We don’t often see Rottweilers with cut ears, so why would somebody crop them? As stunningly powerful as Rotties are in physique, there’s something sweet in their expression, and it has to do with those cute, floppy ears.
Potential Rottie dog owners would naturally want to know everything about owning the breed. So it makes sense for them to want to know if a procedure as painful as ear cropping is essential for their pup.
So long as you maintain your Rottie’s ears with quality ear-cleaning wipes, there is no need to crop them. This article covers the dangers of ear cropping in dogs and why some people do it anyway.
So, Do Rottweilers Have Their Ears Cropped?
Rottweilers don’t have their ears cropped because it’s not part of their breed standard, so you will probably never see a Rottweiler with cut ears. If someone does cut their Rottweiler’s ears then it is a personal choice that is not approved by the Kennel Clubs, which state that their Rottweiler ears should be pendant and triangular.
Below is a video of a Rottweiler with cropped ears as you can see most of the ear pinna (flap) has been removed the way you typically see in Pitbulls. This is extremely rare and no reputable Rottweiler breeder will cut their puppies’ ears.
So Rottweilers do not have cropped or cut ears. Instead, many Rottweilers have ears that are taped when they are puppies. Taping ears is not cutting, but rather a process of physically taping a dog’s ears in place so that they learn to fall the perfect triangle folds. Taping is done when the dog is a puppy to prevent ears “flying out” or folding outward, away from the head. Here is a video to show how tapping is done.
Historically, Rotties don’t have cut ears because they weren’t used for fighting. Dogs initially used for bull baiting and dog-fighting, such as Pit Bulls, had to have their ears and tails cut to prevent injury. This is mostly for when dogs were prone to biting each other’s ears in fights.
Fast forward to today, and most Rott owners don’t crop their dog’s ears for the plain reason that it’s not necessary. Not for them or any other traditionally ear-cropped dog breed out there.
So, Why Do Some Rottweilers Have Cut Ears?
Any Rottweiler with cut ears has them because their owners or breeders opted for the procedure for cosmetic reasons as it gives the dog a scarier “aesthetic” or look. Rottweilers with cropped, erect ears are way more intimidating and imposing, and some dog owners are going for this effect.
In some cases, Rottweilers have cropped ears because their parents adopted or rescued them that way and accepted them as they are. Very rarely, an ear may be amputated because of severe ear condition or injury.
People with competing Rottweilers are the least likely to crop their ears. It’s not included in the international standard for the breed, so cutting the ears actually lowers their chances of winning. When it comes to Rottweilers working as police or military dogs, the fact that they are already so intimidating is one reason that they don’t have their ears cropped.
While a dog like the Doberman looks distinctly less scary when their ears are floppy, the Rottweiler looks scary regardless. These are incredibly powerful dogs with one of the most powerful bites in the world. For serving dogs, the goal is not to intimidate and mutilate the public, so Rottweilers doing police work are better off without cropped ears.
Modifying a dog’s appearance by surgical procedures for “beauty” purposes has rightly received major criticism. Other adjustments done to dogs unnecessarily include declawing, tail docking, and cutting whiskers.
What is Ear Cropping and How is it Done?
Ear cropping involves the surgical removal of part of ear flaps in young puppies from the age of 5 weeks for small dogs and 9 to 12 weeks for larger breeds. It’s associated with making dogs look vicious or intimidating, and it’s mostly used for what Simon Harding calls “status or weapon dogs”.
Ear cropping is waning in popularity as more people begin to question the need for this procedure and if it’s in the dogs best interests. Most people and veterinarians agree that it is unnecessary and even cruel to remove a piece of the dog’s anatomy just for the purpose of looks.
Why Do Some Dog Breeds Have Their Ears Cut?
Some breeds like Dobermans and Pit Bulls have the signature erect ears look because it’s part of their breed standard. Breeds with cropped ears as their standard all have a history of fighting, so ear cutting had a practical use to avoid getting hurt.
In their fighting days, dogs had their tails and ears cut since they were considered weak points that could be easily ripped off. When your dogs play fight, you’ve probably seen that they head straight for the ears. If that happens during a friendly, imagine how much worse ear biting is in actual fights.
The practice of ear cropping and tail docking became so common in these dogs that it was seen as their norm in the following decades.
It may be hard for most people to imagine the all-powerful Doberman with adorable, floppy ears. Ear cropping has become so normalized that a study found that 42% of people thought short tails and erect ears were born that way, not surgically altered.
Of course, some dogs are born with erect ears, but this is not the case for most breeds, like the Rottweiler.
Supporters of ear cropping fight for dear life by claiming that cropping reduces ear infections to justify the act. This claim holds no water and lacks solid scientific evidence.
Luckily, dogs in their natural state have no less a chance of winning than cropped ones in show competitions.
What Breeds Have Cropped Ears?
When you think of some dogs, the immediate picture that comes to mind is alert, erect ears. These breeds of dog include:
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Pit Bulls
- Bully breeds
- Dogo Argentino
- Cane Corso
Some of these dogs, like Great Danes or Dobermans, have their ears bandaged or taped to train to stand up straight. Dogs like German Shepherds have naturally erect ears. But Pitbulls and Bully breeds often have their ears cropped. See this article if you are wondering if your puppy’s ears will stand up straight.
Why is Ear Cropping Banned in Some States?
The cruelty of surgical procedures for nothing more than aesthetic purposes has been legally acknowledged in several states. In these areas, dogs can only get their ears cropped illegally, and owners that do it often lie that they bought the dog that way. Cropping is not a necessary veterinary medical procedure, and most will refuse to do the surgery that removes part of the ear flap (pinna).
Even in countries where ear cropping is legal, many morally-upright vets don’t do the procedure. States and countries that either ban or limit ear cropping include:
- New Zealand
- Some parts of Canada
- Some American states like Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania limit ear cropping unless performed by a licensed vet under anesthesia
- UK (unless under the vet’s discretion)
It’s clear that the entire concept of cropping a dog’s ears is inhumane. This isn’t because the procedure is extremely major but because it’s basically pointless.
Risks of Cropping a Rottweiler’s Ears
Cropping ears pose the risk of infection, cause your dog pain as they heal, and include anesthesia dangers. The risks of cropping a dog’s ears aren’t fatal, but they’re alarming because they’re completely avoidable.
General Anesthesia Always Poses Risks
Putting dogs under anesthesia is a must when dogs undergo the procedure because they cannot handle all that pain. Symptoms range from a mild reaction to the anesthesia agents and reduced cardiac output to fatal anaphylactic shock and even death.
While canines are aided through the pain during the cropping procedure due to anesthesia, the healing process is still painful. This is especially true for older puppies past 4 months because the cartilage becomes stronger in older age, causing more pain.
While popular belief holds that ear cropping can reduce ear infections, it can ironically cause them instead. This is especially true if a professional didn’t perform the procedure, so microbes found their way into the wounds.
Improper aftercare can cause ear infections even if the procedure is performed correctly. Signs of the ear infection include redness, itchiness, discharge, scabs, and discomfort.
Impeding the dog’s ability to communicate
The ears are a vital part of how a dog communicates and there is plenty of meaning behind a dog’s ear positions. By removing the ear flaps or tail of a dog, we make it harder for them to express when they are nervous, afraid, or uneasy. When dogs can’t express themselves, it’s easy for people to miss the warning signs. This is very true for Rottweilers, as owners already have trouble recognizing the difference between the Rottie Rumble and actual growling.
Is There Any Medical Reason for Cropping a Dog’s Ears?
The medical reason for ear cropping, preventing ear infections, is more of a myth than science. While cropping technically prevents injury, dog fighting is outlawed, rendering the procedure pointless.
Dogs at greatest risk of otitis externa (outer ear inflammation), like German Shepherds, Shephweilers, Basset Hounds, Beagles, Chinese Shar Peis, and retrievers, are not cropped. This suggests that the only present reason for cropping a dog’s ears is for appearances to look intimidating or if the dog is used for illegal dog fighting.
Is Cropping a Rottweiler’s Ears Cruel?
You don’t have to be a vet to see how inhumane cropping a dog’s ears is. It’s true that dogs undergo much more painful surgeries and survive them, so cropping is minor in comparison.
It’s not so much about how extreme the surgical procedure is but about the lack of necessity. Dogs with cropped ears will heal, and many have very responsible parents, but the fact that the procedure is pointless makes it cruel.
What About Tail Docking in Rottweilers?
Tail docking in Rottweilers is more common than ear cropping. Much like cutting ears, shortening the tail has historical significance relevant to a Rottweiler’s original purpose.
Since Rottweilers were initially used as cattle drovers, their tails were docked to prevent the likelihood of the cattle stepping on them. When pulling carts laden with meat, having a tail in the way would prove inconvenient.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that the Rottweiler’s tail should be docked close to the body, leaving one or two tail vertebrae. However, most clubs don’t use the reduction of a body part as a strict determiner of winners during dog shows, so fewer and fewer Rottweilers have docked tails these days.
Below is a video of a Rottweiler puppy’s tail being docked. You can decide for yourself if this procedure is necessary or beneficial to the dog.
Rottweilers typically maintain their full, triangular floppy ears because cropping them has no historical purpose. People who crop their dog’s breed do it for aesthetic purposes, even if many claim they want to prevent ear infections, there is no reason that cropping does anything for otitis.
Improper cropping can cause ear infections, not to mention it sometimes doesn’t come out as owners hoped. Most dogs recover pretty well from ear cropping but seeing as there’s literally no reason for it, it’s inhumane.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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