them too short or even leave them extremely long. If they mess up even the slightest it can ruin the entire look of the dog and there isn't anything you can do to fix it once the damage is done. We suggest doing your research and call around to the different vets in your area to find one that does ear cropping regularly. Even if you are a pet home, we highly suggest you find a vet that does "show crops" because they would be the most familiar with proper ear cropping techniques. You can google local "show breeders" in your area and ask them who they recommend for ear cropping.. You can also call around to several veterinarians and ask if they know of any veterinarians that do alot of show ear crops, usually a veterinarian that does something as specialized at that will get a reputation. You can also ask the breeder you are buying the puppy from if their vet can crop the puppies ears before it leaves if you pay extra. Of call around local breeders and ask them where they get their dogs ears cropped. If you see a dog with cropped ears at a petstore, dog park, vet clinic etc.. you can also kindly ask the owner where they got their dogs ears cropped.
I Heard It's The Breeders Responsibility to Crop the Ears?
Ear Cropping is a COSMETIC surgery, therefore it's an optional surgery. It's banned from many countries. It's a topic of enormous controversy with very heated debates from both sides. Countless veterinarians won't even preform the surgery for several reasons we have already mentioned. There even seems to be more & more "Show Breeders" who do NOT want their "Show Puppies" ears cropped, as we have seen many Schnauzers with natural ears competing & even winning. Most pet homes do NOT want it done. So with a topic as sensitive and intense as ear cropping, it's unfair to expect or require a breeder to include that with their puppies. Many breeders themselves are morally against it.
Should I Crop My Dogs Ears Or Leave them Natural?
We are Not going to answer that for you. That is a question only YOU can answer. We will say this, do your research, talk to professionals and then find the answer within yourself if it's something you wish to go ahead and support or not. You will hear people shouting NO, don't do it! It's cruel, inhumane and mean. They passionately support the belief that cosmetic surgery should NOT be preformed on animals and are completely appalled & disgusted by people that crop their dogs ear. etc... Then you will have others shouting YES, Do it! Support the Breed Standard. It's NOT cruel & inhumane IF done properly. It does have benefits etc... Who do you listen to? That's only for YOU to decide but just remember that whichever way you decide - you will have people strongly disagreeing with you. We will go ahead and mention that the big push in the United States is to NOT crop the ears. Matter of fact, the majority of the public is turning away from it and supporting trying to make it illegal. And like we stated above, most vets are not even offering that service anymore as it truly is becoming a "dying art."
I think it's hypocritical that people make a big deal out of ear cropping yet they get their pets spayed/neutered and insert plastic micro-chips under their skin?
Spaying | Neutering and Micro-Chipping are clearly Not the same as Ear Cropping. Spaying and neutering actually improves the quality of life for animals, improves personality, and reduces alot of future health risks. Ear cropping does NOT. And micro-chipping is getting a one time shot. Micro-chips protects pets when they get lost or end up in the kill shelter. Microchips save countless dogs from being killed in the shelter each year because microchips reunite the family with their lost pet. Ear cropping is a plastic surgery with no other benefits except to produce a certain look so it offends a lot of animal lovers to see a pet put through "unnecessary pain & suffering.".
Disclaimer: We are NOT licensed vets. DO NOT try to diagnose or treat animals based off this or any other information you find on the internet. This page is just basic information to help bring awareness to different health issues that are common in pets. If you pet is having any kind of medical issues, please seek professional treatment from a licensed vet who is trained and set up to handle such matters.