What Is Ear Cropping?
It is essential to understand what ear cropping is exactly. Different practices can be implemented for specific breeds by vets depending on the desired look. American bully puppy ear cropping generally involves cutting off the floppy part of a puppy’s ears while they are anesthetized.
Then the ears are taped to a hard surface for a period so that they will grow standing in an upright position. While there is some pain involved in the initial healing from the procedure, it is not as long-lasting or as painful as common surgeries like spaying/neutering.
Ear cropping, when done correctly under the care of a trained vet, is a humane augmentation that does not negatively affect the dog.
What Is the Truth Behind American Bully Ear Cropping Myths?
When most people think about ear cropping on American bully’s, they are picture fighting dogs, or aggressive dogs kept on thick chain leads. This image is a stereotype perpetuated by the media. Most American bully owners want the very best for their furry friends and find there are multiple benefits for ear cropping.
The majority of dog owners do not attempt augmentations for purely cosmetic purposes, and it is nearly impossible to locate a willing vet for such procedures.
Augmentations are done mainly to improve the life of the dog and are done by trained professionals—Dog Kennel Clubs around the world support ear cropping for purposes of standardization. American bully ear cropping does not set out to make the dog look menacing or create an image of a fierce dog.
This idea is a myth. Mostly, ear cropping is for performance enhancement or to decrease the likelihood of medical issues in the future, such as ear infections.
Why Should You Crop Your American Bully’s Ears?
There are several good reasons to follow the historical standard as it generally was started for a practical purpose and not aesthetics, as most people assume. For example, the American bully has worked as a farm guard dog, among other historical duties, and cropped ears would assist in increasing hearing.
Another added benefit is that they will not be able to get caught in anything if your American bully tends to get itself into awkward situations. Many also believe that cropping the ears of certain breeds like the American bully can aid in circulation and make it harder for ear infections to set in by decreasing trapped moisture in the ear canal.
How Does Ear Cropping Affect Home Pets vs. Show Dogs?
Many breed standards include specific looks that may not be natural for the dog. The American bully is an example of a breed that has several elective surgery options that can take place at a few weeks of age, which will significantly impact their appearance as they grow.
The American Kennel Club “currently recognizes 20 breeds with cropped ears”, which means that any dog of those breeds without cropped ears would be considered not up to standard in a showroom.
The appearance of cropped ears, especially in the Show Crop style, tends to give the dog an alert look that is attractive to many dog breeders though this is not the sole reason for the procedure.
If an American bully will be a house pet instead of a show dog, then this cropping procedure can create problems later on with the perception of both fellow canines and human strangers.
For example, a study by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada “provide[s] evidence that ear cropped and tail docked dogs are perceived differently than an identical dog in its ‘natural’ state.
Modified dogs were perceived as being more aggressive, more dominant, less playful and less attractive than natural dogs”. If you are intending to keep the dog or sell it as a family pet it is important to know the study showed feature alterations such as ear cropping, “have significant impacts on how modified dogs and their owners are perceived by others.”
How Does It Affect a Dog’s Ability to Communicate With Other Dogs?
Because this augmentation will affect your American bully for the rest of its life, you should understand how it will affect its ability to communicate with other dogs. Studies have shown that cropped ears or docked tails can impede communication.
Ear and tail signals are some of the most common body language cues shared between dogs. In 2018, a study showed “dogs with permanently erected ears or with a very short tail lost part of their behavioral repertoire expressed by these anatomical structures.”
Your dog still will live a full, healthy, happy life with shortened ears. In addition to other benefits, it helps to prevent painful chronic ear infections. For such a permanent surgery, it is crucial to speak to your vet and understand the consequences of electing for this surgery.
When Should You Crop Your American Bully’s Ears?
The best time to crop an American bully puppy’s ears is between six and twelve weeks old when they are still too young to be fully alert. Doing it at a young age will ensure that the dog does not remember the experience.
Doing the ear cropping then will ensure that your American bully is not as affected. Puppies are also much easier to control, which makes it uncomplicated to follow through with proper after surgery care.
No reputable vet will crop the ears of an adult dog unless it is a medical emergency. Attempting to ear crop an adult dog is considered animal cruelty in most states and countries.
How Long Does It Take for the Ears to Heal After Cropping?
Once the floppy part of the ear is removed, the remainder of the ears will be taped to a hard surface for several weeks so that it will heal upright. This period is not harmful to the puppy. Generally, it can take four to eight weeks to recover fully.
The healing process happens in several stages. After the bandages and sutures get removed from the ears, which can happen seven to fourteen days after the surgery, there is another period of two to four weeks where the puppy’s ears are propped in some way and taped in place so that their ears will heal completely upright giving the ears the alert look most breed standards require.
Do Vets Do Ear Cropping?
Vets will crop ears for breed standards or medical considerations but, generally, if it takes place for cosmetic purposes, they will decline.
The price will vary by vet office but the standard cost is between $150 – $600 though more expensive vets do not guarantee better crops. Research your vet before making a choice.
What Are the Kinds of Ear Crop for American Bullies?
There are several different American bully ear crop styles. The best ear crop for an American bully is shorter crops. The styles include:
- Battle Crop: the shortest crop which takes most of the ear and leaves the dog vulnerable to debris entering the ear canal. It got its name back in the days when dog fighting was a very popular sport. Because the crop is a close cut to the head, the opponent wouldn’t have much to grab on during the fight.
- Short Crop: A bit longer than the previous and it is the most recommended one. Many owners choose this crop because it’s a great combo of the battle and the show crop.
- Show Crop: As its name says, it is a crop for show dogs. Although, it’s not obligatory for your dog to have this crop in order to participate in a contest, it is what the most owners choose for their show dogs.
- Long Crop: Also called the Tall Crop, this is the most extended version of the ear crop and leaves behind about three-fourths of the original ear length. This is not very popular and you will rarely see an American Bully with this crop.
What to Do After Cropping Ears?
The ears are bandaged after the initial surgery, and the bandages will usually need to be replaced by your vet weekly until the ear is fully healed. The vet will provide detailed instructions, but these are some general aftercare tips.
- Stop your puppy from disturbing the ears. You can get a cone from your vet.
- Without getting the bandages wet, clean and apply antibiotics to the ear incisions as instructed by your vet.
- As scabs begin to form, you can briefly soak the ear in warm water and gently remove them so that they do not interfere with healing.
- Visit your vet at any signs of infection.
Although the sutures are generally removed after seven to ten days, the entire healing process can take up to eight weeks. During that time, try to ensure that the ears remain clean and are not scratched by the puppy. Your vet will provide pain medication immediately after the surgery.
Is It Legal to Crop American Bully Ears in My Area?
It is essential to make sure you know the laws and regulations involving ear cropping of breeds in your area. Some entire countries have outlawed ear cropping, and nine American states regulate ear cropping. These states are Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Most of these American regulations involve ensuring that a licensed veterinarian does the procedures and that they are not done for purely cosmetic reasons.
Multiple states have mentioned possibly banning such feature augmentations as ear cropping and tail docking, but as of this writing, none of them have passed any such laws. Keep up to date by looking for regulations in your state and city.