Should I crop my dog’s ears?

April 13, 2012

The dog struts proudly around the confirmation ring – the proudly standing ears give the dog an alert expression and add to its distinctive appearance. The dog is a Doberman Pinscher, one of the breeds that usually sport cropped ears. Ear cropping is a common practice for Boxers, Great Danes, Affenpinscer, varieties of Schnauzer and some breeds of terriers. Ear cropping is considered to be a cruel and inhuman procedure. Ear cropping was banned in most European countries in the late 1980s. The American Veterinary Medical Association has tried to influence the AKC to prohibit cropped eared dogs from being shown in conformation rings. However, the AVMA’s pressure seems to be ineffective as dogs with cropped ears are not only continuously being shown. Dogs with beautifully standing cropped ears always gain the approval of the judges. Every year more than 130,000 puppies go through with the ear cropping procedure in United States alone. In spite of the ear cropping bans, ear cropping is still widely practiced in other countries. Some dog enthusiasts would go around the law by importing ear cropped dogs from countries where the practice is still allowed.

Are you one of the dog owners that would not subject the pet to the barbaric custom of ear cropping? Or are you one of the owners that would crop the dog’s ear because of the belief that the procedure has lots of benefits for the dog? Ear cropping is a cosmetic procedure that is generally done for aesthetic reasons. The procedure is done when the puppy is between 9 to 12 weeks old. The puppy will be put under general anesthesia. From the base of the ear to the tip, the thin membranous part which is about 2/3 of the earflap will be removed. The bloody edged will then be sutured. Some vets would do the mandatory ear taping after the stitches are removed. Others would use an aluminum rack and tape after the cut edges of the ears are sutured.

Ear cropping is a simple procedure that would only take about 30 minutes. Ear cropping advocates believe that the procedure does not cause the puppy pain. Cropped puppies will not be less energetic and the voracious appetite will remain the same. Pro ear cropping owners argue that this cosmetic procedure is not only for aesthetic reasons. Ear cropping protects the long and fragile ears of the dog from injuries that can be caused by the dog’s attackers. Dogs are very energetic animals and the possibility that the ears will sustain injuries from thorns, sharp rocks, barbed wires and jagged tins cannot be prevented. Cropped ears are less likely to develop ear canal infections. It is also believed that the procedure improves the already sensitive hearing ability of the dog. Cropped ears add to the ferocious and intimidating look of the dog thus ear cropping is commonly done on guard dogs.

The AVMA and anti ear cropping people believe that the procedure is cruel and that the dog would gain no benefits. The procedure is simple but anesthesia brings about some risk especially to puppies. Infection is another possibility. Post surgical risks cannot be avoided even if the procedure is done by a qualified vet. The incision can get infected and the ears may not stand up as they are supposed to. Dogs with “lazy ears” would have to undergo a second ear cropping procedure. There is no assurance that the ears would be fixed with the second procedure and it is possible that the dog will be saddled with distorted ears for life. Ear cropping not only tampers Mother Nature’s creation. Ears are one of the communication tools of the dog. Cropped ears will somehow impair the dog’s ability to interact with other dogs.

So would you crop the dog’s ears to fit the breed standard look or would you let the dog have its natural ears?

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