Ear cropping are among those special surgeries commonly performed on certain breeds to achieve that picture perfect breed standard we have come to recognize. Breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Great Danes, Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Schnauzers are among the most common breeds on which these special surgeries are preformed.
Ear cropping is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the ear is removed. The purpose of the procedure is usually to produce ears that stand erect.
This procedure is most often performed in puppies around 8-12 weeks of age.
Most veterinarians will not perform this procedure on puppies over 14 weeks of age because as the pup ages, his ear cartilage becomes less pliant and the potential for non-erect ears increases.
Indication for Ear Cropping:
Ear cropping is most often performed to comply with standards for various breeds. Several breeds either require ear cropping or accept cropped ears in the show ring.
Whether or not to have the ears cropped, however, is a personal decision.
The breeds most often associated with cropped ears include schnauzers, boxers, Great Danes, Doberman pinschers and miniature pinschers.
Preoperative tests depend in part on the age and general health of the animal. Usually, most dogs are around 8 to 12 weeks of age and are healthy.
In those patients, preoperative tests typically consist of a complete blood count and Pre- surgical chemistry Panel. In certain breeds, a clotting test may also be needed prior to surgery.
Type of Anesthesia:
This is a surgical procedure in which part of the ear is removed. General anesthesia is needed to induce unconsciousness, control pain and relax muscles.
In the usual case, the pet will receive a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug to help him relax, a brief intravenous anesthetic to allow placement of a breathing tube in the windpipe, and subsequently inhalation (gas) anesthesia in oxygen during the actual surgery.
Following anesthesia, the pet's ears are clipped and scrubbed with surgical soap to disinfect the area. An incision is made from the base of the ear, up the center and to the tip of the ear to remove the outer half of the ear. What remains is a triangular piece of the ear. The procedure is then performed on the other ear.
The incision is usually sutured. If sutured, the sutures may need to be removed in 10 to 14 days.
Following surgery, specific bandage techniques are used to keep the ears erect during healing.
The procedure is not always successful. Every animal has individual differences in their ears and surgery may not result in completely erect ears.
The procedure takes about 45 minutes to 1-1/4 hours to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia.
Risks and Complications:
The overall risk of this surgery is low. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding (hemorrhage), post-operative infection and wound breakdown (dehiscence) over the incision.
Overall complication rate is low, but serious complications can result in the need for additional surgery or the loss of one or both ears. Hearing is not affected.
Post-operative medication may be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate and can be effectively eliminated with safe and effective pain medicines.
Home care requires reduced activity and daily monitoring of the bandages for moisture, discharge or slippage.
The bandages will need to be examined by your veterinarian every week and replaced as needed. These bandages will be kept on until the ears stand erect, which can take 6-8 weeks.
The longer the ear is after surgery, the longer it will take to heal and stay erect.
Any concerns about the bandages should prompt a call to your veterinarian.
The typical stay following an ear cropping is overnight but varies depending on the overall health of the pet.