Disclaimer: At Pet Keen, we do not advocate ear cropping. This article is for informational purposes only.
Doberman Pinschers are well known for their upright ears, but these dogs are naturally floppy-eared, and unlike some other dog breeds, their ears don’t stand up on their own over time.
Owners of purebred Dobermans seek to mimic the iconic ear style by surgically altering their dog’s ears with a process called “ear cropping.“ Many people find the change aesthetically pleasing, but that may be more about matching the image of what the breed should look like.
To understand whether ear cropping is necessary, we put together the facts to help you decide for yourself.
What Is Ear Cropping?
Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that involves removing part of the dog’s ears, usually when they’re 8–12 weeks old. After the initial procedure, which takes about 30 minutes under anesthesia, your puppy’s ears are taped to a hard surface while they heal, training them to stand upright.
These days, the recognized standards of dog breeds often come down to traditional ideas. Doberman ear cropping is no different, and back in the 1600s, their ears were cropped for functionality.
As a breed that has always been used for protection, ear cropping was a way to increase the intimidation factor of these otherwise floppy-eared softies.
Safety reasons also came into play here, especially with Dobermans used as hunting dogs and security. Floppy ears are easier to catch on trees as the dog races past or even for attackers to grab. Their thin leathery nature is easy to damage, and cropping them was a way to prevent hard-to-heal ear injuries.
The 3 Reasons to Crop Your Doberman’s Ears
Most purebred Doberman owners use the traditional upright ear appearance of the breed to meet the American Kennel Club-recognized breed standard. There are several other reasons that owners may decide to crop their Doberman’s ears.
Although there isn’t much proof available, cropped ears are more reminiscent of wild dogs, and the floppy adorable nature of some breeds is believed to be a result of domestication.
Many dog owners also believe their dogs can localize sounds better with cropped ears. Since Dobermans are used mostly for security purposes, being able to hear better is a plus.
No matter the breed of dog, they can be susceptible to ear infections if their ears are not cleaned properly. Floppy-eared dogs are more prone to ear infections, due to dirt getting trapped under the earflaps.
Dobermans, being naturally floppy-eared, can be susceptible to ear infections. To take the risk out of the equation, owners crop their ears to stop dirt from getting trapped in the ear canal.
The health reasons aren’t just for the inside of your dog’s ear, though. For floppy-eared dog owners, it’s a well-known fact how easily damaged the soft earflap is, especially if your dog is prone to allergies and shakes frequently. Ear injuries, even a papercut-like split in their ear, can take a long time to heal.
Sometimes, the reasons for cropping a Doberman’s ears are as simple as not liking the appearance of droopy earflaps. While some owners adore the cute floppy appearance, others feel that it’s undesirable. It’s either not intimidating enough for a guard dog or just doesn’t match the perceived idea of what Dobermans should look like.
Aesthetics is perhaps the biggest reason that ear cropping is so popular.
The 3 Downside to Ear Cropping
Despite all the reasons for ear cropping, there are just as many reasons not to do it. While ear cropping was believed necessary in the past, these days, more and more dog owners and veterinarians are wondering whether it’s a justifiable procedure.
While the initial surgery is a simple one and your dog can return home later that day or the following morning, the recovery period is much longer.
The healing process and training the ears to stand up can take anywhere between 5 months and 1 year. It’s not only your dog that has to put up with having their ears taped and bandaged for that long. As their guardian, the lengthy aftercare process falls on you. To avoid infection and achieve that particular appearance of your dog’s cropped ears, you can’t skip a few days simply because you’re too tired or bored of changing the bandages.
2. Unproven Benefits
More than anything else, many dog owners believe that the reasons behind ear cropping are unfounded. Not only is there no real evidence to suggest that Dobermans with cropped ears hear better than their floppy-eared counterparts, but dogs of all breeds and ear types can also be prone to ear infections.
Part of our responsibility as dog owners includes keeping their ears clean, whether they stand upright or not.
3. Ear Cropping Might Not Work
There is a chance, even after all the surgery and taping, that your Doberman’s ears still won’t stand up. This can be caused by not paying proper attention to your dog’s care after the surgery, as well as a few other physical reasons:
After all the fuss of going through the surgery and aftercare, the disappointment of realizing that the procedure failed might not be worth it.
Overall, ear cropping is a matter of personal preference for you as the owner. While there are no proven medical benefits for the procedure, many dog owners — especially of pedigree Dobermans — prefer the altered appearances of the breed to the softer, more natural look.
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Featured Image Credit: Piqsels