The most important question should be why you want your dog’s ears to be cropped. Whatever your choice, we are here to help you avoid overthinking.
You must have seen a Doberman, a boxer or some pinscher with cropped ears and thought to yourself “That looks so natural and impressive”. And you would be right – it is impressive. But have you seen one with their “default” ears on?
Schnauzer or Doberman, the ears their mother gave them are equally impressive and the character of the dog remains the same whether cropped or not. So, why would you want to do Schnauzer ear cropping? Scroll down to find out.
Why Schnauzer Ear Cropping Is A Thing
Evolution Of Canines
History always finds a precedent. The Roman Empire was often the birthplace of major cultural, social, economic, agricultural, military, and other developments.
Most animals back then were kept for their pragmatic nature, not as personal statements of preference.
From the dawn of the human race until today, dogs evolved in many significant ways. They adapted to conditions different from the wilderness, adopted new ways of communication and learned to live side by side with other species.
That is an impressive evolutionary achievement and it took quite some time for them to become what they are today.
History Shapes The Role
Schnauzers have been working dogs for hundreds of years and it was considered practical and sanitary to crop their ears and dock their tails. The cropping and docking was done for various reasons.
Schnauzers used for hunting had their tails docked to avoid getting it caught in dense vegetation, and the ears were cropped to decrease the chance of spreading rabies.
The latter is definitely a myth which was debunked with the advancement of animal healthcare.
Similarly, Schnauzers owned by farmers had the task of eliminating rodents and cropping their ears was done mainly to provide less real-estate for the pests to bite on. The same logic can be applied to similar roles back in the day.
One more common misconception is that dogs with folded ears do not hear well. The intent to make them “hear properly” was used as rationalization for cropping their ears.
The Modern Schnauzer
Now, there are lots of working dog breeds used by law enforcement, for herding, therapy, guiding and much more, but the most common reason a dog lives with a human being is to provide company and fill in the gaps a home without a dog has.
We are in 2022, and dogs have been replaced by many tools and machines doing the job for them. So why are Schnauzer, Doberman and other similar species undergoing ear or tail modifications?
Nowadays, this question is a tough one for owners, so let us see whether your dogs’ tails and ears should be altered.
Should Your Schnauzer have cropped ears?
It is really a matter of preference. Do you like the look of cropped ears on your dog? Do you prefer them as they are born? Will you go for maximum visual points in front of the judges or just want an energetic and playful dog to add vigor to your life?
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the ASPCA are against cropping and docking when done exclusively for cosmetic reasons.
Infections and other health issues that were believed to be caused by floppy ears are not directly related to the ear being upright or hanging.
Health Reasons And Misinformation
Beagles, for example, have a very low rate of ear canal infections. They often step on their ears, so you can see why cropping ears does not provide any health benefits without concrete, underlying ear issues.
Cocker spaniels, on the other hand, are most prone to these complications.
If your Schnauzer has ear infections or other ear-related problems, and the veterinarian recommends some type of surgical procedure, by all means, help your companion alleviate the discomfort and pain.
Look Like A Million Dollars
However, in case you only want to give your Schnauzer, mini, standard or giant, a little ear-lift, we recommend you think about it. Ear crop surgery is serious business, and exposing your dog to unnecessary complications is… well, unnecessary.
Same applies to docked tails: removing a part of their spine for eye-candy is not something we or veterinary associations would recommend, but if you believe it will help it fare better in a dog show, it is your right to do it.
The American Kennel Club is becoming somewhat inclusive of uncropped ears and natural tail length, but they are trying to preserve the “traditional” altered look of the miniature Schnauzer, standard Schnauzer, and giant Schnauzer.
Your puppy’s ears are fine as they are, and the breed standard appearance favored by the AKC or other organizations (earcrop + tail dock) is slowly being pushed out.
You are adamant that your Schnauzer needs an earcrop or tail docking? We’ve got you covered.
In case you want to go for it
With your mind set on getting a new dog ear look for your Schnauzer, you should prepare for the process.
For your convenience, we listed all the key steps and elements to ponder.
1. The ideal age for an ear makeover
Before even getting a Schnauzer, it is of paramount importance to let the breeder you chose know whether you plan on cropping. Why? Because not every pup in the litter has the “potential” to become a dog show winner.
Breeders usually choose the most standard pup (by appearance and behavior) when an owner’s intent is to participate in dog shows and score top points.
This is the first question you have to ask yourself: do I plan on competing or having a four-legged companion?
Getting an adult, uncropped Schnauzer is also an option, but bear in mind that it will be a lot more painful, dangerous, and traumatic for a grown dog than a puppy.
Wondering at what age? The ideal or recommended age for doing the surgical procedure is eight to twelve weeks (1.5 months – 3 months).
While still not fully conscious of what is going on, the puppy will be less likely to have any recollection of this unpleasant experience.
Another reason to do it as early as eight weeks of age is that their ear cartilage is still soft and can be operated on more easily. In addition, the healing process will be much smoother than with a fully grown Schnauzer.
2. Styling those ears
There is more than one style of cropped ear. Some are regarded as standard or more practical. The difference lies in the length and level of fold of the ear.
As a rule of thumb, you can visualize dividing your dog’s ear into thirds or quarters and then removing a segment according to the length of the crop.
1. The Natural Ears
It is simply the natural way a Schnauzer’s ear looks. Folds at the root and looks extremely cute. This is the way evolution altered them.
2. The Military/Battle Crop
This means that your dog’s ear will be cropped as much as possible.
For the military/battle crop, the crop will probably be somewhere between half ear and two thirds of the ear’s full length.
3. The Short Crop
The name clearly states that it will be short but not as short as the military crop. The usual length removed is a third of the ear’s full length.
4. The Tall/Long Crop
A large portion of the ear remains intact and the cropped part takes about one quarter of the ear’s full length.
If you are cropping your dog’s ears for competition purposes, make sure to inform yourself on what the association or club deems the standard or preferable crop length.
5. Ear Taping & Ear Posting
Depending on what version of Schnauzer ear you want, you can also tape their ears. This can be done by using, well, tape or glue if the look you are after is perfectly folded floppy ears.
Posting the ear after cropping is a way to prevent the ear from flopping back down. After paying for such an expensive surgery for cosmetic purposes, the last thing you want is a micro-flop at the tip of your Schnauzer’s freshly cropped ear.
The “post” is put at the bottom of the ear and should be only slightly longer than the tip. The tape is wrapped around the ear and the post to keep it prancing like a pony!
YouTube has great how-to videos on both, so make sure you research before you try or ask the vet to explain the process in-depth.
3. Choose your vet wisely
Not all veterinarians know how to or want to perform ear cropping surgery. Some only do one type of crop, others do them all.
You always want a vet that has good reviews and experience in doing the particular crop you are after.
Ask your breeder if they know a veterinarian that is skilled at cropping. Research on the internet, and check other people’s reviews of a vet that performed cropping. There is no such thing as too much research.
When you lock in your choice, be sure to find some pictures of the crop you wish the vet to perform on your Schnauzer. Having a reference photo is VERY IMPORTANT as not every vet crops the exact same way.
Money questions are undoubtedly important, but choosing the right vet is more important. This does not mean a lower priced vet will do a worse job than a pricey one.
Expect to dish out between $160 and $1000 for the crop. The average price is around $250-$400. Again, we must stress that, in this case, pricier does not necessarily mean better. Research is key!
Pay the vet you are vetting (pardon the pun) a visit and observe how they communicate with both owner and animal. Make a list of questions regarding cropping and pepper the hell out of them. It is your dog’s well-being after all.
A Schnauzer puppy will fully recover after cropping more quickly than an adult dog. The usual amount of time for the ears to fully heal is seven to eight weeks. This varies and is dependent on the quality of recovery.
Pain medication can be used if you want to provide a tad more comfort for your dog but only under the vet’s supervision. The majority of vets will prescribe some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Do not give your dog any painkillers for humans because they might cause stomach or kidney complications.
Use of a cone is a must as dogs do not like foreign materials on their bodies and will try to scratch the bandages off. As part of the aftercare, keep an eye on the bandages and put a cone on your Schnauzer when they are not in your line of sight.
Any irregular behavior you notice should be reported to the vet or you can bring your Schnauzer puppy to an animal hospital.
The dog will be dozy for some time after the surgery but it is no reason to panic. The anesthesia packs a punch!
The truth about tail docking
Shortening the tail for practical reasons is obsolete in the modern day and age. Still, the AKC and other organizations like to stand firm on their opinion of “standard” and “tradition” in Schnauzers and other “cropifiable” and “dockable” dog breeds.
1. The practical side of it
Some dog breeds used in law enforcement and military, though rare, undergo tail docking for actual good reason. Military dogs go through huge amounts of deployments and, in the line of fire, every second matters.
Getting your tail stuck in barbed wire, a piece of equipment, or a doorway will get to you!
Most of the other jobs dogs have do not require tail docking since the chance of getting stuck because of a tail is very low and does not warrant cutting it “just in case”.
2. How it is done
A vet will either put a rubber string around the tail to stop blood from getting to the end of the tail until it dies and falls off or simply cut it at the designated vertebra.
The procedure, normally, does not require putting the dog to sleep and is rather quick. Still, there is a recovery period but it does not last as long as with ear cropping. It also carries fewer risks since the tail is essentially out of the dog’s reach.
Painkillers are recommended if your dog shows signs of discomfort or pain. It does not hurt to ask your vet in advance how long and tough the recovery will be for your dog.
Like in humans, every individual canine recovers at a different pace so do not be alarmed if it is not exactly like the vet said.
Having doubts or concerns? Get your dog to an animal hospital or vet station as soon as possible.
3. History had a reason, do we?
If tails were docked a thousand years ago, why is the practice still active? We humans are very fond of our ancestry and traditions. We deem it more important than a dog’s right to its tail being intact so we cut away.
Whether there were records on some potentially practical solution from a millennium or two ago or not, we decide what happens now. And we are certainly better equipped to make rational and safe choices than the Romans or Greeks.
Unless it is a medical reason, a tail should wag and wiggle freely.
We hope this article helped you make a decision on Schnauzer ear cropping or tail docking. Even if you stumbled upon it looking for general information on the procedures, it will help you come to your own conclusion regardless of dog breed.
Keeping your pet safe and comfortable is still a top priority for all owners, so undertaking the procedure or not, we are sure you will provide that for it!
Every little bit of empathy helps the dog feel more secure and self-assured, so weigh up your options and stick to one your gut tells is right.
Happy further research!