Ear Cropping Can Negatively Impact a Dog's Entire Life — Here's Why

Kori Williams - Author

Sep. 19 2023, Published 10:44 a.m. ET

A close up of an American bull puppy with cropped ears.
Source: iStock

Over the years, pet trends have come and gone. Some trends are all about having a certain kind of pet, while others include painting a dog's nails or giving a cat's coat a bright and bold new color. But not all of these are so harmless. For years, many people have cropped their dog's ears, especially in bigger breeds like Great Danes.

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But why do people crop a Great Dane's ears? It turns out that there are a couple of main reasons, but still, animal advocates are against the practice. In fact, it's illegal to do this in a few countries. Here's why.

Two black Great Danes laying outside on the grass.
Source: iStock
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Why do people crop Great Danes' ears?

According to Great Dane Care, ear cropping is done for two main reasons: traditional and aesthetic. This practice actually goes back centuries. One study from 2016 states that ear cropping dates back to Roman times to prevent dogs' ears from being injured while they were fighting or hunting.

In modern times, many people get their dog's ears cropped because they like the way it looks. Many celebrities have had pups with altered ears. To some, it looks tough. To others, it can be a status symbol. But now, many are being called out for having a pet with this procedure done.

Although some people believe that cropping a dog's ears helps prevent things like ear infections, there is no concrete evidence that this actually works. If anything, it can be harmful to the dog to go through with this procedure.

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A American Staffordshire Terrier with cropped ears running outside.
Source: iStock

Does ear cropping hurt Great Danes and other dogs?

Dr Samantha Gaines, the dog welfare expert for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), says that ear cropping can be very painful for these four-legged friends.

"Despite what some breeders will claim, cropping a dog's ears does not benefit them in any way," Gaines said. "It can be detrimental to their health, behavior, and welfare in the short-term and in the long term."

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Additionally, Gaines points out that cropping can be a "painful process" that can negatively impact a dog for their entire life. Plus, the RSPCA points out that ear cropping prevents dogs from living their lives to the fullest. For one, dogs' ears move independently, and if you have seen a dog, you know they move in the direction of sound. The shape of a dog's ears helps them tune into the different noises around them.

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Although it's not clear if this is the case, the changes to the shape of a dog's ears due to cropping could also make it more difficult for them to hear. Plus, ears help dogs communicate with people. Depending on the way a dog's ears move you can tell if they are relaxed, stressed, worried, and more. Without this outer part of the ear, things could get lost in translation easier.

Is ear cropping of Great Danes ethical?

Everyone has different ethics. However, many people believe that there's no way ear cropping can be ethical because of how it negatively impacts animals. It can be viewed as selfish, since the only known benefits are for the pet parents.

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Additionally, depending on where you live, ear cropping can be illegal. Currently, this practice is legal in the U.S. and some European countries. But the RSPCA points out that it is illegal in the U.K. and Wales. And regardless of anything else, this can just be seen as inhumane.

At the end of the day, you are cutting off a perfectly functional part of a dog's ear for completely unnecessary reasons. Ear cropping can damage a dog's hearing and cause pain. There's no proven benefit to any canine involved. It's best to avoid doing this altogether.

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