The True Purpose of Ear Cropping In Pitbulls and Its Pros and Cons

Ear cropping in Pitbulls is a common practice among pet owners who want to showcase their dogs in competitions or dog shows. It is not a mandatory practice and even if it’s done – it is a cosmetic surgery performed by a professional vet.

Another similar surgical procedure is tail-docking in Pitbulls. Both these procedures are done in Pitbulls when they puppies. These surgeries should not be performed on adult Pitbulls. The proper age for carrying out ear cropping and tail-docking is between 9 to 12 weeks of age.

So what exactly is ear cropping? And what do you need to know about it to avoid doing it if you’re considering it? Though it’s totally unnecessary to perform this surgery, it’s best to know all the pros and cons before you make any decision.

History of Ear Cropping In Pitbulls

As the name suggests, ear cropping is when a doctor surgically removes the external flap of the dog’s ear. It’s commonly done in Pitbulls, Dobermans, Great Danes, Boxers, and Cane Corsos.

Unless your dog has a nasty ear infection or any birth defect, this is done for dog shows and competitions. As there is no medical advantage of ear cropping. Also, it is considered an unethical and cruel practice among many established veterinarians. This surgery is, in fact, banned in many countries around the world.

The history of this practice goes back to 2000. Amputating a dog’s ears in order to make them look more “fierce” in dog fights, shows, and competitions.

A flapping ear is an easy target in dog fights. So the ears are cropped to avoid the opposing dog to grab or tear the other dog’s ears.

Medically speaking, ear cropping was a surgical treatment for ear diseases such as ear infections and/or hematomas.

Right now though, both dog-fighting and ear cropping are banned and illegal in many countries.

Why Pitbulls?

Pit bulls

Pitbulls are a fierce and dominating dog breed. Their ancestral line is full of aggressive and hunting dogs. Dogs that are loyal to their owners but can be thoroughly trained to fight, defend, or attack other dogs or humans.

Their intelligence, agility, and strength put them at the top of the list. And, not to forget, their muscular and broad build. They are a small to medium-sized dog breed. With a trimmed and short coat and an affectionate and sharp temperament.

Most Pitbulls have dangling ears. Traditionally speaking, long, dangling ears are more prone to ear infections than short, trimmed ears. Ear cropping in Pitbulls is also done to improve the dog’s hearing abilities. Erect and trimmed ears respond faster to sound waves. Although there is no conclusive proof of this fact.

These soft, folded flaps grow in size as the puppy grows. In some Pitbulls, their ears may look larger in proportion to their heads. But there is no disadvantage to this physical trait. If anything, it makes Pitbulls look more friendly and approachable.

For hunting dogs, this is done to keep the ears clean. Reshaping the appearance of the ears can also improve your dog’s hearing abilities. This is why many hunter dogs have their ears trimmed and cropped.

Traditionally, ear cropping was also done to prevent ear damage from dog-fighting or hunting. Hunting dogs often tear the elongated part of the pinna during running or in a fight. So once your puppy has received his or her vaccination, at 9 to 12 weeks, their ears are cropped.

However, there is no scientific evidence that supports this claim. Much like tail-docking or declawing, this practice is not necessary to perform on any Pitbull. Whether he be a participant in a dog show or a hunting companion.

Ear Cropping In Pitbulls

The procedure of ear cropping in Pitbulls is an effective and simple one. The flap of the ears is removed so that the cartilage that keeps the ears erect is exposed. The elongated part of the pinna is removed. So that all that remains of the ears is the erect and pointed portion.

Having said that, Pitbull’s ears grow longer as they grow older.

That is why this surgery isn’t performed on adult dogs. Only puppies between the age of 9 to 12 weeks are admitted to this procedure. This stops the overgrowth of the flap. And it prevents any risk of ear infection from the surgery in an adult Pitbull.

This procedure should not be performed at home or by anyone who is not a licensed veterinarian. It’s a cosmetic surgical procedure. The dog should be given anesthesia before the surgery is to be performed in a dog hospital or clinic.

Typically, ear cropping takes 30 to 40 minutes. Once the elongated flaps of the ears are cropped. The edges of the erect portion of the ears are sutured. After surgery, the bandages keep the sutures infection-free.

The bandages should be taken off only after the sutures have been completely healed. Make sure the doctor prescribes the proper medication, painkillers, and ointments to keep the wound clean and healing.

Medication will quicken the recovery time after surgery. And prevent nasty infections and reduce soreness.

Pros and Cons of Ear Cropping In Pitbulls

Dog ear cropping is illegal in many countries. Some of them include Australia, the UK, New Zealand, some parts of Canada, and most major parts of the US. Having said that, you can still perform this surgery in some parts of the US and other European countries.

Are there any advantages of ear cropping in Pitbulls?

No, there is no scientific evidence backing the benefits of ear cropping in Pitbulls.

But there are claims that it prevents ear infections and boosts hearing in dogs. And that it makes Pitbulls look more aggressive and fierce in dog fights and dog shows.

There is a standard in specific breeds to look a certain way before enrolling in events like these. Cropped ears offer a neat, disciplined, and combative appearance to Pitbulls.

With that out of the way, there are plenty of risks from performing ear cropping in Pitbulls.

For starters, your puppy may suffer complications from surgery using anesthesia. They are prone to ear infections, soreness, and pain after surgery. If something goes wrong during the surgery, this could lead to trauma, loss of hearing, and other issues.

Getting your puppy operated for such a sensitive and risky surgery is not a responsible thing to do. It’s kind of like performing cosmetic surgery on a child. It can be traumatizing for your dog.

Pitbulls, or any other dog breed, also communicate using their ears. Losing a part of the ear can inhibit proper communication between the dog and its owner.

In this article, the American Kennel Club believes that ear cropping is an unnecessary risk. It poses many risks in certain breeds. And that cropping or docking of any kind can interfere with the way your dog communicates with other dogs.

Conclusively, there is no scientific or fitting reason to do this.

Common Ear Health Problems in Pitbulls

It’s important to know about your Pitbull’s common ear problems. What kind of ear infections are they prone to? And how to treat them with proper medication and/or surgery?

The first, most common, ear infection that Pitbulls are susceptible to is ear mites.

Ear mites can be highly infectious. Causing pain, skin irritation, allergies, and inflammation inside the ear canal. Excessive scratching or rubbing against rough surfaces can also lead to bleeding and/or rashes on the skin.

If you have more than one dog at home, ear mites can spread faster. And this can also dampen the recovery time because then ear mites will be twice as hard to get rid of.

An effective way to get rid of ear mites is with proper ear drops and medication. Usually, a single dose every once in 2 weeks should be enough to get rid of ear mites. And/or any ear infection associated with this condition.

Keeping the Ears Clean

You can purchase ear cleaning solutions for dogs from a pet store. Consult with a vet to know the right solution for your dog’s ears. Depending upon his or her ear infection or general grooming needs.

The correct way to clean a Pitbull’s ears is to massage the solution in. If you notice any dirt or wax, use a soft cotton ball to gently remove it. If this is too much for you, or if you do not know how to go about it. It’s always best to take your dog to a vet to have it done professionally.

There is always a possibility of you hurting your dog when cleaning his ears at home. Using a cotton swab or any other pointy object can damage your dog’s ears.

If you notice any swelling, inflammation, redness, or rashes after cleaning, go to the vet immediately.

A foul odor, dark wax buildup, and redness are signs that your dog’s ears need deep cleaning. To avoid any complications, make sure you clean your dog’s ears every 2 weeks. Sooner if your dog spends most of his time outdoors playing in mud or around other dogs.

Alternate Methods of Ear Cropping In Pitbulls

Taping Pitbulls ears should be done a certain way. And it should only be done by a licensed veterinarian. Many pet owners believe that Pitbulls’ ears can be taped to prevent the flap from hanging down over the front of the dog’s face.

Taping the ears is a non-invasive surgery. Making the ears level with the top of the head. So that the ears are closer to the sides and make the dog’s face look broader.

Taping the ears so that the cartilage is pointed a certain way is also effective. The ears look erect and pointed rather than loose and long. This also makes it impossible for your dog to lick or bite the ears during teething.

Puppies often fidget during their teething phase. So taping the ears away from your pup’s reach is an effective way to prevent injuries.

Having said that, do not expose the ear canal while taping the ears. Make sure that most of the entry-way to the ear canal is blocked off. This keeps dirt, moisture, and other debris from getting in your dog’s ears.

If your dog is used to playing in mud or jumping in a swimming pool. Make sure you check his or her ears every day for any foul odor, dampness, or dark-colored wax.

It will take a few days for your dog to get used to this feeling. But it’s better than ear cropping and it’s not at all painful.


When you’re buying a new puppy Pitbull, make sure his or her ears are not already cropped. If your dog has any birth defects or underlying physical disabilities, ask for the proper medical documents for it. So that after buying the puppy, you can take him or her to a licensed vet for a thorough check-up.

For new pet owners considering ear cropping, this is not advisable. You will be putting your dog through unnecessary pain and suffering. Allow your dog’s ears to grow naturally and make sure to keep them clean to avoid ear infections and ear mites.

To sum it up, it’s unnecessary and cruel to crop your Pitbull’s ears. There is strong evidence against this practice. So it’s best not to perform it on your dog. Ear cropping in Pitbulls can also cause pain, discomfort, and infection. And it is also associated with increased trauma and other behavioral disabilities in dogs. Especially since this surgery is done on puppies, not adults.

It’s time that doctors and people realize the grave disadvantages of this surgery. That is why it’s banned in many countries. With members of the AKC willing to take serious measurements against organizations and/or breeders who continue to practice ear cropping.

Pitbulls, Dobermans, Great Danes, Boxers, and Cane Corsos. These are the dog breeds that usually undergo ear cropping surgery. Whether for hunting, dog fighting, dog shows, or for any underlying behavioral problems. It’s best to avoid ear cropping and treat your dog responsibly.

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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