Ear cropping or Otoplasty is a standard medical treatment that is done on different dogs, including Boxers. The procedure usually takes place between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks.
Even though this is already being done for quite a long time, ear cropping in Boxers is still highly controversial.
A growing number of experts and animal rights groups argue that though the surgery is standard, we cannot wholly consider it as an ethical treatment.
So, the big question is: should you crop your Boxer’s ears? Before making a decision, I prepared a detailed guide with everything there is to know about the procedure including possible costs, benefits, and drawbacks.
Let’s jump right in!
What Is Ear Cropping in Boxers?
Ear cropping removes the floppy portion of the Boxer dog’s ear, known as the pinna, making the ears stand upright until healed.
Boxer puppies between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks commonly undergo this cosmetic procedure since their ears are still tiny and soft which makes the healing process go smoothly.
According to some records, cropping a natural eared Boxer and other breeds has been done since the time of the Romans to prevent the dog from being torn apart during hunting, war, or battle.
Many fighting and hunting dogs, such as the early Boxers, were at risk of getting their floppy ears bitten off by others if not trimmed.
It is also believed that ear cropping made them look more alert, aggressive, and ferocious back then.
Another account says that Boxers also worked in agricultural communities long before they became the companion dogs we know now.
To protect livestock from the prey, they may get their long ears stuck in various objects on the farm — hence they need it clipped to achieve the desired shape.
Why Do Boxer Dogs Get Their Ears Cropped?
There are several reasons why owners or local breeders want to crop the ears of their Boxer dogs, and they are the following:
- Breed Norm: This is the most common reason for Boxer ear cropping. It can be due to personal preference since it’s considered the breed norm for Boxer dogs. To put it more simply, they feel obliged to maintain the breed standard.
- Health Reasons: Another reason can be the claimed health purposes for trimming a Boxer dog’s ears. Though there are no official studies to back these claims, many say the procedure prevents ear mites, yeast infections, and other health concerns. It is also believed to improve a dog’s sense of hearing significantly.
- Cosmetic and Aesthetic Purposes: Notably, the majority of people who opt for ear cropping do so for aesthetic and cosmetic reasons. The Boxer breed does not have regulated ears but unevenly developed ears from their early breeding phase.
- Aggressive Appearance: Some owners perform ear cropping for their show dogs, making it level with the top of the head rather than flopping to the sides. It gives the Boxer a more aggressive and ferocious look.
To give you an idea of how a dog with trimmed ears look like in action, here’s a YouTube video that shows a Boxer puppy before and after the surgery:
Is Boxer Ear Cropping Legal?
Ear cropping is legal in the United States. However, you must note that a few states have strict prohibitions on the practice, such as:
- New Hampshire
Meanwhile, only licensed veterinarians are authorized to conduct the procedure in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. They require dogs to be anesthetized upon getting their ears clipped.
Washington state also has its own set of rules, and they only consider ear cropping as legal when performed according to “accepted husbandry methods.”
Many organizations require ear cropping for dogs to participate in shows. Trimming your Boxer’s ears, for this reason, may be permitted.
In contrast, many countries overseas have outright banned ear cropping — deeming the practice as illegal. It includes:
- The majority of Scandinavian nations
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Some provinces in Canada also banned the practice, such as:
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
In recent years, the ethics of Otoplasty have been questioned in the United States.
The American Veterinary Medical Association passed a rule in 2008 opposing the cosmetic cropping of puppies’ ears when done for aesthetic reasons.
The AVMA policy statement on ear cropping and tail docking of dogs reads:
“The AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when done solely for cosmetic purposes. The AVMA encourages the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.”
This resolution only positively affects the Boxers. They will be spared from the painful procedure and eliminate the breed’s false beauty and fashion standard.
So if you’re not planning to breed your Boxer dogs or have them join the show ring, ear cropping is not essential.
Are There Health Benefits to Cropping Boxer’s Ears?
Ear cropping in Boxer dogs is widely believed to reduce the risk of ear infections. It also improves their sense of hearing, as sound passes straight to the eardrums with no ear flap falling forward and preventing it.
Dogs with cropped ears are less likely to suffer from ear canal infections than natural eared dogs since the development of related severe conditions is linked to having a heavy-hanging ear.
While it’s a good point, some American Veterinary Medical Association experts don’t necessarily agree with it. According to them, ear infection susceptibility is commonly dictated by breed.
Naturally, Boxers have floppy ears that tend to fold over. It prevents adequate airflow and traps a lot of moisture in the ears. As a result, ear infections are increasingly common in Boxer dogs with unclipped ears.
Many believe ear cropping allows for better ventilation in the ears, keeping bacteria at bay. Hence, many Boxer owners traditionally have their dog’s ears cropped to stand erect.
The practice of ear clipping, however, does not appear to prevent or successfully treat these infections.
There’s also no evidence to back up claims about the procedure preventing later ear damage or improving a dog’s hearing.
Why Is Boxer Ear Cropping Controversial?
The question of whether or not to crop the Boxer’s natural ears remains to be a controversial one today.
Many consider it an alteration that goes against nature or a pointless cosmetic operation with no concrete health benefits.
Trimming a Boxer’s ears is also considered animal cruelty by many animal rights advocates and dog lovers.
Generally, ear clipping in dogs is a painful procedure. Even if the puppy is sedated, healing will trigger a great deal of anxiety.
Cropping is also carried out under total anesthesia, which has associated risks, according to a study. Hence, many of those against the practice see the procedure as a threat to animal welfare.
After surgery, Boxers will also experience discomfort as they recover, stretch, re-tape, bandage, and undergo other manipulations.
Some Boxer dogs might need bandaging or taping to keep their ears upright, which lasts for days to months.
During this time, they are separated from other dogs, and isolation makes a dog prone to loneliness. There’s also the possibility of potential complications.
Clipped ears, like every incision, may become infected. It may also fail to stand or have a skewed form or distorted position, potentially requiring subsequent surgery.
Meanwhile, many of those in favor argue that the breed is known for cropped ears for decades.
Even the prominent American Kennel Club (AKC) and American Boxer Club defend the practice of cropping the Boxer’s natural ears by claiming it is part of a long tradition.
They believe it is “essential to defining and maintaining breed character and improving good health.”
Ear Cropping Procedure: How Are Boxer Ears Cropped?
Ear cropping is usually performed on Boxer puppies aged 8 to 12 weeks. The process takes about 30 to 45 minutes, but the healing stage will last for several weeks if there are no post-surgery complications.
If you’re curious, the standard procedure for Boxer dog ear cropping goes as follows:
- The puppy will be anesthetized. General anesthesia controls pain, induces unconsciousness, and relaxes the dog’s muscles. In most cases, a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug will help your Boxer relax.
- The vet or vet assistant will wash the ears. They ensure the ears are sterile before the surgery. Generally, your Boxer’s ears are clipped and scrubbed with soap to disinfect the area effectively.
- The vet will mark the area where the ear will be cut. Based on the selected crop style, measurements and the areas that will be affected are marked accordingly. It will help make the surgery as precise as possible.
- The vet will now cut off a part of your Boxer’s ear. An incision will be made from the bottom part of the ear to the center and tip to remove the ear’s outer half. Only a triangular piece of the ear will remain. It is stitched in such a way the ear does not flap over. Instead, it will stand straight. The same procedure is performed on the other ear afterward.
The incision of your Boxer may be sutured or glued with surgical adhesive, depending on your veterinarian’s call.
If your dog is sutured, it needs to be removed after 10 to 14 days. Specific bandage techniques are also used post-surgery to keep the dog’s ears erect amid healing.
Ideally, it would be best if you allotted ample time to take care of your Boxer after the operation. Prepare to spend a lot of time bandaging, posting, and going to the vet for numerous routine check-ups.
You need to follow the proper aftercare precisely because if not, scarring can likely occur.
Your household must also be a conducive healing environment for your Boxer to ensure your pup will recover well.
If there are children at home, keep in mind that they might become a complicating factor in your dog’s healing.
Remember that a healing animal can feel pain from time to time, so expect grumpiness. Keep an extra eye on their interaction to ensure your children won’t end up getting nipped by a bad-tempered dog.
Unfortunately, not every procedure turns out to be successful as Boxers have differences in their ears. Also, surgery may not result in entirely erect ears as you’d initially expect.
Pros and Cons of Boxer Ear Cropping
When it comes to getting your Boxer’s ears cropped, keep in mind that your decision will have certain advantages and disadvantages.
Luckily, I have a short but precise pros and cons list to help you make the best decision if ear cropping is right for your Boxer.
- On a Boxer, cropped ears look fantastic. Though floppy, natural ears are lovely on their own, the trimmed ear style complements their square-shaped head and blunt snout.
- Having cropped or trimmed ears is considered the breed standard in many dogs, including Boxers. It gives them a clean and sharp breed intended look. If a Boxer with a cropped ear style enters a show, it may have a higher chance of capturing the judges’ attention and interest.
- For many dog breeders and owners, cropped ears turned into a long-standing tradition. The practice is observed in many dogs, and they may even look different or look unrecognizable without cropped ears, as controversial as it may be.
- Your Boxer dog ears will remain clean. Ear infections caused by yeast or bacteria, ear mites, or ticks that tend to line the underside of the ear would almost certainly never be a problem for a dog with clipped ears.
- Having a boxer’s ears cropped can be done by an experienced veterinarian for $300 to $600. You might also need to pay extra expenses such as follow-up visits to monitor your dog’s post-surgery healing. In some places, the operation’s fees vary depending on the dog’s weight.
- You will need to deal with the solid social stigma connected to ear cropping. As previously discussed, the painful procedure is deemed as animal cruelty by many animal rights advocates and dog owners.
- For the Boxer, the procedure can be excruciating and stressful. Even during the healing process, your Boxer will be forced to wear an uncomfortable Elizabethan collar. The ears need to be taped in a particular manner to ensure that it results in erect ears.
- There’s no concrete scientific evidence that the clipped ears are beneficial to your dog’s health.
- Since ear cropping is generally performed on puppies, there’s a chance your pup will display an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. While it is rare, some owners have lost their Boxer puppies due to reported postoperative complications.
As a Boxer owner, it is your responsibility to understand the benefits and drawbacks of cosmetic surgical procedures like ear cropping.
Ensure that your dog will generally benefit from the surgery before making a final decision.
Is Ear Cropping Needed for Boxers to Compete in Dog Shows?
No, ear cropping is not necessary for your Boxers to compete in various dog shows even though it is preferred by the American Boxer Club.
A clipped ear does not give a dog the winning edge in the show ring. If anything, that belief is a popular misconception.
Even though the American Kennel Club (AKC) finds ear cropping an “acceptable practice” and a breed standard in Boxers, dogs with natural ears have an equal chance of winning any show as dogs with cropped ears.
Frequently Asked Questions
At What Age Do You Crop a Boxer’s Ears?
When it comes to ear cropping or Otoplasty, there is no strict age limit. It can be performed on Boxers of any age. However, a Boxer puppy should ideally have their ears cropped between the ages of 10 and 12 weeks old.
A puppy’s ears are tiny and soft — making the healing process go more smoothly. Having your Boxer go under the knife at this age will avoid unnecessary damage and discomfort.
A dog’s ear cartilage thickens as they mature. Hence the operation can cause an older dog more pain and discomfort than it would to a puppy.
How Much Does It Cost to Crop a Boxer’s Ears?
Boxer ear cropping costs anywhere from $300 to $600. Included in this estimate are anesthesia, the operation, aftercare medicine, and follow-up visits.
Routine vet check-ups are essential in monitoring if the puppy’s ears are healing correctly.
In some cities, the cost for this cosmetic procedure depends heavily on the dog’s weight. However, just because you pay a higher price for surgery doesn’t guarantee a better outcome.
Can You Crop Your Boxer’s Ears Yourself?
Technically, it is possible to pull a DIY when cropping your Boxer’s ears depending on your area and the local laws about ear cropping. However, I strongly discourage you from doing so.
For starters, having your Boxer puppy anesthetized is needed to avoid excruciating pain during the procedure. It’s safer to take your dog to a licensed veterinarian if you’re serious about getting your dog’s ears fixed.
Remember, you’re not an expert. Cropping your Boxer’s ears yourself might lead to post-surgery complications, especially when not done correctly in a sterilized environment.
It may develop infections that might put your dog’s life at risk.
How Long Does Ear Cropping Take to Heal?
Typically, it takes about 10 to 14 days for your dog’s cropped ears to recover. In some cases, it may take a little longer.
During the healing period, your Boxer needs to wear an ear rack or tape to hold the ears upright in place and erect.
Keep a close eye on the tape or bandages to keep the wounds clean and free of infection. It’s also ideal to take your dog back to the vet for post-surgery check-ups.
Realistically, it will take about a full 4 to 5 months until your Boxer is fully healed from the ear cropping surgery.
Final Thoughts: Should You Crop Your Boxer’s Ears?
The question remains: to crop or not to crop? The decision of whether or not you should trim your Boxer’s ears is entirely up to you.
Ear cropping is ideal if you’re a breeder who wants to uphold breed standards, raise a show dog, or simply prefer the appearance of chipped ears.
Other things to consider are the number of pets at home, children, time restraints, financial constraints, and the pain your dog may experience during the procedure.
However, keep in mind that cosmetic surgery is not necessary for your dog’s health. If anything, it can be a painful procedure that requires careful aftercare and frequent veterinarian visits.