In generations past people believed that erect ears were key to improved hearing, so cropping a Doberman's naturally floppy ears was a common practice. But Dobermans have excellent hearing with or without ear cropping. You'll want to take special care of your Doberman pinscher's ears whether they're cropped or not.
Cropped Ear Care
Discuss the risks and benefits of ear cropping with your veterinarian. This is a cosmetic procedure that many Doberman owners have had performed. To ensure proper ear structure, the procedure usually takes place between 7 and 8 weeks, and you must tape the ears for several weeks thereafter. Improper taping and post-operative care can lead to deformities in the ears. Your vet should have experience cropping Doberman ears, because improper cropping can lead to numerous problems.
Clean your dog's ears thoroughly using a hydrogen peroxide solution, a dog ear cleaner or a solution provided by your vet. Place one to two drops in the ears, then gently rub the ears to spread the solution. You must wait several days after cropping to begin cleaning and wrapping the ears. Your vet should tell you how long to wait in your dog's specific case.
Place a tampon without the plastic applicator or thick gauze against the outside of one of your dog's ears -- the portion that has been cropped. This base stabilizes the ear and should be approximately the same length as the ear. Then wrap gauze around the base and then twice around the ear to attach it firmly to the ear. The fit should be snug but should not pinch any portion of the ear.
Wrap the tape around both ears so they are taped together. The ears should be in a natural, upright position, not leaning in toward one another. Start wrapping tape at the base of your dog's ears, not at the top -- this stabilizes the ears. Continue wrapping up to the tips of your dog's ears so the ears are covered in tape and taped together. The ears should face straight up, not lean inward. Rewrap your dog's ears every few days or when the wrap starts to deteriorate.
General Ear Care
Teach your dog to accept ear care by periodically handling his ears while he is still a puppy. Then click a training clicker and give him a treat. This helps him associate ear cleaning and ear handling with rewards and will make him more tolerant of regular ear maintenance.
Clean your dog's ears regularly. This is particularly important if you leave your Doberman's ears uncropped. Floppy ears can trap bacteria and pathogens, leading to infections and bad smells. Simply drop one to two drops of dog ear-cleaning solution into each ear, then gently rub the ears. This can be a part of your dog's grooming routine. Alternatively, clean the ears once every one to three weeks or when they look dirty.
Inspect your dog's ears regularly for scabs, mites and excess wax buildup. If your dog begins shaking his head or scratching constantly, he may have ear mites or an ear infection. Take him to the vet if you notice frequent scratching, discharge or mites.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Everything Doberman Online Community: Taping and Posting Doberman Ears
- Protection Canines: Doberman Ear Taping
- "Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats"; Richard H. Pitcairn
- American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds: Doberman Pinscher
- American Kennel Club: Frequently Asked Conformation Questions
- "The Doberman Pinscher"; Janice Biniok
- Your dog's ears must be wrapped until he has learned to hold them up on his own. Remove the wrap and inspect your dog's ears every few days to see if he's holding his ears up or not.
- The American Kennel Club does not require that Dobermans' ears be taped to compete in the show ring.
- Some countries have banned the practice of ear cropping, and some animal advocates regard it as cruel.
- Dogs that scratch at recently cropped ears may develop malformations and infections. Put your dog in an Elizabethan collar -- commonly called a cone or an E-collar -- if he scratches at his ears.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.