Floppy drop ears or cropped ears? These are the two choices that Doberman owners can make regarding ear carriage.
Although Doberman Pinschers are born with floppy ears, the show standard requires the dogs’ ears to be cropped, and many follow this practice.
Should Doberman ears be cropped?
Unless you are planning on showing your dog, deciding whether or not to crop is a matter of personal preference. There are reasons for and against both practices.
This video describes one common wrapping method. Owners who choose favor of cropping will need to keep how much time they may have to spend wrapping the ears until they set.
When Can Doberman Ears Be Cropped?
Most Doberman Pinscher puppies have their ears cropped when they are between seven and nine weeks old.
Although this age may seem a little young for such a procedure, cropping is done at this age because the ear cartilage has not yet hardened. Sometimes, the procedure may be done as late as 12 weeks. Your vet will know if delaying this far is possible.
Some Doberman puppies have had cropped ears from as young as six weeks old. When many owners request puppies from a breeder with cropped ears, the breeder may start the cropping at this earlier age.
However, cropping as early as six weeks should only be performed under the guidance of a vet.
The ear proportions at adult size are still unknown at this stage. A vet will have a better idea of how to post the ears to prevent unusual shaping.
An advantage of having a veterinarian perform ear cropping is that they will examine the Doberman puppy first to see if cropping is possible. Vets can determine whether the ears’ growth is unusual, as well as how flexible and thick ear cartilage is.
When a vet crops one of these dogs’ ears after the typical age, this is usually possible because the dog’s ear cartilage maintains greater flexibility. Vets may also shorten ear crops in longer ears to make them stand better.
If a vet performs ear cropping after the cartilage hardens, the vet will use implants to ensure that the ears stay up. Although this procedure is performed using anesthesia, some owners prefer not to use implants.
Why Are Doberman Ears Cropped?
Julie Hecht from Scientific American highlights the variations between American and European ear cropping practices.
Veterinarians consider ear cropping a cosmetic procedure because there is not a medical necessity.
However, even though this procedure is not medically necessary, cropping is the norm for Dobermans for many reasons.
Show standards, such as those set by the American Kennel Club, call for Doberman Pinschers competing in conformation shows to have cropped ears as a nod to their working heritage. Floppy ears in this setting are a disqualifier.
The breed’s founder, Louis Dobermann, was a tax collector in 19th century Germany. This type of work required Dobermann to use dogs that could have an intimidating appearance. The dogs that bear his name were developed with this look in mind.
Cropping was a practice that guard and hunting dog owners adopted in the 17th century. Erect ears are harder for thieves or attackers to grab. When encountering aggressive wild animals, cropped ears are less likely to get seriously injured.
Many believe that erect ears make a dog have a more intimidating appearance. Even though most Dobies are friendly with people they have been introduced to, this image has stuck. Much of the general public associates cropped ears with guard dogs.
There are possible health benefits to cropped ears, reducing the amount of moisture that gets trapped and keeping the ears cleaner.
The risk of ear infections is significantly reduced, and blood-filled pockets in the ears called hematomas.
Although more speculative than absolutely proven, many believe that dogs with erect ears can hear better. This theory assumes that canines with erect ears localize and detect sounds more easily than their drop-eared counterparts.
Do Many Doberman Owners Opt-Out of Ear Cropping?
Although ear cropping is typical for Dobermans, some owners decide not to crop their dogs’ ears. Sometimes this decision is due to local regulations, and sometimes it is because of personal preferences that include objections for humane reasons.
The majority of countries in the European Union have banned ear cropping. In those countries, the breed standards for Doberman Pinschers have been adjusted to account for cropping having been outlawed.
Cropping is a lengthy process that can take a month or more for the ears to set. Owners who choose to have their dogs’ ears cropped will need to commit to time spend unwrapping and rewrapping the ears. Many would rather not commit to this.
Many animal rights activists are opposed to ear cropping in dogs for humane reasons. Much of the objection comes from this procedure being primarily cosmetic.
Some also associate ear crops with dogfighting and feel that it glamorizes this cruel activity.
Some vets have not learned to crop Doberman ears and do not offer this service. Many owners would prefer to leave their dog’s ears as they are than have them cropped by a less experienced vet.
Are There Any Ill Effects from Ear Cropping in Dobermans?
Camille Noe Pagan emphasizes the fact that ear cropping is a choice when dogs are not in conformation shows. This choice is one that is not completely risk-free.
Ear crops performed by the inexperienced can cause deformed ears. Sometimes, improper cropping results in-ears that will not stand up.
When this happens, owners may need to consider the possibility of having to put their dog through another surgery.
In addition to looking unsightly and disqualifying dogs from conformation shows, poorly-done crops can also be painful.
Ear pain can increase a dog’s chances of aggression, and the dog will be less likely to allow ear-cleaning.
Because this surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, there are risks involved that are common with all surgery.
Some dogs have reactions to anesthesia that might be life-threatening. Lab work is recommended before all such procedures.
During the healing process, Dobermans are somewhat susceptible to ear injuries. To ensure maximum safety, play with other dogs during this time needs to be restricted. You may need to consider whether keeping your dogs separated is worth the risk.
Infection is always a risk following cropping, including infection due to the incision and rewrapping ears before there has been a chance for them to dry. Ear infections are irritating and sometimes painful for dogs, sometimes requiring multiple vet trips.
How Do I Clean and Care for my Doberman’s Ears During and After Cropping?
According to Wag!, mild discomfort during the healing process is typical for puppies. Following your vet’s instructions will make sure your Dobie has a good recovery.
Using a dispenser or syringe, apply ear wash or peroxide to the incisions at the base of the ears three times a day.
Gently pat these areas dry and then apply antibiotic cream. Avoid getting any of the bandaging wet during the process.
You will also need to gently remove scabs to allow for better healing. Apply a face cloth soaked in water to the scabs for five minutes. Wash your hands or put on a pair of disposable gloves, then gently pick the scabs off.
When you are retaping your Doberman’s ears, use an antiseptic ear wash and allow the ears to dry thoroughly before you put more tape on its ears. Whenever any of the tapes get dirty or wet, remove and replace them to prevent infection.
Doberman Pinschers benefit from regular ear cleaning after ear cropping has been completed.
In the case of dogs with natural ears, they will benefit from regular cleaning because of a slightly increased infection risk. In either case, the process is the same.
Make sure your dog accepts having its ears handled with minimal complaint. Some dogs might be touchy about having their ears handled after the taping process during cropping. Your dog needs to allow its ears to be handled for you to clean them.
Use an ear cleaner at least once every two weeks or if your dog’s ears seem dirty. Use one or two drops in each of the ears. Rubbing the ears with a gentle motion will allow the cleaner to fully penetrate.
Watch for signs that indicate an earwax buildup or pests, such as headshaking or excessive scratching.
Earwax can cause earaches and disrupt hearing, while ear mites, fleas, and ticks can cause ear infections.
Gentle cleaning can easily remove earwax and ear mites. Regular treatment with a flea and tick product can help keep these pests from taking up residence in your dog’s ears. Your dog will appreciate the comfort that comes with healthy ears.
Doberman Ears Require Regular Care for Optimal Health
In most cases, the decision about whether your Doberman’s ears need to be cropped is a matter of choice. Having your Dobie’s ears cropped will require follow-up care during the healing process.
Regardless of whether your dog’s ears are cropped or not, a regular cleaning routine will keep your pet’s ears in excellent shape. You can easily spot any potential issues requiring further attention during ear cleaning.