Is Ear Cropping Still Necessary?

Is Ear Cropping Still Necessary?

Author WDF Staff


Ear cropping is still a heavily debated issue among dog lovers and owners. There are opposing views on this topic, and the biggest problem is the necessity of it. There is no denying that certain breeds look impressive with cropped ears, and they had a specific purpose that required them to have cropped ears.

If you are thinking of getting your dog's ears cropped, here are some things you should know.

Ear cropping procedure

When it comes to the procedure of ear cropping, the biggest question is, "Is this procedure necessary?" Many dog owners and breeders argue it is, and the way vets do it shouldn't cause a lot of pain or trauma for puppies.

Some vets say that ear cropping is not a painful procedure because the puppy's nervous system is not fully developed at the time of the procedure. Ear cropping procedure usually takes place when a puppy is between 8 - 12 weeks old. The flap of the ear is "trimmed" or cropped. The remaining part of the ear is taped with a hard surface and left to heal. Such a healing process will end up with upright ears.

presa canario

Opposing views

There is a lot of misinformation online about the ear cropping procedure. The leading issue advocates against ear cropping mention is that this is not a necessary procedure, and it endangers a dog for no reason other than achieving a specific look. Two big ant-ear-cropping advocates are PETA and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).

Those that support ear cropping claim that these procedures are deeply rooted in a specific breed's history, and it should remain a part of it. Many breeders and owners support it. They also believe that particular breeds look and perform specific tasks a lot better because of cropped ears. 

Is it a painful procedure?

The procedure itself is not painful. Ear cropping is done under anesthesia, and the dog is completely unaware of what is going on. The painful part comes with healing. That is something entirely expected since the part of the ear is surgically removed.

The procedure doesn't take long and is relatively safe. However, there are some risks involved with ear cropping, and your vet should tell you all about them if you are contemplating cropping your dog’s ears.

doberman cropped ears

What are the risks?

Any surgery comes with risks, especially when it is done to young puppies 8 - 12 weeks old. The most significant risk comes from anesthesia. Puppies can have a bad reaction, and it can end up killing them. Mind you, it is not a scenario that happens often, but it is possible, nonetheless.

The healing process is relatively long and can cause several problems. A puppy's wounds cause them pain and get infected if the owner is not properly taking care of them. A severe infection can lead to amputation, and that comes with all sorts of different complications.

The question remains about the psychological trauma and damage done to dogs that undergo such procedures. There were no officially proven studies that conclude dogs with cropped ears have any trauma because of the procedure.

Are there any benefits?

Ear cropping advocates claim that dogs receive certain benefits from having cropped ears. They say that those dogs are less likely to get an ear infection (Canine Otitis Externa), although there isn't any scientific proof for that.

miniature pinscher cropped ears

Why do people crop dogs' ears?

Historically, dogs had cropped ears for several different reasons. The world was a lot crueler just 100 years ago, and no animal rights movement was focusing on dogs and other animals' wellbeing.


Hunting dogs often had their ears docked because hunters believed that it enhanced their hearing abilities. The second reason was to prevent wild animals from biting and holding the hunting dog by the ears. Smaller, vermin-catching dogs had their ears cropped for the same reason - to avoid getting bitten by rats and mice.

Check out the best hunting dog breeds here.

Dog fights

Dogs involved in blood sports such as bull-baiting and dog fighting had cropped ears. It would prevent the opposing dog from biting and catching their ears and winning the fight.


Most ear cropping today is done for cosmetic reasons. Dogs lost their traditional roles as hunters and vermin-controllers. They are pets that spend time inside the house with their family. Pet dogs undertake cropping procedures to achieve a specific look and retain the traditional breed appearance. Some breeds that traditionally had their ears cropped are:

In short

At the end of the day, each dog owner has a choice. They can crop their dog's ears, or they can leave them the way they are. Some countries are moving towards banning these procedures and all procedures that are done solely for cosmetic reasons. There is plenty of good arguments on both sides, so it is up to each of us personally to decide what is best for our dogs.

World Dog Finder team

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