What is Ear Cropping? Ear Cropping in Dogs

what is ear cropping?


Ear cropping is a painful procedure done for no other reason than to make your dog look the way YOU want him to. It’s in-humane and needs to be banned.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me (hello AKC) so I will talk about both sides of this issue.

What is Ear Cropping?

Ear cropping in dogs, also called cosmetic otoplasty, is a veterinary procedure that removes all or part of an animal’s exterior ear flap. The dog is put under anesthesia where up to 2/3 of the ear flap can be removed. The ear is stitched back together and tape is used, for a few months, to hold the ears upright into a pointy position.

This doesn’t always work and a dog can end up with one ear straight up and the other flopping backwards.

Ear cropping is supposed to be done when the dog is still a puppy, usually around 6-12 weeks of age. If the dog is older than that, the procedure is way more painful because the pup’s pain memory is much greater. Ear cropping is popular in Great Danes, Dobermans, Schnauzers, Boxers, Miniature Pinschers, and Pit Bulls.

The risk of infection is there and the dog’s behavior is sometimes affected.

Ear Cropping is currently banned in Newfoundland, Labrador, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Colombia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and Scandinavia. No USA on that list.


A hundred years ago, ear cropping in dogs was done at home, by the owners. It was sloppy, unsanitary, and probably very painful.

There were two distinct reasons why this was done, health and safety.

  • Health- It was thought that dogs with cropped ears would not get ear infections and hematomas. For working dogs, getting their long ears snagged or torn on a fence or any other outside elements was a real possibility.
  • Safety- Working dogs often came into contact with wolves and other wildlife. Ears were cropped so these wild animals could not grab a hold of the dog by their ears. People also put spiked collars on their dogs for the same reasons.


I dont agree with how this was done however for the time period, I can understand why they did it. Back then, the majority of dogs were owned for working purposes. They worked alongside their human partners on the farm and slept outside or in the barn. They were relied on to pull carts that contained milk, meat, and other products. They herded cattle, sheep and other livestock, which is still true today.

Times Have Changed.

Today, dogs are still used on the farm however they are looked at more like a part of the family then a worker. They live and sleep inside, sometimes even in their humans’ bed. (guilty!)

We dress our dogs up, paint their nails and put tracking collars around their necks so they don’t get lost. Some of us even get their faces tattoo’d on us as a living memorial. (guilty!)

If we look at pets as part of the family, or one of our kids, then why is ear cropping in dogs still popular?

People still claim they do it for the same reasons, which are not valid.

  • Health? It has been proven that ear infections are common in all sorts of breeds, whether they have long ears or not. For example, Cocker Spaniels. Yes, they have longer ears however they are also at a much higher risk of developing food allergies than other dogs. When a dog’s immune system fights the allergies, itchy ears is a big symptom. Also, the anesthesia that is given to the puppy during the surgery can actually cause an ear infection itself. How backwards is that? So, cropping ears is not really beneficial to health.
  • Safety? If people have Pit Bulls with cropped ears, then say its for safety, it is my opinion that dog is being forced to fight. Most dogs (most, not all) aren’t dealing with wolves or other wildlife on a daily basis. Occasionally you hear of a wolf getting a smaller dog but its just not that common. So, cropping ears is not needed for the safety of dogs today.

 cropped ears and non-cropped ears

Unfortunately, the AKC supports ear cropping because it “maintains” the appearance of the breed.

However, they are being outvoted more and more. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) are against it. In fact, the AVMA has recommended to the AKC that they remove the mention of “cropped or trimmed ears” from the breed standard. They would like to prohibit the showing of dogs with cropped ears, if they are born after a specific date. This is an ongoing battle.

REAL reason people crop their dogs ears- APPEARANCE

Many people feel that their dog looks way tougher with cropped ears. Maybe they do, but is that honestly a good reason to do it? NO.

Ear cropping in dogs is cruel and just not necessary anymore. When you see dogs from fighting rings, many of them have cropped ears. And we know why. Pit bulls already have a hard enough time being accepted without us making them look MORE mean.

Something to keep in mind- veterinarians are NOT taught to crop ears in school, they have to teach themselves due to demand.

I think America needs to follow the many other countries who have banned this abusive practice and outlaw ear cropping in dogs now. If you’re looking for a way for your voice to be heard- here is a petition to the AKC asking them to ban this cruel and inhumane mutilation of dogs.

Outside of ear cropping, check out my article about other Pit Bull health issues that all Bully parents need to be aware of.

What is Ear Cropping? Ear Cropping in Dogs
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