The Dobermans “look” is that of a compact, powerful, medium sized dog
that shows an attitude and temperament reflecting great nobility and confidence. His short, tight coat and cropped ears and docked tail add to his clean lines and effectiveness as an elite protection breed. But, the docked tail and the cropped ears on the Doberman are historically VERY FUNCTIONAL in origin and serve important purposes.
A docked tail was an important characteristic of the Doberman because the tail represents a “body part” that can be easily and readily injured. Injury can happen by accident, such as knocking it against hard surfaces or getting it caught between surfaces (doors, windows, car doors) which can cause bruising, hematomas (pockets of blood), sloughing off of hair and tissue, gangrene and terrible fractures of the vertebra requiring major reparative surgery to treat and even save the tail. The tail also served as a handle that an attacker could rab and injury which could cause the dog to experience pain and trauma and cause him to abandon his job of protecting his owner. So docking was also a functional part of the Dobermans effectiveness as a family protector.
Cropped ears, likewise, were the logical, functional addition to complete the Dobermans physical equipment to make him the elite family companion and protection dog that he was, even from the beginning. There are two primary reasons that we desire cropped ears, and both have to do with FUNCTION. The first is that a neatly cropped ear is less of a “handle” for an attacker to hang on to. Since the Doberman has been bred to be a personal protector, a cropped ear gives the dog a decided advantage in a confrontation with a perpetrator. The second has to do with sound “localization”. An erect eared dog can localize the source of a sound to within a 5-degree cone, whereas a drop-eared dog can only localize a sound source to within a 20-degree cone. Since Dobermans do SEARCH AND DETECTION as well as SEARCH AND RESCUE, cropped ears are a decided advantage.
Doberman with uncropped ears
The DOBERMAN **STANDARD** asks for “ears, normally cropped”. This simply implies that they are cropped in a normal manner. Many people choose to leave their Doberman puppy uncropped. These are mostly people who have a Doberman as a pet only and do not exhibit them in competition in the various AKC events. There is no disqualification for uncropped ears, and people can and do show Dobermans that are not cropped, in the US. But, because the overwhelming majority of exhibitors show their Dobermans cropped, perhaps it just looks like there is no choice involved. It is a matter of personal preference as to crop or not crop their puppy and likewise to show a cropped or uncropped Doberman in AKC events.
If the ears are cropped they must be cut in a shapely manner when the Doberman is a youngster, usually between 7 to 10 weeks. The ear must be long enough to crop, and the puppy should not be too old that the surgery becomes more difficult for the ears to uccessfully stand.
The Veterinarian puts the puppy under anesthesia and then proceeds to remove the excess ear on the outside portion of the ear. It is cut in a curving and graceful design and then the edges are stitched. The ears are taped over the head and wrapped with gauze for protection or they are glued with surgical glue to foam or a Styrofoam cup or other material to keep the ears upright and the edges exposed to the air for good healing. The stitches are removed after about 10 days, and the ears must be kept from puckering—which is the edges pulling together and causing the ear to shorten because of the scar tissue in areas along the cut edge. The ears are examined every day to make sure they are healing well and when all edges are totally healed they are ready to be taped.
After the edges are fully healed, with NO SMALL OPEN WOUNDS the ears can be rolled and TAPED. Below is a website that will show the usual manner that ears are taped. The technique is demonstrated by Carol Selzle Petruzzo, a very long time, successful breeder and Handler. The site is invaluable for learning how to care for and tape the healed cropped ears.
There are a variety of lengths and shapes of cropped ears. Cropping is very artistic and each cropper has its own style. The show conformation Dobermans are cropped longer and more stylish than most pet crops that an average Veterinarian would do. The longer, more stylish crops are beautiful, but they can take more time taping to get the ears to finally stand. Success with ears standing has a great deal to do with the persistence of the person taping and the technique. Problems do arise and it is best to seek the advice of an experienced Breeder or very experienced Veterinarian that has cropped hundreds of ears.
Submitted by: Theresa Mullen
DPCA Public Education Committee