Pitbull Ear Cropping – Is It Necessary? And Is It Illegal?

It is quite common to come across Pitbulls with artificially cropped ears, and this is one practice that tends to generate fierce arguments between those in support of, and against this procedure.

So, is ear cropping really necessary and legal to carry out on Pitbulls? Apart from registering a Pitbull to participate in certain dog shows or trying to conform with breed standards in some locations, Pitbull ear cropping is not deemed to be necessary at all. Ear cropping remains legal in most parts of the United States, but a host of other European countries have made it illegal to crop a Pitbull’s ears, except for medical purposes.

As we’ve inferred earlier, there are two different schools of thought when it comes to Pitbull ear cropping – those in support of the practice and those who strongly frown upon this act. We’ll attempt to examine the reasons why people still crop their Pitties’ ears, along with why we believe this procedure should be halted. But before we do so, let’s see whether there are any positive effects of cropping a Pitbull’s ears.

Is Ear Cropping Good For Pitbulls?

Apart from the associated aesthetic benefits, Pitbull ear cropping is, arguably, a needless procedure that can be said to have no medical or physical benefits for the pooch.

Why Do Pitbulls Get Their Ears Cropped?

Pitbulls were originally bred and once used extensively as fighting dogs. And to prevent injuries to the pooches while fighting, while simultaneously eliminating potential weak spots, fighting Pitbulls had their ears cropped. This practice is, at least, centuries old.

In recent times, dog fighting has been outlawed in most countries, and has slowly waned in popularity over the years. But Pitbull ear cropping is a practice that has strangely remained in vogue.

There are several myths and facts behind Pitbull ear cropping these days, and we’ll attempt to establish the validity of these reasons for Pitbull ear cropping below:


Ultimately, modern Pitbull ear cropping is nothing more than purely aesthetics, and it is mostly done to maintain this pooch’s tough and intimidating appearance.

In addition, certain canine regulatory bodies list cropped ears as part of the breed standard for Pitbulls. And some Pitbull owners who wish to register their pooches typically crop the dog’s ears to conform to breed standards.

To Prevent Ear Infections

Some people believe that cropping a Pitbull’s ears help reduce the pooch’s chances of contracting an ear infection; However, this has long been disproved and the shape of a Pitbull’s ears has no known relationship with the occurrence or absence of ear infections.

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To Improve Hearing

Another common misconception is that ear cropping helps improve a Pitbull’s hearing, and the reasoning behind this is simple; Pitbulls typically have floppy ears from birth, and the belief is that these can hinder sound waves from reaching the pooch’s eardrums. Consequently, some Pitbull owners crop their pooch’s ears to prevent this from happening.

While this explanation does sound plausible, there is a glaring lack of adequate scientific evidence to suggest that ear cropping does improve a Pitbull’s hearing.

Ear Cropping Is A Requirement For Some Dog Shows

Some dog shows demand that Pitbulls should have cropped ears before they can participate. And Pitbull owners looking to register their pooches in these dog shows may crop ears to conform with the show guidelines and increase their chances of winning.

Are There Any Benefits To Cropping A Dog’s Ears?

Apart from the owner’s personal preferences, and the desire to conform to breed standards, there are no obvious benefits associated with cropping a Pitbull’s or any other dog’s ears.

Dog fighting is no longer a thing, so the argument that ear cropping is done to protect a Pitbull no longer holds water.

When Should I Crop My Pitbull’s Ears?

If you wish to crop a Pitbull’s ears, it is recommended that you do so when the pooch is between seven to twelve weeks old.

Puppy Pitbulls are still in the early stages of development, and as such, their ears are easier to crop and maintain in an erect position.

As the puppy grows older, its ear cartilage becomes thicker, thereby complicating the ear cropping process, and also leading to a longer recovery phase. In addition, carrying out ear cropping on adult Pitbulls greatly reduces the chances of keeping the pooch’s ears erect post-surgery.

How Much Does Ear Cropping Cost For A Pitbull?

The cost for carrying out an ear cropping procedure varies and it typically ranges between $150 to $600. The amount that will eventually be spent to crop a Pitbull’s ear is greatly influenced by the pooch’s ageyour location, and the development or non-development of complications during the cropping procedure.

How Are The Ears Of A Pitbull Cropped?

As stated earlier, ear cropping is best done on puppy Pitbulls, and not adults. That said, Pitbull ear cropping is typically carried out following the steps listed below:

Preparing The Puppy For Cropping

The ear cropping procedure typically starts by placing the puppy Pitbull on sedatives and anesthetics to prevent the pooch from panicking during the procedure. Antibiotics are also administered to fight against infections, and painkillers are given to the Pittie to reduce pain during the procedure.

The Pitbull’s ears are then thoroughly cleaned, and the portion to be cropped is marked out by the vet.

Choosing A Cut Style

Before proceeding to crop the Pitbull’s ears, the vet will typically have you choose from any of the available crop styles for the pooch. Generally, ear cropping styles for Pitbulls include:

  • Long crops
  • Show crops
  • Short crops
  • Battle crops

And the portion of the Pitbull’s ear to be removed is dependent on the cropping style that is chosen for the pooch.

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Cropping The Pitbull’s Ears

The ear cropping process itself involves cutting off the marked out, floppy and soft portion of the Pitbull’s ear called the pinna. This procedure is typically carried out with a precision cutting tool, and is done under general anesthesia.

How Long Does Ear Cropping Take To Heal?

Generally, the ear cropping procedure in Pitbulls takes between 30 to 45 minutes to be completed. And after surgery, the Pitbull’s ears are bandaged so that they can heal in an erect position.

It typically takes between 10 to 14 days for the pooch’s ears to heal completely, but in some cases, healing can take up to months to be completed.

During this healing phase, medicines are typically administered to provide pain relief for the Pitbull, and also to prevent infections from occurring.

Is It OK To Crop A Pitbull’s Ears?

Ear cropping is an extremely painful procedure that can cause serious discomfort to a Pitbull, and this procedure will place the pooch at an increased risk of suffering ear infections, while hindering the dog’s ability to communicate effectively; Hence, it isn’t okay to crop a Pitbull’s ears.

Why You Shouldn’t Crop A Pitbull’s Ears

There are several reasons why we recommend that you shouldn’t crop a Bulldog’s ears, and some of the major reasons are outlined below:

Risk Of Infections

We stated earlier that some Pitbull owners crop their pooch’s ears in a bid to protect the dog from ear infections. However, ear cropping places a Pitbull at a higher risk of suffering from infections, and we’ll briefly explain why this is so.

As with every surgical procedure, complications may arise while cropping a Pitbull’s ears, and this can lead to the development of infections that may need even more surgeries to treat.

In addition, a cropped ear typically takes weeks or months to heal, and within this period, a Pitbull is at a heightened risk of contracting an infection via the healing sore.

Ear Cropping Causes Intense Pain To The Pitbull

Apart from the increased risk of contracting ear infections, the ear cropping procedure can be a very painful experience for the Pitbull puppy.

Pitbulls, in general, have numerous nerve endings located at the tip of their ears. Consequently, cropping the ear causes these nerve endings to become even more sensitive, such that the slightest touch to this region will cause a great deal of pain to the pooch.

In addition, having to deal with pain from the ear cropping procedure for weeks, till the sore heals, can be quite traumatising for the Pitbull, thereby leading the pooch to become and act aggressively.

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The Dog Loses Its Ability To Communicate

Pitbulls use both their tails and ears to communicate with both their owners and other dogs. You can typically observe a Pitbull with an uncropped ear let down its ears to signify submission, while an erect ear is a sign of alertness.

However, when the Pitbull’s ears are cropped, the pooch loses the ability to communicate these moods, thereby leading to misunderstandings with other canines, and in some situations, serious fights may occur.

Ear Cropping Is A Risky Procedure

Most vet schools don’t teach students how to crop dog ears, and what this infers is that, ear cropping is a skill picked up by vets on the job. Consequently, the lack of proper training and professional teaching makes the ear cropping procedure even more risky to carry out.

Ear Cropping Creates An Unfavorable Stereotype About Pitbulls

Pitbulls with cropped ears typically have an intimidating look, and this results in people being wary of coming close to or petting these pooches.

Is Cropping Dog Ears Illegal?

Unlike many other countries, there are no clearly defined laws in place against ear cropping in the United States. So, no, ear cropping isn’t illegal in the United States.

Generally, laws regarding the regulation of pets, including ear cropping, are left to individual states. As of today, there are just a handful of states that have regulated dog ear cropping, and some of these states include PennsylvaniaConnecticutWashington and Massachusetts.

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Regardless of the legality of the dog ear cropping, many veterinary organisations in the United States, such as the American Veterinary Association (AVMA), are strongly against the process of ear cropping in dogs, and their reasons are simple.

The ear cropping operation in dogs is nothing more than a cosmetic procedure with potential health risks and complications for this pooch, and we’re strongly inclined to agree with them.

That said, a notable regulatory body, the American Kennel Club (AKC), continues to support ear cropping for Pitbull, stating that this is essential to define and preserve breed character. And this continued support has generated some criticism and backlash from dog owners and vets looking to abolish the practice of ear cropping in Pitbulls, and dogs in general.

What Other Countries Have Banned Ear Cropping?

Although ear cropping is still mostly legal in the United States, countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and majority of the other European countries have outlawed ‘non-medical ear cropping’ in dogs.

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Pete Decker