Pitbulls are known for their distinctive flat faces, but they have two other features that make them stand out from all others: Their ears! They’re not just big, round and pointy like those of most dogs; they’re actually floppy. And while it’s true that some breeds with floppy ears do get infected if exposed to certain germs (and even humans), there’s no evidence that cropping off your dog’s ears will protect him or her against getting sick.
The controversy over whether or not to crop off your dog’s ears stems from a misunderstanding of what causes ear infections in dogs. There are several different types of bacteria that cause ear infections, so cropping off your dog’s ears won’t necessarily solve the problem. But it may reduce the risk of infection if you choose to keep them intact.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections occur when bacteria grow inside the ear canal. These bacteria usually aren’t harmful to healthy dogs, but they can sometimes become problematic if they invade the middle ear where fluid collects to create a membranous covering called an eardrum. If enough of these bacteria get into this area, it can lead to hearing loss and even deafness.
There are two major types of bacteria that cause ear infections in dogs: Pseudomonas and Proteus.
Pseudomonas is a rod-shaped bacteria which often causes skin infections and respiratory tract infections in humans. These can be very serious, even fatal if left untreated. It can also infect wounds and the urinary tract, but it’s most commonly associated with ear infections.
Proteus is very similar to Pseudomonas and gets into the middle ear in a similar way. It can also spread through the blood and infect other parts of the body.
Dogs that frequently get ear infections have more serious health problems than just recurrent otitis externa (Swimmer’s Ear). They may also have kidney disease, diabetes, or heart disease.
How Will My Dog’s Ears Be Affected If I Choose To Leave Them Intact?
Some people report that their dogs don’t have any ear infections at all, even without cropping their ears. In fact, dog breeds with floppy ears are less likely to get ear infections than other types of dogs. This is probably because flappy and semi-flappy ears let sounds in the environment flow freely into the ear canals, which helps prevent excess moisture from building up.
If you choose not to crop your pit bull’s ears, keep in mind that ear infections are still a possibility and should be taken seriously. Watch your dog’s ears for signs of redness, swelling, or odor. Clean your dog’s ears regularly (once every week or two) to prevent bacteria from building up inside the ear canal.
Remember that ear infections aren’t the only reason why cropped ears are done. Some owners crop their dogs’ ears to make them look “pretty.” In fact, most dogs with cropped ears these days don’t have any health problems that would require the procedure.
What Other Side Effects Are There To Cropping Ears?
The most common side effect of cropping a dog’s ears is an alteration in their ability to hear. After the procedure is done, it’s normal for the ears to be slightly bent or droop downward. If the ears are too short after the healing process, they may not stand erect at all anymore.
Dogs rely on their ears to pick up subtle sounds that help them detect the direction a sound is coming from. If your dog’s ears aren’t standing erect any longer, this could make it more difficult for them to hear.
The only way to know how a dog will be affected by having their ears cropped is to have the procedure performed. Some dogs may suffer hearing loss while others won’t be bothered at all. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of dog ear cropping before you make up your mind on whether or not to go through with it.
Questions and Answers
My dog has one floppy ear and one upright ear, is it better for me to crop the floppy one?
A. No, the procedure is the same for both ears. You can tell your veterinarian to only crop one ear if you want, but they will still need to put bandages on both ears and clean them the same way.
What is the difference between “true” cropped ears and “false” cropped ears?
A. “True” cropped ears are those which have been surgically altered in some way so that they no longer resemble a dog’s natural ear. This type of ear cropping has been done for years and has a long history behind it. “False” cropped ears are those which have been taped back in order to stand erect. In some ways these are more like “ear erectors,” because the actual procedure consists of taping, not surgery.
Q. I’m not sure if I want to crop my dog’s ears.
What are some of the pros and cons?
A. There are many advantages to cropped ears. If you’re involved in dog sports such as hunting, tracking, or flyball, cropping will give your dog a distinct advantage. It also makes it easier to keep the inside of the ears clean and dry, which can prevent ear infections.
There are no major health risks to cropping a dog’s ears (assuming it’s done by a professional), but there is some minor recovery time, and of course the cost.
What are the different types of ear crops?
A. The “apple” crop is quite small and resembles an apple. The “Bell” crop has a larger bell shape on the bottom of the ear. The “Rose” crop has a similar look to the bell crop, but with a smaller and more rounded bottom.
There are many other types of ear crops which are variations on these three shapes.
What are some of the different names for cropped ears?
A. Other common names for cropped ears include “dock,” “bat,” “pencil,” and “lop” (the last two are used most for pugs). If you’re looking to buy a dog, you may hear these names being used to describe a dog with cropped ears.
Sources & references used in this article:
Dogs of Character: Pride, prejudice, and the American pit bull terrier by B Dickey, E Schultz – Virginia Quarterly Review, 2016 – muse.jhu.edu
Interpenetration of vibrating thresholds by E Abrantes – SoundEffects-An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and …, 2019 – soundeffects.dk
Petey and Chato: The pitbull’s transition from mainstream to marginalized masculinity by T Allen – 2007 – search.proquest.com
Making the weight by EM Steckevicz – Kenyon Review, 2002 – JSTOR
The Domestication, Behaviour and Use of the Dog by K Stafford – The Welfare of Dogs, 2006 – Springer