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Doberman Ear Cropping: Everything You Need to Know

Doberman ear cropping everything you need to know

The Doberman’s cropped ears make them instantly recognizable, but did you know that their ears are naturally floppy? If you’re curious to know why these dogs get their ears cropped, you’re on the right page.

Despite its popularity, ear cropping is highly controversial. Many veterinary experts, dog owners, and animal advocates say that this kind of surgery is not ethical.

If you’re considering having this surgical procedure for your Doberman, keep reading this article.

Knowing the history, risks, and laws regarding ear cropping will help you make an informed decision for your dog.

What Is Ear Cropping in Dobermans?

Young purebred doberman puppy getting ear cropping surgery

Ear cropping or otoplasty is a standard medical procedure performed on Dobermans to remove a part of their floppy ears. This is done to achieve the iconic erect ears Dobermans are known for. There are different cropping styles that owners can choose from, depending on the look they wish their dog to have.

Specifically, the part called pinna is surgically removed during the Doberman ear cropping surgery and taped afterward while it heals.

Naturally, a Doberman Pinscher’s ears are floppy, but due to the breed’s reputation as a guard dog, cropped ears are much more desirable. 

Veterinarians usually perform these elective surgeries on Doberman Pinscher puppies between 8 and 12 weeks old. This is because their ears are still small and delicate and can heal quickly.

Aside from Doberman Pinschers, other dog breeds like the Miniature Pinschers, Cane Corsos, Boxers, and Pitbulls also get their ears cropped.

Ear Cropping in Doberman Pinschers

Ear cropping in Doberman Pinschers

The Doberman’s ears are distinguished by their upward angle, and since the characteristic is so common within the breed, it has become a defining feature, regardless of gender

Like other cosmetic procedures, Doberman ear cropping is done mainly for the sake of appearance. However, many owners and breeders do it for an allegedly functional purpose related to health.

History of Ear Cropping in Dobermans

Generally, the practice of cropping a Doberman’s ears, as well as in other breeds, has been traced back to the Romans. They did it to prevent dogs from being easily injured during hunting, war, or battle.

The natural floppy ears of Dobermans could be a hazard, especially if they serve as hunting dogs or security dogs.

It can be a disadvantage when the dog wants to move quickly through bushes and other obstacles.

They can be caught on branches or bitten by other animals during fights. Since having floppy ears make dogs more prone to injury, early breeders cropped them to make hunting more seamless.

Why Do People Crop Doberman’s Ears?

To make Dobermans look more intimidating in fulfilling their role as guard dogs, many owners choose to crop their Doberman’s ears.

Furthermore, most breeders of purebred Doberman Pinschers and owners prefer the traditional erect ears to meet the breed standards of the American Kennel Club (AKC). This way, they can perform in shows and competitions.

Ear cropping surgery is also said to avoid ear infections, especially if a Doberman’s ears are not cleaned regularly and correctly. 

Dogs with floppy ears tend to accumulate more dirt in their ear canal, making them susceptible to bacterial growth.

Aside from preventing infection, cropped ears are more preferred to avoid unwanted injuries. Floppy ears can be easily cut by shaking or scratching, and the long healing process can be quite burdensome.

Lastly, dog owners believe that cropped ears make it easier for canines to hear sounds clearly.

This ability makes Dobermans more effective as security dogs. However, all of these claims are not scientifically proven.

When Is Ear Cropping Performed?

The Doberman ear cropping procedure is generally performed on puppies around 8 to 12 weeks old. Due to the soft cartilage of the puppy’s ears, the process is less painful than on older dogs.

As a result, the healing process is more straightforward and faster for puppies. This is especially true if the ears are taped to a firm frame after the surgery.

Many believe that most Doberman puppies won’t remember the pain from this procedure when they turn into adults.

However, if you crop their ears at a later age, the chances of these dogs acquiring trauma are higher.

Is It Cruel to Crop a Doberman’s Ears?

Doberman breed with ears cropped in the winter

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has expressed opposition to the practice of dog ear cropping.

They claim that the procedure is purely cosmetic and poses unnecessary risks for the animal.

Moreover, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) also opposes ear cropping and tail docking, not just in Doberman Pinschers but in all breeds too.

More controversies arise because of the unclear and unproven benefits surrounding the ear cropping procedure, and several animal advocates and enthusiasts believe no dog deserves this.

Will My Doberman Feel Pain?

During your dog’s surgery, it will likely be under anesthesia. It assures that your pet will not feel any pain during the procedure. 

After the ear cropping surgery, however, your Doberman Pinscher can experience some discomfort and pain from the procedure. That’s why they are given after-care medications, like painkillers.

When your puppy’s ears are bumped, it will likely make a painful noise. They may cry or yelp. In some cases, the trauma is so significant that it causes lasting psychological problems.

What Is Ear Cropping Surgery Like?

Doberman ear cropping can be compared to an amputation surgery since the veterinarian will cut about two-thirds of your dog’s ears.

The ear cropping procedure is usually performed under anesthesia, typically taking about 30 minutes.

The ears are cleaned before being marked and cut. The portion to be removed is determined by the type of cut you choose.

Afterward, the ears are bandaged or taped so that it stays erect. Painkillers may be prescribed by your vet after the effects of anesthesia wear off.

Some Dobermans’ ears will stand upright almost immediately after being taped to a hard surface, while others may take up to a year.

Proper after-care should be done after this elective surgery to avoid ear infections.

In addition, pet owners should be very cautious not to bump their dog’s ears to avoid ear injuries during recovery time. A neck cone can also help the cropped ears remain unscratched during these times.

Furthermore, ensure that you give your dog enough space and time to heal first before exposing them to outdoor activities or playtime.

Here’s an in-depth video about the Doberman ear cropping process:

Doberman Pinscher Ear Cropping: What's it Like?

The Downside to Ear Cropping in Doberman Pinschers

Doberman dog with cropped ears enjoy his summer on grass

Despite the common belief that cropping ears are necessary for Doberman Pinschers, more and more dog owners, veterinary schools, and veterinarians question whether it’s a justifiable procedure.

At present, despite being in the breed standard, fewer veterinarians are allowing these surgical procedures in Dobermans due to the lack of scientific evidence that it’s indeed beneficial.

1. There can be unwanted results after surgery.

Although surgery and taping can help your Doberman’s ears stand up, there is a chance that they will return to their natural state. There is also a possibility that it can be irregularly shaped.

A common reason your dog may not have a successful ear cropping result is the lack of after-care.

Many owners fail to provide proper attention to the dog’s ears after the surgery, which can result in unwanted results.

It may also happen because the pinna cartilage is thin and fragile, making it insufficient to support the ear. It can also be that the ears are set too low, resulting in noticeable scar tissue.

2. Long recovery time is required for your dog.

Recovery can take anywhere from five months to a year before the dog’s ears stand up, which can be a burden on your dog.

This also means you have to put up with the process of wrapping bandages around the dog’s ears for that long.

To avoid infection and to keep your dog’s cropped ears looking great, you’ll need to change the bandages regularly. You also have to be more cautious around your dog to avoid accidental injuries.

3. There are risks when exposing your pet to anesthesia.

A dog can die during ear cropping surgery because their bodies cannot handle the medications used in anesthesia. That’s why preanesthetic bloodwork is vital to do before the surgical procedure.

Your Doberman Pinscher’s blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heartbeat should be monitored closely by the vet to ensure your pup stays safe during this cosmetic procedure.

4. There are no other benefits to ear-cropping.

Aside from cosmetic purposes, Doberman ear cropping has no real benefits and is not done for functional reasons. 

There is no evidence to suggest that their ears make them better at hearing than dogs with uncropped ears. In fact, cropping is likely to be harmful to dogs in several ways. 

Because ears are used for communication, cutting them off can make it harder for dogs to understand each other and their owners.

Moreover, ear infections are a problem for many dogs, regardless if the ears are cropped or not.

Is It Legal to Crop Your Doberman’s Ears? 

Black Doberman with cropped ears standing outdoors

Ear cropping has been legal in the United States since the 1930s, and only nine states have regulations that only licensed veterinarians are allowed to perform this surgical procedure.

These nine states include New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, and Maryland.

Unfortunately, the rest of the states don’t have any laws for this elective surgery, meaning anyone can perform it even without administering anesthesia to the Doberman.

At the same time, many countries have banned ear cropping since it is considered cruel and unnecessary. These countries are the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

Some parts of Canada, like Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, have also outlawed ear cropping and other cosmetic veterinary procedures.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposed the cosmetic cropping of puppies’ ears in 2008. Many rescue organizations and animal advocates also stand against it.

So before you decide to have your Doberman puppy’s ears stand upright through ear cropping, make sure you check in with the laws of your country or local area just to make sure it’s allowed.

Ethics of Ear Cropping in Dobermans

Humans can deny themselves cosmetic surgeries, but dogs cannot. It will be up to us, pet owners, to decide on this.

Most dogs have their ears cropped and tails docked to resemble their dog breed’s standard. However, these procedures can cause extreme pain and suffering to the animals involved.

For the American Kennel Club (AKC) and most AKC breeders, ear cropping in Doberman is preferred. In fact, cropped ears are more desired when it comes to the AKC breed standards. 

However, according to the AVMA, together with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), and CVMA, this procedure is unnecessary, unethical, and unacceptable.

Should You Crop a Doberman’s Ears?

Should you crop a Dobermans ears

For some Doberman owners, deciding whether to crop their dogs’ ears or retain their natural ears can be tough. However, making an informed decision based on your dog’s welfare is always important.

Ask Yourself Why

Before you decide to have your Doberman pup’s ears cropped, ask yourself why. If your primary concern is your dog’s well-being, you may prefer not to proceed with the procedure. 

In contrast, if you’re a Doberman breeder or an owner opting to join shows and competitions with your fur buddy, you may proceed as long as it is done professionally and legally in your area.

Another excellent factor to consider is whether it is what you really want for the dog and if the pain and effort from the surgical procedure and recovery time are worth it.

At the end of the day, your Doberman cannot make a decision for itself. It is solely your choice, and thus, you have to outweigh the pros and cons.

Identify Potential Risks

If you are considering having your Doberman pup’s ears cropped, you should find out if they are at risk for complications from the procedure.

If it’s a puppy, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to do the process with little trouble.

In contrast, if you have an adult Doberman Pinscher, it’s essential to be aware that older dogs are more likely to experience complications from anesthesia than younger ones.

If your dog has breathing or lung problems, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before deciding on ear cropping. A breathing tube can be inserted during the surgery so the dog can breathe properly.

Aside from that, you should also know if your Doberman puppy’s blood levels are normal and ensure that it’s not anemic.

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure, and excessive bleeding or blood loss may happen unexpectedly.

Check Your Local Laws

If you plan to get your dogs’ ears cropped, you will need to research the laws in your state about ear cropping.

If you live in the United States, it’s essential to check your state’s regulations on ear cropping. Also, ensure that it is done professionally by a licensed veterinarian to ensure your dog’s health and safety.

In comparison, your country may have banned ear cropping entirely if you live in Europe. However, some European countries still allow the procedure to be performed under strict and specific rules.

Doberman Ear Cropping Styles

There are different styles in which a Doberman puppy can be seen with cropped ears. Each style has various functional reasons, but all types should be well taken care of while healing.

Here are the common Doberman ear cropping styles:

  • Battle Crop: This crop offers less coverage than other styles, so it is the safest option. This style dates back to ancient times when dog owners cropped their pets’ ears to prevent infections and hematomas. Moreover, it is a popular option for those who want a clean, protective cut for their Doberman puppy.
  • Working Crop: This cut is also known as the pet or military crop, and it is as short as the battle crop, but the Doberman’s ears will have a broader base. The working crop style makes the dog look more intimidating.
  • Medium Crop: The medium crop is a combination of the working crop and the show crop. The cut done to the dog’s ear is not extreme, but enough to make it noticeable. However, this style needs more serious after-care for the ears to stand erect than the former styles mentioned.
  • Show Crop: This type of ear cropping is considered one of the most popular for breeders and owners of Doberman Pinschers because they find that this cut makes for well-formed ears that stand upright. Furthermore, the show crop style takes the longest time to heal, and it may need a few weeks of extra effort of post-op care for the cropped ears to achieve its desired look.

A specific crop style will turn out excellent after the recovery phase if the right post-op care is provided. This means, aside from the vet, dog owners play a vital role in this procedure.

Additionally, follow-up appointments should be scheduled to ensure the healing process is going well and that the owner’s desired ear style is achieved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doberman Pinscher crop ears outdoors at park

Do Dobermans Have Naturally Cropped Ears?

Doberman Pinscher puppies are not naturally born with erected cropped ears, just like how they are not born with docked tails. Instead, they have natural droopy ears and long tails. 

For them to have these prominent cropped Doberman ears, they will need to undergo an ear cropping procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian and have taped ears until they heal fully.

How Much Does It Cost to Crop a Doberman’s Ears?

Generally, reputable breeders and licensed veterinarians charge between $300 and $600 for an ear cropping process. This price is only for Dobermans but also for other dog breeds.

There are cheaper options at around $150 to $250. However, it is strongly recommended to choose trustworthy places and clinics to ensure safety and good quality operations to avoid ear infections.

READ NEXT: How Much Does a Doberman Cost? (2023 Price Guide)

Can I Crop My Doberman’s Ears at Home?

Since ear cropping is a surgical amputation process, doing this at home is not advised.

Moreover, home ear cropping is not legal in many areas, especially in the United States, so you might as well check the restrictions.

Furthermore, it is best that a professional veterinarian performs the ear cropping operation to ensure that your Doberman is safe at all times, especially with the use of anesthesia.

How Long Does It Take for Cropped Ears to Heal?

After ear cropping, it generally takes anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks to heal. This depends on the dog, the owner’s post-op care efforts, and the type of ear cropping style done. Other dogs may take longer to heal.

Taking your dog back to the vet for follow-up check-ups can also aid the recovery of your Doberman.

Final Thoughts

Dobermans are working dogs with natural protectiveness and guarding abilities. 

Due to this role, it has been part of the breed standard for this dog to have cropped and erect ears. However, is it essential, or is it just for aesthetics?

The Doberman floppy ear is adorable. However, Doberman cropped ears are also stunning. So the answer to the question of whether or not you want to have your Doberman’s ears cropped is entirely up to you.

Do you think ear cropping is ethical? Let us know what you think about cropping a Doberman’s ears in the comments below.