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Ear Cropping: Controversial Cosmetic Procedure for Dogs’ Looks and Breed Standards (2023)

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How much does it cost to clip dog earsYou’re sitting there, lovingly scratching Fido behind his floppy ears. His big brown eyes gaze up at you as his tail wags happily. Though his cute floppy ears suit him just fine, you’ve been wondering about cropping.

Before rushing into this permanent choice, pause to reflect. Fido’s ears aren’t just for style; they’re useful tools enabling him to hear and express himself. While cropped ears may fit certain breed standards, Fido’s natural ears are already perfect for him.

Key Takeaways

  • Ear cropping surgery typically costs several hundred dollars, including the procedure itself, medications, supplies, and follow-up vet exams.
  • There are additional costs associated with proper aftercare following the surgery, including cleaning supplies, bandages, taping, cone collars, etc.
  • Improper aftercare that leads to complications or misshapen ears can result in further veterinary expenses.
  • Overall, cropping is a big investment of money, requiring hundreds of dollars upfront for the surgery plus ongoing costs for medications, supplies and checkups during recovery.

What is Ear Cropping?

What is Ear Cropping
You’ve likely seen certain breeds of dogs like Dobermans and Pit Bulls with pointy, upright ears. This cosmetic procedure called ear cropping surgically alters a dog’s natural ears by cutting and taping them to stand erect.

Historically it was done for protection but now it serves no health or competition purpose.


You’ll feel your puppy’s soft ears get snipped and shaped by the vet’s steady hands during the delicate procedure.

  1. The ears are cut and sutured into the desired shape.
  2. They are then taped upright to train them to stand.
  3. Aftercare is required while they heal over several weeks.

While some justify ear cropping as traditional or for purebred appeal, it is primarily cosmetic and considered medically unnecessary.


Historically, ear cropping was done to protect working dogs’ ears from being torn while hunting or fighting, though now it is primarily performed for cosmetic reasons. As medical advancements improved anesthesia safety, this elective procedure became more available to dog owners desiring cropped ears.

However, research shows no health benefits and the surgery causes pain, so compassionate guardians now utilize positive training methods and avoid cropping for merely aesthetic purposes.

Why Crop Dog Ears?

Why Crop Dog Ears
Let’s consider this carefully. While ear cropping may align with certain breed standards or be desired for aesthetics, we must prioritize dog welfare and ethics. What’s truly best for your dog? Perhaps we could have a thoughtful discussion about the risks, costs, and alternatives.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but let’s make sure it’s informed by science and compassion.

Breed Standards

Though controversial, some AKC-approved breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Pit Bulls get their ears cropped to match long-held ideals.

  • Adhering to breed standards set by kennel clubs
  • Achieving a certain look or aesthetic
  • Following tradition or cultural norms
  • Conforming to expectations in the show ring

For some owners, cropping is seen as a way to uphold breed ideals. However, there are ethical concerns, as ear cropping is primarily cosmetic.


Get creative when considering cropping for a stylishly unique look. While some find cropped ears attractive on certain breeds, it’s important to consider the dog’s comfort and health above aesthetics. Ultimately, there are many ways to stylishly express your dog’s personality that don’t involve painful procedures.

Ear Cropping Styles

Ear Cropping Styles
We should thoughtfully consider the crop style that’s truly best for our dogs. While show crops can meet breed standards, they require the most difficult training and may not be the most ethical choice.

Common Crops

Common crops for dogs like Dobermans and Pit Bulls involve surgical cutting of the pinnae and taping the ears erect for several weeks. There are various crop styles, ranging from short to tall, that remove portions of the pinnae.

These procedures carry risks and controversies around ethics, though some breeders argue cropping upholds breed standards.

Show Crops

You’d get the showiest look with a costly procedure.

Crop Type Breeds Description
Show Doberman Pointed, tallest standing ears
Boxer Pointed, tallest button ears
Schnauzer Pointed, tallest drop ears
Great Dane Pointed, tallest rose ears

Consider your puppy’s well-being over fashion. Seek humane alternatives that celebrate your dog’s natural beauty.

Ear Cropping Costs

Ear Cropping Costs
You’re considering ear cropping for your dog. This permanent body modification comes with expenses beyond just the surgery.


You’ll need to budget several hundred dollars for the ear cropping surgery itself.

  • Surgery and anesthesia fees
  • Post-operative medications and supplies
  • Follow-up exams and treatments

The cost depends on your veterinarian, location, and the crop style. Focus on your puppy’s health and comfort above all.


For proper healing, you must religiously apply the antibiotic ointment the vet recommended. During recovery, prioritize your dog’s health and welfare above all else. Closely monitor the ears and keep up with wound care.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for oversight. Consider alternatives that avoid unnecessary pain and preserve your dog’s natural ears.

Ear Cropping Risks

Ear Cropping Risks
Let’s think this through carefully. Ear cropping carries risks that I don’t feel comfortable recommending. The welfare of your dog should come first. Perhaps we could explore alternatives that don’t involve surgical alteration of his natural state.

What matters most is that you and your pup share a loving bond built on trust and respect.


The throes of post-operative pain can be extreme, as the healing ears burn like fire.

  1. The ear taping method requires diligent owner commitment.
  2. Additional aftercare costs like antibiotics and wound care add up.
  3. Consider humane alternatives to cropping.
  4. Unresolved ethical issues persist around cosmetic cropping.
  5. Criticized as cruel, cropping risks pain for a controversial practice.

There are more compassionate options than subjecting your pup to this elective procedure and its attendant suffering solely for appearance.


After cropping, watch for signs of infection like swelling, redness, or discharge so you can obtain prompt treatment. Infection is a risk with any surgical procedure. Work closely with your veterinarian for prevention, monitoring, and proper aftercare.

Consider alternatives that do not permanently alter your dog’s natural appearance or entail risks.

Ear Cropping Controversy

Ear Cropping Controversy
You wonder if ear cropping is truly humane, given the pain it inflicts. Though legal in some places, many argue it is an unnecessary practice that promotes animal cruelty over welfare.

Animal Cruelty

You’d betray your best friend if you cropped their ears. This medically unnecessary procedure, criticized as cruel, is banned in many places. The risks and ethics around altering dogs for cosmetic reasons trouble compassionate owners.

Consider herding instincts, guarding livestock, fighting dogs; welfare regulations question breeding practices and unnecessary procedures.

Depending on where you live, ear cropping’s legal status varies, so make sure to check your local laws before getting your pup’s ears cropped, friend. Some places ban it outright due to ethical concerns and veterinarian opposition, while others allow it under strict welfare regulations.

Public perception remains divided on the controversial practice with disputed medical benefits. Consider surgical alternatives that address health without permanent alteration. Ultimately, your pup’s welfare comes first, so research thoroughly and choose compassionately.

Caring for Cropped Ears

Caring for Cropped Ears
When your puppy returns home after ear cropping surgery, proper aftercare is vital for healing. Gently clean the incisions using saline solution and replace the tape and posting as directed to train the ears upright without irritating the sensitive wounds.


  • Use a cotton ball or pad dampened with a veterinarian-recommended cleansing solution to gently wipe around the incision lines, being careful not to pull at sutures or bandages.
  • Follow up cleansing with an antibiotic ointment if your vet recommends doing so.
  • Caring for your dog after surgery takes diligence and compassion. Proper aftercare will help their ears heal smoothly.


Tape those floppy ears sky-high or your pooch will transform into a mutant bat-dog from the underworld! Proper taping keeps newly cropped ears upright as they heal. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully to avoid complications. Though controversial, some owners still choose cropping for cosmetic reasons.

Let compassion and dog welfare guide your decisions. There are no shortcuts in caring for cropped ears.

Week Taping Tips Supplies Needed
1 Keep ears taped and wrapped at all times. Check daily for irritation. Tape, gauze, antibiotic ointment
2 Change taping every 1-2 days. Massage ears to avoid stiffness. Tape, cotton pads, pillow stuffing
3 Leave ears untaped for short periods. Continue massaging and cleaning. Tape, antiseptic cleaner, cotton balls
4 Tape ears only at night. They should stand on their own now. Optional support tape

Choosing an Ear Crop

Choosing an Ear Crop
Let’s think carefully before undergoing a cosmetic procedure. At 8-10 weeks, consult an ethical veterinarian to discuss your puppy’s health, risks, and whether cropping aligns with your values.


Getting your pup’s ears cropped too young can lead to health issues down the road. Most vets recommend waiting until your pup is at least 8 weeks old before cropping, as their ears are fully formed and their immune system is mature.

While some push for 12 weeks, do what’s best for your specific breed and situation. As with any surgery, there are always risks – be sure to thoroughly discuss options with your trusted vet beforehand.

Vet Consult

After deciding what style best suits your pup, consult with a trusted veterinarian to schedule the procedure and ensure proper aftercare like a mother hen tending her chicks. Book a vet appointment to minimize risks, discuss post-op recovery, and weigh alternative options before committing for solely cosmetic reasons.

The crop is done under anesthesia by a veterinarian, with costs varying by location and style. It’s popular for certain breeds like Dobermans and involves aftercare like Elizabethan collars. Care for your canine companion during this delicate time with the tenderness of a gentle shepherd guarding their flock.

Ear Cropping Recovery

Ear Cropping Recovery
Your faithful companion relies on you for comfort and care after ear cropping surgery. Closely monitor their recovery by using a protective cone collar and taking them to the vet for regular checkups to ensure proper healing.

Cone Collar

You’ll need a comfortable cone collar for your pup while their ears heal from the cropping.

  1. Use a soft-sided cone like the Comfy Cone to reduce discomfort.
  2. Check the incision site daily for signs of infection.
  3. Follow your vet’s aftercare instructions carefully.
  4. Be aware of relevant laws and animal welfare standards.

When making this choice, reflect deeply on your motivations and your dog’s wellbeing. Seek reputable sources to become fully informed of the risks, requirements and alternatives.


Regular checkups with your vet will help monitor your puppy’s recovery after ear cropping surgery. Watch for any redness or swelling around the ears that could indicate an infection. Gently clean the ears daily, being careful not to disturb the sutures. Schedule a recheck appointment within a week to ensure the ears are healing well.

Your vet can adjust the bandaging as needed to help the ears stand upright. With diligent at-home care and veterinary follow-up, your puppy’s cropped ears should heal properly.

Cropped Ear Dog Breeds

Cropped Ear Dog Breeds
Here are some thoughts on ear cropping for your new Doberman or Boxer puppy. Let’s carefully weigh the complicated ethics, expenses, and care required for your dog’s health and well-being as we talk about the ear crop styles and considerations for these breeds.

Ear cropping is an elective surgery done on puppies between 7 and 12 weeks old. The procedure cuts and shapes the pinnae (outer ear flaps) to make them stand erect. Common crop styles for Dobermans include the long or show crop, which leaves most of the ear, and the working or combat crop, which trims the ear close to the head.

For Boxers, crop styles range from the long or show crop to the shorter military crop.

There are a few reasons owners choose to crop ears. Some believe it gives the dog a more alert, demonstrable appearance for the show ring. Others think it prevents injury for working military or police dogs. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association now oppose ear cropping unless medically necessary.

The ethics of cropping are controversial. Removing part of the ears alters a dog’s natural state for human preference. Cropping prohibitions are increasing worldwide. Currently over 20 countries ban cropping, including most of Europe, and some U.

S. states are considering restrictions. Critics view cropping as an unnecessary, painful mutilation. Defenders consider it a personal choice for their dog’s traditional look and safety.

The surgery, aftercare, and taping of the ears often costs $500-600. Potential surgical complications include infections, suture reactions, and ear hematomas. The ears take weeks to fully heal and must be properly taped to stand erect during that time.

Overall, cropping requires a significant investment of money, time, and care from the owner. There are valid concerns about subjecting puppies to anesthetic risks and postoperative discomfort for a solely aesthetic reason.

One must thoughtfully weigh such factors against personal preference for the cropped ear look. Regardless of your views, providing excellent veterinary care and recovery assistance is essential if cropping is chosen.

Focusing on your puppy’s health and happiness, while respecting different perspectives on cropping, will let you make the most informed decision.


For Dobermans, embracing their natural ears fosters an innate dignity.

  1. Consider breeders who oppose unnecessary procedures.
  2. Prioritize your pet’s long-term health and comfort.
  3. Reflect on how cropping may impact socialization.
  4. Explore alternatives to meet breed standards ethically.
  5. Cherish your Doberman for their spirited and loyal nature.

Rather than cropping, celebrate your Doberman’s natural expressiveness. Their alert cropped look can be achieved through positive training. Focus on developing their best qualities – intelligence, athleticism and eagerness to please.


With boxers, ya could opt for a simple crop to snip just the tip, a moderate cut to taper the ears, or a show crop to make stand those adorable bat wings tall. When choosing an ear crop style for your boxer pup, reflect on aesthetic preferences but also canine welfare, as this cosmetic procedure does carry risks.

Crop Style Description Time to Stand
Simple Just tip removed 1-2 months
Moderate Tapered cut 2-3 months
Show Bat ear standing 3-4 months

We all want what’s best for our furry friends. Reexamine breed standards and regulate cropping practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How old does my puppy need to be for ear cropping surgery?

The ideal age for your puppy’s ear cropping is between 8 and 12 weeks old. This window allows their ears to heal and stand properly during the teething process. Consider your puppy’s welfare above aesthetics or tradition, as there are risks.

Will ear cropping help reduce ear infections in my dog?

I understand your concern, but cropping ears will not prevent infections. Focus on providing a loving, healthy life for your pup. Regular cleaning and veterinary care as needed are better ways to reduce risks. Their wellbeing is most important.

Is ear cropping illegal in my state/country?

I understand your concern. Laws vary, so check your local regulations on ear cropping to ensure staying compliant. Ultimately, your pup’s comfort and health matter most – consider options like taping instead that align with those priorities.

Should I get my dog’s ears cropped if I plan to show them?

You should carefully weigh the risks and benefits before deciding. Focus on your dog’s health and comfort over meeting breed standards.

How can I find a qualified veterinarian to perform ear cropping?

First, ask the vet you trust for a referral to a qualified, ethical specialist. Also contact breed clubs for recommendations. Meet with candidates; ask plenty of questions to ensure they prioritize your dog’s welfare over aesthetics.


You’ve made an informed decision to care for your pet’s natural ears. Your dog’s health and comfort come first. As their guardian, you’ll nurture their well-being over aesthetics. Each day, appreciate their uniqueness.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.