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Ear Cropping in Dogs: Vet-Approved Facts & FAQs

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

american pit bull terrier

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Hepper does not support ear cropping as it is not a necessary medical procedure.

Did you know that a Doberman doesn’t have naturally pointy ears? Although you’ll see most Doberman Pinschers with erect ears, they have naturally folded and floppy ears. It’s through ear cropping that this look is obtained.

Ear cropping is the surgical method of removing the tips of your dog’s ears. This is usually done to breeds that have floppy ears. It’s an elective surgery that dog owners can choose for their dogs while they are still young. Most dogs with cropped ears get it done immediately after birth.

Ear cropping is popular on many dog breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Great Dane, and Boston Terrier, among others.

The history behind ear cropping dates back over 300 years ago. It was believed that cropping a dog’s ears protects them from getting attacked by wolves or other animals in a hunting or working environment. It was also believed that it was particularly important for working dogs to be cropped to prevent ear infections and hematomas.

However, in recent times, dog owners consider ear cropping for mostly cosmetic purposes.

Due to ear cropping being simply aesthetic, the question has been raised as to whether it is legal or moral for canines to undergo such a body modification.

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Is Dog Ear Cropping Legal?

The debate on whether ear cropping is legal or not still continues. Recently, many more dog owners and anti-animal cruelty groups have been bringing increased awareness to the issue. Through their efforts, several countries have banned the practice altogether.

Cane Corso
Image Credit by: Sbolotova, Shutterstock

Countries like Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Turkey have already made ear cropping illegal. However it is still considered legal in countries like Canada and India. In the United States, the legality of ear cropping falls upon the respective state, with some outlawing the practice completely.

This being said, there are still many bills under consideration throughout the US to make it only illegal for cosmetic purposes while maintaining legality for medical cases. If these bills pass, a dog owner would need a diagnosis and a permit from their veterinarian before being able to put their dog through an ear cropping procedure.

Is Ear Cropping in Dogs Ethical?

Cosmetic surgery on canines has reached alarming proportions in the recent 100 years. Each year, around 130,000 puppies go through unnecessary cosmetic surgery in the United States alone.

Some experts believe that ear cropping in dogs for cosmetic purposes is not backed by medical science and doesn’t benefit the dog at all. However, proponents of the procedure think that it is not entirely cruel, as pups undergo the procedure with anesthesia. Plus, puppies are provided top-notch aftercare following the surgery.

Advocates of ear cropping compare the practice to spaying or neutering, which are considered common animal management procedures. Likewise, they believe that ear cropping should remain available to dog owners, breeders, and vets.

However, anti-ear cropping groups compare the practice to cruel procedures such as amputation of a healthy human toe or arm — painful, unnecessary, and leading to serious health issues over time.

So, is it ethical? Like most questions on ethics, this practice falls within a gray area. It’s all dependent on your particular views. However, there are rare medical cases where ear cropping is considered necessary. For instance, if a dog is born with ears that are bigger than normal or the tips are too high, ear cropping may be needed to prevent future injury.

Doberman Pinscher
Image Credit by: DragoNika, Shutterstock

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How Much Does Dog Ear Cropping Cost?

If you do decide that ear cropping is for your dog, the procedure can be quite costly. The price typically ranges between $150 to $600 where it is legal. But don’t just choose your surgeon based on price alone. It is best to go to a reputable clinic to get your dog’s ears cropped.

As with other procedures, you’ll want to choose a place where they offer the best service. Ensure that your clinic maintains good hygiene, has an accommodating staff, and has the best surgical equipment and implementation.

A fair price for ear cropping in the US is about $300. But again, this will vary from state to state. Another factor that may cause the cost to change is your dog’s breed. Some clinics will offer different packages that are breed based, particularly with those dogs that normally get the procedure done.

Other than the procedure itself, there will be post-surgery medications, confinement, and other expense considerations. Some clinics will include this in the package; however, this isn’t always the case. If the recovery is not included in the asking price, then you’ll be looking at around $50-$100 of additional costs.

Ear Cropping Surgery and Recovery

The recovery and after-care of your dog after ear cropping varies from procedure to procedure. For many dogs, the healing process will be relatively quick and easy. The most they will experience is some slight itching around the sutures while they are healing.

Image Credit by: pimnana, Pixabay

However, other pups might need extra care. Younger puppies will need to be kept under close watch particularly those still nursing from their mother or that have littermates.

Typically, your pup will need to take some medications to help with the recovery process, and their stitches will require frequent cleaning.

Most dog owners care for their dogs themselves, as it’s relatively easy to do. Your vet will let you know if your dog needs more intensive after-care after ear cropping.

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Should You Crop Your Dog’s Ears?

While a controversial practice, ear cropping might be the right procedure for your puppy. There are a few instances where your dog may absolutely need the surgery. If this is the case, it’s often recommended that it is done at an early age.

You can also get your dog’s ears cropped for cosmetic purposes as well, provided you are in an area where it’s legal. However, if you are ever unsure, you can always consult with your vet to find out if ear cropping is the best option for your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock

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