The Whats, Whys & Hows of Great Dane Ear Cropping

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Last Updated on September 27, 2022

Great Dane ear cropping is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of all or some part of the pinnae (or the visible “flap” of a dog’s ear) in order to train the ear to stand erect.

The procedure is an orthodox practice in certain dog breeds. And the most popular and common breeds that undergo this procedure are Great Danes, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers.

What is Ear Cropping?

Great Dane Ear Cropping
Blue Iris / Shutterstock.com

The process of Great Dane ear cropping involves complete or partial removal of the external and visible part of the ear called pinnae. The cropped ears are often taped to “train” the tip to stand erect.

Typically, this procedure is done to show dogs in the USA. And most Great Danes with cropped ears in the country are given the titles of champions in different dog shows. Furthermore, according to a 2003 research, there are approximately 130,000 puppies (of different breeds) that get their ears cropped in the USA every year.

And while it is legal in some countries like the USA, it is prohibited in many other parts of the world, especially in Europe. You would rarely find some European Great Danes with cropped ears unless they have medical problems.

History of Great Dane Ear Cropping

The practice of ear cropping is an ancient one. It goes way back in history when dogs where bred and used for different purposes. As for the Great Dane breed, it was because they were originally bred to hunt wild boars in Europe.

Back then, boar hunting is a challenging and dangerous tasks because boars are known to be ferocious animals. To prevent the Great Danes’ ears from being cut, bitten and torn apart while hunting, ear cropping was performed to them.

Why do Great Danes have their ears cropped?

The reason behind Great Dane ear cropping have evolved over the years. Back then, it was purely for preventing injuries while hunting for wild boars.

However, since the procedure no longer serve this purpose, ear cropping has become a mere personal and aesthetic preference. Many people enjoy the aesthetic of Great Danes with shorter ears because it gives their dogs a more aggressive, intimidating or athletic appearance.

And for this reason, there are Great Dane owners, experts and veterinarians alike that consider ear cropping as a questionable and unethical practice today. They argue that there is no longer any valid reason for the procedure, regardless of owners, breeders and dog show judges’ preferences.

However, some suggest that ear cropping help prevent some medical issues such as ear infections. They say that the Great Dane’s natural floppy ears cover the ear canals that make infections worse. And the erect position of cropped ears help lessen this. But this is just a theory and there are currently no studies to support this claim.

How Much Does Great Dane Ear Cropping Costs?

On average, you can expect the price of ear cropping to be around $500 to $600. Great Dane ear cropping can be quite expensive as it requires a capable and well-trained vet to properly perform the surgery.

However, sometimes you can get it for less. Because there are breeders who have entire litters cropped on the same day and they typically receive a bulk discount. So, when they sell a puppy from that litter, they add the cost of the ear cropping at a lower price into the total price of the puppy. This is considered a cost effective way to have a Great Dane puppy with cropped ears.

Furthermore, you may find differing prices since you also have to consider your location and the vet you choose for the surgery.

When Should You Get a Great Dane’s Ears Cropped?

Generally, you’ll want to have your Great Dane’s ears cropped between 6 to 8 weeks old. Cropping the ears too early or too late will cause developmental problems. Cropping a Great Dane’s ears during this age is important. Because this is a time when the ears have fully formed but haven’t grown to their full sizes yet.

Puppies that are cropped at 6 to 8 weeks old tolerate the procedure much better. And they seem to have a faster recovery than those dogs who undergo the procedure much later.

Furthermore, 10 weeks is the maximum age to crop the Great Dane ears. Once the Great Dane dog passes over 10 weeks, its ear cartilage have developed already and you won’t achieve your desired look for your Great Dane with the ear cropping surgery.

So, if you’re preparing for a Great Dane puppy and is considering getting its ears cropped, make sure to do it between the advised age.

Great Dane Ear Cropping Surgery

Great Dane Getting Its Ear Checked By The Vet
hedgehog94 / Shutterstock.com

Since ear cropping is now considered a cosmetic surgery, having a professional and capable veterinarian is crucial to the success of the surgery. There are various things which the vet has to analyze before performing the Great Dane ear cropping surgery, and these include:

1. Initial physical examination of the Great Dane and an interview with the owner

The initial physical examination is to determine the current physical status of the Great Dane and if they’re healthy and fit to have the surgery.

The interview with the owner is to discuss possible cons of the surgery and to get some input from the dog owner regarding the ear cropping style and shape they prefer for their Great Dane.

2. Surgery

After evaluating everything, the vet will perform the surgery. During the process, the ears are cleaned and general anesthesia is administered to sedate the Great Dane. And then the vet will proceed with the surgery and cut the external part of the dog’s ear to the owner’s desired shape or style.

After all that, the part of the ears that have been cut will be sutured and the ears will be disinfected.

3. Ear Cropping Aftercare

After the surgery, the ears are wrapped up in gauze. The stitches will be removed after about eight to 10 days and the vet will tape your dog’s ears in an upright, erect position.

However, Great Dane ear cropping doesn’t end after that. Post-surgery care is a long process and healing of the wounds can range from six weeks to 10 months. This means that Great Dane dog parents are advised to take proper care of their dog’s cropped ears for a relatively long period of time.

Here are a few aftercare tips after your Great Dane’s ear cropping surgery.

  • ‘Do as directed’ by the vet precisely. Failure to do so will lead to problems.
  • Make sure to carefully and regularly clean the cropped ears.
  • Change the cropped ears’ dressings as recommended by the vet.
  • Cleaning the cut or incision at the base of cropped ear is also advised. For this purpose, you can use ear cleaning solutions or peroxide.
  • After the sutures have been removed, do not let the Great Dane puppy mess with its taped, cropped ears. As the puppy might indulge in scratching its ears due to the discomfort.
  • Do not overlook any scabs on the cropped ears. If scabs are present on the incisions, put a warm cloth on top of the scab and hold it there for about 5-7 minutes. This would soften the blood clot cells there. And it’ll help with the removal of scabs from cropped ears incisions.
  • Do not let the bandages get wet while cleaning the ears.
  • After washing, apply antibiotic cream on the cut. The cream can be applied twice or thrice (or as advised by the vet) on incisions to prevent any infections.
  • Keep an eye on the Great Dane’s cropped ears for any probable infections. If you notice something unusual in the dog’s ears like swelling, consult the vet right away.

If the cropped ears are not taken care of properly, it can result to bent, twisted or disfigured ears. However, there is also no assurance that the Great Dane’s cropped ears will stand upright after the surgery. It’s a risk you take when you choose to crop your Great Dane’s ears.

Popular Great Dane Ear Cropping Styles

There are a variety of Great Dane ear cropping styles, but the most popular are the following:

1. Pet Crop

This Great Dane ear cropping style is also called the medium crop. It is the most common and popular ear cropping style. And it keeps the Great Dane’s ears at a medium length, hence the name “medium crop”.

Great Dane Ear Cropping Pet Crop Style
Bonita R. Cheshier / Shutterstock.com

The pet crop may be easy to maintain but it is actually the most difficult shape to achieve. Therefore, you need to make sure to visit a skilled vet to get your Great Dane ears cropped with the pet crop style.

2. Long Show Crop

This Great Dane ear cropping style is considered to be the most stylish. The long show crop makes the cropped ear longer and taller, as compared with the pet crop. The style is favored by Great Dane owners who take their Great Danes to dog show competitions.

Harlequin Great Dane Ear Cropping Long Show Crop Style
Photohunter / Shutterstock.com

However, long show crop has a greater risk of not making the ears stand erect. This is because this style preserves the Great Dane ears’ maximum natural length. In addition to that, it can also be difficult to maintain and will take longer to heal.

3. Medium Long Crop

As the name suggests, this Great Dane ear cropping style’s length is “medium long”, so it’s still long but is shorter than the long show crop but longer than the pet crop. The Medium long crop’s major difference with the long show crop is the length of the ear tip.

Great Dane Ear Cropping Medium Long Crop Style
Seregraff / Shutterstock.com

It also takes time to heal medium long cropped ears, but not as much as the long show style. But the advantage of the medium long crop is that, it gives a Great Dane’s cropped ears a safer and greater chance of standing erect.

Great Dane Ears: Natural vs Cropped

Great Dane dog have natural ears that hang low which are endearingly described as “floppy”. They give a Great Dane a more genuinely pleasant and friendly aura.

But when a Great Dane gets its ears cropped, the ears stand pointed and erect. This gives the dog a refined and intimidating appearance. For the Great Dane dogs, in particular, ear cropping has become an insignia of their breed.

Take a look at these photos to see the difference between a Great Dane with natural and cropped ears:

Great Danes with natural, floppy ears:

A Great Dane With Natural Floppy Ears
anetapics / Shutterstock.com

Great Dane with cropped ears:

A Great Dane With Cropped Ears On A White Background
WilleeCole Photography / Shutterstock.com

Great Dane Ear Problems

A Great Dane’s natural and floppy ears are more prone to leave moisture inside the ears, coupled with enough temperature to incubate infections. These infections are problems that may also develop if you can’t properly clean your Great Dane’s ears due to their natural, floppy ears.

And as mentioned above, when Great Dane ears are cropped, they usually stand erect. Which gives the ears a structure and shape that is open to air. Furthermore, ears will be easier to clean with cropped ears. Hence, the less chances to incubate infections.

Another ear problem that Great Dane ear cropping can help with is hematomas or blood blisters. These blisters can develop on the edge of a Great Dane’s uncropped ears. And they are caused by excessive head shaking.

Of course, there are other causes of the dog’s ear problems such as food and diet allergies. And you should not ignore these causes when trying to find the cause of your dog’s ear infections.

The Risks of Great Dane Ear Cropping

Many problems can stem out of Great Dane ear cropping. Like other cosmetic surgeries, this procedure can also go wrong and there are a lot of possible risks. Some of these include:

  • Your Great Dane will lose its natural floppy ears.
  • There is no guarantee that ear cropping will make a Great Dane’s ears stand upright.
  • Infections and scabs can occur without proper aftercare.
  • The surgery can go wrong and your Great Dane will end up with bent, twisted or disfigured ears.
  • Antibiotics, pain medication and anesthesia can have negative effects on the dog’s gut health.

Furthermore, Great Dane ear cropping is a long process and can be burdensome to owners. If the following scenarios were to happen, it will risk your Great Dane’s ears:

  • Not enough time, patience or effort to take care of your Great Dane’s cropped ears for weeks or months.
  • The veterinary you chose for the procedure is not an expert in cropping Great Dane ears.

To Crop Or To Not Crop?

Great Dane ear cropping, as mentioned, no longer serves its original purpose for the breed. In modern times, it is considered as a mere cosmetic procedure. And this is where the ongoing debate over modern ear cropping stems from.

People who are against the procedure consider it unethical, unnecessary and cruel. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an organization of more than 99,500 veterinarians who advocate for the veterinary profession, opposes ear cropping when it’s solely done for cosmetic purposes.

However, for many others, they don’t consider Great Dane ear cropping as a cruel procedure. Because they claim that it may help relieve the dog of ear infections. As cropped ears are easier to clean as compared to the dog’s naturally floppy ears.

But the reality is, there is little to no evidence in modern times to support Great Dane ear cropping. Since these dogs are no longer used to hunt boars, the need for such procedure is deemed unnecessary by many.

Should You Crop A Great Dane’s Ears?

The decision to crop a Great Dane’s ears is still entirely up to you. But, like any other major decision in life, this should not be taken lightly. To help you make an informed decision, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the procedure done at the right age?
  • Is your Great Dane puppy healthy enough for the procedure?
  • Is the procedure being done by a qualified and experienced vet?
  • Is the vet going to use proper surgical and ear taping techniques?
  • Can you commit to taking care of your Great Dane’s cropped ears?

Of course, you should not rely solely on these questions to make a decision. Asking these questions and doing your own research about the procedure should go hand in hand.

There are cases when Great Dane owners believe that their dogs have gotten better after going through the process of ear cropping. The dogs’ ear infections have been reduced and are living a much healthier life.

But there are also situations where the dog still gets ear infections after ear cropping. Hence, the decision to crop your Great Dane’s ears is yours to make. But, again, it should be an informed choice.

What If You Decide Not To Crop A Great Dane’s Ears?

Of course, there will be people who are opposed to Great Dane ear cropping. And there are a lot of factors why people choose not to get this procedure for their Great Dane. And some of these are:

  • They find the procedure cruel and unnecessary.
  • The procedure is costly and doesn’t guarantee their desired results.
  • They don’t have the time and/or patience to properly care for their dog after the procedure.
  • The puppy is too old to get its ears cropped.
  • There is no qualified veterinarian around your area.
  • The possibility of death or other complications due to surgeries.

If your Great Dane dog is having ear infections, and you don’t want to crop its ears to get rid of its ear problems, here are a few alternatives:

  1. Get a detailed analysis of your Great Dane’s food with the help of your vet or breeder. For example, your Great Dane might be allergic to chickens. And this allergic reaction is what’s causing its ear infections.
  2. Use ear cleaning solutions recommended by your vet to clean the Great Dane ears.
  3. Organic garlic oil is also considered useful to get rid of Great Dane ear infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears with it once a month bears good results.

Ear Cropping and Animal Cruelty

Great Dane At The Beach
Ryan Garrett / Shutterstock.com

A lot of experts and veterinarians alike consider Great Dane ear cropping as inhumane. They argue that there is no medical justification to the procedure and is almost, always done out of personal preference.

And some even say that it is considered animal cruelty to put a dog through the pain and trauma of getting its ears cut, especially at a young age without a valid and medical reason. And even though it’s still legal in the USA, many vets oppose and even refuse to perform ear copping.

In addition to the fact that the procedure is painful, there are also instances where dogs end up in kennels because their owners couldn’t fulfill their own aesthetic preferences for their dogs.

This is why Great Dane ear cropping is banned in all states and territories in Australia and most parts of Europe and Canada.

But, if ear cropping has a sound medical reasons like helping get rid of your Great Dane’s ear problems, then the procedure should not be deemed cruel and inhumane.

Conclusion

Great Dane ear cropping, like any surgery, does have its risks and does not guarantee results. At the end of the day, the decision whether to crop or to not crop a Great Dane’s ears is for the owner to make.

However, if you are a Great Dane owner considering this procedure, you have to remember one thing. You should be doing the procedure, like any other procedure you do for them (like spaying or neutering), for the sake of your Great Dane’s well-being.

3 thoughts on “The Whats, Whys & Hows of Great Dane Ear Cropping”

  1. Where is the USA is it legal now to perform this procedure? I’m in the New York area and it’s illegal in New York. Do any places in New Jersey do it?

    Reply
  2. Pingback: The Ultimate Great Dane Care Guide 2019 - Great Dane k9

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