Doberman - can you crop their ears?
Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a German tax collecting officer from the late 19th and early 20th century is credited for developing a unique dog breed that he specifically bred to guard and accompany him on his tax collecting rounds. Much like today, people didn’t like to pay taxes and usually the ones that had the most problems were the tax collectors. Even though they only did their jobs, people hated them because of their line of profession.
He wanted to create a striking and intimidating dog that would be a great guard dog when problems arise. We don’t have to look at the Doberman twice to know that Mr. Dobermann has successfully fulfilled his task. Doberman dogs are impressive, beautiful and intimidating.
The dog that Mr. Dobermann created was an excellent guard, not only against unwilling and aggressive taxpayers but also against wild animals and thieves he encountered regularly. This dog breed is elegant, muscular, athletic, nimble and agile.
For this dog to have an even more intimidating look, Mr. Dobermann decided to give his dog a distinctive look with cropped ears and a docked tail.
These days these dogs are usually seen without cropped ears and with a full-length tail. Since their guard and protective roles are mostly switched to companion and pet roles, people decided that this old tradition is not necessary anymore. Other organizations tried to completely ban what they consider cruelty. Their idea is that dogs of all breeds should have their natural ears, no matter if there are legitimate reasons to crop ears or dock tail.
Most of the EU countries completely banned Doberman ear cropping and tail docking. The USA, Russia and some other Eastern European countries still allow for these dogs to get their ears cropped although not for cosmetic reasons but only for legitimate health reasons.
Reasons for cropping dog’s ears
First of all, we would like to say what cropping means and it is defined as the removal of a part or complete pinnae, the outer part of the ear flap. Cropping is usually combined with taping to make the animal’s ears pointy.
As we already mentioned, it is banned in most countries but it remains legal in some countries and for some dog breeds such as Presa Canario, Dogo Argentino, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Boxer, Griffon Bruxellois, German Pinscher, Miniature Pinscher, Doberman Pinscher, Schnauzer, Great Dane, Neapolitan Mastiff, Cane Corso, Cão Fila de São Miguel, Briard, Bouvier des Flandres, Central Asian Shepherd Dog, and Beauceron.
The process of ear cropping has a lot of ethical questions that have been raised about unnecessary surgeries on animals. That is why we will focus on real reasons people want to crop their dog’s ears.
Ear cropping has been performed on animals since ancient times and it was mostly credited with having a lot of health benefits for dogs. It was believed that cropped ears are less likely to have infections and that it increases the hearing abilities of dogs. It was debated that pointy upright ears direct sound waves better to the ear lobe and thus increasing dog’s hearing.
Some large working dog breeds such as Caucasian Shepherds or Central Asian Shepherds had their ears cropped to prevent predators such as wolves to grab them. That is the only reason why you should crop a working guard dog’s ears.
Traditional Doberman ear cropping
Traditional ear cropping was performed on dogs that were used for hunting, defending livestock or performing blood sports such as bull-baiting and dogfighting. It was considered that cropping their ears will reduce the risk of injuries and will increase their chance to emerge victorious in whatever they were ordered to do.
Usually, ears were an easy target for opposing dogs or other animals to grab and damage.
Cosmetic ear cropping
For the last century, ear cropping was mostly done for cosmetic reasons. In most countries, this kind of “work” is declared illegal since it is not in the best interest of an animal's wellbeing. Even though it is declared illegal, some countries still haven’t regulated these animal rights issues and some countries still have dog breed standards that require dogs to have cropped ears in dog shows.
Doberman puppies get their ears cropped between their 7th and 12th week and the procedure is done under general anesthesia and lasts about half an hour to complete. If it is done after the 16th week, the procedure is more painful for the dogs and can cause greater pain memory.
To achieve the upright ear position their ears need to be taped for a period of 30 days and some dogs might take longer than that. The longer the ear crop, the longer the after-care is and if breeders aren’t ready to commit to taking proper care to avoid infections, they shouldn’t even consider doing the ear cropping in the first place.
The long process of healing is more of a problem for the dog than the procedure itself and that is the main reason animal welfare organizations are trying to ban ear cropping completely.
In this process, most of the ear is cropped and the wounds are shut with stitches. It is still debated if this is necessary for dogs in any way and a lot of the dog breeders have stated that if the dog standard changes, they will completely abandon this practice.
Doberman ear cropping
Some procedures remain common in the USA such as tail-docking and dewclaw removal but ear cropping is in decline. The rise of organizations like PETA and Mercy for Animals is trying to influence lawmakers all around the world to make these types of cosmetic surgeries illegal.
Most Veterinary schools don’t teach ear cropping and tail docking and most of the Vets that do perform these types of surgeries learn from more experienced colleagues. A huge problem is when puppy mill breeders or backyard breeders try to perform ear cropping and cause more harm to the animals.
There is certainly a special appeal with Dobermans that have cropped ears and docked tail and we certainly understand dog owners that are trying to get dogs that have these surgeries done. However, some countries deemed it illegal so you should check your countries laws before deciding to get a dog with cropped ears.
World Dog Finder team