Doberman ear cropping is the procedure that makes the dog’s ears stand erect.
This breed is so identifiable by this characteristic feature, that many people think this is the way their ears appear organically.
So you may be surprised to learn that a Dobbie’s ears in their natural state are neither erect nor pointed.
The ears of a Doberman who hasn’t had them cropped are actually broad and floppy, similar to those of a Labrador Retriever.
There’s no question that this gives the breed an entirely different look.
Why is it that so many Doberman owners choose to have their dog’s ears cropped?
Let’s find out.
The Doberman Pinscher
Developed primarily as a guard dog, the sleek and powerful Doberman Pinscher is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest protection dogs.
This medium to large breed stands from 24 to 28 inches and weighs from 60 to 100 pounds.
Dobermans have a wedge-shaped head and a noble bearing.
Their short, shiny coat comes in nine standard colors.
Both muscular and fast, Dobermans have a reputation for being fearless and fierce.
Although often perceived as being aggressive, this typically has more to do with how the dog has been bred and trained.
Dobermans are naturally more protective than aggressive, and modern-day breeders are now toning down any antagonistic qualities.
These dogs are known to be loyal, obedient, intelligent, and trainable.
Throughout history, the Doberman Pinscher has been shown with cropped ears and a docked tail.
However, both of these practices are increasingly becoming outdated and are banned in many countries.
Doberman Puppy Ears
Doberman Pinscher puppies have ears that are floppy, wide, and proportionately long in relation to the size of the head.
Their ears are soft and silky, and inside they’re smooth and pink.
As the dogs mature, this color will darken and a soft layer of hair will grow on the inside of the ear.
A Doberman’s ears will not change shape as they reach adulthood.
Surgical interference is the only thing that alters the appearance of their ears.
Doberman Ear Crops
There are three different types of ear crops for Dobermans.
The military or working crop is the shortest and easiest for training the ears to stand upright.
The show crop has a long, curved shape and it takes many months for the ears to stand erect as well as almost a year of proper after-care.
This shaping exposes the inside of the ear, including the ear canal.
The medium crop is between military and show length.
In some dogs, surgery may not be successful and these dogs sometimes undergo additional surgery.
Cropping Doberman Ears
Ear cropping is an elective surgery in which the floppy part of the dog’s ear is cut off and then taped to stand upright.
This procedure is performed on puppies that are between the ages of 6 to 12 weeks of age.
After 12 weeks the cartilage in the ear will have hardened and this makes it unlikely that the ears will ever stand erect.
Although ear cropping has been a common custom for this breed, especially in the US, there is much controversy regarding this practice.
Many places have banned ear cropping entirely, including most European countries.
Even in the US, there are fewer veterinarians who are willing to perform this surgery and ear cropping is no longer being taught at colleges of veterinary medicine in the US.
Why do People Crop Doberman Ears?
However, breed organizations like the American Kennel Club still endorse the practice to maintain breed standards.
According to the Doberman Pinscher Club of America ear cropping is done for two functional reasons.
The first is that a cropped ear gives the dog an advantage when confronted with an attacker as there’s less for the perpetrator to grab hold of.
Secondly, they state that when the ears are erect they’re able to locate the source of sound more accurately than a dog with a dropped ear.
However, there’s no scientific evidence to back up this claim.
Essentially ear cropping is done to comply with show standards or because the owners like the way it makes the dog look.
There are people who want their Doberman to appear as intimidating as possible.
As this study found, dogs with cropped ears are perceived as being more aggressive and dominant.
Why You Shouldn’t Crop a Doberman’s Ears
Cropping a Doberman’s ears can actually be hazardous to the dog’s health for a number of reasons.
Not only is this needless practice painful for the dog, as with any surgical procedure there’s the risk of infection or complications with anesthesia.
Post-operation care is a time-consuming commitment.
If you choose the long crop, you could be looking at many months of after-care.
This long healing process can be more painful for the dog than the actual surgery.
It’s also believed that the dog’s body language is compromised when their ears are cropped and this may affect their ability to express themselves to other dogs.
Lastly, after all the pain and suffering, there’s no guarantee that the surgery will be successful and the dog can end up permanently scarred.
The Ear Cropping Process
Ear cropping surgery is done under anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes.
The surgery must be done by a veterinarian who is experienced in cropping Doberman’s ears.
During surgery, the outside part of the ears are trimmed and the edges are sutured.
Some vets will post and tape up the ears immediately, while others will wait until the wounds heal.
Posting is done in a variety of ways. Essentially the ears are taped over the head to keep them upright and wrapped with gauze for protection.
Timing will vary, but taping typically lasts about 6 months and it can take as long as a year for a long crop.
Proper aftercare is essential during this lengthy healing process, which is very uncomfortable for the dog.
The wounds can bleed quite a bit and regular dressing changes are required to prevent infection.
Doberman Ear Cleaning
A Doberman’s ears should be wiped gently with baby oil on a paper towel every few days.
Your veterinarian can show you the best way to clean your dog’s ears to avoid damage.
This is also a good time to check for signs of infection, mites, or excess wax buildup.
If you notice that your dog is scratching their ears or shaking their head excessively, or that the area around the ear is red, consult your veterinarian.
Doberman Ear Health
You may have heard that leaving your Doberman’s ears uncropped will increase the risk of ear infections, but there is no evidence to support this theory.
This breed is not overly susceptible to ear infections or hearing loss.
However, the bleeding disorder known as Von Willebrand’s disease has a particularly high frequency in Dobermans.
This condition is characterized by a defect in platelet function which affects the blood’s ability to clot.
Excessive bleeding after surgery is a common clinical finding and severely affected dogs may bleed to death from surgical procedures.
This is one more reason not to have your Doberman’s ears cropped as surgery can be extremely hazardous.
Doberman Ear Cropping
A Doberman Pinscher’s ears are not naturally pointed and erect, but rather wide and floppy.
There are those who insist that ear cropping is a part of the breed’s identity.
Others will state that cropped ears allow the dog to hear better or reduce the risk of ear infections or deafness.
However, the only reason to have a Doberman’s ears cropped is to comply with show standards or for aesthetic purposes.
Even if ear cropping isn’t banned where you live, fewer and fewer veterinarians are willing to perform this surgery.
It’s an expensive procedure that causes the dog a lot of pain.
Owners are responsible for post-operative care that can last for many months.
And even then there’s no guarantee that the surgery will be a success.
Tell us your thoughts on Doberman ear cropping in the comments below.
References and Resources
- Doberman Pinscher Club of America
- Mills, KE, et al., “Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions,” PLOS One, 2016
- Briones, EM, et al., “Perceived Aggressive Tendencies and Functional Attitudes Towards Various Breeds of Dogs.” Department of Psychological Sciences, Texas Tech University, 2017
- “Cosmetic Alteration Position Statement,” Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, 2014
- “AVMA opposes cosmetic ear cropping, tail docking of dogs,” American Veterinary Medical Association, 2008
- Mills, KE, et al., “A review of medically unnecessary surgeries in dogs and cats,” JAVMA, 2016