Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Should I Crop My Great Dane Puppy?

When a pet owner purchases a puppy from someone other than a professional breeder, they frequently have to make the decision as to whether or not they are going to have the ears cropped. This is because the breeder did not take the responsibility to do it before the dog was sold. Some professional breeders allow their pet puppies go go uncropped, but they educate the owners about appropriate care of a natural ear and do not just let the dog go uncropped because it costs them less and is easier on the breeder. They sell a puppy natural eared because of philosophical reasons. We choose crop our puppies unless specifically asked not to by a new owner. The ones that are cropped are done at 7 weeks and we get them well on the road to healing and trained (leash, potty, crate and socialized) before they are allowed to go into their new homes at 10 weeks of age.

Our opinions about what age to crop has come from experience and an understanding of physical and neurological development of a puppy. We crop at 7 weeks and try to avoid the 8th week of development. On occasion we crop at 9 weeks if for some reason the animal is not up to par (worms, coccidia) and we put it off until 9 weeks. The last week we would consider cropping is 10 weeks of age, due to size and development, but this is the absolutely latest to do this procedure. Yes, this process is painful, I will not glamorize it, it is painful and I do not like the process at all. A cropped ear does not make a dane, it is the spirit of the dog, the build, the personality that makes a dane, not the ears. I love the look and detest the process. Even with uncropped dogs one should take the time to "fidget" with their ears, up on a table. They learn very early on to sit still while they are being examined. This is all part of the early handling and socialization training they must go through. One last comment. In order to crop at 7 weeks on has to make sure the dogs has been wormed and does not have coccidia. We traditionally worm at 3 and 5 weeks before cropping.

I always recommend a natural ear to new owners who do not have an experienced breeder or veterinarian available to them. If the breeder is not doing the cropping call around to find out who has the most experience. Do not make a judgment based on cost alone. Ask to see examples of their cropping and what they do for after care. See the taping instructions at this website. You want a vet who knows how to crop and to tape for after care. I try to educate the public on learning to appreciate a natural ear, but the choice is up to the individual.

As with any ear, cropped or natural, it is important to clean them weekly. The taping process has to be done by an experienced person, with proper tape and support, and the tape has to be changed weekly, which means this process can go on for several month with trips to the vets every 7 - 10 days. Some dogs with cropped ears are still taped for many months to get them to stand correctly. Sometimes they never stand properly due to cropping problems or poor cartilage.

If done properly, at the vets, with good anesthetic procedure, pain meds and proper after care, it is more humane considering you are still cutting off part of a body. Cropping done, however, outside of a hospital, (by breeders and handlers) trying to save a buck and with no anesthesia, or "bootleg" drugs, is indeed a painful experience for the dog and is unacceptable, although it is a practice done by many professional breeders. There is a move afoot by breeders to train vets how to crop and handle aftercare so breeders are encouraged to do this right, not only for the sake of the dog, but because it is legal.

Most ear infections are not due to cropping or a naturl ear. Most are actually systemic yeast infections which are caused by over use of antibiotics and poor quality grain based dog foods which promote systemic yeast/fungus proliferation. Especially when a diet is not backed up with multiple beneficial bacterias (probiotics).

When I have my puppies cropped, they are home within hours, running around the yard, and eating. There are many Vets who specialize in ear crops, and do a fine job--it IS an art, but not all vets like to do this kind of surgery because they don't know how to do the style, and most just don't want to bother as the aftercare is time consuming.

I do feel that there is a strong movement afoot to eventually attempt to ban cropping and docking in the USA. I personally feel it is the breeders or owners choice to have it done and I feel it is their obligation to do it right or not do it at all.

Make sure your puppy is on Nzymes before going into surgery, so they heal faster. See Ear Taping instructions at this website.

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