If you are a Great Dane owner, you’ve likely noticed the variety in their ear appearance. While some ears are floppy and fall to the side of their face, other ears stand tall and proud. So why do some Great Danes have their ears cropped, and others don’t?
This article will discuss the details of ear cropping in Great Danes and help you better understand this practice going forward.
Nowadays, the primary reason why ear cropping still happens in Great Danes is to adhere to breed standards and general expectations. Ear cropping used to be considered helpful in preventing injuries.
Why Do Great Danes Have Their Ears Cropped?
Nowadays, If you see a Great Dane with cropped ears, it is likely due to adhering to show expectations and breed standards. Not every Great Dane with cropped ears will be a show dog, but some owners simply like the appearance.
Some also believe that cropped Great Dane ears are less likely to get infected and are easier to keep clean and tidy. While opinions on this will vary, it often just comes down to owner preference.
Do All Great Danes Have Their Ears Cropped?
Not all Great Danes have their ears cropped. Ear cropping is an elective and cosmetic procedure that some owners choose to perform, as well as some breeders who find it important to stick to the show dog expectations.
The need to crop a dog’s ears is dropping among the pet population, meaning you will find plenty of floppy-eared Great Danes out there. Ear cropping is simply cosmetic and is not performed out of necessity.
When Did Great Dane Ear Cropping Begin?
So how long has Great Dane ear cropping been around? While there is no set date recorded, most believe we started cropping their ears when the breed was born about 400 years ago.
Great Danes were originally used to accompany their owners on hunts, where they would take down wild boars. The original understanding was that cropped ears would prevent ear injury on a hunt, as floppy ears could be at risk of being mutilated.
As time went on, ear cropping was no longer about preventing injury on a hunt but rather adhering to breed expectations.
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When Is Ear Cropping Performed In Great Danes?
When choosing to crop your Great Dane’s ears, earlier is better! The recommended time to crop their ears is between 7 to 10 weeks of age, as waiting too long can increase the risk of complications.
When performing this procedure after 10 weeks of age, your Great Dane may struggle in multiple ways. The procedure and healing time can be more painful as they age, and adhering to ideal recovery expectations can be more challenging.
Your Great Dane will need to have their ears taped for an extended period of time, and this becomes more challenging the older your Great Dane gets. The procedure also becomes more expensive as the weight of your Dane increases, as anesthesia and medication costs will rise.
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What Happens During An Ear Crop Procedure?
An ear cropping procedure for Great Dane’s will be performed by a veterinarian and under general anesthesia. Once your Dane pup is properly sedated, your vet will remove a portion of the ear based on your preference.
Your vet will stitch your Great Dane’s ears during their procedure and will tape them in an effort to protect their wounds. Every clinic differs in its preference, but most will ask you to keep the bandage on for 72 hours. Some clinics also ask dogs to be seen at one-week post-op, where they may place another temporary bandage.
The stitches will be removed between 10-14 days, barring any complications, and an ear posting bandage will be applied to the ears. This trains the ears to stand upright rather than to protect the sutures like before.
Your vet should go over the posting process with you at their final appointment, as you will need to follow a 3 day on, 1 day off training schedule with their posting bandage.
Are There Benefits Of Ear Cropping?
While these claims are highly debated in the veterinary realm, those who advocate for ear cropping claim our dogs can benefit from this procedure in two ways. It’s important to note that there is no evidence to substantiate these claims, so they should not be your sole reason to ear crop.
First, some state that dogs with cropped ears are less likely to develop ear infections. Some ear infections have been linked to low-hanging ears in dogs, but there is no evidence that ear cropping actually helps to prevent them from occurring.
The second potential benefit is that ear cropping saves dogs from future ear injuries. While this may have been the case for Great Danes that used to hunt wild boars, there is not much evidence that it promotes ear safety these days.
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Are There Risks Involved With Ear Cropping?
Just like any other procedure, ear cropping comes with a set of risks.
The first risk involves being under anesthesia, as there are always potential complications when a dog is put under. While your Great Dane will be closely monitored throughout their procedure, there are always potential dangers.
The next potential risk involves infections at the incision sites. This can be a result of irritation from the pinna tape, exposure to bacteria, and if your dog is able to scratch their ears at any point. This can usually be easily corrected with antibiotics, but it can be uncomfortable for your dog to go through.
The last risk to be aware of is not really a risk but a certainty of what your dog will endure throughout the process. Ear cropping is a minor procedure, but it comes with discomfort. Your dog will likely experience discomfort in the days following the procedure, as well as throughout the ear posting process.
Should You Crop Your Great Dane’s Ears?
The decision of whether or not to crop your Great Dane’s ears is up to you. Everyone has their own reasoning behind the procedure and can make their own choice with the guidance of their veterinarian.
I would not personally crop my dog’s ears due to the risks far outweighing the benefits, in my opinion. The AVMA also considers it a medically unnecessary cosmetic procedure, which is a highly valued opinion in my book.
No matter which route you take, you should always speak with your vet about your specific interests. They can answer any questions you may have about the process and help you make the best decision for your Great Dane pup.
Ear cropping is a popular procedure that has been present in the Great Dane breed for quite some time. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can better understand this practice going forward!