Ear cropping is common for several different dog breeds. The Boxer, Great Dane, all varieties of Schnauzer, Doberman Pincher, American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bull Terriers, Miniature Pinchers, Manchester Terrier, Bouvier des Flanders, and Affenpinschers, are the breeds of dogs that you would likely consider cropping their ears.
You may find that your pure bred dog is unrecognizable as such unless the ear cropping is done to accomplish the breed standard look. You may also find the natural beauty of the dog pleasing enough on its own. It is a personal decision unless you plan to show the dog and even then, most breeds are acceptable in the ring with either form of ear.
You may have to search for a veterinarian who does this procedure. Not many do, as it is artistic and the follow-up can be frustrating for all. Many veterinarians choose not to attempt ear cropping because of these factors.
If you are considering having your puppy’s ears cropped, here a few important things to know. First, your puppy will have to undergo this procedure sometime between nine and twelve weeks of age. He or she will probably be required to stay a minimum of one night in the hospital following the procedure.
Often, it is advisable to leave the dog for several days to be treated for any pain, and allow him or her to get used to the aluminum apparatus that will keep their ears standing for now.
Ears can bleed easily as well, as they are quite vascular and can be messy for a few days after the procedure. Your veterinarian is equipped to address all of these concerns better than you can at home.
Ear Cropping-What You Need To Know About The Procedure
Your puppy will need to fast for twelve hours before the surgery. Food and water can cause vomiting and aspiration (inhaling of vomit) once the puppy is sedated. This can be fatal. Be sure to withhold food after dinner the night before the surgery.
Once sedated the ear cropping is marked where the incisions will be made, and once they are even the ears will be cut. The incision begins at the top of the ear cropping and finishes close to the head.
The ear cropping is sutured and disinfected. An aluminum rack or even an inverted paper cup will be glued and taped in a harness pattern over and around the puppy’s head.
Ear Cropping What You Need To Know About After Care
The ears will tend to bleed for a few days. They will be painful, and the puppy will attempt to get the brace off. Now the challenge begins!
This rack, (whatever type your dog comes home with), will need to stay on for about 21 days. While they are healing, you should use diluted betadine to disinfect the ear cropping edges twice a day. If the ears have heavy scabs you might use a very small amount of antibiotic ointment, but be very careful not to get it on the tape.
The longer you can keep from re-wrapping the ears the better. The puppy will return to the vet for suture removal at 7 days post surgery. Even doing this a couple days late may cause permanent scarring to the ears. The outcome of this procedure really lies in the commitment of the owner to the follow-up care. A perfect crop can be a perfect flop if all precautions are not taken in the weeks and months following the procedure. Read here for even more about proper ear cropping after care.
Genetics as much as anything will determine how fast the ears will stand. Short eared breeds such as Pit Bulls and Schnauzers will have ears that stand much sooner than breeds like Dobies, Boxers, and Danes.
Be ready to be very involved for a while, or don’t commit at all. Corrective surgeries for lazy ears are not nearly as pretty as if they are done well the first time. The cartilage in the ear will change quite a bit while the puppy is still teething. This takes a lot of patience.
If the ears come out of the rack or tape at any point until they are healed several weeks or months from now, take your dog in immediately and have them fixed! The longer they are left down the longer they will take to get to stand up. If they are left too long, they may never stand correctly. One day is much too long. An hour or two at most is all you can wait. Have your vet show you how to do a lightweight, temporary fix in case of a problem over the weekend or in the night. If you have managed to get the ear cropping edges healed, had the sutures removed, and not had to replace the tape, more power to you. You are in elite company. More likely, you have made three or four trips to the vet by now to have the ears re-taped.
You can cause irreversible damage to the ear. Tape should never go around the edge of the ear cropping while it is healing.
Tape should be tight enough to hold, but not too tight or you could easily cut off the circulation in the ear causing the tissue to die and the ear cropping to drop off. There is NO way to fix this. It is best to let the professionals do this part unless you can get them to teach you how to do it correctly.
Once the rack or cup comes off, the pup’s ears will be wrapped in cotton and taped until they stand. They should stay up this way for 10-14 days at a time. When you schedule your appointment for a status check, be sure to plan to remove the wraps two hours before the appointment, or plan to leave the puppy for a few hours. This allows the ears to relax just a bit and show the vet how to compensate for how the ears want to fall.
You may make this same trip for the same reason many, many times. Most ears will be done within six to eight weeks. Some may take six months. Dharma (our Boxer) took 10 months, by far the longest I know of, but in the end, the ears turned out perfect.
Finding An Ear Cropping Veterinarian
1. Start your search by finding all the vets in your area by using the Veterinarian Directory. You can call your local vets to find out if there is a surgeon who does the ear cropping procedure close to you.
2.You can also contact the American Veterinary Medical Association. They are the medical board governing all veterinary procedures in the U.S.
This is a huge commitment, no doubt about it, but the beauty is well worth it if it is something you and your puppy can manage.
About The Author
This article was written by Laura Anderson, a veterinary technician with more than 15 years experience in the veterinary field. The views and statements expressed in this article, and all other articles found on Puppy’s Place, do not under any circumstance, constitute veterinary advice. Always seek professional veterinary care for your pet.