Some pit bull owners decide for their dogs to undergo the elective surgery known as ear cropping. This type of modification goes back centuries and “was practiced to prevent ear damage during fighting and hunting” according to a 2016 study titled “Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions” published in Plos One.
Essentially the practice, which is a “surgical procedure… only done on puppies” who are about 3 months old, changes “the natural shape of the Pitbull’s ears by removing part of the pinna so that the cartilage stands erect,” as reported by The Happy Puppy Site. The surgery, which is done by a veterinarian, is under an hour. Once the procedure is performed, the dog will have bandaged and taped ears until they have fully healed. The recovery process varies in length, ranging from less than a week to a few months.
In general, ear cropping is frowned upon. As noted by The Happy Puppy Site, the “UK, Australia, New Zealand, nearly all European countries, and most Canadian provinces” have enforced a ban on the practice.
The publication noted there is a lack of research that points to the procedure being beneficial. As it is an elective surgery, ear cropping comes with several risks that are essentially preventable. Also, dogs with cropped ears may be viewed in a bad light, especially in comparison to their non-modified counterparts.
“Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions” reported that “[m]odified dogs were perceived as being more aggressive, more dominant, less playful and less attractive than natural dogs.”
While American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes ear cropping as “integral to defining and preserving breed character,” it is decreasing in popularity.
“I’ve worked with nearly 40 animal doctors during my career, and I know maybe two who perform crops,” explained South Carolina-based veterinarian Dr. Andy Roark to Fetch by WebMD.
David Frei -- a Westminster spokesperson -- shared similar sentiments to the publication regarding showing dogs, stating,
“We're seeing a lot more natural-eared dogs in the ring, and the occasional undocked [tails].”
Here at The Gentle Pit, we believe ear cropping to be an unnecessary surgery and strongly advise any dog owner to reconsider doing it for the just for the sake of aesthetics.