If you've ever seen a puppy running around with weird bandaged ears sticking up and sometimes fastened together, looking like old-fashioned TV antennas, you may have seen a puppy recovering from a procedure to crop their ears. Many breeds, such as Dobermans, Bull Terriers, and Great Danes, frequently undergo ear cropping procedures at about 8 weeks of age. For many of these dogs, ear cropping is part of a standard for the breed, but there are more than cosmetic reasons for ear cropping. Many breeders and dog owners feel that cropped ears, that stand up and allow better air circulation to the ear canals, prevent the occurrence of ear infections that are more common when moisture and poor air circulation, cause bacterial and fungal infections to proliferate in the ears. If chronic ear infections occur, not only is the dog uncomfortable, but permanent hearing loss can occur when delicate structures are damaged.
Ear cropping is performed on young puppies, under anesthetic. During the procedure, a veterinarian removes extra ear flap tissue, sutures incisions, and then bandages and affixes ears to a support structure or splint so they heal in an upright position. Cleaning the cropped ears during healing is part of the recovery process.