Welfare concerns: risks
General anesthesia—Cropping should always be carried out under full anesthesia, which itself has associated risks.4
Postoperative Care—Dogs will experience some discomfort during healing, stretching, re-taping and bandaging, and other manipulations after surgery. Some will need their ears bandaged or taped upright for days to months, and they may be isolated from other dogs during this period.
Potential Complications—As for any incision, cropped ears may become infected. Cropped ears may also fail to stand or have a distorted shape or position potentially leading to subsequent operations.5,6,7
Animal Benefits—It has been suggested that dogs with cropped ears are less likely to suffer from infections of the ear canal. Although the development of some serious infections has been linked to the presence of a heavy hanging ear8, there is no evidence that cropping prevents or successfully treats these infections. It has also been suggested that cropping avoids later ear injury9 or improves hearing, but no evidence is available to substantiate these claims either.
Human Benefits—Ear cropping produces an alert expression in dogs used for security or guard work and may contribute to the distinctive appearance of a pedigree breed.10
Opinions expressed are those of the writer:
The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.
Remember: Alteration Is an Option
If youâre thinking about getting a puppy whose breed often gets docked or cropped, ask yourself: Are the risks and pain my dog may experience worth it? âWhen I bring surgery up with [potential pet owners], many donât even realize itâs a choice,â Roark says. If youâre getting your dog from a breeder, make sure they know before the dog is born if you donât want your puppy docked, Serpell says.
Or avoid the question altogether by getting an older dog.