Cropping Your Doberman's Ears

Published: 03rd March 2009
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Ear cropping for Dobermans is usually done between 8 and 12 weeks of age. It is not a good idea to do it after 14 weeks of age as the cartilage becomes less pliable and the ears are less likely to stand. The surgery is done under general anesthesia. After the ears are cut, the are stitched (some vets use surgical glue) and bandaged. After 10 -14 days, the stitches are removed and the ears are splinted and taped to their erect position. The longer the ears, the longer they will take to stand. It can take between 3 and 6 months for the ears to stay erect. It is recommended to leave the splints on for a week, then leave them off for 4-5 days, then retape them. This must be done consistently or it will not work. It takes time and commitment to get the desired result.

There are several breeds that typically have their ears cropped, including Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, Schnauzers and American Pit Bull Terriers. For Dobermans, there are 3 types of crops. The military/pet crop is the shortest with a wide base or bell. The medium crop is slightly longer with a narrower bell and the show crop is long and narrow. The longer the cut, the more time it will take to get the ears to stand.

In the late 1980's, most European countries made it illegal to crop ears, including Germany. Today, it is increasingly difficult to find a veterinarian to crop ears. It has become controversial because it is considered to be strictly cosmetic and therefore considered to be cruel. According to Robert L. Vandiver, an experienced Doberman Pinscher Club of America judge, the Doberman breed standard specifies the ears to be cropped and carried erect. Uncropped ears are allowed, but should be thought of as a deviation from standard.

A press release from the American Veterinary Medical Association in November 2008 stated that their revised policy opposes ear cropping as it is done only for cosmetic reasons. This is not a change in policy but a stronger statement of their findings, which is that there is no medical benefit to the procedure. Some of the problems that can result from ear cropping surgery include, pain, anesthesia complications, blood loss and infection. Although some breeders do ear cropping, it is recommended that you find a veterinarian that is experienced in the procedure.

In this country it is not illegal to have your dog's ears cropped, but it is more difficult to find a qualified veterinarian to do the surgery, In our area, the closest, experienced vet is an hour away. I know that for a Doberman, the erect ears give the dog a more distinguished look and that look is specifically what the owner wants. It is a regal, and somewhat fierce look that fits the idea of what the Doberman should be. For now, ear cropping is a personal choice for the Doberman owner, but one that should not be taken lightly.

Joseph M. Sabol is a world class Doberman breeder. Please go to or to for further information

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