Hundreds of years ago cropping (surgically changing the shape of the ears) was done for practical purposes. For example, to stop the ears being snagged in rough territory and being injured while hunting or working. For dogs that were bred for fighting it gave less for an opponent to grip on to rip off and sure gave a real “don’t mess with me” look. For guarding breeds, it made them look very alert and in tune with everything around them. Some of those purposes have carried on through to today and it’s an important part of the breed’s feature for many people, for aesthetical reasons (they like the look). It can be looked at as a breed’s trademark so to speak and has been said to have even given the upper hand in the show ring on more than the odd occasion. However, nowadays, I must mention that it is becoming less and less popular generally with an ever-growing resistance and controversy to it and even banned in some countries, especially in Europe such as Germany. This is rather interesting, as many of the breeds that typically have the ears cropped, originate from there. In Great Brittan, dogs with cropped ears are actually barred from entering shows.
Types of Crops?
Long Crop: skinny and tapered at the end and here are some typical breeds that experience it. Usually taping, splinting and bandaging will occur with this crop and it is not always guaranteed to hold that perfect erect posture, especially if done poorly of course.
- Doberman (pictured)
- Great Dane
- Schnauzer (Giant – Miniature)
- Miniature Pinscher
Short Crop: Cut rather short and no taping required, but may need a support moulded inside the ear for a while. Even with this cut there is a difference between being good or bad and show judges will look for perfect crop true to set breed standards.
- Cane Corso (pictured)
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Caucasian Mountain Dog
- Canary Dog
- Dogo Argentino
By whom and when should it be done?
You will hear various different ages for various different breeds. For this reason, it is better to seek good advice from experienced breeders and specialist veterinarians that actually do perform crops on the breed you are considering as they will shed the best light on the subject. Many vets will actually not go near cropping for various reasons. A couple being, awkward after treatments such as infections or complaints about the look. Early puppyhood most will agree on to get the surgery done and let’s say between the tender age of 7-12 weeks old typically to give you an idea. Ear cartilage sets early in dogs so this explains one reason why needed so soon. The puppy goes under general anaesthesia during the surgery (made to sleep), which always poses a risk of the puppy not waking up!
Taping your dog's ears will be required after the long crop (for Dobermans, Great Danes, Schnauzer, Boxer and Miniature Pinscher). Here is a great blog post on "How to actually tape your dog’s ears!"