Dog Ears: To Crop or Not to Crop

NOTE: I have added new information to this article after interviewing veterinarians and doing more extensive research into the topic.

When a section of a dog's ears are removed in order to make them stand erect, it's called cropping. Many owners of certain breeds choose to have this procedure done. These breeds usually include the Great Dane, the Doberman, the Boxer, and the Pitbull. This might be done for several reasons: for aesthetics, for show purposes, to increase the sale value of certain breeds, for improved ear health, and for improved hearing, especially in guard dogs.

The debate has raged for years about cropping. Some dog lovers swear that it's a form of animal cruelty, while others site the historical significance of the practice. I've had a lot of experience with ear cropping, and I do not think it's cruel if it's done properly. I've always had my Danes' ears cropped. Why? Because to me, without cropped ears, a Dane looks like a big hound dog. I much prefer that sleek, handsome profile that a good ear cut provides. Also, according to a number of veterinarians, dogs with short or cropped ears have fewer ear infections and fewer incidences of ear mites.

According to Dr. Curtis Branch, a dog with floppy ears is much more prone to ear problems. The long ear flap traps moisture inside the ear, creating a welcoming habitat for mites, infections, and fungal growths. In his decades of caring for dogs, he states that he sees far more ear problems in hounds and other breeds with long floppy ears than he does in breeds with natural pricked ears or in breeds with cropped ears.

Many guard dog owners swear that their dogs with cropped ears hear better. The reasoning is that the large, erect surface of the cropped ear helps trap sound waves and allows the dog to "zero in" on even the tiniest sounds, similar to the way a rabbit might hear with its large, erect ears.

For some breeds, the AKC standard actually calls for cropping. The Doberman Pinscher is just one example. Uncropped ears are allowed in the show ring, but these dogs do not fit the ideal representative of the breed as expressed by the AKC and are considered a deviation from the standard.

Another reason an owner might have his dog's ears cropped has to do with the sale value of the animal. Cropping needs to be done at an early age, and breeders who sell their dogs as adults or as older puppies tend to get a higher price for canines with cropped ears in breeds that are traditionally cropped.

In the past, there was another reason to crop the ears - besides the ones already mentioned for doing so. For example, Great Danes were used to hunt wild boar. Without being cropped, a Dane's ears hang down long. The boars would often reach up, grab the dog's ear in its mouth, and rip off the entire ear. Dogs that fell victim to this kind of attack were left with one ear forever. When the dog owners cropped the ears and trained them to stand up, the boars could no longer reach the ears. That put an end to the one-eared Danes...and to the no-eared Danes. I'm sure a significant number of the old boar-hunting dogs had both ears ripped off after numerous hunts.

How painful is ear cropping? Well, I couldn't get any dogs to give me an answer, so I talked to my youngest daughter. She has twice had her left ear removed at the base for surgeries on her mastoid bone. She informed me that there was very little pain from the incision, and since that part of a human's ear is much thicker than the section of a dog's ear that's removed from cropping, I would think her incision would be more painful than a crop.

What does ear cropping involve? When your puppy reaches the correct age - usually four months - you take him to your veterinarian and leave him overnight. He's put to sleep, and the vet removes a portion of the dog's ears. Then the ears are taped up and joined together to help train them to grow erect. usually, your dog comes home the next day.

After a couple of weeks, you take your pup back to the vet. He removes the bandages and checks the cartilage in the ear and looks for any sign of infection. If the ears are doing well, they're taped back up, but they're not joined together.

After a few more weeks, you carry the dog back to the vet. The bandages are removed, and hopefully, the ears stand up straight. If not, more taping is required.

Croping should only be done by a licensed veterinarian. Do not try to do this yourself. I've heard horror stories of owners performing their own cropping. The dogs did not have the luxury of general anesthesia and suffered this brutal operation while fully conscious. This can traumatize a dog forever and have a lasting impact on its personality. He may never again trust you.

Even with licensed vets, when it comes to ear cropping, all vets are not created equal. You want to find one with ear cropping for your specific breed. I've seen terrible crop jobs on Great Danes that were done by reputable veterinarians. Don't be shy. Ask to see photos of dogs they've cropped. If it's a Dane you're having cropped, you'll probably want a fairly long cut, often referred to as a "show cut."

Ear cropping is legal in the United States, but in some countries, it's not. If it's legal in your country, and you choose to have it done, just remember to use a vet, and check the vet out before you leave your dog in his hands. Once the ears are cropped, there are no do-overs. If the cartilage never hardens, however, there are stiff implants that can be placed in the dog's ears.

Read more about dogs by clicking the article links below.

Great Dane with natural ears.
Great Dane with natural ears.
Great Danes with cropped ears.
Great Danes with cropped ears.
Boxer with natural ears.
Boxer with natural ears.
Great Dane puppy with ears taped.
Great Dane puppy with ears taped.

More by this Author


Comments 66 comments

Waren E profile image

Waren E 7 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

The dogs with cropped ears look more alert but, boxer is a keeper!:D


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yep, the boxer is a cutie, but the Danes are my babies!


gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 7 years ago from North Texas

What nice Great Danes. I have a miniature schnauzer, and really, I don't care whether their ears are cropped or not. Mine came pre-cropped -- she was a rescue dog. They are cute, whether floppy or cropped. Some schnauzers also have ears that are funny - once they are cropped, they stick up like big rabbit ears! So cute.

My dad had dobermans, and he never cropped their ears, if it was within his choice.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Gracenotes. I agree, it's a matter of personal preference, as long as it's done humanely. I've heard horror stories of dog owners cropping the ears with a pair of scissors, without use of any anesthesia. How could anyone be that cruel??


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Sorry Habee, I have to disagree on this whole practice (and I worked for a vets). Until such time as people are willing to undergo this themselves at the same time as they inflict it on their pets, it is wrong, (actually it would be wrong anyway, as to choose to do it to yourself is fine, but to inflict it on your pet is not giving the pet the choice).

If your dog is not working, (and therefore has nothing to gain), then it doesn't need it doing, and as nature has left the ears drooping, and nature always makes the right choice, don't try and change it!

I had a Doberman myself, and even if it had been totally legal, I would never, not even for a second, have mutilated him by having his ears cropped. Even docking tails is now considered very unethical, but my God, can you begin to imagine having a third of your ears chopped off for no good reason any doctor could give you other than it being "fashionable"??

No offence intended, but this is my honest opinion.


healthgoji profile image

healthgoji 7 years ago

I have never heard of cropping a dog's ears. This is a new one to me. I always thought cat ears were a natural inbred feature on certain breeds of dogs. I guess I have learned something new today.

I just bought a puppy with his tail docked and dew claws removed and I heard of that. I guess if the vet doesn't cause undue pain to the animal it is all right to crop his ears. I doubt if the dog cares one way or the other though.

Thank you for your article.

J. S.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks to both of you for your comments. Before I had my Dane's ears cropped, I talked to a lot of breeders and to several veterinarians. All assured me the process isn't painful when done correctly. I know as soon as ours came home after the procedure, they never acted like their ears were even sore. I had heard that cropped ears have less trouble with ear mites but did not believe it - BUT my daughter's uncropped Dane has ear mites all the time. They can't seem to get rid of them for long before they come back again. My dogs have never had ear mites. Maybe it's just a coincidence??


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

I guess this must be a coincidence Habee, as I have worked with, and seen loads of Great Danes, (needless to say with uncropped ears, as it is illegal over here), and none of them had ear mites.

The ear cropping procedure may not be painful, (until the dog tries to scratch an ear when it gets an itch, forgetting it has a third of its ear missing, plus a nasty wound), but I still maintain it is simply not natural, and let's not forget, dogs instinctively hide ANY pain, as in the wild to show weakness is fatal as far as position in the pack goes, this doesn't mean they don't feel it, they just hide it!

BTW, just a tip, from my experience most breeders tend to talk a load of rubbish when they believe something about their breed such as docking etc. I have heard of breeders over here giving ridiculous advice to people who purchase their puppies, such as the most bizarre diets made up of 'this and that' whilst they are puppies, even though there are perfectly well balanced puppy foods already on the market. We frequently used to see puppies with really badly upset stomachs because breeders had told the new owner to feed them on such diets as "scrambled eggs, cereal" etc.

Also, until a vet tells me he had his ears cropped, and it didn't hurt, and it is okay, I don't set much store by what they say. All the vets I have ever known and worked with, find the whole idea of ear cropping or similar sickening.

Sorry, but I really do feel very strongly about this, and it isn't personal I promise :)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Misty, I know it's not personal! And I totally respect your opinion.

I did, however, get curious about the ear mite thing and did some research. In fact, I'm still researcing it. So far, I've found several sites that claim the cropped ears stay drier and are less prone to mites and infection. One site says the cropping has no influence on ear mites or infection. I'm really curious now. I think I'll call some vets tomorrow and ask them. I'll let you know what I find out.

You're in the UK, right? I know ear cropping is illegal there. Is tail docking? Removal of the dew claws? Cat declawing? Just curious.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Hi Habee, cat declawing is definitely illegal as it again is considered totally unecessary unless a claw is deformed in such a way that it might catch on things and cause pain to the animal, (in fact a vet can get struck off if he performs declawing without clearing it first with the Royal College of veterinery Surgeons).

Dew claw removal is allowed based on the fact that there are so many cases of dogs who have not had their dew claws removed catching them on furniture etc, and very painfully ripping them up the leg, (my Mum's greyhound did it several times and it isn't nice believe me).

I think docking is not strictly illegal, but only if it is done by a vet (and then only under very tight circumstances, see text quoted from link I have posted below), and is definitely not allowed to be performed by breeders as it used to be.

*****

Quote from link http://www.cdb.org/case4dock.htm#_legal

"Tail docking has historically been undertaken largely by dog breeders. However, in 1991, the UK government amended the Veterinary Surgeons Act, thereby prohibiting the docking of dog's tails by lay persons from 1 July 1993. Now, only veterinary surgeons are, by law, allowed to dock.

However, following the Government move, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in November 1992, ruled docking to be unethical, "unless for therapeutic or acceptable prophylactic reasons". Furthermore, the circumstances in which the Royal College considered prophylactic docking to be acceptable were so hedged with conditions as to make the routine docking of puppies by veterinary surgeons extremely difficult."


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for the info, Misty. I've never had a dog's dew claws removed and never had any problems. I had some wolf-German Shepherd puppies that had double dew claws. We kept two, but we never had the claws removed, and they never had any trouble with them. Never had a cat de-clawed, either.

I read that in Australia, surgical docking of tails is illegal, but banding is okay. I've always thought that banding was more cruel than a quick surgery, although I've never had a dog's tail docked.

I think in the US, the AKC requires certain breeds' ears to be cropped for a dog show, like the Doberman. I don't think the Danes' have to be cropped to show, however, although I've never seen one in an American show that didn't have cropped ears.

I always welcome civil debate/discussion, Misty! And you have certainly been civil and have given me lots of info. I actually appreciate it!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

No worries Habee, to add to the info following your reply, Many years ago I saw a tail docking done, by a vet I worked for, when the litter of puppies were so young they hadn't even got their eyes open yet (in other words at the normal age to perform this procedure). Essentially there was no anaesthetic, and a large pair, of what I can only describe as, "shears" were used. The puppies all screamed like hell, and I can only compare it to how a child might react if it had its little finger chopped off shortly after birth, it would hurt like hell, but thankfully by the time the child grew up it would have forgotten the pain, but that still doesn't make it okay to inflict it. I can't agree with banding either, as neither seem moral to me.

Dew claw problems are actually incredibly common if left on a dog, as any dog jumping around, thrashing through undergrowth etc, tends to catch them on things. Not only is this really very painful for the dog, but it tends to produce lots of bleeding etc. In this instance I do feel to remove them is better except in unusual cases or very small quiet breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers who are less active.

In the UK you would automatically be disqualified, (and have loads of explaining to do to the Police), if you showed a dog with cropped ears. To be honest, if you saw how gorgeous my beloved (sadly deceased) Doby "Odin" was without cropped ears, I think you would realise how unecessary this practice is. Until breeders manage to breed the erect ears into their selected breed naturally, I firmly believe they should leave things as they are and not resort to surgery.

Just my humble opinion Habee, and thanks for not taking umbridge at my disagreeing with your own point of view :)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

No, Misty, I feel no umbrage at all! I'm glad to meet someone who cares so much about animals. I do want you to understand that my dogs are extremely well treated. They live inside, sleep in our beds, get great food, toys, treats, flea/tick/heartworm prevention, and LOTS of love and attention! BTW - do you have heartworms in the UK? They're bad here in the US South.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Golly Habee, I didn't doubt for one moment you loved your dogs deeply, I have always loved my cats and dogs like children, as I am sure you do too.

We are lucky here, as there is no heartworm thankfully, although our worming products such as "Drontal" actually do cover heartworm too, so I guess it must be available internationally as a drug.

Guilty confession, all of my animals are allowed, (and always have been), to sleep on the bed too, plus they get spoilt rotten. Even when my Dobermann "Odin" died, I spent over £70 GBP on a solid slate engraved headstone for his grave, and even when I moved back to Guernsey I dug up his ashes and brought them with me, along with the headstone, (he is now buried in my parent's garden instead).


Kim 7 years ago

I have a great Dane without the cropping. He he is soooo cute when we call him and those floppy ears push up--he looks like the little puppy he used to be!


ianbrad55 profile image

ianbrad55 7 years ago

no need for cropping, if they weren't born that way then it was obviously not meant to be also it has no health benefits.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Kim and Ian. I understand what you're saying, but if you use Ian's argument, we wouldn't spay, neuter, or remove dew claws, either. Why do we circumsize babies? Many doctors say there's absolutely no health benefit with that, either.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Hi Habee, Only me again with some more of my thoughts :)

Actually there is a huge health benefit to spaying, as unspayed bitches are far more prone to mammary tumours in later life, (breast Cancer), especially if they are not bred from before the age of about eighteen months (I think that is about the threshold).

Quote following is taken from http://www.merckveterinarymanual.com/mvm/index.jsp.../bc/112300.htm

"In one study, dogs spayed under 2 yr prior to tumor excision lived 45% longer than either intact dogs or those spayed older than 2 yrs prior to tumor excision. The 2 posterior mammary glands are involved more often than the 3 anterior glands."

Unspayed Bitches can also get a nasty womb infection called "Pyometra", that if not caught quickly enough can be fatal.

quote from http://www.vetsurgerycentral.com/pyometra.htm

"•The word pyometra can be divided into two root words

?Pyo means pus

?Metra refers to the uterus

•Pyometra starts after a dog goes through a heat cycle, usually within about 3 to 5 weeks

•Stimulation of the uterus with abnormal levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause the lining of the uterus to become thickened and fluid accumulates inside the uterus

•Infection develops in the uterus

•As the infection progresses, the uterus fills with pus

•If the pet has closed pyometra the cervix is not open and pus cannot drain to the outside

•If open pyometra is present, the pus can drain through the cervix

•The infection is life-threatening; closed pyometra may cause a pet to become more ill than open pyometra"

Castration can help reduce aggression in male dogs, plus the tendency to wander the neighbourhood looking for in heat bitches, possibly at the risk of getting run over or into fights with other males on track for the same bitch. No matter how well fenced in your garden is, a dog who smells a bitch in season will find a way out if there is the tiniest weakness in your defences.

I do see a huge advantage to spaying and castrating our pets, and this is not least of which to reduce the numbers of unwanted or abandoned puppies and kittens, and therefore make way for potential homes for all those animals waiting in rescue centres for a loving family to come along and adopt them.

I explained the health benefits to dew claw removal earlier as you know.

I hope this helps to clarify things a bit better :)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm all for spaying and neutering. Both my Danes are neutered, and we've already had or will have our stray cat population "fixed." I was just responding to the "if they weren't born that way..."

BTW, how is the unwanted horse situation in the UK? I'm researching/writing an article about that now for Horseman Magazine. The situation here is dire. Sad.


B.C. BOUTIQUE 7 years ago

I am a boxer creeder, recognized by the AKC..My partner breeder is a licensed vet who strongly disagrees on the cropping of a dogs ears...

there is absolutly no medical significance to the practice ..it severs the nerve and stands a chance of ruining the dogs ears for life, its not guaranteed to hold, and then becomes painfull forever, and there are no proper correcetive measures, once its done, its done...I posted about this earlier in the month an my post explains alot about ear cropping and purposly disfiguring your animal just for a look, not for a medical reason


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Hi Habee,

To be honest I am not up to speed on the unwanted horse situation in the UK, but to find out more information I would recommend you contact the International League for the Protection of Horses, who are based in the UK and rescue horses. They will know for sure what the current situation is like. I don't actually live in the UK technically, although we are part of the British Isles, and here on Guernsey unwanted horses don't seem to be a big problem.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/

The ilnk above is the UK's ILPH, they have just changed their name to "World Horse Welfare" recently.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for visiting, BC. I certainly respect your opinion. Will you please ask your vet pal his/her opinion on equine slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico? I'm trying to get some more feedback on this. Thanks!

Thanks, Misty! I've done a lot of research on the issue, and I'm really upset with some breeder and veterinary groups - the ones that say the slaughterhouses are humane. They claim the equine kill houses use humane euthanasia - NOT!! They're just concerned with their precious dollars! It literally makes me ill.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

It sickens me too Habee, especially when you look at the conditions these animals are expected to travel to the slaughterhouses in, no water, rest or food for days, often travelling with broken legs etc.


torimari profile image

torimari 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

Sorry, can't agree with cropping no matter what I read here. Until my dog says yes I like it, it's selfish especially since it is for something silly like aesthetics.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading, and I respect your opinion!


claire bear 123 7 years ago

im from britain, and i absoluteley detest ear cropping. especially with pitbulls as it just adds to the impression that they are hard dogs.

i have read up about docking and am sad to say that docked dogs can suffer from hernias and bladder and bowel problems due to having their tails removed. and yes its sad when people quote the fact that a dog appears not to be in pain from a procedure. i have witnessed 2 of my dogs over the years with horrific injuries not show any outward sign of pain though they were obviously in agony.

your dogs are gorgeous by the way habee.


Artemus Gordon profile image

Artemus Gordon 7 years ago

This is something that owners need to look into for each breed. Other than whether or not it is for health reasons the other thing to think about it value of the dog and if that matters to you.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for your comment, Claire. I've never had a dog's tail docked, but I didn't realize the inherent risks.

Art, thanks for reading! You brought up a point I hadn't thought about.


emievil profile image

emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

We have a female Doberman. Her tail was cut (is this docking tails?) by her original owner but we had her ears cropped. At first, we were hesitant because it's a cruel thing to do but we decided to try it and we didn't regret it. For one, it gave her more balance and for another, it made her seem more alert. We bought her a neck 'brace' so that she won't accidentally scratch her ears after the operation and it was a success. We made sure she was comfortable during and after her operation. I'm still not sold on ear cropping but in this case, I have to say it was the best decision for her.


juliekah profile image

juliekah 7 years ago from Mayfield, Kentucky

I think that you should keep the dogs ears the same. afterall, they were born with those ears for a reason.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, Julia!


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I've talked with some vets and did some more research, so I've added the new info to this article.


Janetta 7 years ago

Our boxer has natural ears, and while she is still just as beautiful, her ears have to be cleaned quite often. We have to make sure they are dry and watch closely for dirt or wax build up. I actually really like both looks.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Janetta, for reading!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Certain breeds of dogs with long ears are prone to ear problems, but they tend to be such breeds as spaniels who have very long and furry ears, as opposed to short coated breeds such as Dobermans, Great Danes etc.

Still not convinced about the hearing being improved idea either, as a dog's hearing is already so very sensitive it doesn't need improving for the dog to still be an excellent and effective guard dog.

I can't speak for your daughter Habee, but if her ear was removed near to the lobe of the ear it would actually be less painfull than higher up the ear. Speak to people who have had their ears pieced from the bottom right up to the top of the ear, and they will tell you that the higher the piercings went the more painful they became.

Sorry Habee, my opinion is still the same :)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Misty, we'll just have to agree to disagree, respectfully. You did get me to thinking - that's why I personally contacted several vets. As far as ear infections go, one vet told me he sees the most in Bassets and other hounds, actually, and they're short-haired dogs. This particular vet has over 50 years of experience, and he's pretty amazing.

I'm not sold on the improved hearing claims, either. Just offering it up for debate.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Well in fairness Habee, Bassets do have extraorinarily long flapped ears (which makes sense as to the being prone ear infections even with a short coat) compared to virtually all other breeds, (off the top of my head I can't think of a single breed with longer ears in fact) and LOL, I can't ever being to imagine what they would look like cropped!!

The breeds such as Dobies, Great Danes and Pit Bulls do not have ears of anything like the length of a Basset though, which is the difference.

Out of interest, did this vet say whether he approved of ear cropping or not, (even if he actually does perform such surgeries as part of his business)?

Hey, and don't worry, I have no problem with you disagreeing with me, as this is a polite respectful debate (the best kind).


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, he approves of cropping. I don't think he does it any longer, though. I believe his partner, who sort of "specializes" in it, does all of the cropping.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

I just find this truly odd, (sorry Habee), but most vets here would be mortified at the whole concept of cropping ears, especially as it is far from necessary, and even if the ear mite issue was a valid point, the fact is this is easily dealt with and controlled without a need for ear cropping.

I guess I have to ask myself, given all the facts, what would the dog choose?


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I dunno, Misty. I guess it's just different cultures or societies. Just like there, dewclaws are regularly removed, but I honestly don't know of anyone here who has had that done to their dogs. I'm sure it's done frequently in the US - I just don't know of anyone who has done it. To me, it's more cruel than ear cropping - it's the same as cutting off your thumb. I've been researching it since I learned it was a common practice in the UK, and I discovered that it's illegal in some countries. Just like ear cropping, I don't think the dog would choose to have it done.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Oh, Misty, I forgot to tell you: Since your comment about a cropped Basset, I can't get that picture out of my mind! Thanks a lot! lol


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

LOL, I agree, a weird thought that someone who is good at photoshop might choose to depict artificially....

The dewclaw thing is not always done over here, but you see, dewclaws get caught on things all the time, and ripped really badly. I have heard dogs literally scream in pain over these wounds, yet never, ever, in all my time working for vets seen a dog with an ear problem in so much pain that it screamed.

Actually I have never seen a dog in any significant pain from an ear problem that could have been avoided by ear cropping, only discomfort, so my belief is still unchanged.

Also, I would have to disagree that a dew claw is like a thumb. A dog simply doesn't use it like a thumb, nor has the dewclaw got independent movement, and is essentially a nail with a nerve only. Certain dog breeds are more prone to damaging these, (mainly larger more active breeds), so many smaller dogs do not have their dew claws removed for this reason.

Our now deceased rescue greyhound Lady had never had her dew claws removed, and this caused her much pain in her life, as she was always catching them on things. It was really too late to remove them by then, as dew claws are generally removed before the puppy even has its eyes open, (another difference between ear cropping).


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I read that in some breeds, the dewclaw has a bone. ?? I'm sure if the dogs could speak, they wouldn't want anything removed. I don't think Hamlet was too happy about having his testicles removed. I almost wish I hadn't had him neutered. He's such a wonderful dog - the best I've ever known, and I've owned, bred, and trained many, many dogs. He is truly exceptional! My daughter has his full sister, however, and I think they're going to breed her. Maybe I can get another part-Hammie, at least. lol


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

LOL, what a great quote "I don't think Hamlet was too happy about having his testicles removed." ROFLMAO, read that out loud to someone without telling them Hamlet is your dog :)

By the way, this comment just reminded me, the other day I did check out with Jennie (my Vets nurse mate), about other advantages to Castration on dogs, and she says it is a prevention for testicular cancer, which is common in dogs, so unless they are being used for breeding it is still worth doing as you are helping to significantly improve their potential life expectancy by getting them castrated.

If in some breeds a dew claw has a bone, (which I will check out with Head Vet's Nurse friend) then imagine how much more painful it would be to catch that on something and rip it back up the leg!!! Ouch!


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I also think it's cruel not to neuter an animal if you're not going to allow it to breed. Think of all the sexual frustration!

I understand what you're saying about the dewclaws - it's just that I have never known of a dog injuring one. Not saying it doesn't happen. Maybe I've just been lucky! Even when we raised and trained hunting dogs, it was never an issue, even though they were always running through the thick underbrush of South GA woods in search of birds.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

LOL, I agree with your first comment, "imagine the frustration".

Maybe the type of undergrowth etc is different to the British undergrowth or something. I remember lots of cases of torn dew claws, and it made me cringe when we had to examine the poor dogs to see how bad the damage was, (imagine someone poking around your exposed nerve at the base of a fingernail). The last one I remember was a Cocker Spaniel, and the guy had taken it shooting (here in Guernsey), and it had torn it's dewclaw in the undergrowth whilst retrieving the shot game. The owner carried the poor dog in at about 08.30am in the morning on a Saturday, and the blood was literally everywhere, the dog was trembling and crying, it was horrible to see, and could so easily have been avoided. This was not the first time this had happened to his dogs he said at the time. All of his Spaniels were working dogs, lived outside etc.


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Ugh. Sounds awful! I really have been lucky. Maybe our dogs were smarter. LOL!!


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

BTW, we used English pointers, English setters, and Brittany spaniels for quail hunting and for dove shoots.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

I love English Setters, my Father in Law has a gorgeous white and gold one called Charley, I just love him, (he is a pet, not a working dog).


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habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Ours were pets and working dogs - except for one of the Brittanies. We purchased her as an adult, and she just never would really become a pet. I wrote a hub about her and Herman, a wonderful pointer. It's entitled The Last Hunt.


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mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Confused me a moment there Habee, I didn't recognise you until I realised you had changed your avatar. Will try to check out that hub tomoorw. :)


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Great! Sorry for the confusion! That's my granddaughter.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

She's cute, (very) :)


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habee 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Misty! She's a pistol!


RachelK 6 years ago

I just wanted to provide you, and all the commentors who believe spay/neuter is a purely beneficial procedure, with this study from Rutgers University: http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/longtermhealtheffec...

As the study shows, there are as many health RISKS as there are benefits to spay/neuter (but the vet simply chooses not to share this information with the client, for a number of reasons, including that the veterinary community is very heavily influenced by the 'animal rights activists' and their community - and they want all our pets spayed/neutered, because they have their own long-term agenda, which involves the elimination of pets altogether).

For example, as shown by the study: for every cancer, the likelihood of which is reduced by spay/neuter, there is a different cancer, the likelihood of which is increased by spay/neuter.

This goes to Habee's point about ear cropping. It is definitely debatable whether this procedure is "necessary" or whether it has any medical benefits whatsoever. Most, if not all, the information regarding same is anecdotal, at best. But ultimately, that should be irrelevant. Cropping (and docking, and dew claw removal) should be a personal choice that a pet owner/breeder makes with his/her vet. This freedom to choose should not be infringed upon by third parties, including but not limited to the government.

Further, consider all the male babies in the US (and abroad) who are circumcised. Many are circumsized before leaving the hospital, many more after arriving home (and of those who are circumcised in the home, many are circumcised by non-doctors without any anisthetic whatsoever, particularly when circumcised in connection with religious traditions). I wonder what those babies would say about having the tip of their sex organ removed... And please do keep in mind that most doctors do believe circumcision is cosmetic, with no health benefits. There have also been studies showing the long-term negative effects of circumcision. But I don't see anyone out there, attacking parents who circumcise...

Next consider all the little girls between the ages of birth and 4 years old who are taken by their parents to have their ears pierced. This is generally done in a "Claire's" or other store in a crowded, dirty mall, by some girl not even out of high school. These little girls, like their circumcised male counterparts, get no say in the decision to perform this cosmetic procedure. And I've seen them screaming bloody murder following the piercing, so I know it can't be all that comfortable.

So... We can perform cosmetic/non-medical procedures on our children, and no one blinks an eye, regardless of the discomfort caused, the possible infections that may arise if proper aftercare is not given, and the permanent "disfigurement" (as some pediatricians have called it) caused by such procedures.

But my point...

I fear that we have reached a point in our "global" society where we have elevated the pet dog above even the human child. In doing so, we have infringed upon each owner's right to make an informed, educated decision for one's self.

I believe that each owner has the right to choose not to crop, not to dock, etc., for whatever reason. But I also believe that my right to choose to perform these procedures is currently under attack, and it should not be, provided I make that choice with my veterinarian, and I have him/her perform the procedure properly, and I give my animal the proper aftercare.

There are already laws in place insuring that only licensed vets do crops, and that I give my dog proper care after the surgery. So instead of infringing on my right to choose to crop/dock, we should be focusing in enforcing the laws that are already in place to insure it's done correctly.

Just my $0.02, anyway...


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Rachel, I mostly agree with the gist of your thoughtful post. I love animals and take excellent care of mine, along with several strays. I do not, however, think they should have more rights than humans. It's sad when some people treat their pets better than they treat their kids.


LadySeren profile image

LadySeren 6 years ago from UK

I was just reading through Habees hubs and really do have to reply to RachelKs comment.

"veterinary community is very heavily influenced by the 'animal rights activists' and their community - and they want all our pets spayed/neutered, because they have their own long-term agenda, which involves the elimination of pets altogether)."

Vets, like doctors, are more influenced by the drug companies and the fact they are trying to run a business. Yes, there are vets that agree with animal rights groups and actively work towards a more humane treatment of animals. Nothing is ever black and white.

I have never met an animal rights activist who believes that animals should have more rights than humans. There are always zealots in any cause, so I can not speak for everyone, but most people involved in promoting "animal rights" in its various forms are campaigning for humane treatment and not to promote animals to a higher status than humans!

It's been many many years since I was involved with "animal rights" groups, but I doubt that much has changed. The people involved kept pets and often provided temporary homes for neglected animals.

On to spaying and neutering - there are very practical reasons for doing it, not just for health benefits. Both are surgical procedures and carry inherent risks both during and after the op.

Thanks for the report link though, it makes very interesting reading.

Now back on topic :)

I don't agree with cropping, or any procedure done purely for visual benefit. My Jack Russell terrier, now approaching his mid-teens, has a lovely long intact tail despite his breeder urging docking as it would apparently cause him problems later in life.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I agree with you on spaying and neutering. I think it's cruel NOT to do it unless you're going to allow the animals to breed. Besides, there are far too many unwanted animals already!


stephanie mclain profile image

stephanie mclain 5 years ago from Texas

This is a very informative read and I loved the pics of your pups. :)

My sister and her husband adopted a dog several years ago who had been the subject of a "do it yourself home cropping." Her ears were completely mutilated, chopped off completely to her head, and infected by the time the shelter confiscated them. The dog was due to be put down within the week when my sister saw her at the shelter and demanded that she have her. She nursed her back to health and she is the most happy dog ever.

These dog owners that knowingly and inhumanely mutilate dogs by doing it themselves should have their ears cropped.

Thanks for sharing this info!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Stephanie, that's terrible! Kudos to your sis for saving that poor dog!


L A Dreamin profile image

L A Dreamin 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

There is always going to be arguments for both sides of this debate. I feel cropping is up to the owner as long as it is done by a vet.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

I pretty much agree, LA. Thanks for reading!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA

I worked for a vet too and have to agree with Misty Horizon. You have to watch who you ask your opinion as many vets obviously want to crop for the obvious financial reasons and breeders are quite obsessed for looks as this means more prizes and more money on the show ring. The AVMA claims that actually, if you really want to prevent ear infections it is not by doing an ear crop but by opening the ear canal, and surprisingly German Shepherds with erect ears result to be one of the breeds most prone to ear infections. Just my humble opinion backed up by facts.


misspeachesx profile image

misspeachesx 5 years ago from Northeast, Washington

I'd have to say that although cropping and docking are, in most cases, done purely for aesthetic reason, I am not against it. Depending on the breed, I would have no issue cropping and/or docking. The debate will continue to go on. I believe it is the owner's decision on which route they would like to take. As long as the procedure is done by a veterinarian, and the healing process is closely watched, I have no objections. Removing dew claws is quite popular here in the US with many dog breeders actually. I can understand why. I've seen quite a few dogs with dew claw injuries, and they are a bloody, very painful mess. I would by all means have them removed if the puppy was very young. One thing that I don't agree with is neutering male animals at a young age. I believe here in the US, vets usually want you to neuter your dog/cat at 3 months generally. For large breeds of dogs, and cats, this is a mistake IMO. From the research I've been doing, neutering at such a young age can have detrimental effects on skeletal growth. Many of the large breeds of dogs I've met that have issues relating to that have been neutered at a young age. Large breeds already are prone to these issues, and I believe neutering at a young age makes it worse. The testosterone produced by an intact male greatly helps their bones and muscles develop properly. If you compare an intact male compared to a male who has been neutered at a young age, you can visually see a big difference in their musculature and bone structure. I am all for neutering, but I think for the large breeds, it should be held off til they are a year to 2 years old. Its just a personal opinion that I know many people don't agree with.


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

I was pleasantly surprised reading this as I expected another article telling me how horrible it is to crop my dogs ears. My dog swims in the ocean every day and her floppy-eared brothers and sisters are prone to problems that she does not have. Thanks for giving your readers another perspective.

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