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Ears- To Crop or Not

Boxer Dog Ears - Cropping


The debate on whether or not to crop a Boxer's ears is a big one. Those who oppose it usually strongly oppose it as an alteration that is against nature.

Those who agree with cropping do so with the argument that this breed has been known for its cropped ears for centuries.

So, the question is:

Should you crop your Boxer's ears? Before you make a decision, be sure to understand the facts and not the hype.
Boxer dog with cropped ears

Is it legal to crop a Boxer's ears?

Which countries allow cropping and which consider it an actual crime? As we cover which countries allow for this and which do not, please note that laws regarding cropping (and tail docking) do change in the direction of the alterations being banned. Therefore, while this information is valid at the time of this writing and we do work to keep this updated, new rulings may have gone into effect. Cropping is legal in:
  • Argentina
  • Some parts of Canada (banned in these provinces: Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island [Québec is set to start a ban in 2017])
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • United States
Cropping is not legal in many European counties & overseas including: 
  • Australia 
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy,
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • New Zealand
  • UK

What Exactly is Cropping?

When a Boxer has their ears cropped, in countries in which it is legal, it is considered to be cosmetic surgery. When does a Boxer have their ears cropped? The general rule is to do so when the Boxer puppy is 10 - 12 weeks old. Although a dog of any age can have it done, a young puppy's ears are small and soft thus making the healing process smoother.

The dog is sedated during the surgery. The animal surgeon will mark the area of where the ear will be cut. Just as the name suggests, part of the ear is literally cut off. 

It is then stitched in such a way so that the ear does not flap over; it will stand straight up. It is the act of cutting the ear that causes many people opt against having this done. However, it must be noted that the dog will not experience pain during the surgery.

A dog will have discomfort for up to 3 weeks afterwards while the ears heal. Small paper cones are usually placed on the ears to protect them in this sensitive stage. An owner is given disinfectant from the veterinarian to careful put on the healing ears twice per day.

When an owner decides to have their Boxer's ears cropped they must make a commitment to following the very precise aftercare that is needed; if not, scarring will occur. It should also be noted that not all cropped ears will stand up. 

Why Are Boxer's Ears Cropped?

In many countries, the Boxer is known for having cropped ears, something that has been done since the breed was introduced and owners feel that they should maintain the breed standard. 

The argument being that the Boxer breed does not have controlled ears...that throughout the breeding process of the Boxer bloodline, this breed's ears grew uneven.

Some believe that long, floppy ears can trap moisture which can lead to ear mites and yeast infections. However, this can also happen with smaller, cropped ears.
Boxer with natural ears
In countries such as the U.S. where cropping is legal, it used to be the norm for breeders to have a pup's ears cropped at a young age before having the puppy go to his new home. However, recent trends have many breeders keeping ears natural. A large number of owners choose this and those that do not can opt to have the procedure done to their Boxer once they obtain the puppy.

We urge anyone who is considering to have this done to their dog to choose an experienced veterinarian, as a bad cropping can lead to infection and aesthetic issues such as too much of the flap being removed, etc. which once done, is a life long feature that can ruin the dog's appearance. 

Please check with a veterinarian to see if he or she has experience not only with cropping but specifically with the Boxer breed since each breed (that does traditionally have the ears clipped) has different shaping and size.

Some refer to this clipping as a "show crop" and by that, it is meant that per AKC conformation standards, the Boxer's ears should not be an outstanding feature or focal point. Rather, the size, set and shape should flatter the facial features, adding balance and lending to the overall appearance of the head.

A couple of issues that can occur are often due to the thickness of the ear flap. Boxer ears with very thick leather may be too heavy too stand and a good veterinarian will be able to let an owner know in advance. 

In some cases, not wanting to take off too much of the flap, a vet will err on the side of caution, which can lead to needing a 2nd cropping down the road to gain the desired appearance.

The price to have this done runs between $300 and $600, and additional costs may be checkups to see how the ears are healing, etc. In some locations, the cost for this procedure is tiered based on the dog's weight.

Do Boxer Ears Need to be Cropped to Enter Dog Shows?

The answer is no. While some may say that the Boxer standard is cropped ears, just about every recognized dog club, including the AKC accepts Boxers with or without cropped ears.

Should you Have Your Boxer's Ears Cropped?

This is most certainly a personal decision. Cropping is not clinically proven to reduce ear infections or reduce the chance of a dog getting ear mites. Dog shows allow Boxers with their natural ears. 

The only valid reason an owner would have is that they prefer their dog to look a certain way. It is a myth that puppies do not feel pain...there are nerve endings in the ears. Is that worth the discomfort that a Boxer puppy will need to endure? While we must stay neutral on this subject, we suggest that an owner carefully think about this issue before deciding.

If Ears are Not Standing Correctly

Even with cropping, precise symmetrical ears does not always happen. It is not uncommon for one ear to stand a bit more erect than another, or even both may not stand as desired. 

The experience of the veterinarian has a part in this. But also the muscles at the base of the ears may not be strong enough. In some cases, this can improve with age and improvement may be seen in 1 or 2 months. 

Owners may have heard about taping ears, which is what it sounds like: a method of using tape to hold ears in a desired position with the hope that this will cause them to stay as so once the tape has been removed.

Though this sounds like a great idea, it rarely ever works.
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