Pitbull Ear Cropping: Why Is It Done and Is It Cruel?

Pitbull Ear Cropping

Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Fumipets

Pitbull Ear Cropping: Understanding the Practice and Its Ethics


Pitbull ear cropping is a controversial procedure that involves surgically altering the shape of a Pitbull’s ears for aesthetic reasons. While proponents argue it can prevent ear infections and injuries, opponents see it as a form of unnecessary cosmetic surgery on dogs. The ethical concerns surrounding Pitbull ear cropping have sparked debates within the veterinary community and among dog enthusiasts.

The practice of cutting a pitbull’s ears is debatable. While some people see it as harsh and savage, others see it as a necessary practice. Even though we do not support ear cropping, we will look at some of the current justifications for it.

What Is Ear Cropping?

Pitbulls have their ears cropped between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks. A veterinarian frequently performs this on an anesthetized dog. Unfortunately, particularly in underground dog fighting rings, individuals will use knives, razor blades, and scissors to chop off the dogs’ ears without giving them any anesthesia. When this is done, the ears often mend unevenly and seem lopsided. On sometimes, dogs’ ears are shaved off so close to the skull that they seem to be missing. Over-12-week-old puppies that are subjected to this operation inadvertently risk permanent harm, excruciating suffering, and protracted recovery. Additionally, if improper techniques are used, the intended outcome could not even occur after the ears have healed. They are still capable of stooping and not standing upright.

The pinna, a floppy portion of the ear, is removed during this treatment by a specialist in order to make the ears stand up straight. The cut ears are then attached to a sturdy frame all the way around for a few weeks so that they may heal erect.

It may be difficult to find a veterinarian who can do this surgery. The veterinary school does not cover this method. Veterinarians who want to undertake this operation will need to observe or help in surgery in order to learn from other veterinarians. This implies that there isn’t a single technique to accomplish it and that each dog’s trimmed ears will be unique.

Natural Pitbull Ears

Pitbulls are born with ears that resemble Labradors’. As the dog ages, the ears may grow more upright and have little curls at the top, giving the dog a contented, curious appearance. Some individuals like the way the ears naturally appear.

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Ear Cropping History

According to legend, ear cropping first appeared in ancient Rome, when dog battles often resulted in ear injuries. The ears were cut so they couldn’t be broken as readily. Since ears are simple targets, they were often pulled off or chewed off, causing the dog great suffering and making them lose the battle. Even though dogfighting is prohibited in many places, the practice is nonetheless carried out today for this reason.

Additionally, working dogs who protected animals or pursued game had their ears cropped. Cropping the dog’s ears was a technique to protect them from harm if they had to confront a predator.

Also, cropping is said to help dogs prevent ear infections, albeit there is no evidence to support this claim. Ear infections may affect dogs with or without clipped ears.

Why Is Ear Cropping Done Today?

The American Veterinary Medical Association does not approve of ear cropping. However, for a variety of reasons, the procedure is being carried out today.


Some individuals believe that dogs with cut ears appear more aggressive and enjoy the way they look. They could choose a dog with a ferocious appearance if they plan to use their Pitbull to attempt to defend themselves or their property. Can you get that appearance with floppy ears? Not usually.

The majority of dog ear clipping operations done nowadays are done for cosmetic reasons. The traditional justifications for having the ears clipped are no longer valid if the dog is a family pet.

Breed Standard

Some Pitbull owners believe they have no option but to clip their dogs’ ears. They believe that in order to have a “genuine Pitbull,” ears must be cropped. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, as outlined in certain breed standards, are permissible techniques important to defining and maintaining breed character and/or increasing good health. Suitable veterinary treatment should be given.

In certain dog shows, a dog cannot participate if its ears are not clipped. Depending on the breed, the AKC will let dogs with clipped or uncropped ears be displayed.

False Beliefs

Owners of dogs think that dogs with trimmed ears hear better, have less ear infections, and have better ear health. None of these claims has been shown to be accurate.

Dogs with clipped ears should be able to hear better since the pinna doesn’t obstruct any of the ear canal, increasing their awareness of potential predators. However, Pitbulls’ floppy ears do not obstruct their ear canals, and there is no proof that dogs with cropped ears can hear any better than those with uncropped ears.

Banned Practice

In Australia, New Zealand, and several regions of Europe, ear cropping is prohibited. In the United States, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington State have laws governing the practice.

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Some individuals—including campaigners for animal rights—equate ear clipping with pain and mutilation. They don’t see any legitimate justification for ear cropping since it is mostly performed nowadays for aesthetic reasons exclusively.

The AKC fuels this debate since it does not oppose ear clipping. The justification offered to those who are opposed ear clipping is that if the AKC supports it, it must be okay.

Crop Styles

Not all ear cropping is the same. There are four distinct styles available.

Battle Crop

The ears sit close to the skull in this shortest crop design. This appearance is combative. While there are defenses for ear cropping that claim it prevents ear infections, this particular kind of cropping may result in children having more ear infections. There is nothing to prevent dirt and moisture from entering the unprotected ear canal.

Erect ears don’t usually result from choosing this option, though. The ears could fall off the skull in this design. Any crop technique has the risk that the dog’s ears won’t have the final appearance you want.

Short Crop

Compared to the Battle style, these ears are left a bit longer and resemble two little points on each side of the dog’s head. The blocky heads of Pitbulls make this design a popular choice.

Show Crop

The Show Crop is often chosen since it has a high likelihood of developing erect ears despite the fact that there is no assurance that they will stand up straight following a crop process. On the dog’s head, the ears appear as two triangles since much of the ear is still there.

Long Crop

The Long Crop maintains the pointed appearance of the ears while leaving the majority of them on the head.

Pros and Cons of Ear Cropping

It’s up to you whether or not you clip your dog’s ears. Although we do not support ear cropping, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the surgery before making a choice.


Pitbulls look fantastic whether or not their ears are clipped. Their naturally floppy ears are adorable, and cut ears flatter the forms of their heads.

If you wish to display your dog, the judges at dog shows often prefer dogs with clipped ears.

Some claim that trimming a dog’s ears is beneficial to their health.


It is hurtful. The difficulty of having their ears taped for many weeks following surgery is added to the suffering the dogs already experience when recovering from surgery. The dog may experience stress as a result, which may alter their personality. Your dog, who was formerly carefree and joyful, can start to feel down.

There is no concrete scientific evidence that ear cropping is advantageous for dogs.

Cropped ears often serve as a warning to others that the dog is vicious and aggressive. While some dog owners may find this entertaining, it could be harmful to your dog if they are thought to be aggressive. In the unlikely event that your dog escapes and starts to wander down the street, some people may be afraid it will attack them, so they may decide to defend themselves by attacking your dog first. People don’t need a justification to believe that your dog will hurt them. A changed aggressive look runs the risk of hurting or worsening your adorable dog.

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It may be pricey.

Puppies may react to the anaesthetic and get sick or not wake up at all since they must be placed under for the treatment. One in 100,000 animals may have anesthesia-related problems. The danger of having your dog undergo a cosmetic treatment is needless.

Is Ear Cropping Cruel?

If done after the dog is 12 weeks old and by someone who is not a veterinarian, ear clipping may undoubtedly be cruel. It is barbarous and absolutely needless to cut off a dog’s ears. Illegal dogfighters who want their dogs to be and seem as vicious as possible repeatedly do this.

It isn’t as harsh when done by a professional who gives the dog anaesthetic and pain medication. However, there are still points of contention about its need.


You must decide whether to trim your dog’s ears, but you should wait to do so until you are fully informed. Know the benefits and drawbacks of the operation, and ask your veterinarian any concerns you may have. Consider if it is still the best choice to clip their ears after weighing the benefits and drawbacks.

We do not support ear clipping and prefer dogs with their natural ears. However, being aware of the procedure’s purpose and the associated risks might help you decide what’s best for your dog.

Questions and Answers:



Why is Pitbull ear cropping done?

Pitbull ear cropping is often done for cosmetic purposes, giving the dog a distinctive appearance. Some proponents also claim it can reduce the risk of ear infections and injuries in certain working dogs.


Is Pitbull ear cropping considered cruel?

The ethics of Pitbull ear cropping are a subject of debate. Many animal welfare organizations and veterinarians argue that it is a cruel and unnecessary practice. It involves surgery that may cause pain and carries the risk of complications.


Are there any benefits to Pitbull ear cropping?

Proponents argue that ear cropping can prevent ear infections in certain dogs, especially those engaged in activities like hunting. However, these claims are disputed, and many veterinarians do not see it as a valid medical procedure.


Is Pitbull ear cropping legal everywhere?

The legality of Pitbull ear cropping varies by location. Some countries and states have banned the practice, considering it inhumane. In other places, it may still be allowed but regulated.


What are the alternatives to ear cropping for Pitbulls?

Ear cropping is not a necessary procedure for Pitbulls. Regular ear care and cleaning can help prevent ear infections. If ear injuries are a concern, protective gear, like headgear or helmets, may be considered for working dogs.

Pitbull ear cropping remains a contentious issue, with opinions divided on its necessity and ethical implications. Dog owners should carefully consider the welfare and health of their pets when making decisions about ear cropping.




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