Ear cropping -- also known as ear trimming and cosmetic otoplasty -- is the surgical procedure of altering the ears from their natural state. Dog breeds for which ear cropping is typical include the Schnauzer, Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Boston Terrier, Great Dane and Pit Bull. The appearance of Pit Bulls in particular drastically changes as a result of ear cropping, and some pit bull owners prefer the more alert and attentive appearance of cropped ears.
Straight cut cropping is the most popular form of cropping. Following the ear's natural curve, a straight cut consists of removing three-fifths of the left portion of the ear. This three-fifths ratio is breed-specific and does not apply to similar breeds, such as the Boxer and Doberman Pinscher, as the degree of cropping is dependent on the ear's natural shape and size.
Unlike the straight cut performed by most veterinarians, the fighting cut removes up to four-fifths of the ear and does not follow the ear's natural bone structure. This cut is the most controversial of all ear cropping styles, as there is danger of losing the entire ear in cases of infection or poorly executed cropping procedures. If an infection is not treated immediately, the ear can die and fall off, for which there is no treatment and no potential for ear repair.
Similar to the straight cut, the show cut style of cropping follows the ear's natural bone structure and removes roughly two-thirds to three-fifths of the ear. The difference is in the length of the crop, as the show-cut often shortens the ear by as much as one-quarter inch. As opposed to a straight cut, the show cut does not usually require the use of cones -- often taped to the ears to encourage vertical standing -- as the shortened length itself encourages the ear to stand straight.