Ear Crop & Tail Dock INFORMATION
What you need to know
Dobermans are born with floppy ears and long tails, similar to a Labrador or hound dog. The ears are cropped and tails docked so that they achieve the upright standing ear and the short tail. There can be a lot of controversy surrounding this topic so we want to be as educational and sensitive as we can. It is prudent for all Doberman owners and prospective owners to be fully educated on this topic so they can make the best choice for their dog and so that they can educate others that inquire (people always ask questions when they see a natural eared Dobe or a puppy with tape on its ears). We are in favor of maintaining our right of choice on this elective surgery and respect that others may choose differently than us. Extreme activists are lobbying to take away our choices and ban all cropping and docking. Please read and research for yourself. Don't just assume it is cruel or assume it looks better so it must be better. Find out why or why not. Some countries do not legally allow these practices but that does not mean they are unethical. Many of those same countries have exceptions to allow cropping and docking on dogs meant to do working sport/competition such as Schutzhund. The Doberman is the ONLY breed bred for personal protection. This is their true nature at heart - to always be protecting and "working" anyways whether they are active in competition for it or not. For this reason and the following explained reasons, we fully endorse cropping and docking when done ethically by a skilled professional with proper after care and follow up.
1. AESTHETICS OR LOOKS
First reason, let's talk aesthetics or looks... The look between the cropped and the un-cropped Doberman is very different. The cropped Doberman has a more alert and impressively striking look. A Doberman with floppy un-cropped ears is more the look of a hound dog with Doberman markings - cute or goofy. If we compare the responses of cropped Dobermans to un-cropped, we usually hear "gorgeous, beautiful" versus "cute, silly." In a dog that is meant to be a protector, the first impression counts.
Puppies can look pretty cute with those floppy ears of theirs. But as they grow up it is likely the ear set will change. Some ear settings can result in complimentary style, but there is no way to predict or promise what type of ear setting may result as an adult dog.
Often, the ear set will result in long hanging ears that droop, which detracts from the look of the chiseled, wedge shaped head. Or they may mature into what is known as "rose ears." They stick out from the side or oddly perk up from the front. The first thing that comes to mind may be "what a cute and goofy dog," which may fit the personality, but is not what we desire for the impression of the breed.
Regardless... the Doberman breed is meant to protect. One of the greatest security measures is JUST the appearance of the Doberman. Many can hardly recognize a Doberman with un-cropped ears. The look for the breed is meant to be regal, also described as "the look of eagles." This look is hardly achieved with un-cropped ears.
2. PROTECTION/FUNCTIONAL CONSIDERATION
Second, let's consider a more practical and functional side of things. When dogs play with each other, they go for the ears. When a human or opponent goes after a dog, the ears make great "handles." The ears can be grabbed, bitten, or torn and if they are it is very painful and they bleed a lot. This is why, in a protection bred dog, the ears can be a huge liability.
If the ears are caught or torn or pulled hard enough, they are likely to bleed very heavily and really hurt. The amount of blood alone could be a danger, but usually the wounds to an ear are not fatal. The vet would need to repair them in surgery and give antibiotics to prevent infection. They are likely to scar and the healing may result in unsightly abnormality of shape. It could cost a lot to repair if the damage was serious enough.
This is the exact reason why tails are docked as well. The Doberman tail is particularly thinner and susceptible to painful breaking or damage just from every day wear/use. Docking the tail prevents later on serious injury or damage.
Before you think, "well I'm just getting my dog as a pet, we don't plan on protection sport or unruly play with other dogs and I live in a safe neighborhood..." The Doberman is always on watch. A friend of ours had a Doberman as a pet, she had a completely unexpected domestic dispute with someone she knew and trusted for many years - her Doberman turned on to the attacker. The point is, protection is instinct in these dogs. Whether you are anticipating protection opportunities for your dog or not, they are and they are on the look out. It is a liability and disservice to leave them un-cropped when it is their nature to act for you. In this day, we can never be too careful.
3. HEALTH CONCERNS
Third, we are concerned about ear infection. Dobermans are notorious to have constant reoccurring inner ear infection with un-cropped floppy ears due to restricted air flow. With daily care of cleaning the ears thoroughly this risk can be reduced. Areas with a lot of humidity or moisture are more prone. Bacteria, mites, and ticks seek after dark, moist, and warm environments. The perfect home for these undesirables would be the inner canal of an ear covered by a flopping ear. These infections are painful and could cause hearing loss, even a ruptured inner ear. The cropped ear helps to allow more airflow and light which not only reduces or eliminates ear infection, but some studies show it intensifies their hearing as well.
4. NATURE VS "NATURAL"
There is a lot of debate whether un-cropped ears are considered "natural" or not, because in nature there is no canine or animal that has naturally occurring floppy ears that close off the ear canal. The definition of natural is, "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." Look at the wolf, hyena, fox, coyote, etc and you will consistently see that mother nature has adapted these animals in the wild to have upright ears, or if the ears do come downward they are not closing off the canal in such a way that the man bred breeds of dogs of today do. Un-cropped ears are often referred to as "natural" but that does not mean it is actually natural. Look at the English bulldog for example, not being able to mate or birth without human assistance. If we used the "natural" logic, this breed would be eliminated because it would not be "natural" for us humans to alter or assist the way they are.
5. FUTURE OF THE DOG
Finally, this last consideration of why or why not to crop/dock is one that not many think about at all: the long-term future of your dog if he/she had to be rehomed. Good breeders screen prospective owners carefully to evaluate their commitment and responsibility before placing the dog. Good owners weigh carefully their own commitment and responsibility before getting a dog. We don't like to think about it but emergencies can happen, certain events or circumstances in our lives may absolutely require us to rehome our dog. A good breeder will always, and insist on, taking the dog back. But it is a harsh reality and it is confirmed by shelters/rescues/breeders everywhere - a (properly) cropped and docked Doberman will have more interest and prospective new homes and get adopted faster, simply because they look better and are more appealing.
The ethical method of cropping is an art done by a licensed, skilled, and experienced veterinarian. The ideal age for a Doberman is 7-9 weeks of age, before the ear cartilage begins hardening. We have observed the cropping ourselves, it is very simple. The vet will have a pre-surgery consultation where they discuss the style of cropping desired and verify the VWD status. They are sedated (anesthetized), cropped, and the edges are stitched up. The surgery itself is very brief, they wake up quickly, and when they do they are hungry and playing like usual. They will have a cup on their head and need a little cream applied on the edges while it heals. During this time they play just as rough if not more because the cone/cup on the head looks like a very fun chew toy! The stitches are removed at about a week and the cup comes off at about two weeks. Not any part of this process is cruel or painful, in fact it is in their best interest!
After the cup comes off, they will need to be "posted" for several weeks or months depending on the dog and the style of crop for how long it may take. They don't automatically stand straight up but the "posting" is the necessary after care where the ears are gently taped into position and in time the cartilage hardens upright. The cropped ear still has mobility and you will see them flattening them or perking them to the right or left etc. The posting process is critical to ensure the crop is successful.
Please check out our YOUTUBE channel for videos on EAR POSTING along with other info and product lists. https://youtu.be/INzqkmYmt1w
Ear Posting Product List
-Johnson & Johnson ZONAS TAPE
-GUARD-TEX Self Adhering Safety Tape
-Torbot Latex Surgical Glue
-1/2in Backer Rod
-Witch Hazel Astringent
- Antibacterial Ointment
-Unisolve Adhesive Remover
All these products can be found on AMAZON. Please have your products purchased BEFORE your new puppy arrives.
Ear Crop CARE
Try not to get overwhelmed! Post-surgery ear care & ear posting can be a nerve-wracking and tedious process. But IT IS WORTH IT!! Hang in there, you will be so glad you did. I am here to help along the way, so never hesitate to call or text me. But here are some things to remember on your journey.
*When you 1st get your puppy, the wound of the ear crop will still be fresh, most likely you are at 5-7 days post op. *During this phase you will need to change out posts about every 2 or 3 days, putting Neosporin on wound edges until completely healed.*Sutures will need to come about approx. 10-12 days after surgery. its a process, and I can walk you through this, however it does require some patience and skill to remove the sutures. You will need a small pair of scissors, tweezers & someone to help you hold the puppy. Don’t feel bad if this not something you feel up to doing. In that case, schedule an appt with your vet and they will remove them for you. Please be mindful in your search for a vet to help you with ears. Just because they are Vets, does not mean they are familiar with the procedure and often times can make things worse of not properly trained. Therefore I encourage you to learn all you can and do all you can yourself (regarding ear care).
*After sutures are out and the wounds are completely healed, you should be able to leave posts around 4, 5 days. It will take some time for the puppy to get used to the posting and will shake head or try to scratch at their head. This is normal and will get better with time.
* make posting a great experience . always begin and end with positive reinforcement and a chewy. They will get used to it and in no time they will sit still why you are posting. But until that time, I recommend having someone there to help you hold.*Please watch and re-watch the ear posting video. The method we use has worked best for us over the years. However, I understand that this method does not fit all my clients. If this method is just not working for you, we can work together to find a method that best suits you.***Do not vary from the supply list. The products used are very important DO NOT USE TAPE WITH STRETCH OR WATER RESISTENT Stretchy tape or vet wrap can cause terrible damage to the ear, in so cases loss of the ear. This is very important***
* To be successful at ear posting, it is so important to be consistent and diligent. Each time you allow the ear to fall and flop you are starting over with the cartilage. They will begin to stand and then flop. So when you are changing out your posts, clean ear and repost asap. MOST IMPORTANTLY—DO NOT GIVE UP!!! JUST KEEP POSTING. When you think you are finished, keep posting.
* Most likely you will be posting until at least 7/8 months of age. This will be after teething is complete. Even if they are standing prior, they will often flop during the teething stage because all the calcium in the body is going toward aiding the teeth and bone growth and not towards cartilage production. Often times, a complete ear post will take even longer. Many factors come into play with this and no two puppies are the same.
* You must be willing to assess and change what you are doing with each change of ear posts. Each time those posts come off; the ears variables can change. Include me in this process and I can help with how to correct and move forward. It is much easier to correct an issue at the beginning VS trying to fix an issue that has been going on for some time.
* I highly recommend joining the face book group ( Doberman Ear Taping Methods “The Original” ) this is a great group for you to see other methods and gain a community of Doberman owners going through exactly what you are. The admins and members of this group are fantastic and are always willing to help. I will warn you , that there will be conflicting information on a few things. So use your best judgment while researching. Like I said, I am always here to help as well.
*You can do this!! I believe in you!