The Boxer is one of those dog breeds that have such an interesting appearance. Some people might like it while others may not.
I find this dog to be extremely beautiful in its own unique way. They might have an intimidating look to them, but they are generally a very loving and entertaining breed.
When it comes to their appearance, there are some things that we humans tend to get involved in. One of those things is the slightly controversial Boxer ear cropping.
There are many opinions on this topic, and a huge discussion has led to whether or not this procedure is necessary or ethical.
We are here to present you the potential good and bad sides of this topic.
We will go over some questions like aftercare, when to do the procedure, whether it is within the dog breed standard, etc. so you can decide whether or not this procedure is something you would like for your dog.
There is a lot to go through so buckle up and let’s start the journey.
What Is Boxer Ear Cropping?
There is not much that needs to be said for you to understand what ear cropping is. The name presents itself. Ear cropping is considered to be a type of cosmetic surgery.
You might think that cosmetic surgeries are reserved only for we humans, but as we can see, it is not.
Both male and female Boxers can go through this procedure. We will describe the procedure alone, and when you can take your dog for ear cropping later in the article.
But, all in all, it is done by a vet who has a lot of experience. He or she will cut the dog’s natural ears, and will make them shorter and pointier.
There are a couple of styles that can be done, which we will describe later on as well. Once the surgical procedure is done, there will be some aftercare that you will be involved in.
There is no need to repeat the procedure because the ears will stay like that for the rest of the doggie’s life.
A Bit Of Information About The Boxer Breed
The things that stand out with this breed are their precious face, their deep chest, and their muscular body. Their physical appearance might be intimidating at first glance, but these dogs are everything but intimidating.
They have such a catchy energy that will make anyone smile. An interesting thing about these dogs is that they stay child-like until they turn three years old.
Because of this, they have gained the nickname, ‘Peter Pan’ of the doggy world.
When it comes to their appearance, they might be good guard dogs, but when it comes to their personality, they might make friends with an intruder.
They are extremely intelligent so you will be able to teach them to be guard dogs if you need that from them.
They come in a couple of different colors and color patterns. Males grow to be around 25 inches, and weigh around 70 pounds, while females are slightly smaller.
If you decide on getting this dog, you should be prepared for a lot of laughs, a lot of bursts of energy, and many kisses from your pooch. They need quite a lot of exercise so you can not be a couch potato and own a Boxer.
Ear cropping is something that is connected to their past. They used to be hunting dogs of quite dangerous animals. The shorter the ears, the better protection for the dog.
The animal would not be able to catch the dog by the ear, and that is when the trend started.
Boxer Ear Cropping: To Crop Or Not To Crop?
There are many different opinions that are connected to this subject. Just like with everything in life, there will be some positive and negative facts about this topic as well.
We will list some things as to why this procedure is done, and why it should not be done as well.
You need to know that there might be some statements that will appear both positively and negatively. For example, there is a belief that there are some positive aspects to health when it comes to ear cropping, and that is the opinion of some people.
Other people might think that there are more negative side-effects to their health if the procedure is done.
The American Kennel Club and the American Boxer Club claim that the ear cropping procedure is safe, and it should not be taken into a big negative context. They say that this is purely in the hands of the owner and their preferences.
We did our best to present both sides, and we hope it will help you with your decision making.
One of the main reasons why the Boxer ear cropping procedure is done is because of the appearance. Some reasons are more connected to their past as working dogs.
Today, some reasons that are used for the promotion of ear cropping are a bit debatable, and are standing on thin ice.
We will list a couple of things that are considered to be positive when it comes to ear cropping. Some are mainly based on the preference of the dog owner while others are up to you to decide whether you consider them a positive or a negative thing.
When it comes to the breed standards, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is the main boss.
Based on their breed standard, a dog breed, including the Boxer, will need to have a certain look to them if they want to compete in the show ring and to be considered as a real Boxer, not a mixed breed.
The AKC has allowed both Boxers with natural and floppy ears and Boxers with cropped ears to be within the breed standard.
The breed standard that is connected to Boxers with cropped ears is older than the breed standard for natural-eared Boxers.
Because of this, there are a lot more Boxers with cropped ears than with natural ones. When it comes to show dogs, the judges will most likely choose the one with cropped ears over the other one.
So, when it comes to the breed standard, both dogs are accepted so you can say that this is more connected to preference and people being used to seeing Boxers with short ears. It is almost an expected look.
It is believed that floppy ears tend to keep more moisture within the ear so the dog will be more prone to ear infections. By cropping the dog’s ear and making it pointy, the level of moisture will be drastically reduced.
Since there will not be a lot of moisture, ear infections will be reduced as well. But, this is one of those things that is not clinically proven.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has stated that dogs with floppy ears might be more prone to infections, but there is a lack of strong scientific proof.
When a Boxer has cropped ears, it will be easier to notice the black gunk, ear mites, or any other pests that can get stuck in there. The ears will be easier to pluck and clean, which will prevent any infection in the ear canal.
This is more connected to the past when they were used as hunting dogs. They used to hunt bears, bulls, and other wild animals that were dangerous and could do serious damage to them.
By making the Boxer dog’s ears shorter and not leaving them floppy as their ears naturally are, people made them safer.
A wild animal would not be able to grab the ear easily. The thing that was also done because of this reason is tail docking.
The tail was also easily grabbable, but when it was shortened, the animal that it was hunting was not able to grab the Boxer by the tail easily.
Today, Boxers are not known for being hunting dogs. They are mostly family dogs. Unfortunately, there are some people who still practice an awful thing called dog fighting, and they also tend to crop the dog’s ears and tail.
When Boxers are used as guard dogs that protect their family home, cropped ears can be safer if there is any intruder who wants to come onto the property.
There will only be a small possibility for the intruder to grab the dog by the ears, which will make the dog more secure and able to defend itself and the property.
This procedure is not only thought to be used for cosmetic purposes, but also to help the dog in other ways. The American Kennel Club says that cropped and pointy ears help the dog hear better and perform tasks better.
This can be perceived in different ways. There are breeds like the Cocker Spaniel that have naturally floppy ears, which are never cropped.
Their hearing is not disturbed by their floppy ears, and this is the case with all the other dogs that naturally have those type of ears.
Boxers are naturally born with floppy ears so there is a thought that floppiness does not affect their hearing that much, and cropped ears might only improve it a little bit.
Some owners want to release the ear canal of the floppy part, especially if they want to use their Boxer as a guard dog. This is to make sure that they have 100% ability to hear any possible intruder.
This is also something that does not have scientific proof to back it up.
Correcting Uneven Ears
Throughout the years of breeding Boxers, there is a thing that appeared in their bloodlines, which is called uncontrolled ears, or, in other words, uneven ears.
This phenomenon will not worsen the hearing of the dog or even its general health. When it comes to uneven ears and cropping them, it is purely for cosmetic reasons.
You need to know that even cropped ears can appear to be uneven so make sure that you find the best vet there is, and the one who has the most experience. Cropping uneven ears can be tricky sometimes.
This has nothing to do with the breed standard. A lot of people who get their dogs as family pets don’t usually research the breed standard of the breed they are getting.
Some people just got used to seeing Boxers with cropped ears and like it more than their natural look.
For the people who do follow the breed standard, that might be the reason that encourages them to crop their puppy’s ears. Even if natural ears are in the standard as well, cropped ones seem to be more attractive to people.
Boxers do look more intimidating when they have cropped ears, and this is one of the reasons why people do it. Even Boxer puppies will look more intimidating when they have ears that are cropped.
We just saw the side of ear cropping that is thought to be positive.
A lot of them do not have many scientific proofs that can back them up, and the main reason, in general, is for the appearance that is more popular, and people also tend to associate it more with this breed.
Some things that are commonly done do not mean that they are the right thing to do. There are many people who don’t agree that this procedure is good for Boxers or any other dog.
Here are some of the reasons why Boxer ear cropping should be frowned upon.
It is sad that ear cropping and tail docking are procedures that are not taught in vet school. These procedures don’t have any benefit to the patient, a.k.a., the dog, and you need to find an extra experienced vet that can do the procedure.
There can be some complications during and after the surgery such as blood loss, infection, and pain. When it comes to puppies, they don’t have their immune system fully developed so some infections can appear.
The anesthesia can also have effects on their small body, and it is much more dangerous for them than for adult dogs. There is also a possibility of your Boxer being allergic to the anesthesia, which can, unfortunately, end their life.
Dogs’ ears are sensitive so when you cut into the ear, the nerves will be exposed, which makes the ears even more sensitive. This can cause the dog pain.
There is always a possibility that the vet did not cut the ear enough so a second surgery should be performed. That can be very traumatic for the dog.
Not Needed For Dog Shows
We already mentioned that dog shows allow Boxers with natural and floppy ears to enter competitions. This is because the AKC breed standard is made for Boxers with natural ears, which allows them to compete.
There is a thought that the judges like Boxers with cropped ears more than Boxers with natural ears. This is not a reason to crop your dog’s ears.
There is always a chance that your dog with natural ears will win if every other aspect that the judges are looking for is fulfilled.
Trauma And Pain
The procedure itself will not be painful for the puppy because it will receive anesthesia and will be unconscious.
However, for the next several weeks, and even months, the puppy can be in pain and discomfort, which can cause a type of trauma for the puppy.
Even when the stitches and that type of pain go away, there is still a lot of taping and retaping that needs to be done.
Constant retaping and forcing the ears to stand in a position that is not natural can be quite painful and agonizing for the pup.
The anesthesia can also cause some problems for the puppy, especially if the procedure is done too soon. It can be fatal for the puppy in some cases.
Dogs use body language because they can not communicate with us by speaking. Some of the body language they use involves their ears. When you crop your dog’s ears, they will have less ability to communicate their feelings with you.
You will still be able to see the ear movement, but it will be much less visible, especially if you are not an experienced dog owner, and if this is your first dog.
They will always look alert because you may not see the small movement they show when they are curious or happy.
Is Boxer Ear Cropping Illegal?
There are some places in the world where ear cropping is considered a crime because it is cruel to the animal. Make sure that before you decide on cropping your dog’s ears, check if the place you live considers ear cropping illegal.
These laws do tend to change quite a bit so even if you don’t see the city or country that you live in on the list, check anyway because it might just get on the list by the time you are reading this.
Here are some of the places that consider ear cropping illegal:
– New Zealand
– the Netherlands
– South Africa
– the United Kingdom
Some provinces in Canada have also banned ear cropping, and those are:
– Prince Edward Island
– New Brunswick
– Newfoundland and Labrador
– Nova Scotia
The majority of the United States consider this procedure to be fine, and it is legal, but there are some states that don’t agree with this, and have made it illegal, and those are:
– New Hampshire
Places like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Washington allow the procedure, but have strict rules.
The main thing is that the procedure needs to be done by a licensed vet, and the dog needs to be anesthetized while the procedure is being performed.
Some of the places where it is legal to crop your dog’s ears are:
– Some parts of Canada
– Costa Rica
– the United States
How Does The Procedure Go?
When it comes to the procedure itself, it is not that scary, but it needs to be performed in an animal hospital by a licensed vet who has a lot of experience. The procedure will last for only 30 to 45 minutes.
The problem lies in the period that comes after the surgery, or, in other words, the healing process and the aftercare. The healing process can last for a couple of weeks with some dogs.
If you are interested in how this surgical procedure is done, we will describe it in a couple of short points so you know what is going on.
– The vet will anesthetize your pup. The anesthesia will make your dog unconscious, and make its muscles relaxed. By doing so, your puppy won’t feel any pain while the procedure is being performed.
Your puppy may be given a pre-anesthetic / sedative-analgesic drug to make it relax before giving it anesthesia.
– Your dog’s ears will be washed. The vet or the assistant who is working with your vet will clean the ears thoroughly. They will wash the ears with soap so they are disinfected. By doing so, they are minimizing the risk of your dog getting an infection.
– Marking the area where the cut will be made. Even the most experienced vets don’t start cutting before they mark it, or, in other words, they don’t do it blindly. It is always good to mark the area that needs to be cut so the precision is great.
– Cutting the ear. The vet will make an incision on the bottom part of the ear, and gradually start going upward toward the top of the ear. When they are left with a triangular ear, they will stitch it.
The stitches are done in a way to make sure that the ear won’t flop down, but stand straight. When one ear is done, the same will be done to the other ear.
When we are talking about getting your dog’s ears perfectly cropped and pointed upward, the procedure is only 5% of the job.
The other 95% lies in good aftercare. If the aftercare is not done properly, your dog’s ears will not have the result you wanted.
Aftercare And Recovery Process
Aftercare is the most important thing when it comes to ear cropping. You will need a lot of patience because it lasts for quite some time. The puppy’s ears will need to be taped for at least six months.
Sometimes, it will take up to 12 months of taping to get the desired look. You need to know that in some cases, even when you do everything right and you tape your dog’s ears for 12 months, you still may not get the desired look.
This may not matter for people who got their Boxer as a family pet, but it might for people who want to take their Boxer to a show ring.
The most important things are to keep the dog’s ears clean, and to let the healing process take as long as it needs. Ear taping is just one of the steps you need to do, but it is the most frequent one, and it needs to be done right.
The tape is put on the base of the ear, and it should not be tight because it can cause problems for the dog. You can also use a stick and some gauze to make sure that the ear does not flop down.
The incision heals within two weeks, and in those two weeks, you need to make sure that it is clean so the incision doesn’t get infected.
The biggest hassle is taping the ears to make sure that the ears will stand on their own. You need to take off the tape from time to time to clean the ears so they don’t get an infection of the ear canal, which could damage their hearing.
Your Boxer might become attached to you all of a sudden. You will need to read the body language and signs that your dog is giving you because it might need some comfort because it is in pain.
Something you will need to do is stretch and massage the tip of the ears so there are no bumps left. This might be painful for the puppy so try to calm it down as much as possible.
If you want to prevent your dog from scratching its ears, you can always use an Elizabethan collar.
It might be a bit confusing and irritating for them, but you can use it in the first two weeks until the incision heals. After that, it should be taught not to touch its ears.
At What Age Should Boxer Ear Cropping Be Done?
The preferred time period in which your Boxer or any other dog should get its ears cropped is between eight and 12 weeks of age. Before eight weeks of age is too soon for the puppy to get its ears cropped, and it can have some lethal consequences.
The perfect time would be at 10 weeks of age. The sooner you do the procedure, the sooner the results will come, and the ears will have a bigger chance of having the desired look.
You can take an adult dog to get its ears cropped as well, but the results might not be as perfect as when it is a puppy, even if it is done by a professional and experienced vet. It depends from dog to dog, but the sooner you do it, the better.
Some vets won’t agree to the procedure if the dog is older than 12 weeks or younger than eight weeks. The puppy needs to have enough strength and a developed immune system, and the eight-week-mark is when those two check out.
Older than 12 weeks is when the dog’s cartilage gets tougher, and it will be hard to shape the ears in the desired style.
Some breeders have the option of cropping the ears for you before the dog arrives at your home. You will usually pick up your dog when it turns eight weeks old, but if you decide for the breeder to arrange the cropping, you might wait for your puppy a week or two longer.
Are There Different Styles Of Cropped Ears?
There are a couple of styles of cropped ears. People who are professionals and take their dogs to showings will know and have a preference of what ear style is the best for their dog. For people who don’t have that much experience, the style won’t matter.
This is usually with people who got their dogs as pets and don’t have any intention of owning a show dog. Here are the styles in which you can crop your Boxer’s ears:
– Short crop. The ears are very short. You will be able to notice some ear left, but from afar, it might be a bit hard to see. This is not as common as the rest of the styles.
– Long crop. The ears are cropped, but look a bit more natural than the other cropping styles. When we say more natural, we don’t mean similar to a Boxer’s natural floppy ears, but ears of other dog breeds that are naturally pointy.
– Show crop. You can also call this a medium crop because it is right in the middle of a short crop and a long crop. This is the most common style of ear cropping, even among people who don’t take their dogs to shows.
– Battle crop. This style is shorter than the short crop. Unfortunately, when you see a Boxer with this type of ears, they were most likely used in a dog fight. They shorten their ears like this so the other dog can not grab the dog by them.
– Corso crop. The ears are a bit more curled than the other cuts. This is not popular among the Boxer breed.
What Are Some Other Breeds That Get Their Ears Cropped?
According to the American Kennel Club, there are 20 breeds that get their ears cropped. Some are more common while others rarely get their ears cropped. Some of the more common dog breeds that you can see with cropped ears are:
– Doberman Pinscher
– Great Dane
– Boston Terrier
– Cane Corso
– Pit Bull
Most of these dogs come with long and floppy ears just like a Boxer, but people tend to crop their ears to achieve a certain look.
None of these breeds nor any other breed needs to have their ears cropped. It is only for appearance.
Other Cosmetic Procedures That Can Be Done On Dogs
There are a couple of other procedures that don’t really have a big purpose in a dog’s life. They are mainly done to make some changes in their appearance. Some of those surgical procedures are:
– Tail docking. When it comes to Boxers, tail docking can be done when they are only a couple of days old. It is mainly done by the breeders, but you can also appoint the procedure when the puppy arrives at your home.
This procedure is also illegal in some countries.
– Dewclaw removal. Boxers only have front dewclaws. This procedure is believed to be done so the dewclaws don’t get stuck on something or so the dog does not rip them off by accident.
But, there are a lot of nerves and muscles connected here, and they have a purpose on the dog’s balance. If you remove them, it can cause some problems for the dog.
– Debarking. This is highly controversial. This is done when other methods did not prevent the dog from barking a lot.
To Sum It Up
To crop or not to crop? There are always dilemmas when it comes to subjects like Boxer ear cropping. We have seen in this article that the ear cropping procedure is not that scary, but the aftermath is difficult and tiring for both the owner and the dog.
This type of surgery does not have any benefits for the dog. There might be some people who state that it can improve a dog’s health, but there is no actual medical evidence that can back those claims up.
Ear cropping is mostly done just because the dog owner has a preference when it comes to their Boxer’s appearance. We hope that this article gave you all the information you need about this procedure, and that it helped you make up your mind.
Every dog is most beautiful with its natural features. If you decide on the procedure, make sure that you find a licensed vet who has experience. We wish you all the luck with the aftercare, and wish your puppy a speedy recovery.