One of the most recognizable features of a Great Dane is their impressive stature; they are undeniably elegant and dignified. Paired with their gently sloping necks and those long, pointed, upward-flight ears, they make for a majestic sight. Wait, upward-facing ears? Many of our beloved Danes have gone under the knife for a process known as ear cropping, a long-standing practice that has been the center of much debate.
In this article, we will delve deep into the intricate world of Great Dane ear cropping. Through sharing insights, we’ll not hound you with our opinions but rather equip you with fact-based information, empowering you to make informed decisions for your pups.
What ear cropping and why is it done?
Ear cropping, to put it simply, is a surgical process in which a portion of a dog’s ear pinna (the externally visible part of the ear) is removed, bringing about a rebuilt, prick-eared appearance.
Minimally, it’s not a snap decision nor an easy process. The procedure typically occurs when puppies are between 7 and 12 weeks old and require anesthesia, meaning it’s not devoid of medical risks even at such a tender age. The cropped ears are then taped or splinted upright for several weeks while they heal and maintain their new shape.
Why is Ear Cropping Done?
For centuries, ear cropping has been associated with dogs, especially specific breeds like the Great Dane, Doberman, and Boxer. The reasons, however, range widely and can be quite subjective.
- Historically, ear cropping was thought to protect dogs from ear injuries, particularly in breeds typically involved in hunting, fighting, or guarding. The notion was that fewer flaps made it less likely for the ear to get torn or bitten during these activities.
- Aesthetically, many people believe that cropped ears give certain breeds a more distinctive, fierce look. Traditionally, breeds like our beloved Great Danes have been depicted with erect ears, contributing to their majestic and commandingly regal appearance. This aesthetic preference has carried into the present day for many dog owners and breeders.
- Health considerations such as reducing the chances of ear infections have also been purported. The belief is that the increased airflow allowed by cropped ears helps keep the inner ear dry, potentially reducing infection risks.
History of ear cropping in Great Danes
Ear cropping is believed to have originated in ancient civilizations, where it was performed for various reasons, including as a status symbol, to prevent injury to working dogs, and in some cases, to enhance the dog’s appearance. The procedure was often done using crude tools and methods, resulting in varying degrees of success and potential harm to the dogs.
For Great Danes, ear cropping gained popularity in the 19th century. The exact reasons for cropping Great Danes’ ears are somewhat unclear, but there are a few theories:
- Practical Utility: Some proponents of ear cropping argued that it had practical benefits, particularly for working and hunting dogs like Great Danes. Cropped ears were thought to reduce the risk of injury during hunting or fighting, as the ears would be less vulnerable to bites and tears from other animals.
- Status and Aesthetics: As with many dog breeds, cropped ears were associated with a certain level of prestige and ownership of a “purebred” dog. Additionally, it was believed that cropped ears gave Great Danes a more imposing and intimidating appearance, contributing to their roles as guard dogs.
- Breed Standard: In some cases, ear cropping was performed to conform to breed standards set by kennel clubs and breed organizations. These standards dictated the desired appearance of the breed, and in certain periods, cropped ears were considered essential to meeting these standards.
The Downsides of ear cropping — What About The Paws-ible Drawbacks?
It’s a Surgical Procedure:
Plainly put, ear cropping hurts. Imagine someone chopping off a part of your ear. The dogs have to go under anesthetic for it, which is risky, especially for young pups. After the operation, the ears have to be kept in shape using tapes or splints, which can be uncomfortable for your cuddly friend.
No Solid Proof of Health Benefits:
While some believe cropping avoids ear infections, no solid scientific evidence supports this idea. Many dogs with uncropped ears live long, healthy lives without significant ear problems.
Not Legally Accepted Everywhere:
It’s important to note that in several parts of the world, ear cropping for cosmetic reasons is considered animal cruelty and is against the law!
It’s Not Natural:
Dogs are born with floppy ears, not those that stand upright. Many people believe we should leave them how nature intended. Plus, floppy ears are super cute, right?
Different Styles of Ear Cropping for Great Danes
Here are some of the historically popular styles of ear cropping for Great Danes:
Show Crop (Short Crop):
- The show crop is a shorter style of ear cropping that was commonly used to adhere to breed standards set by kennel clubs and breed organizations. It involves removing a portion of the ear’s length, typically leaving the ears standing erect and pointed.
- The ear is usually trimmed so that it stands straight up and tapers to a point at the top. The base of the ear can be wider and gradually narrow towards the tip.
- This style was often favored in dog show rings and was believed to give Great Danes a more alert and dignified appearance.
- The medium crop falls between the short crop and the long crop in terms of ear length.
- The ears are usually trimmed to stand upright, but they might be slightly longer than those in the show crop style.
- This style can offer a compromise between the show crop’s extreme appearance and uncropped ears’ natural appearance.
- The long crop style involves cropping the ears to a longer length compared to the show crop.
- The ears may still stand upright but have a more natural, relaxed appearance.
- Long crops were often favored by owners who wanted their Great Danes to have the benefits of cropping without an overly exaggerated or extreme appearance.
How to Care for a Great Dane’s Cropped Ears
- Post-Surgery Care
The first few hours post-surgery are fragile. Ensure your Great Dane pup is comfortable and getting proper rest.
- Cleaning The Ears
You’ll need to clean your Great Dane’s ears regularly during the healing period. It’s vital to prevent infections. Softly dab the corners and creases of the ear with a clean, damp cloth or cotton ball soaked in a vet-approved solution.
- Keeping Ears Dry
After cleaning, ensure the ears are completely dry, as moisture can promote bacterial growth, leading to infections. Use a soft, dry towel or cloth to pat them dry gently.
- Monitor For Infections
Keep an eye out for excessive redness, swelling, unusual smells, or pus. These are signs of an infection; you should consult your vet immediately if you notice any of these indicators.
- Taping and Posting
Post-cropping, the ears need support to stand upright while healing. The vet does this first round of posting (fitting foam, tampons, or pipe insulation within the ear and securing with tape), explaining the process for future at-home posting sessions.
The ears should be ‘posted’ until they can stand straight on their own, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Patience and regular care are paramount here.
- Ensuring Comfort & Aiding Healing
It’s important to ensure your pup is comfortable throughout the healing process. The ears may feel sore initially, and your pup might scratch them. Soft Elizabethan collars or ‘cones of shame’ can prevent this, as it stops them from reaching their ears.
Finding a Veterinarian to Crop Your Great Dane’s Ears
If you are still considering ear cropping for your Great Dane, here are some steps you might take if the procedure is legal in your area and you’ve thoroughly researched the potential risks and benefits:
- Research and Education: Educate yourself about ear cropping, its potential complications, the recovery process, and the potential impact on your dog’s overall well-being. Understanding the procedure and its consequences is essential before making any decisions.
- Legal Considerations: Make sure that ear cropping is legal in your jurisdiction. Regulations can vary widely from one location to another, and in some places, the procedure might be restricted or even banned.
- Ask for Recommendations: If you’ve made an informed decision to proceed with ear cropping, ask for recommendations from breed clubs, dog trainers, or other Great Dane owners who have undergone the procedure. They might be able to recommend veterinarians who have experience with the breed and the specific procedure.
- Vet Selection: Look for a veterinarian with ear-cropping experience and a good track record. It’s important to choose a veterinarian who prioritizes the welfare and comfort of the animal and adheres to the highest standards of surgical care.
- Consultations: Schedule consultations with potential veterinarians. During these consultations, discuss your intentions, ask about the veterinarian’s experience with ear cropping, and inquire about their surgical techniques, pain management protocols, and aftercare instructions.
- Review Portfolios: If possible, ask the veterinarian to show you before-and-after photos of previous ear cropping procedures they have performed. This can give you an idea of their skill and the results you can expect.
- Ask Questions: Prepare a list of questions to ask the veterinarian. Inquire about their approach to pain management, the potential risks and complications, the healing process, and what you should expect post-surgery.
- Second Opinions: It’s a good idea to seek second opinions. Different veterinarians might have varying approaches and recommendations.
- Visit the Facility: If you’re comfortable with a particular veterinarian, consider visiting their facility. This will give you an opportunity to observe the clinic’s cleanliness, organization, and overall environment.
- Ethical Considerations: Before making a final decision, take a moment to reflect on the ethical implications of ear cropping. Consider whether it aligns with your values and whether it’s in the best interest of your dog’s well-being.
The Legality of Ear Cropping in Great Danes
The practice of ear cropping sits at the heart of an ongoing global controversy, and its legality varies significantly from country to country.
Countries Where Ear Cropping is Illegal
Ear cropping is banned in many countries across the globe. Some examples include:
- European Countries: Thanks to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, several European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden, have outlawed the practice of ear cropping.
- Australia & New Zealand: Down Under, too, the procedure is considered unnecessary and illegal for cosmetic purposes.
Countries Where Ear Cropping is Legal
Meanwhile, other countries permit ear cropping under specific regulations:
- United States: In the U.S., ear cropping is legal and is largely unregulated. American Kennel Club (AKC) – the primary canine organization in the U.S., doesn’t specifically require dogs to have cropped ears for conformation shows, but it retains traditional standards that describe certain breeds with cropped ears.
- Canada: In Canada, the situation is mixed. While some provinces like Alberta and New Brunswick allow ear cropping, others, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island, have banned the practice.
Is it OK to get a Great Danes ears cropped?
Yes, it is OK to get a Great Danes ears cropped.
As long as the procedure is done by a licensed veterinarian and in accordance with local regulations, there’s no reason to worry about your dog’s safety.
How much does it cost to clip a Great Danes ears?
In general, it costs $500 to clip a Great Dane’s ears. The price varies depending on the location and the experience of the groomer.
When it comes to the Great Dane’s ears, like many dog breeds, the standard is a cropped ear. Short ears are preferred in the AKC, as they are considered more aesthetically pleasing and prevent discomfort. However, many owners choose not to have their dogs’ ears cropped. Some believe that cropping them prevents the dog from expressing his natural instincts to alert, but whether this is true remains debatable.