Cropping a dog's ears or surgically trimming and shaping a dog's ears to stand up or point upward is often required to make a dog live up to the ideal standard of the breed. Cropped ears on some dogs are integral to its appearance. But if you are not showing your dog, cropping is not absolutely necessary. In addition to appearance, ear cropping may serve a functional purpose, but can be painful for the animal, with a long recovery process as well.
Pain and Expense
Cropping can be a painful surgery and has a long recovery process. Recovery requires pups to have their ears cut and stitched, then taped to splints or sewn to disposable cups to make them stand erect. In addition to the cost of the surgery, there are trips to the vet's office for frequent taping, which the dog must endure in order for the crop to be successful. A puppy can bump or hit its ears, which can cause pain, evidenced by whimpering or yelping.
Unsuccesful Crop or Infection
Despite best intentions, dog cropping does not always work or look as it should. Ears can be cut too short, rendering an undesirable appearance, or too long, enabling them to flop over, defeating the purpose of the surgery. Any surgery runs the risk of blood loss during the procedure. Post-operative infections can set in and wounds can be slow to heal. Complications can require additional surgeries. Serious risks may include the loss of one or both ears.
Dog breed written standards, such as those for the Boxer, often state that an attractive ear cropping adds to and enhances the dog's expression, preserves character and enhances health. Dogs whose ears stand straight up may look more alert.
Fewer Inner Ear Infections
According to the Southern California-based Irvine Pet Complex, dog breeds with erect ears have fewer incidents of ear infections than those whose ears are natural or drooping. Ear cropping shapes and lightens the weight of the ear, making it easier for the muscles to support the ear. Weak muscles in floppy-eared dogs may cause chronic ear infections not typically seen in dogs with cropped ears.
Fewer Ripped Ear Accidents
Dogs, such as Boxers, were originally bred to catch and hold game. Those fights or battles with large animals could cause tear injuries or easily-wounded ears. Dogs with cropped ears may have fewer ripped ears from accidents. Ear cropping may also decrease the possibility of a hunting dog's ear getting ripped while running through thick underbrush.