Why Do People Clip Dogs’ Ears? Understanding The Truth Behind Ear Cropping Practices

Dog owners have been cropping ears for centuries. The practice can be traced back to herding communities where herding dogs got their ears cropped to protect them from attacks by predators like wolves, who would drag the dogs by their ears.

Instead of practical reasons, today, clipping of ears is mainly done to keep up with trends and breed standards. Considering how unnecessary it has been rendered in most dog breeds today, clipping dog ears has become a controversial and hotly contended topic.

To help you understand the truth behind ear cropping as a practice, we shall answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the matter. These will include why people do it as well as why so many people are against it.

That way, you will be making an informed decision with your dog’s best interest in mind as you choose your stance on the topic. Let’s dive right into all you need to know about dog ear cropping.

Why Do People Clip Dog Ears?

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Today, people clip their dog’s ears to keep up with breed standards. There are several dog breeds whose desired physical appearance includes trimmed ears. In fact, some dog shows and competitions may disqualify a dog for not having clipped ears.

Some of these dog breeds where ear clipping is widely accepted and even expected include:

While dogs these days get their dogs clipped to fit in, this wasn’t always the case. Here are some of the reasons why the practice was so popular in the past and how some dog owners still justify the procedure.

To Reduce The Risk Of Ear Infections

Pathogens that cause ear infections in dogs thrive in the dark, warm, and moist environment created by large and droopy ear lids. In an attempt to reduce ear infections which at the time were a death sentence for dogs, many farmers and dog owners preferred to clip their dog’s ears.

This was especially common for dog breeds in rainy areas as well as those that were predominantly used for vermin eradication on ships.

To Protect The Dog From Attacks

The logic, in this case, was that a dog with long ears would be easy for a predator to take down as all they needed to do was to get a good grip on the ears. Dog owners would therefore clip their dog’s ears to help give their pooches a fighting chance in case of an attack.

These days, wild animal attacks on dogs are not a common concern which makes this reason for ear cropping obsolete.

To Streamline The Dog

Clipping ears to streamline the dog was a common practice among hunting and tracking breeds. Dog owners believed that the extra bulk of long ears would only slow the dog down by flapping about on their faces.

The clipping was then done to streamline the dog’s head and make running easier, thereby increasing its running speed.

To Improve Hearing

This is another obsolete reason why dogs would get their ears clipped in the past. It was commonly used to justify the practice in training guard dogs as people wrongly believed that droopy ears would reduce the dog’s hearing significantly.

Is It Cruel To Clip Dog Ears?

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All factors considered, clipping a dog’s ears is not only cruel but also mostly unnecessary with most dog breeds that undergo the practice. Here are a few reasons why you may want to reconsider your decision if you are thinking of clipping your dog’s ears.

It Is Painful

Fortunately, modern ear clipping includes anesthesia, making the procedure a lot more bearable for the dog. However, once the anesthesia wears off, your dog will be left in a world of pain during the entire healing process.

This is the very definition of cruelty, especially considering the fact that clipping the dog’s ears serves little or no practical purpose today other than for aesthetic reasons.

It Ruins The Dog’s Authentic Aesthetic

Dogs are beautiful just the way they are and do not need any procedures to make them any more loveable. Some of the most popular dog breeds in terms of aesthetics actually have long, droopy ears. These include:

It Is Traumatizing For The Dog

Clipping a dog’s ears could trigger traumatic responses, including fear of handling and separation anxiety. This is because the entire process of clipping from the sedation to the recovery period takes a huge mental toll on the poor dog.

Risk Of Bleeding Out

For dogs with conditions like hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s disease, clipping their ears could spell doom. This is because such conditions make it difficult for the dog to stop bleeding by clotting.

Although rare, it is possible for such dogs to bleed out and develop anemia or even lose their life from the procedure.

Risk Of Infection

Another reason why clipping your dog’s ears may be cruel is the fact that it exposes them to the risk of developing serious infections. It is difficult to control the entire healing process, even with proper dressing techniques and the use of tools like protective collars.

With open wounds that large, there is always the risk of contamination and infections that only intensify the dog’s discomfort.

Does Ear Cropping Have Any Benefits To The Dog?

The only benefit that cropping your dog’s ears may have is reducing the risk of ear infections.

This is because ear clipping ensures that the inner ear is kept cool and drier than it would be when covered by droopy ear flaps.

However, these small benefits that cropping has are insignificant considering all the disadvantages of the procedure.

In a nutshell, it is best to find alternatives to ear clipping if you want to protect your long-eared dog from ear infections. This includes things like proper ear hygiene and an ear cleaning routine.

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Is It Medically Necessary To Crop A Dog’s Ears?

Cropping your dog’s ears is not medically necessary. Some may try to justify it as a way to help minimize the dog’s risk of developing life-threatening ear infections.

To prove that this is not a strong-enough point, here are some ways that modern veterinary medicine and dog care practices have rendered ear clipping obsolete as a protective measure against ear infections.

Proper Hygiene And Grooming

Good grooming for a dog is about so much more than just ensuring that your dog’s coat is clean. It should also include ensuring that your dog’s ears are cleaned on a regular basis.

We recommend that you clean your dog’s ears every two weeks. It is important that you dry the ears properly once they are clean to avoid creating an environment that favors pathogen colonization.

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The Cotton Ball Trick

This is a helpful way to keep your dog’s ears clean if they swim a lot or you live in a place that rains a lot. Instead of washing your dog’s ears every day, simply stick a couple of cotton balls shallowly into the external ear canal to soak up the moisture.

Medicated Ear Cleansers

Another alternative to ear clipping as a way to prevent ear infections in dogs is using medicated ear cleaners. These chemicals are particularly useful for dog breeds with long ears and those with a history of recurrent ear infections. They work much better than simply cleaning your dog’s ears with plain water.


Antimicrobials are drugs that cure infections caused by microscopic organisms. These include antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals that act on bacteria, viruses, and fungi, respectively.

While prevention is always better than cure, the presence of powerful antimicrobials means that your dog will survive the ear infection in case the other preventive measures fail.

Do Cropped Ears Hurt Dogs?

Cropped ears will hurt your dog whether or not you use anesthesia. Once both the sedation and numbness go away by themselves, your dog will have to deal with a lot of pain.

This usually persists during the entire healing process, which can take weeks for some dogs. Unfortunately, painkillers do not always take care of all the pain.

The discomfort of regular cleaning and dressing of the wound, as well as having to wear a protective collar, will also hurt the dog both physically and psychologically.

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Is Cropping Your Dog’s Ears Illegal?

The legal implications of cropping your dog’s ears are entirely dependent on where you are.

It is legal to crop your dog’s ears in the United States, Canada, and a few European, Asian, and African countries. However, there are a few states in the United States where the practice is strongly regulated. These include New York, Pennsylvania, and among others.

Cropping your dog’s ears is utterly illegal in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, many South American countries, and most European countries. In most of these countries, it is considered a minor offense that will land you a fine and the removal of the dog from your custody.

Suppose you are considering cropping your dog’s ears for reasons like breed regulation. In that case, it is best that you look up the specific regulations in your specific area to avoid getting into legal trouble.

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Pete Decker