Boxer ear cropping: it’s a topic that many people struggle to approach with any neutrality.
Some people are passionately in favor of ear cropping, and their top argument is that the traditional breed standard prescribed this look.
However, Germany, the country where Boxers originated, banned ear cropping back in 1992, and apart from the “look” there’s no real reason to have it done.
Those against the Boxer ear crop say that it’s unnecessary surgery and that it’s cruel to expose young puppies to the risks or the painful recovery process that follows.
Before we begin, it would only be fair to say that we’re against the procedure. All the same, we’ll do our best to present the facts so that you can draw your own conclusions while also giving you the reasons why we reached ours.
What Is Ear Cropping?
Some dogs have naturally floppy ears. There are around 20 breeds of dogs that have traditionally been subjected to ear cropping so that their ears stand up.
It creates an alert look as if the dog is constantly ready for action. In fairness, we have to agree that the look is pretty good, but it comes at a price.
Ear cropping is done when Boxer puppies are just six to twelve weeks old, and it’s done by surgically removing the flappy part of the ear.
After the procedure, the ears may be stretched, taped, re-taped,, “posted” (supported) and bandaged to “train” them into the right shape.
This can take weeks and in Boxers, it usually takes months, and even those who support cropping admit that it will be “somewhat uncomfortable” for the animal.
The owner doesn’t get an easy ride either. Aftercare is a must; they’ll have to take extra care of their puppy to ensure that the ears don’t get damaged or infected during healing.
Is Ear Cropping Painful Or Harmful?
Veterinarians who still do ear cropping (not all of them are willing to) are quick to assure us that the procedure itself isn’t painful when carried out in a proper surgery.
They’re probably right. The puppy is sedated while the “unwanted” part of the ear is cut away.
But sedation wears off and then the pain kicks in. The fact that pain medications are prescribed after ear cropping should make that point clear.
And, as with all forms of surgery, there are risks, both during the procedure and during the recovery process. A bad reaction to anesthesia could be life-threatening, for example. And post-operative infections can occur.
Worst of all, after all this rigmarole, the ears might not come out quite as intended if the cropping wasn’t skillfully done or if something went wrong during healing.
Animal welfare organizations are generally against ear cropping and apart from pain and risk, they have some pretty compelling reasons why it places a dog at a lifelong disadvantage.
They argue that the structure of both the outer and inner ear have a role in hearing, and while they don’t have proof of this, removing part of the ear could affect your dog’s ability to hear well.
Besides this, they point out that dogs communicate with body language. With cropped ears, dogs are less able to communicate with other animals or with their owners.
From your perspective, looking at your dog’s body language tells you a lot about his mood. But cropped ears make it more difficult to understand your pet.
What Are The Benefits Of Cropping A Boxer’s Ears?
According to the American Veterinary Association, there are no real medical advantages in store for a Boxer with cropped ears.
You’ll find some sources saying that a Boxer with an ear crop will hear better than its counterparts, but there’s absolutely no proof of that – and the opposite has been argued.
Others say that floppy ears encourage mites and make the dog more prone to ear infections, but once again, there’s no proof of this – and it’s a question that has been studied.
Finally, back when Boxers were hunting dogs, it was thought that cropping their ears meant less chance of injury if the prey were to fight back.
For most pet Boxers, this simply isn’t an issue, and one could argue that cropping is an ear injury by itself.
Why Do People Have Boxers’ Ears Cropped?
So far, we haven’t found a single way that ear cropping can benefit your Boxer, but it may benefit you.
Much as we don’t subscribe to ear cropping, we have to admit that a Boxer with well-cropped ears (the procedure can go badly wrong) presents a distinctive and very alert appearance.
Hoping to win “best of breed?” There are many countries around the world that won’t allow you to show a dog with cropped ears because cropping is illegal – in the UK, it’s been illegal for over a century.
However, in the USA, ear cropping still ils legal, and some people believe they’ll be at a disadvantage in dog shows if their Boxers don’t have cropped ears.
They know they must conform to the “breed standard” in order to compete. So, what is that breed standard?
“Ears – Set at the highest points of the sides of the skull, the ears are customarily cropped, cut rather long and tapering, and raised when alert. If uncropped, the ears should be of moderate size, thin, lying flat and close to the cheeks in repose, but falling forward with a definite crease when alert.”
The American Boxer Club now uses exactly the same standard. So there you have it. Natural ears can conform to the breed standard. Individual judges may prefer the crop, but they can’t penalize your dog for having natural ears.
Why And When To Crop A Boxer’s Ears?
Let’s sum all of this up. There are no proven benefits for Boxers with cropped ears.
The only valid reason for the Boxer ear crop is that you like the look. It’s a purely cosmetic procedure that entails unnecessary discomfort and risks for young puppies.
In case you thought you could wait until your dog isn’t a puppy anymore, you can’t really wait until your dog is older.
As the ears settle into their natural form, cropping won’t result in the “look” that the procedure is meant to create. It’s also much more painful for the dog.
Despite controversy, ear cropping still has its adherents, and as long as you live in a country where ear cropping is still legal, it remains your choice.
Sold On Boxer Ear Cropping? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you’re going to crop at all, get it over with before the age of 12 weeks and be ready to provide the necessary aftercare.
Finding The Right Veterinarian
Your first step will be to find a vet who is willing to perform the procedure and who has a good track record with ear cropping.
That’s because ear cropping isn’t taught at veterinary schools. Assuming you don’t want a botched job, you’ll have to find a veterinarian who has learned this procedure in practice and is able to deliver to expectations.
Try asking local Boxer dog breeders if they can recommend a veterinary professional for the task. Expect the cost of the procedure to be about $600 with additional veterinary costs to follow.
After you bring your puppy home, don’t expect the usual Boxer playfulness. It takes time to recover from anesthesia.
This usually takes two or three days. Appetite won’t be good just at first, but your Boxer should be willing to eat within 24 hours of surgery.
Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions when giving your puppy the antibiotics and pain relief meds prescribed after surgery.
Try to keep your Boxer puppy calm and quiet for at least two weeks after the procedure – this is going to be a tough task.
For the next four to six months, you will have to pay attention to taping and “posting” the ears so that they heal into the desired shape.
Look out for pressure sores and keep the taping clean and dry. Allow a veterinarian to retape and post (support) ears until you (and they) are confident you can do it correctly yourself. Expect additional charges for return visits.
Why Is Ear Cropping Illegal In So Many Countries?
Thirty-seven or more countries have bans on ear cropping in all breeds including Boxers.
Besides the UK, these include most European countries plus Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, and some of Canada’s provinces.
The motivation for banning ear cropping is straightforward. It’s a cosmetic procedure that doesn’t benefit the dog, and since it’s painful and must be done on young puppies, it’s regarded as cruelty.
This isn’t just a “foreigner’s” perspective. The American Veterinary Association has issued a statement saying that it opposes ear cropping when there is no medical reason for the procedure. And in general, there isn’t.
Will the USA ultimately ban ear cropping? It seems that it’s only a matter of time – even if it doesn’t seem to be set to happen anytime soon.
Most dog breed associations, while still recognizing and even advocating for cropped ears, aren’t making it a prerequisite for conformity to breed standards any longer. People have been pushing back.
And, one has to admit, the “breed standard” argument isn’t particularly strong. After all, puppies are born with ears and tails, and it has nothing to do with how “good” their genes or “breeding” are.
Our Opinion On The Boxer Ear Crop
By now, we’ve run through just about all the possible reasons why people either like the ear crop or think it’s a bad, even cruel practice.
We have to admit, after researching this topic and seeing images of botched crops, puppies undergoing cropping, and puppies recovering from cropping with their ears tightly supported, we’re more against it than we ever were before.
Imagine how people would react if it were suggested that human babies should have their ears cropped? They’d be horrified. OK, so a puppy isn’t a human, but presumably, it’s part of the family.
Finally, just what is the problem with natural ears? We think that floppy Boxer ears are part of the package and those natural ears are too cute for words.
Even if reducing cuteness is part of the aim of cropping it doesn’t quite succeed in that. And if you want “intimidating” a Boxer with natural ears in full cry isn’t any less intimidating than a counterpart sporting the Boxer ear crop.
Having said that, if it’s not illegal where you live and you absolutely want to have it done, it’s your call.
Please be sure to choose a great veterinarian for the job, and don’t expect your puppy to be low maintenance or untroubled by pain after it’s done.
Decided to keep your Boxer’s ears uncropped? That’s awesome. Don’t forget to ruffle those lovely, floppy ears often and well.