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.
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.
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?