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The True Purpose of Ear Cropping in Pit Bulls and Its Pros and Cons

Pit Bull Ear Cropping
Being a pet owner, it is your responsibility to understand the pros and cons of cosmetic surgical procedures like ear cropping and tail docking, before you choose one for your puppy.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Feb 20, 2018
Pit bulls are often described as ferocious dogs with alert ears. The 'raised-ear' look of these dogs is achieved through ear cropping, a surgical procedure that removes a part of the outer ear or pinna. This procedure is also known as ear trimming or otoplasty. The 'raised-ear' look is often a part of the breed standard, which has to be maintained for dog shows.
Is it really necessary to get your pit bull's ears trimmed? Does your pet benefit in any way or are you trying to impose your will on the poor being, who cannot express himself. For those of you planning to get the ears of your pit bull trimmed, have a look at the pros and cons before you make the decision.
What is the Purpose of Ear Cropping?
pitbull with full ears
Ear cropping is believed to have started in ancient Rome. A portion of the dog's ear is removed surgically, so that the cartilage stands erect. This practice was intended to prevent injury to dogs that were raised for working, hunting or fighting. In case of fighting and hunting dogs, floppy ears could be bitten off. Floppy ears are also prone to vermin bites, which can lead to fatal ear infection. It was also believed that ear cropping makes the animal look more ferocious and alert.
The Actual Procedure
pitbull puppies
Ear cropping is done on puppies and not adult pit bulls. Before surgery, sedatives, antibiotics as well as pain killers are administered. The ears are cleaned well, before measuring and marking the portion to be cut. The portion to be removed is determined according to the type of cut you choose. It could be a long crop, show crop, short crop or battle crop. The cut edges will be sutured and the ears will be disinfected. Some vets may use special bandages to wrap the ears tightly, so that they stay erect. Some others do it once the wounds heal. Medicines are continued for pain relief and for preventing infection. You may keep the puppy in the hospital or else, take him home (if you can provide with the right aftercare). The surgery takes around 30 to 45 minutes and ten to 14 days are required for healing. Proper aftercare is very much important. However, there is no guarantee that the results will be positive. In other words, it may happen that the ears remain floppy, even after the surgery.
Health Benefits of Ear Cropping?
pitbull puppies and adult
It has been claimed that ear cropping is beneficial for prevention of ear infections in dogs. However, canines who have undergone this surgery do develop ear infection, as their counterparts. The risk of ear infection is same for both groups. Another contention is that the surgical procedure improves hearing in dogs. Even this is not proved scientifically. Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that is done purely for cosmetic reasons and your pit bull puppy does not benefit from it in any way.
The Dog's Ordeal
pitbull ear
The procedure is done on puppies below twelve months of age and not on full-grown dogs. The wound may itch, bleed, and develop scarring and/or infections. In case of complications, another surgery might be required resulting in loss of the whole outer ear. The puppy may also develop side effects of anesthesia, which could be life-threatening. Ear cropping affects the dog's ability to communicate. The chances of complications are high, if the procedure is done by breeders or amateurs.
To Crop or Not to Crop
pit bull ear cropped
The decision has to be made by the pet owner, only after understanding the pros and cons of ear cropping in pit bulls. Once decided, he must contact an experienced veterinary surgeon. A few trips to the vet's office (along with the puppy) would be required. The pet owner has to bear the expenses of the surgery as well as aftercare. There is no guarantee that you will get the desired results. The ears may not stand erect and can remain floppy.
Ear Cropping - Legal Aspects
Ear cropping is banned in various countries across the world, especially in Europe. In case of the United States, it is still legal, though there are strong demands from various quarters to ban the procedure. However, ear cropping is still endorsed by the American Kennel Club and some other organizations. According to them, cropped ears is a characteristic feature of the breed. The American Veterinary Medical Association discourages the practice, which is done solely for cosmetic purposes.
In short, ear cropping is neither mandatory nor is it necessary for the registration of a pit bull, with the concerned authorities. It is also a misconception that ear cropping prevents dog ear problems. It is mainly done for cosmetic purposes and is intended to bring a ferocious look in the dog, which would otherwise (with ears) look more cute. It is unethical to subject an animal to pain and suffering, only for redefining its looks. If you still want to get your puppy's ears cropped, make sure to approach a licensed and experienced vet. Consider the pros and cons and then decide.

There are various factors that have to be considered, before planning ear cropping for your pit bull. They include, age, health condition, gender, and breed. The right pit bull ear cropping age is between eight to twelve weeks. As the puppy grows, the cartilage in its ears become thicker, making the procedure more painful. It is also said that ear cropping after twelve weeks of age may not be successful in getting an upright ear. The puppy must be healthy enough to bear the stress of anesthesia and surgery. He must be given timely vaccinations, must be dewormed and should be in really good health.
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