Looking to have your dog’s ears cropped?
It’s a controversial subject among many dog owners and breeders alike.
These days, dog ear cropping is done for cosmetic reasons. It might be something you prefer in a dog or it may be performed to meet AKC standards for dog shows.
That said, ear cropping in domestic dogs is a complicated issue involving moral considerations concerning animal welfare.
Whether you agree with it or not, there’s no question that ear cropping can dramatically change a dog’s appearance.
If you’re curious about the procedure or looking for the safest place to have it done, keep reading. We’re going to give you a short history on why it was started, why it continues to be done, and the risks associated with the procedure.
Reasons for Dog Ear Cropping Back in the Day
Unless there’s a chance your dog needs to fight off wild boars, he/she probably doesn’t need to have his ears cropped. Back in the day, working dogs were just that.
Through the centuries, dog ear cropping procedures were developed to accommodate the work specific breeds would do.
They hunted, kept farms and boats safe from vermin, protected livestock, and were used as guard dogs for wealthy merchants.
The types of guard dogs and working dogs used had large, floppy ears that could easily get injured, ripped, grabbed, or snagged. In addition, it was thought that by clipping the ears of smaller guard dogs, they would appear more alert and ready for action.
In addition, farmers who relied on working dogs had to do whatever they could to keep their dogs healthy and robust. It was thought that by clipping their dog’s ears, the dog would suffer fewer ear infections. It was also thought a dog could hear better with cropped ears.
People who lived off the land and needed working dogs to maintain their livelihoods had very good reasons for dog ear cropping.
Why Do People Get Their Dog’s Ears Cropped Today?
The decision to have your puppy’s ears cropped is a personal one. If it’s something you’re thinking about, there are some very important things you need to know.
These days, there are generally only two reasons for dog ear cropping. These are for cosmetic reasons, or to accommodate specific breed standards for dog shows, etc.
Some dog owners like the look of upright ears. Some believe that cropped ears will lessen the risk of ear infections or will improve a dog’s hearing.
There is no strong evidence to believe that cropping a dog’s ears will prevent infections, improve a dog’s balance, or heighten a dog’s hearing.
The American Kennel Club does not endorse or tolerate animal cruelty or mistreatment. That said, they believe that procedures like ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal, and debarking are “long-accepted husbandry practices and do not constitute animal cruelty”.
Is it illegal to crop a dog’s ears in the United States?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (as of 2019), there are nine states that regulate ear cropping for dogs.
It’s important to research your area for language used around rules and regulations. For example, the following states prohibit ear cropping except when performed by a licensed veterinarian while the dog is under anesthetic.
- Maryland – in Maryland the law states that the elective surgery must be appropriate on the animal.
- New Hampshire
- New York
Washington does not allow ear cropping “except when it is considered a customary husbandry practice.”
For more information on animal husbandry practices read: National Animal Interest Alliance Position Statement.
Is it Illegal to Crop a Dog’s Ears in Canada?
According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, they “oppose the alteration of any animal by surgery or other invasive methods for cosmetic or competitive purposes.”
In Canada, veterinarians are prohibited from performing cosmetic surgeries including ear cropping. These include:
- Prince Edward Island
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
This doesn’t mean that veterinarians in other provinces will perform the procedure. It’s probably safe to say that most veterinarians in Canada will not perform the procedure. That said, it’s important to seek input from a licensed veterinarian in your area.
Is it Illegal to Crop a Dog’s Ears in the United Kingdom?
Ear cropping and tail docking is illegal in the UK unless it’s performed by a licensed veterinarian for medical reasons. Many European countries aim to ban the importation of dogs with cropped ears from countries where the practice is still legal.
In some parts of the UK, animal welfare officers are noticing an increase in sightings of dogs with cropped ears and docked tails.
How and When Are Dogs’ Ears cropped?
A puppy’s ears are cropped between 9 and 12 weeks of age. When speaking with a veterinarian surgeon willing to do the procedure, they will discuss a few things with you including:
- Size and shape of crop – there are different types of ear crops including
- Risks of surgery
- Post operative care
- Pain control
Many breeds cannot have their ears cropped after 12 weeks of age. This is because the ears are not likely to stand up during the recovery process.
The procedure is performed by cutting and shaping the ear pinna (the floppy part of a dog ear). General anesthesia is used. In order for the ears to heal in the upright position they are posted to a hard surface and taped until completely healed.
The recovery process can take anywhere from 4 – 8 weeks if there are no complications.
The Healing and Recovery After Ear Cropping Surgery
Once your dog has made it through surgery, the aftercare will be left up to the dog owner. It’s vital to follow guidelines to prevent the ears not standing correctly or scaring.
There is a minimum commitment of up to 6 weeks of at-home care. In some cases, depending on the breed, dog owners could be looking at an entire year of consistent care.
The decision to have your dog’s ears cropped should not be taken lightly. You will need to dedicate significant time to aftercare. Aftercare requires frequent return visits to the clinic for re-wrapping and suture removal.
General Ear Crop Discharge Guidelines:
- Puppies generally fully recover from anesthesia 2 – 3 days after surgery.
- Some breeds may require taping or posting of the ears. Materials used may need to be reapplied by a veterinarian.
- You will be required to administer pain meds to your dog for pain relief.
- Antibiotic medications are dispensed at the time of discharge from surgery.
- Keep the incision clean and dry at all times.
- No swimming or bathing for two weeks.
- Restrict activity for up to 2 weeks.
- Suture removal is generally done 14 days after the procedure.
Risks of Surgery
The biggest risk for puppies undergoing any elective procedure is the anesthetic. Anesthesia is particularly dangerous in brachycephalic breeds such as Boston terriers or Boxers.
While rare, there is a risk of death when any dog is anesthetized. This is especially true for puppies and senior dogs.
There is always a risk of infection, allergic reaction to medications used pre and post surgery, and significant pain.
Which Breeds Typically Have Cropped Ears
There are 20 breeds whose cropped ears are recognized by the American Kennel Club. Some of the breeds include:
- Doberman Pinschers
- Miniature Pinschers
- American “Bullies” like Staffordshire Terriers
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- Great Danes
- Boston Terrier
- Brussels Griffon
- Caucasian Shepherd Dog
- Cane Corsos
Where Can I Get My Dog’s Ears Cropped?
If you’ve decided to get your dog’s ears cropped, you’ll want to find a qualified clinic to perform the procedure. Rules and regulations vary from state to state. In many cases, it’s up to the veterinarian as to whether he/she will perform the procedure.
The best place to start is with your own local veterinarian clinic. If they won’t do the procedure, they may be willing to refer you to someone who does.
If you’re looking for objective advice from a veterinarian about the procedure, book an online consultation through Vetster.
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Vetster Advice for Dog Ear Cropping
The veterinarians available through Vetster can’t perform the surgery. They can, however, discuss the pros and cons with you. They may be able to point you to top-quality surgeons in your area as well.
The first thing to do is download the free Vetster app.
From there, you can easily set up an account with your pet’s information. It’s important to do that even if you don’t make an appointment. The thing is, if there’s ever a need to talk to a licensed vet right away, you won’t want to spend a lot of time trying to get your pet’s info in the database.
Book an Appointment
Don’t worry…when you click on the Book Appointment button, nothing terrible happens. You won’t be charged and you won’t have an appointment booked until you say so.
You’ll have a chance to browse around for just the right veterinarian for your needs. You can search by location, price, name, etc. The cost of an online appointment is typically less than what you would pay to see someone in the clinic.
Why You Need This
Going through Vetster allows you to speak to a professional in confidence. No waiting in the clinic, no small-talk with strangers, and no need to drive anywhere.
You’ll get a personalized and fully confidential appointment where you can ask all the questions you need related to dog ear cropping (or anything else!).
- Ask a licensed veterinarian for his/her professional opinion.
- Ask for a referral.
- Ask for suggestions on the best place to have dog ear cropping performed.
- Talk to the vet about risks.
- Talk to the vet about pros and cons of dog ear cropping.
Don’t forget to download the app.
Ear crop procedures are considered an unnecessary mutilation done solely for cosmetic purposes. It is considered an elective procedure not covered under most (if not all) pet health insurance plans.
Whether to put your dog through this type of cosmetic surgery is a personal decision. Be sure to speak with as many pet-care professionals as possible to get adequate information. Consider the risks of surgery, the pain involved, and whether the outcome is worth the risks.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please be sure to come back for more great posts related to dog health care.
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