“Today I experienced my first seriously negative and rude response to Bandit’s ears being cropped… and I was angry!! I was not angry at this woman’s opinion – everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe and make their own choices and that is absolutely fine. But when someone rudely tells me that I am cruel and I must not have thought that my dog was born good enough, that really rubs me the wrong way.”
“I’ve only had one person give me a half-negative remark…just the usual “aww, poor little doggie, daddy cut your ears off, huh?”
These are just two comments from a Doberman forum showing the opinions surrounding Doberman ear cropping. People can be mean. My last post on ear cropping resulted in over 200 for and against comments! It’s the second most popular and viewed post on this website. (The most popular post is 5 Doberman Colors and 3rd is my list of favorite Doberman names.)
Like most things in life, ear cropping is not a black and white issue. There are many things to consider to make an educated and less emotional decision about this procedure. I hope this post will help with that.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a Doberman’s ears cropped.
The Cons of Ear Cropping
- Like any surgery, this can result in pain and the risk of infection.
- The post-operation care is a big commitment which can last weeks or months depending on the ear crop style. You will need to learn the skills needed to re-post or tape the ears yourself at home.
- Owners of cropped puppies may get stressed worrying about infection, puppy pain, or the after-care, which is time-consuming. Be prepared mentally for this if it’s your first time.
- Ear cropping is banned in some countries, so you might not even have the choice of this procedure.
- Finding an experienced ear-cropping vet that does good work on Dobermans, not just other breeds, may be hard. A Doberman crop is different than a Boxer or Great Dane crop.
- It’s an expensive surgical procedure that only a few vets do, so you may need to travel far to find a cropping vet.
- It can be argued that it’s un-natural and purely for cosmetic reasons.
- Some people find it a cruel practice and WILL let you know! either in public or online. Petitions to ban the practice still continue.
- There is no guarantee of success. The ears may not look symmetrical, have the right shape or one ear may end up flopping downward.
- As with any surgery, general anesthesia carries some risk (like allergic reactions).
- It is a sad reality but in some countries, people crop without going to a vet or using anesthesia. This is, of course, barbaric and obvious animal abuse that should result in criminal charges.
- Even if you decide to crop, you may doubt that you did the right thing and feel guilty for putting your pup through this procedure. Again be prepared for a potential emotional roller-coaster.
- Some people insist that cropping and docking affects canine body language communication and doesn’t allow the dog to express his emotional state properly to other dogs.
- Lastly, PETA or similar animal advocacy groups will hate you if you crop a dog.
The Pros of Ear Cropping
- The cropped/docked Doberman has the iconic look of the breed. Ears that are not cropped, are not honoring the breed standard and what the original creators intended for the breed. If you look at early photos of the Doberman, they all have short-cropped ears. We have to wonder what the original Doberman breeders, Mr. Karl Louis Dobermann, Otto Gueller, and Philipp Gruenig would think about this cropping debate.
- Some people believe it helps with sound localization. The dog is able to “aim” it’s ear towards sound better. This may not matter much for a family pet but could be important for working security dogs.
- It creates a more alert, intimidating look. There is no denying that a cropped Doberman is instantly recognizable. Some people may want a Doberman to help deter crime just by its appearance or presence.
- Originally ear cropping did have a functional purpose and was not just a cosmetic procedure. Again for working dogs, a shorter ear prevented either humans or other animals from grabbing hold of their floppy ears during an attack. Also for dogs that run through wooded areas, the floppy ear (or long tail) could get damaged by the wooded brush. Infection from damaged ears was a serious issue in the early days before advanced medical care.
- Some people believe that cropped ears are less prone to ear infections. Scientific data is mixed. Ear infections would make sense for dogs that live in damp or humid areas, where ear cropping might prevent infections caused by trapped moisture.
- A cropped Doberman will do better in the show ring. I suspect there is a bias by judges towards cropping in dog shows. This may vary depending on the country or the show.
- New medical procedures, like laser cutting, now make the procedure safer. It’s thought that laser cuts heal faster since there is less tissue trauma. The edges are more precise with less bleeding and scabbing.
- Ear cropping is a less invasive surgical procedure than spaying or neutering, which owners do all the time without a second thought. Spaying/neutering is accepted socially even though it can also cause problems and is not medically necessary.
- I strongly suspect that a cropped Doberman that ends up in a rescue or animal shelter will be easier to re-home than a floppy ear Doberman. Usually, when people decide to get a Doberman, it’s the traditional looking, iconic Doberman that they want.
- Lastly and I think this may be the most important issue that doesn’t get talked about, the effect on the future of the breeding pool. A ban on ear cropping may result in some breeders ending their breeding programs or leaving the business. With fewer breeders, this means a shrinking of the gene pool. A shrinking of the gene pool means there is less genetic diversity which would increase inherited health disorders. A healthy Doberman could be a rare thing in the future or even lead to its eventual extinction. Think about that, the extinction of the Doberman breed!
- And PETA will hate you! (depending on how you feel about this group, this can be either a pro or con)
The legal status of dog tail docking and ear cropping by country
If you’re wondering where ear cropping is banned or allowed, this docking wiki lists the legality in various countries. If your country or state/province is not listed, or you want to confirm the information, I would suggest contacting your local Doberman group or local veterinarian association.
Personally, I believe that breeders should be responsible for ear cropping before they sell their puppies. After the puppy leaves, the breeder and vet should continue to provide support/guidance to new dog owners for the after-care and ear taping/posting. This is a sign of a good breeder and vet who care about the well-being of their pups and helping new Doberman owners. Owners who have newly cropped dogs should not have to fend for themselves, relying on questionable online medical advice.
Now here is my personal opinion as an owner who has had both a cropped Doberman and two natural ear Dobermans. My next Doberman will have cropped ears. I want the iconic, traditional look. I want people to instantly recognize that my dog is a Doberman. With my floppy ear Dobermans, some people weren’t aware that they are in fact purebred Dobermans. I sometimes got asked what breed my floppy-eared Doberman was.
Why is this important to me?
As a petite female, I want a Doberman for the personal protection that it offers. I live in a country (Canada) where I’m not allowed to have a firearm for personal protection. In fact, I’m not even legally allowed to carry pepper spray for self-defense. My government expects me to rely on the police (who really only respond to crimes after they have occurred). Or they expect me to spend years learning a martial art to protect myself. (Which if you’re gonna do, I recommend Krav Maga.)
I don’t need my dog trained as a protection guard dog. They will naturally alert me of strangers, and because of the Dobermans’ intimidating, alert look, they will provide some deterrent against crime or assault. I suspect most criminals will avoid a home being watched by a Doberman. Which dog looks like more of a threat, the one with floppy ears or the one with alert standing ears? While my dogs will be foremost loving, peaceful companions, I like the Doberman’s natural protection instincts. And I think Dobermans know it’s their job to help protect their family pack.
Everyone will have to evaluate their own needs and reasons for owning a dog. The to-crop or not-to-crop debate will continue around the world regardless. I hope this post will be helpful in your decision.
Did I miss any other pros or cons to having a Doberman cropped? I would love to hear your opinion.