DOBERMAN PINSCHER STANDARDS
EAR CROP & TAIL DOCKING STANDARDS FOR DOBERMAN PINSCHERS
Dobermans are born with floppy ears and long tails, similar to a labrador or hound dog. The ears are cropped and tails docked so that the dog is less likely to require medical assistance at a later date. The cartilage in the ear is able harden and achieve the upright standing ear and the short tail is less likely to be broken or injured. There can be a lot of controversy surrounding this topic so we want to be as educational and sensitive to this matter as we can.
It is prudent for all Doberman owners and prospective clients to be fully educated on this topic so they can make the best informed choice for them and their dog. This will also help you educate others that inquire and aid you in providing the most accurate information possible. You will want to know this information for when people always ask questions when they see both a natural eared dobe or a young puppy with tape on its ears if they are in pain.
At Munro Kennels we are in favour of maintaining our right of choice on this elective surgery and respect that others may choose differently than us. Extreme activists are lobbying to take away our choices and wish to ban all cropping and docking. Please read and do your own research on this topic. Do not just assume it is cruel or assume it looks better so it must be better. Find out why or why not and consider the health of your dog.
Some countries do not legally allow these practices but that does not mean they are unethical. Many of those same countries have exceptions to allow cropping and docking on dogs meant to do working sport/competition such as Schutzhund sports. Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners.
The Doberman is the ONLY breed bred for personal protection. This is their purpose and true nature at heart - to always be protecting and "working", whether they are active in competition or not. For this reason and the following, we fully endorse cropping and docking when done ethically by a licensed and trusted skilled professional that is properly trained by our trusted Veterinarian team. We always provide the after care during the healing process and and offer unlimited follow up while posting.
AESTHETICS OR LOOKS
Let's talk aesthetics or looks... The look between the cropped and the un-cropped Doberman is drastically different. The cropped Doberman has a more alert and striking look. A Doberman with floppy un-cropped ears is more the look of a hound dog with Doberman markings - cute or goofy. If we compare the responses of cropped Dobermans to un-cropped, we usually hear "gorgeous, beautiful" versus "cute, silly." In a dog that is meant to be viewed as a protector, the first impression does count.
Puppies can look pretty cute during early development with those floppy ears. But as they grow up it is likely the ear set will change. Some ears can result in complimentary style, but there is no way to predict or promise what type of ear setting may result at a later date as an adult dog.
Often, the ear set will result in long hanging ears that droop, which detracts from the look of the chiseled, wedge shaped head. Or they may mature into what is known as "rose ears." They stick out from the side or oddly perk up from the front. The first thing that comes to mind may be "what a cute and goofy dog," which may fit the personality, but is not what we desire for the impression of the breed.
Regardless... the Doberman breed is bred for, and meant to protect. One of the greatest security measures alone is the appearance of the Doberman. Many can hardly recognize a Doberman with un-cropped ears. The look for this breed is meant to be regal, also described as "the look of eagles." This look is hardly achieved with un-cropped ears.
Let's consider the functional side of things. When dogs play with each other, they go for the ears. When a human or opponent goes after a dog, the ears make great "handles." The ears can be grabbed, bitten, or torn and when this happens it is very painful and they bleed a lot. This is why, in a protection bred dog, long ears can be a huge liability.
If the ears are caught, torn or pulled hard enough during play or an altercation, they are likely to bleed very heavily. The amount of blood alone could be a danger to the animal, but usually the wounds to an ear are not fatal but the potential is cause for concern. A vet would be required to repair them in surgery and give antibiotics to prevent infection during after care. They are likely to scar and the healing may result in unsightly abnormality of shape. Not to mention it could cost a small fortune to repair the damage if it was serious enough. This is the exact reason why tails are docked. The Doberman tail is particularly thinner and susceptible to breaking or repeated damage just from every day life. A happy Doberman tail does not stop and docking the tail prevents serious injury or damage at a later date.
Before you think to yourself, "well I'm just getting my dog as a pet, I don't plan on needing protection or participating in dog sports or allow unruly play with other dogs and I live in a safe neighbourhood..." Know this; The Doberman is always on watch, Protection is instinct in these dogs. Whether you are anticipating protection opportunities for your dog or not, they are always on the look out. It is a liability and disservice to leave them un-cropped when it is their nature to protect you. In this day, we can never be too careful and we are always looking for the best practices to help and care for our animals.
We are always concerned about the long term health of your dog and possibility of ear infections with lop ear animals. Many Dobermans owners have constantly fought with reoccurring inner ear infections due to un-cropped and floppy ears with limited or restricted air flow. Thorough and daily cleaning and care of the ears can reduce the risk, however most people will still admit that they do not care for the animals ears as often as required.
Areas with a lot of humidity or moisture are more prone to infection. Bacteria, mites, and ticks are always on the lookout for dark, moist, and warm environments. The perfect home for these is the inner ear canal of your floppy eared friend. These infections are painful and could cause hearing loss or even a ruptured inner ear. Cropping the ear helps to allow more airflow and light into the inner ear which not only reduces the possibility of an infection, it almost completely eliminates ear infections in this breed all together. Some studies will also show this helps focus and increase the dogs hearing as well.
NATURE VS "NATURAL"
There is a lot of debate whether un-cropped ears are considered "natural" or not, because in nature there is no canine or animal that has naturally occurring floppy ears that close off the ear canal. The definition of natural is, "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." Look at the wolf, hyena, fox, coyote, etc and you will consistently see that mother nature has adapted these animals in the wild to have upright ears, or if the ears do come downward they are not closing off the canal in such a way that the man made breed of dogs of today do.
Un-cropped ears are often referred to as "natural" however that does not mean it is actually natural. If you look at breeds such as the English bulldog for example, they are unable to mate or birth without human assistance. Would you still call that natural? If we placed this animal in the wild and allowed nature to run its course. The breed would be entirely eliminated, because it would not be "natural" for humans to alter or assist them in the ways that we currently do.
FUTURE OF YOUR DOG
Our last item on our list of primary reasons and considerations of why or why not to crop and dock your animal is one that not many think about. The longterm future of your dog and possibility he/she may have to be rehomed. An ethical breeder will always screen prospective owners carefully to evaluate their commitment and responsibility to the animal, long before placing the dog in that home. This owner should also weigh carefully their own commitments and responsibilities long before getting a dog. We don't like to think about emergencies but events and circumstances may enter or lives may require us to rehome a dog on short notice. An quality ethical breeder will always insist on taking the dog back as a first option and help you rehome them to a permanent and quality residence.
The unfortunate reality has been confirmed by shelters, rescues, and breeders across the country - that a (properly) cropped and docked Doberman will have an easier time finding a new permanent home in a timely manner, simply because of how the look being closer to the written standard.
The ethical method of cropping is an art done to only be done by a licensed, skilled, and experienced veterinarian. The ideal age for cropping a Dobermans ear is 7-9 weeks of age, this is before the ear cartilage begins hardening. We have always participated and observed the cropping ourselves in the surgery and this a standard procedure. The vet will have a pre-surgery consultation where they discuss the style of cropping desired by the breeder and verify the VWD status.
Local anaesthetic is a drug used to induce anesthesia and is used to sedate the puppy while the ears are cropped. The surgery itself is very brief, and puppies tend to wake up quickly, hungry and ready to play like usual. During the surgery, the edges are stitched up and the puppy will have a styrofoam cup placed on their head and used as a brace to keep the clean and supported during the healing process. The ears will be required to be cleaned regularly and have some ointment applied to the edges of the ear while they heal.
During this time they play just as rough if not more because the cone/cup on the head looks like a very fun chew toy! Typically the stitches are removed within the week and the cup comes off at about two weeks from the date of the surgery. No part of this process is cruel, painful, or inhumane and it is done for the dogs best interest! After the cup comes off, the ears are healed and ready to be "posted". Depending on the dogs health and the preferred style of crop. This can take weeks or even months and this is usually when most dogs and owners develop a routine and are approached by the public with a long list of questions.
A Dobermans ears will not automatically stand straight up and "posting" is a necessary after care that most owners will be quite familiar with. The ears are gently formed into position and held with assistance devices to maintain the upright position. After a period of time the cartilage hardens enough the ear is able to stand on its own and the posting device or method is removed. A cropped ear still offers a range of motion and this allows the dog to focus on sounds of interest.
Posting is critical to ensure the crop is successful and must be cleaned and maintained regularly.
FINDING A CROPPING VET
A reputable Doberman breeder will arrange all the cropping of their puppies. If you find yourself in the position to find a reputable vet that offers cropping services, our best advice is to look up a breeder in your province or state on the DPCA or DPCC referral list near you. Ask them who they would use or recommend.
...If you call around asking your local vet offices, they will all probably offer a cropping service and say they have some experience. It is your duty to verify the proper work and style by looking at pictures of past work. If they will not provide previous photos of work they have done, DO NOT take the risk. We travel thousands of kilometres for our puppies to see the very best industry professionals. We would never suggest you trust someone who did not have sufficient training or experience.
How much does cropping cost? This will vary significantly from clinic to clinic. Some cropping vets near us that have experience since the 70's charge from $700 and $900 per puppy. These fees can vary a lot by the area. You should also consider the additional fees for anesthesia or medicine. The vet may charge extra for travel or bringing in a specialist if it is required, and charge you for specialty after care supplies and medical grade tapes.
MUNRO KENNELS PREFERENCE
We believe in ethical and responsible cropping and docking for the Doberman Pinscher.
Since the age for docking (and dewclaw removal) is between 3-5 days old, and puppies may not be picked out until 8+ weeks old, all of our puppies will have tails docked and dewclaws removed. We will arrange the ear cropping for all our puppies at approximately 7 weeks of age, only by a licensed vet whose quality we trust. No exceptions! We have a strict standard for beautiful, complimentary crops that enhance the look of the dog. They will be healed and ready for posting before they go to their new home. All our puppies receive full after care and support with posting instructions and one-on-one support with our posting kits.
For those that do not have a puppy of ours and are in need of posting help, we offer free step by step training videos on youtube and one-on-one training for those that may want the extra assistance or support. We also carry a variety of ear posting kits and supplies for purchase on our Products & Supplies page. You will find all the approved supplies and materials for you and your pup to get the job done right and put the posting process behind you.