When that exciting day comes when you bring a cute and loveable puppy into your home, you have to start making a number of important decisions. One such decision is whether to have your dog’s ears cropped. It is a practice that has been around for centuries, which surgically alters or removes the pinnae (ear flaps). Great Danes and Miniature Schnauzers are two dogs that commonly have their ears cropped. But today there is an increasing movement to stop the practice on the grounds it serves no practical or medical purpose. Some countries have even banned the practice entirely! On the opposing side, supporters of the procedure are adamant it can be beneficial. This article will run through the pros and cons and offer a final verdict on the age-old debate.
Despite increasing opposition, some stand firm with the belief that ear cropping can be medically advantageous. One proposed advantage is in regard to ear infections. Infections of the ear are incredibly common in dogs. Not only do they cause serious pain and discomfort, affecting their quality of life, but they can be costly to treat if they are a persistent problem. The numerous downsides of repetitive ear infections were highlighted in a Small Animal Practices Journal by Joseph J.Kowalski.
The other argument in favor of ear cropping, is that it’s really no different from spaying or neutering your dog. However, I think most will concede that line of argument is flimsy at best.
There is a whole host of reasons why ear cropping should arguably be avoided. Many will say that the practice is bordering on animal cruelty as it offers no benefit to the dog at all. This is a view that was reiterated in a 2013 review from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Vets have also been quick to point out that they don’t believe having your dog’s ears cropped makes any difference to the frequency of ear infections.
In addition, dogs suffer considerable pain in the weeks that follow the surgery as they have sore, inflamed and bandaged ears. There is also the additional risk of an infection developing at the wound site, which could be potentially life-threatening.
As the owner of your dog, you have the say on nearly all major decisions, and whether to crop their ears is one of them. However, as a responsible owner, you should ensure you undertake research to be sure it is definitely the right decision to make. It is perhaps fair to say that the majority of ear cropping is done for aesthetic purposes rather than for any medical benefit.
If you do decide to crop your dog’s ears, make sure you do it whilst your dog is still young. It is usually done when puppies are just 6-12 weeks old. This because the later you leave the surgery, the greater chance there is your dog will remember the pain and be traumatized later on in life.
Ear cropping is a hotly debated topic. While some argue it reduces the risk of ear infections, many vets dispute the fact. Most consider the practice unnecessary, painful, and completely unjustified. If you do decide to crop your dogs’ ears though, ensure it is done while they are still young puppies to reduce the chance of them remembering the painful experience later on in life.