If you own a breed of puppy that traditionally has cropped ears, such as a doberman or boxer, you'll need to make a decision about whether you're going to have its ears cropped fairly early in its life. Most veterinarians won't crop the ears of older animals. While the ideal age for ear cropping varies depending on the breed, most dogs should have their ears cropped between 7 weeks and 4 months of age. Consider the following questions when you're making the decision:
Are you planning to formally show your puppy? For some breeds, cropped ears are preferred in the show ring. If you're planning on showing your puppy in the future, check with the associations or organizations that run the shows you'll attend to find out what their position on ear cropping is for your puppy's breed.
Are you concerned about ear infections? Some breeds are less likely to get ear infections if their ears are cropped. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 13 to 14 percent of purebred dogs with hanging ears got an ear infection called otitis externa, while only five percent of dogs with cropped ears got the infection. The AVMA does not advocate ear cropping to prevent ear infections, however, particularly because the breeds most at risk, such as cocker spaniels, aren't breeds that traditionally have cropped ears.
Will you be able to get all of your puppy's shots and tests in order before surgery? Most veterinarians require pet owners to show proof that their animals are up-to-date on all vaccinations, including distemper and parvo. In addition, the veterinarian may require a negative fecal test for parasites up to two weeks before the cropping appointment, so it's important to make sure the tests are performed before your puppy gets too old to have its ears cropped.
Are you able to handle the recovery your puppy will need after the surgery? The recovery process after ear cropping can take several weeks. A veterinarian will wrap your puppy's ears around posts after the surgery to help protect them from infection and encourage them to stand up straight. Your puppy may be sore and less energetic for a few days after surgery. Your veterinarian will tell you how to safely manage your puppy's pain. You'll need to take your puppy back to your veterinarian for a recheck a couple of weeks after the procedure. Some breeds need their ears re-taped several times over a period of weeks or months to make them stand properly.
Consult with your pet's veterinarian before deciding to crop your puppy's ears. The procedure isn't right for every animal, and a veterinarian, like those at Animal Clinic of Bensonhurst, can best advise you about your pet specifically.