Dog ears come in a variety of shapes and sizes, much like the different breeds themselves. However, rather than cherish their dog for how they’ve naturally come into the world, some owners think it’s a good idea to engage in ear cropping to get a more “desirable” appearance. This tends to happen often in breeds like Great Danes, pit bulls, Dobermans and schnauzers.
The problem is that ear cropping amounts to nothing more than forced mutilation so that poorly informed owners can make their dog what they deem to be prettier or fiercer.
They often argue that floppy, natural ears should be chopped off because they’re prone to infection. But that’s not true. In fact, research shows that ear shape has little effect on the risk of a dog getting an infection. At least 80 percent of dogs never contract one at all. The ones who do get the most infections are poodles and spaniels, breeds whose ears typically aren’t cropped anyway
Puppies usually endure ear cropping as young as 6 to 12 weeks old. Once the ears have been cut with scissors, the pups then wear tape and bandages around them for several weeks. During the surgery, the dogs are placed under a general anesthesia, which can sometimes lead to swelling from allergic reactions or bigger complications, like anaphylactic shock. Oddly enough, though owners who crop ears often cite risk of infection as a reason for doing so, infection is actually one of the risks of the surgery.
The American Kennel Club supports ear cropping in order to maintain the standards of appearance for certain breeds, and they even claim that it protects dogs’ ears from being bitten and helps them hear, for example.
Meanwhile, organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association oppose it.
Not only does ear cropping create unnecessary physical pain and discomfort for dogs, but it can also leave them with lasting psychological trauma. Pups also use their ears to communicate, and chopping off parts of them can hinder an owner’s ability to understand what their dog is telling them.
The practice also perpetuates false stereotypes about certain breeds; some owners crop the ears of Doberman pinschers and American staffordshire terriers, for example, because they think it makes the dog look tough or ferocious.
Plus, ear cropping is not always successful. Surgeries performed by unskilled veterinarians can leave a dog with mismatched, bent ears that remain scarred for life.
Ear cropping has already been banned in Canada, Australia and many European countries. The U.S. has fallen behind in banning this inhumane practice, and we think it’s time to catch up. It starts with all dog owners choosing to value their dogs for who they are rather than what they look like.