Great Dane Ear Cropping: Everything You Need to Know

Great Dane ear cropping

Great Dane ear cropping has been so common that many would think that an upright ear is this breed’s actual ear shape.

Despite that, ear cropping still sparks debate as to whether or not this procedure is ethical and necessary. 

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure performed on Great Dane puppies to remove the external ear flap or the loose skin on their ears, leaving them with a smaller, pointy ear. 

If you are wondering if you can get your Great Dane ears cropped or just curious about ear cropping, then you are in the right place. 

This guide will discuss everything you need about Great Dane ear cropping. Hopefully, this should help you assess whether or not this procedure is for your dog. 

What Is Ear Cropping in Great Danes?

Great Dane with cropped ears laying down on white background

Great Dane ear cropping is a surgical procedure done by a licensed veterinarian to remove all or a part of the pinna — the visible flap of a dog’s ears. This is usually done in an effort to train the ear to stand erect, resulting in a wolf-like, pointed, and attentive dog appearance. 

During a Great Dane ear cropping procedure, the ears are shaved, and the flap is trimmed using a guide and surgical tools such as a scalpel, scissors, or laser. The cut ears are then sutured, bandaged, and taped for several days. 

Typically, this is performed on male and female Great Danes with underdeveloped ear cartilage or pups between 8 and 12 weeks old when the cartilage is still soft. 

Many argue that there are health benefits that come along with ear cropping a Great Dane, such as preventing ear infections and reducing the risk of ear injury. 

However, the most common reason for such a procedure is only for aesthetics.

Ear Cropping in Great Danes

Ear cropping in Great Danes

Although some condemn this procedure, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes ear cropping in Great Danes as an acceptable practice that is integral to defining and preserving the breed’s character.

Along with Great Danes, there are other dogs with cropped ears that are recognized by the major kennel clubs. This includes Cane Corsos, Boxers, Pitbulls, and Miniature Pinschers.

History of Ear Cropping in Great Danes

Ear cropping is an ancient practice that was first done in Great Danes. Back then, many dogs had the ear cropping procedure because it was necessary for their line of work.

Great Danes were primarily used for hunting wild boar. Since a boar is a ferocious beast, hunting them can be challenging and dangerous.

Often, Great Danes suffer severe injuries from being bitten, cut, or torn by sharp teeth.

Their floppy ears make it easier for them to be bitten by these boars. That is why the ancient people agreed to incise a portion of the ear to avoid or lessen injuries related to boar hunting. 

Why Do People Crop Great Dane’s Ears?

Even though Great Dane dogs are not used for hunting purposes these days, Great Dane owners still choose to have their dog’s ears cropped for several other reasons.

One of the most common reasons is because of health. Although this is not backed by science, numerous dog parents believe that the Great Dane’s ear problems will be lessened by having cropped ears.

In general, dogs, regardless of their breed, are susceptible to ear infections when their ears are not thoroughly cleaned. 

Dog breeds with naturally floppy ears like Great Danes are at even more risk since dirt is easily trapped under the ear flaps. Likewise, dirt can also be trapped in the dog’s ear canal.

Having dogs with cropped ears will make it easier for dog owners to clean their pet’s ears and easier to remove moisture as well. 

Another reason is for dog show purposes. The majority of dogs competing in conformation or dog shows have cropped ears. This is because Great Dane dog parents believe that cropped dogs score better in competitions like this.

However, most kennel clubs can confirm that this isn’t a requirement for participation based on breed standards.

The common reason for Great Dane ear cropping is for aesthetic purposes. Unfortunately, there are dog owners who do not like the appearance of their dog’s natural floppy ears. 

Others also feel the need to crop their dog’s ears to give it a more intimidating look, especially if they are using their Great Dane for guarding purposes. 

When Is Ear Cropping Performed?

Although you can crop your Great Dane’s ear at any time while it is still a puppy, the ear cropping surgery is typically done between 8 and 12 weeks. During this time, the Great Dane’s ear cartilage is still soft and easier to cut.

The longer you wait to have your Great Dane ears cropped, the more painful the procedure will be for the dog.

Dogs getting their ear cropped at 10 weeks or older are susceptible to experiencing psychological trauma

The reason behind this is that at 10 weeks, your dog’s ear cartilage has already developed, which will take the ears longer to heal and may not result in the desired look for your Great Dane.

Is It Cruel to Crop a Great Dane’s Ears?

Gray Great Dane with cropped ears outdoors

While others will agree that it is an act of animal cruelty to crop a Great Dane’s ear, a good number of people also believes that it is not.

Many of them believe that this is a generally safe procedure with several benefits for your dog. 

Before you conclude whether or not it is a cruel act, here are some of the things you need to know about Great Dane ear cropping.

Will My Great Dane Feel Pain?

Unfortunately, yes. However, during the cropping process, your Great Dane puppy will be put under general anesthesia, which means your dog will not feel any pain and will be asleep during the entire procedure.

The anesthesia will numb your dog for a couple of hours, but once it wears off, your dog will start to feel the pain from the ear cropping surgery.

Not to worry, though, since your vet will most likely prescribe pain medication for your dog.

What Is the Ear Cropping Surgery Like?

During a Great Dane ear cropping surgery, your Great Dane puppy will first be administered general anesthesia so it will be asleep and unable to feel pain during the procedure. 

The veterinarian will then make an incision in the ear flap and remove a portion of the cartilage and skin, according to your desired ear cropping style. 

Once the removal of the floppy part is complete, sutures will be used to close the incisions. Bandage and tape will be placed over the ears until the ears are completely healed, which can last from 4 to 8 weeks.

The Downside to Ear Cropping in Great Danes

Despite the numerous claimed benefits of ear cropping a Great Dane, there are just as many risks involved.

These risks may or may not sway you from having your dog’s ears cropped. However, it is useful to know them, nonetheless.

1. Recovery can be a long process.

The healing process for cropped Great Dane dog ears can be long and challenging. While for some dogs, it can only last 4 to 8 weeks for cropped ears to be completely healed, others will take five months or more. 

Moreover, the time frame does not include training the ears to stand erect, which may take even longer. 

The dog owner will also have to deal with the recovery process as it will also include lengthy aftercare of your dog’s ear.

Depending on the vet’s advice, owners may have to change the bandage and tape every other day. 

2. The benefits are unproven.

As previously mentioned, the claims that ear cropping helps lessen ear infections in Great Dane dogs are not backed or proven by science. In fact, even dogs with erect ears are still susceptible to ear infections. 

If you decide to have your Great Dane pup’s ears cropped for this sole reason, it’s best not to push through with it, as it will only be a waste of time and money. 

3. There’s a possibility that the procedure will not work.

Even with the lengthy procedure and healing process, there is no assurance that a Great Dane cropped ears will be just like how you expect them to be — erect and standing. 

Improper cropped ear care can cause your Great Dane to end up with bent, twisted, and disfigured ears. 

Is It Legal to Crop Your Great Dane’s Ears?

White and black Great Dane with cropped ears

In the United States, Great Dane ear cropping is not yet explicitly banned, which makes it legal to perform ear cropping procedures on Great Danes and other breeds. 

However, many countries like Australia, Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, and Scotland have totally banned ear cropping. 

In European countries, ear cropping and tail docking are now being restricted, especially those that are not performed by a veterinary doctor.

This is also why you would hardly find an ear-cropped European Great Dane these days. 

While ear cropping is technically legal across the United States, several states have already established laws and regulations regarding surgeries like ear cropping. 

Currently, nine states in America regulate ear cropping in dogs. Unfortunately, the rest of the states have no regulation on the procedure, meaning anyone can perform ear cropping even without anesthesia.

Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania are among the nine states with regulated ear cropping protocols. These states prohibit ear cropping unless performed by a vet and under anesthesia.

The ear cropping regulation in Maryland specifically stipulates that ear cropping should only be done on appropriate animals. This means that not all breeds can be ear cropped.

On the other hand, Illinois strictly prohibits animal torture but allows alteration of the dog’s appearance as long as it is supervised by a qualified veterinarian. 

Likewise, Maine bans injuring an animal that causes permanent results to an animal’s bodily parts, which include ear cropping. However, exceptions are given to procedures that are performed by licensed veterinarians. 

While state laws differ, those that have restrictions often call for a licensed veterinarian to perform the surgery. 

Ethics of Ear Cropping in Great Danes

The ethics of ear cropping Great Danes is highly debated and unresolved even up until now.

While ear cropping advocates claim that there are a lot of health benefits to it, veterinarians and other organizations believe otherwise.

The American Kennel Club recognizes elective surgeries like ear cropping and tail docking as prescribed in certain breed standards. 

The organization believes that such practices are acceptable and integral to defining and preserving the breed’s character. 

However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) severely discourages ear cropping in dogs when done for cosmetic reasons. 

In 2008, the AVMA passed a policy stating their opposition to ear cropping and tail docking. They rebuke these processes, especially when they are done solely for cosmetic purposes.

Ear cropping in Great Danes is painful, expensive, and has no significant medical justification. As much as possible, do not put your puppy through ear cropping. 

However, if you decide to have this elective procedure performed on your puppy, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian and consider your reasons for doing so. 

Should You Crop a Great Dane’s Ears?

Great Dane cropped ears looking over her shoulder

While you are given the freedom to decide whether or not to crop the ears of your Great Dane puppy, it is crucial that you think things through and conduct extensive research first before making a decision. 

Ask Yourself Why

First things first, why do you want to have your Great Dane dog’s ears cropped?

Is it because Great Dane ear problems can be lessened with ear cropping, or is it because you want them to look more intimidating?

It’s important to seek veterinary advice as they are better equipped with the necessary information about the procedure.

Even so, the decision is still in your hands, so it’s best to decide out of your Great Dane’s best interest. 

Identify Potential Risks

Given that ear cropping is a surgical procedure, there are risks that may put your dog’s well-being at risk.

That is why it is important that you do your research and decide if you are willing to risk your dog’s welfare.

Likewise, it is best to ask for veterinary guidance and seek their opinion as to whether your dog is healthy enough to be put through this lengthy ear cropping process. 

Check Your Local Laws

Finally, check your local laws and restrictions on ear cropping. Despite your best efforts to have your Great Dane puppy’s ear cropped, if it is prohibited in your state, you cannot do anything otherwise. 

If you are from the United States of America, you can read this article by the American Veterinary Medical Association on States Laws Governing Elective Surgical Procedures for reference. 

For Great Dane owners outside the United States, it’s best to personally check it with your local state. 

Great Dane Ear Cropping Styles

While ear cropping is performed in different breeds, each breed has a particular set of ear cropped styles. The good thing about this is that owners can freely choose the style out of personal preference. 

Below are the three most common styles in Great Dane ear-cropping: 

  • Pet Crop: The pet crop style or commonly known as the medium crop, requires less maintenance compared to other Great Dane ear-cropping styles. However, the pet crop is not the easiest style to achieve. Thus, you will need a skilled veterinarian to do the procedure to achieve this cropping style. This is also the best choice for novice Great Dane dog owners that have no experience taking care of cropped ears before.
  • Long Show Crop: The long show crop is considered the most stylish ear cropping style in Great Danes. In fact, this crop style is often seen in Great Danes that compete in dog shows. Long show crops feature a tall and pointed appearance. The beauty and regal look of this style come with a price, though, since this is the hardest style to maintain. 
  • Medium Crop: The medium crop is a Great Dane ear-cropping style that gives off a look that is in between the pet crop style and the long show crop style. Your Great Dane’s ears will still stand significantly higher than those with a pet crop, although not quite as tall as the long show crop. 

Though we do not recommend ear cropping your dog, especially for cosmetic reasons alone, it is still important that you carefully choose which style you want should you decide to pursue it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Purebred cropped ears Great Dane portrait

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

The cost of Great Dane ear-cropping highly depends on your location and how skilled the performing veterinarian is, but you can expect to pay around $500 to $600. 

The estimated price typically includes the surgery, anesthesia, and the vet’s professional fee.

On top of the surgery price, you may also need to shell out money for your dog’s aftercare medication and follow-up check-ups. 

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

Can I Crop My Great Dane’s Ears at Home?

Great Dane ear-cropping is a veterinary procedure. This means you should never attempt to crop Great Dane ears at home. By doing so, your dog may be at risk of ear infections and, worse, botched ears.

Even Great Dane ear cropping procedures done by veterinarians have possible risks, even more so by doing it by yourself at home. 

Likewise, your dog will also need to take antibiotics and pain medication to help them be comfortable during recovery.

Without a written prescription from a veterinarian, you will most likely not have access to these meds. 

How Long Does It Take for Cropped Ears to Heal?

The general range for cropped ears to be completely healed is 4 to 8 weeks. However, there are instances when it takes up to three months for a Great Dane to have fully healed cropped ears. 

Factors like your dog’s overall health, its reaction to the medicine, and how good the aftercare is, are likely to affect the length of your dog’s recovery.

Just like any wound, some may take shorter to heal while others take longer. 

Final Thoughts

As much as possible, Great Dane parents should never take into consideration cropping their Great Dane dog’s ears. Your dog’s well-being should be more important than your dog’s appearance. 

Undergoing cosmetic surgery to crop ears doesn’t just put your dog in pain but also puts them at great risk for infection and other health complications, which may ultimately cause death if not caught early. 

However, since ear cropping is a personal preference, at least make sure that you thoroughly think about it before you decide to finally do it. Also, make sure that a skilled veterinarian will perform the procedure. 

The question remains: should you crop your Great Dane or not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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