Great Danes are one of the most exciting dog breeds, perfect as outdoor companions and family pets.
These dogs have a range of physical traits that helps them stand out from the crowd, including their usually-erect ears.
Is Great Dane ear cropping a significant part of owning these dogs? Most Great Danes have cropped ears, which help contribute to the breed’s overall appearance. Read on to learn more about this breed’s hows and whys of ear cropping.
What is the Significance of a Dog’s Ears, and Why is Ear Cropping Important?
Ears are some of the most notable features in Great Danes and other breeds. The ears and how dogs hold them help demonstrate whether your pet is listening to something meaningful.
Despite Danes having erect ears as adults, these dogs are born with floppy ears. However, many owners opt to have their dogs’ ears cropped. Ear cropping involves surgically removing the pinnae, the visible ear flap.
After the surgery, care will involve a process known as posting. One of the benefits of ear posting is allowing the ears to retain their unique appearance. This process only needs to occur once for the ears to get the look you are trying to achieve.
Why Have Great Danes Traditionally Had Cropped Ears?
Ear cropping is one of the oldest types of procedures performed on dogs. Great Danes have featured cropped ears since their emergence as boar hunters in Germany during the 17th century. Their ears are one of their most prominent traits.
One of the reasons Great Danes have cropped ears is because of how dangerous boar hunting is for the dogs. Wild boars have sharp teeth and tusks capable of causing damage like bites, cuts, or other flesh tears that could disfigure the ears.
Cutting away part of the ear reduced the area that boars could damage during hunting. Many owners also believed that dogs with erect ears are less likely to get ear infections. This belief is very prevalent to this day.
These beliefs may be true because moisture can be trapped inside the ear canal more easily when dogs have floppy ears. The moisture can evaporate from the ears more efficiently when the ears stand up.
Why Do Owners Still Crop Great Danes’ Ears Today?
Ear cropping in Great Days is primarily a matter of personal preference, with most of these dogs being pets instead of hunting or protective dogs. Sometimes, the owner wants to make their dog look more aggressive or rugged.
Another reason owners have their dogs’ ears cropped is to conform to the breed’s show standard. A Great Dane that exemplifies the breed standards is likelier to win shows and has broader appeal in the breeding world.
Some owners believe that erect ears make it easier for dogs to hear. Although there is no definitive proof of this idea being true, many people who own Great Danes and similar breeds still have their dogs’ ears cropped.
Although some owners opt for a natural look with floppy ears for their dogs, cropping remains popular among Dane owners. About 130,000 puppies have ear cropping completed yearly, demonstrating its popularity as a procedure.
How Old Are Great Danes When Their Ears Are Cropped?
When a puppy has cropped ears, the procedure should be done between seven and ten weeks old. Puppies below this age are not large enough to tolerate the anesthesia necessary for cropping. Great Dane breeders consider earlier cropping better.
Once a puppy has passed 12 weeks, you are too late to have cropping done. Ear cropping past 12 weeks inflicts needless pain and is bad for the puppy’s emotional health. If performed too late, the ears are less likely to stand correctly.
How is Great Dane Ear Cropping Performed?
Cropping involves cutting your Great Dane’s ears to achieve the desired shape. Because cropping is a surgical procedure, a professional needs to perform this duty. Ear cropping is a reasonably extensive procedure not suitable for amateurs.
The most appropriate person to perform ear cropping is a licensed veterinarian. Vets will place puppies under general anesthesia, making the procedure as pain-free as possible. Your puppy will not experience distress during the process.
Your vet will use foam and glue or gauze to hold the puppy’s ears in place. Taping the ears in an upright position is the next step.
Over time, the ears will be trained to stay erect on their own, providing the look associated with Danes.
Your vet’s stitches in the puppy’s ears will come out after ten days. Taping to keep the ears in their proper position will continue after the sutures come out. You’ll need to expect taping to continue until the ears are fully erect.
The cropping, posting, and taping process will take four to six weeks and sometimes as much as ten months.
Caring for Your Great Dane After Cropping Surgery
Once your puppy is home from the vet after cropping surgery, you’ll enter the next phase of the journey.
If you’ve decided to cut your puppy’s ears, you’ll need to commit to the post-surgical process of keeping your dog’s ears healthy.
Wrapping, posting, and bandaging will occupy much of your time after the surgery for your dog.
Although this process averages about six weeks, some dogs may take as much as ten months for the ears to stand. You’ll need to be patient and attentive to your pup.
To ensure your dog’s ears look how you intend, it is crucial to be diligent about their care. Bent or disfigured ears can come about from being negligent about ear care, which makes the willingness to commit to proper care necessary.
Some dogs have ears that will not stand right, despite your best efforts. However, this situation is somewhat rare if your vet is well-experienced with performing ear cropping. Using a vet with strong ear cropping experience usually ensures excellent results.
Why Are Some Opposed to Great Dane Ear Cropping?
Although many Great Dane owners accept ear cropping as a practice, some oppose cropping a dog’s ears. These objections include humane and behavioral reasons.
One of the common objections to ear cropping is the importance of the ears and tail in canine communication. A dog will express himself the most clearly when he fully uses both body parts.
Dogs have their ears positioned downward when they are compliant with and receptive toward other dogs. When a dog cannot communicate clearly, frustration and conflict are more likely because of miscommunication.
Many dog enthusiasts object to ear cropping, believing it dogs a somewhat more aggressive, dangerous appearance.
Over the years, many people who have trained their dogs as attack dogs had the dogs’ ears cropped, providing a stigma.
Some owners who keep their dogs as pets only feel that ear cropping is unnecessary for dogs not used for hunting. These owners may object to the idea of cropping, in general, or find the practice unnecessary in non-hunting dogs.
Ear cropping takes place under general anesthesia, but Great Danes’ ear cartilage has many nerve endings that can become more sensitive post-cropping. Many owners feel that dogs are in extreme pain after one of these procedures.
Although rare, some owners cite the possibility that extreme sensitivity after cropping might become permanent. Many owners are concerned that their dog could live in pain or discomfort.
Despite the belief that cropped ears are less prone to infections, opponents believe that cropping, in and of itself, creates a heightened infection risk for your dog. The weeks or months that healing takes can increase the infection risk to a high degree.
Many dog lovers feel that this procedure is an ordeal with little to no necessity despite the assurance that ear cropping is pain-free. Some are concerned putting a dog through ear cropping is more distressing for the dog than many realize.
One of the most common concerns among owners hesitant to do cropping is not being able to predict how the dog will react to the long taping process. Although most dogs do well, some might become withdrawn or aggressive.
Are There Different Types of Crops for Great Danes?
Great Danes have different crop styles, depending on whether the dog is a show dog or a pet. These include:
- Long Show Crop – This style is used for show dogs and requires the most aftercare
- Medium Long Crop – Similar to the Long Show Crop, but requires less care
- Medium or Pet Crop – This crop is the shortest and requires less aftercare, but getting into the right shape is more challenging.
Great Dane ear cropping requires some thought, depending on whether you will show your dog and have the time to devote to proper ear care.