Dog Ear Cropping:
Cosmetic Care or Animal Cruelty?

by Gary Le Mon

dog ear cropping

Dog ear cropping is a procedure that has come under fire from animal activists over the years.

This invasive procedure requires local anesthesia to numb the pain. The dog’s ears are cut and bound to stand permanently straight up in a pointed fashion rather than lying flat against the head.

Like declawing a cat, this is surgery that many dog owners put their pet through despite being frowned upon for its cruelty.

Those who oppose ear cropping argue that it causes pain and permanently disfigures animals unable to speak up for themselves.

But for compassionate dog owners wishing to achieve this pointed-ear look, there are safer, less painful and less invasive methods that can be used.

Taping

Taping is the method of dog ear cropping (modification) that makes use of common medical tape typically used on humans for injuries. This tape is not only very abrasive but also elastic so that it stretches tight for extra hold and pulling power. A dog’s ears can be trained to remain in an upright, pointed position by taping them into place at a young age.

Use a small piece of medical tape both behind the ear and in front at the base to hold the ear in an upright position. Then use a larger piece to wrap around the base of the ear, pulling the tape tight enough to stretch it and produce some pulling force but not so tight that it squeezes the ear.

With these three pieces of tape in place the ear will slowly learn to remain in that position. Eventually the tape can be changed out or removed. It will peel off easily and painlessly leaving no residue or harmful material behind.

Gluing

Gluing dog’s ears works the same as taping, but liquid glue can be applied more strategically and stays on longer than tape. Gluing dog ears also takes longer to see the effects but works better than tape on tougher or larger ears.

Like the tape, glue helps train the ear muscles and cartilage to stand upright over time. This method uses a special highly adhesive but easily removable, nontoxic surgical glue. It is applied in spots around the base of the ear so that when dry it pulls the ear up in a standing position and holds it there, training it to stay that way.

Occasionally reapplication of the glue is necessary as not all ears train quite the same. Once the glue has done its job it is easily and painlessly removed with a safe cleaning solution. Unlike surgical ear cropping, gluing is noninvasive and, if done correctly, pain-free.

Precautions

These methods may be noninvasive and more humane than ear cropping, but there are still precautions to consider. You are dealing with a living animal that is as susceptible to pain, setbacks and unforeseen issues as any human would be.

Gluing the ears requires you to apply strong adhesive chemicals very close to the dog’s ear canal. You must be sure that no product gets inside the ears. Rinse the ear area with hydrogen peroxide both before and after application of the glue. This will sterilize the area and prevent ear infection. It is also wise to consult a veterinarian before performing these natural dog ear cropping alternatives at home.

P.S. My hat is off to the American Veterinary Medical Association for their official stand on dog ear cropping: "Ear-cropping and tail-docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection. Therefore, veterinarians should counsel dog owners about these matters before agreeing to perform these surgeries." 


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