Dog Ear Cropping is Best Done Between the Ages of Six and Eight Weeks

Dog Ear Cropping

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In early days, dog ear cropping were cropped very short. The technique of Dog Ear Cropping was clumsy with no regard to balance or aesthetics. With the development of anesthesia, cropping techniques became more sophisticated and "artistic". When cropping could be done as the puppy "slept", more time and attention could be placed on using the scalpel to develop certain lines and shapes.

Ear Cropping is usually best done between the ages of six and eight weeks, the closer to six weeks the better, the ear is thinner, thus easier to cut, causing less trauma for the Great Dane puppy and increasing your chances of a really good job. DO NOT , however, permit cropping unless the puppy is in top physical condition. It is better to wait a week or two longer, than to work on the ears of a sick puppy.

Dog fanciers that support dog ear cropping defend it as being beneficial for the dog's ear health. They believe dog ear cropping have fewer incidences of ear infections because of increased light and air circulation.

The most important part of getting a good dog ear cropping job is the careful selection of the person who will be doing it. Always ask to see pictures of jobs they have done before. Or you can ask a fellow Dane owner who's Great Dane has clipped ears that are well done.

Another important aspect of dog ear cropping rests squarely in YOUR hands. This is the after care it can make or break the entire matter; so be careful and conscientious about following instructions exactly. You want the ears to heal correctly, quickly, cleanly, and with no infection. Your part of bringing this about is the care and attention you give during the healing process.

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She will probably be required to stay a minimum of one night in the hospital following the procedure. Often it is advisable to leave her for several days to be treated for any pain and allow her to get used to the aluminum apparatus that will keep her ears standing for now.

Ears can bleed easily as they are quite vascular and can be messy for a few days after the procedure. Your veterinarian is equipped to address all of these concerns better than you can at home.


Dog Ear Cropping surgery involves reshaping, sculpturing and contouring the outer ear flap in order to achieve an dog ear cropping that will be erect, balanced and in proportion to the dog's head and body. Your Great Dane will not be able to eat or drink anything 12 hours before the surgery. Food and water can cause vomiting and aspiration (inhaling of vomit) once the puppy is sedated. This can be fatal. Be sure to withhold food after dinner the night before her surgery. Make sure and close the toliet lid. Remember, it is for her own good.

Once she is sedated the ear is marked where the incisions will be made and once they are even the ears will be cut. The incision begins at the top of the ear and finishes close to the head.

The ear is sutured and disinfected. An aluminum rack or even an inverted paper cup, will be glued and taped in a harness pattern over and around the puppy’s head.

After Care

This is where you come in, you need to make sure you are up for this journey before hand. The after-care will usually last until the puppy is five or six months of age but can continue up to a year or even longer.

The ears will tend to bleed for a few days, they will be painful, and the puppy will knock her head around trying to get the brace off. Reasure your dog, talk loving and calmly to her to help keep her relaxed. This rack, whatever type she comes home with, will need to stay on for about 21 days.

While they are healing, you should use diluted betadine to disinfect the ear edges twice a day. If they have heavy scabs you might use a very small amount of antibiotic ointment but be very careful not to get it on the tape. The longer you can keep from re-wrapping the ears the better.

The puppy will return to the vet for suture removal at 7 days post surgery. Even a couple days later may cause permanent scarring to the ears.

Ear Taping

Ear taping consists of taping the ears in such a way that they stand erect. The tape is usually left on for a week to ten days, removed for a couple of days and then reapplied. This is done consistently until the ears are standing. It is time consuming, but, worth it.

Different vets use different methods of stabilizing the ears immediately after cropping. Few will change their methods becuase you ask, but here are some of the ways it's done. My personal experience has always been with "racks". They are formed out of stiff wire (often wire coat hangers) and shaped so the ears can be taped erect to them directly on top of the head. If properly taped, they cause little discomfort to the puppy. They are left on for two weeks. My only objection to racks is that they can become caught on things. I've seen Great Dane puppies get them stuck in the ground and severely twist their necks while playing.

Some vets will tape the ears flat over the top of the head and then apply a bandage.

The other method use Styrofoam cups stacked one atop the other and then reinforced with tape. They are set on top of the head and the ears are taped directly to their sides. I think that this looks like the best method of all. People I have discussed it with recommend it highly. The cups are loose enough to "give" when pushed around in play, and being very lightweight, the pups seem to hardly know they are there.

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References and Links

Puppies Place Help your puppy find his place in your heart and your home

Dog Ear Cropping The GP Companion Series

Pet Place We are crazy about pets

The Pet Center The Internet Animal Hospital All About Dog Ear Cropping

Book: A New Owner's Guide to Great Danes by: Jill Swedlow

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Reasons The Ears Will Not Stand Up

  • The cartilage within the pinna is too thin to support the weight of the ear.
  • The dog ear cropping was too long for the size of the ear
  • Scar tissue formed along the ear margin
  • The ears are "set too low" on the dog's head
Warning: Supplementing a puppies diet with extra calcium in the hope that it will "build up" the ear cartilage is not scientifically or biochemically valid. Adding additional calcium above the usual balance of that mineral with phosphorus and Vitamin D has actually been shown to cause growth problems in dogs. Do not add calcium to a dog's diet in the misguided hope that it will "strengthen the cartilage".




The Great Dane was originally used for the pursuit of wild boar and other large ferocious animals. Many dogs lost their lives while on these wild hunts, or returned with torn or mangled ears. Because of the frequent ear injuries associated with these hunts, removing pinnas (the ear flaps) or dog ear cropping became a common practice.

Today, the practice of altering tails and ears is primarily a matter of continuing a tradition rather than fulfilling a need. Considered cosmetic surgery, these operations are elective and should only be performed after careful consideration.

In the US, dogs can be show with cropped or natural ears. Anti-cropping sentiment arose in England when the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) came out strongly against cropped ears. The sovereign's will endured and Dane ear cropping ceased within the British Isles, much to the dismay of Dane breeders who thought the cropped ears added greatly to the look of their favorite breed. In most European nations dog ear cropping has been banned. If you do not live in one of those European nations and you, or your, Great Dane puppies caretaker, you have a choice. Weigh all the pros and cons, and then make your decision. Expect to be criticized by those who disagree with your choice of whether to crop or stay natural.

While cropped ears are not mandatory in the AKC standard, most experts believe uncropped dogs have more difficulty winning in the show ring.

My Great Dane, Kitty, has the natural look and I love it. I love her long droppy ears.

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Dog Ear Cropping Beginning

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