Pitbull with cropped ears – Is it safe and healthy?

Pitbull’s ears are initially erect and then flap down as the skin folds because of the end part of the pinna falling over to the side. These types of ears are called Rosebud as the ear resembles the Petal of the rose.

What is the cropping of Pitbull’s ears? Cropping pitbull ears is the practice of surgically removing part of his ear to look erect. This is done for purely cosmetic reasons with no health benefits.

This is also known as Pitbull ear trimming or Pitbull ear cutting.

What is Pitbull ear clipping?

Pitbull ears typically stand up and then flop down at the top. Some Pitbulls have floppier ears than others and the size and firmness vary among different dogs.

Clipping the ears of Pitbulls changes their original shape by removing a part of their ear known as the pinna. Removing this helps the ear of the Pitbull stand upright.

This procedure should be done only when the puppies are 6 to 12 weeks old.

This is because as they grow older, the cartilage becomes thick, and if the surgery were to be performed then, it would be extremely painful for the dog.

Also, doing it later might not keep the ears erect or give them the desired look.

The procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes, where the pinnas are cut to a specific length. After surgery, the ears are bandaged so that they heal in an upright position.

The bandage stays on for days or months.

Why do Pitbull’s eyes turn red?

Why Pitbull ears are cropped?

Ear cropping in dogs started in ancient Roman times. This was done to prevent ear damage during dog fighting and hunting which was quite popular then.

The tail and ears of dogs are quite sensitive places and they get excruciating pain if they get hurt there.

In modern days, dogfighting is not practiced and is mostly illegal except in some countries like Japan.

Here are some reasons for cropping Pitbull’s ears

Protection during dog fights

Looking at the history of Pitbulls, they were originally bred for fights. While cropping their ears sounds cruel, during those times, it was actually done to reduce their chances of getting seriously injured.

When the floppy part of the ear was removed, it reduced the chances of the competitor dog from biting this sensitive part of the ear.

This might seem like a good thing for the dog, but it was mainly done so that the chances of the owner winning increased.

Avoiding or reducing infections

There is a misconception that clipping the floppy ears of a Pitbull can reduce any potential ear infections. It was suggested that floppy-eared dogs had a greater risk of infection, as their ears retained more moisture.

However, there is no scientific proof that clipping their ears actually reduces infections. In fact, it might lead to other different infections and ailments.

To improve hearing

It was believed that clipping the ears of Pitbulls would improve their hearing because the droopy ears prevented sound waves from reaching the eardrums properly.

Erect ears would not obstruct any sound waves on their path to the eardrums, resulting in better hearing.

There is not much evidence for this, and even if this theory was actually true, the difference would be extremely insignificant.

The standard for specific breeds

One of the main reasons for the surgery to clip the ears of Pitbulls is breed standards.

People want Pitbulls to look a certain way because that is how they have been presented for the past years.

For some people, it is more important how their dog looks than anything else.

Dog show requirements

Many dog shows have specific qualifying breed standards for their breed. For Pitbull terriers, it is clipped ears. It is assumed that the dogs have a higher chance of winning if they meet the required standards.

Though this trend is changing slowly and most dog shows allow all kinds of dogs to participate, there is still a lot of discrimination against Pitbulls all over the world.

An intimidating-looking guard dog

This is one of the main reasons why a Pitbull’s ears are still cropped. It has everything to do with how the dog looks.

Pitbulls are usually preferred for protection purposes, as guard dogs. Having clipped ears makes the Pitbull look scary and unapproachable, which serves the purpose.

So, even if the Pitbull is harmless and friendly, it will instill fear among others and they will keep their distance.

pitbull with cropped ears

When ear cropping is done?

This surgical procedure is done only in puppies when they are 6 to 12 weeks old.

This is never done on an adult dog. Pitbull puppy’s cartilage is soft. As they grow, their cartilage becomes thicker. This makes the procedure quite painful for an adult dog.

Further, if this procedure is done after the third month, there is a chance that it doesn’t keep the ears erect which was the primary reason for doing.

How ear cropping is done?

Cropping is trimming the floppy part of a dog’s ear. This is performed on an anesthetized dog when he is between 6 to 12 weeks old.

This is done by a licensed veterinarian and the procedure may take 30 to 45 minutes.

Once the procedure is done, the ears are then taped to a hard surface for a few weeks. The surgery will cause the ears to be tender and painful for many days. Medicines are recommended to subdue the pain and prevent infection.

When the surgical wound heals, bandages are removed and the cropped ear stands erect.

Pitbull with cropped ear

Tips to care for puppy after the procedure

You should definitely follow all the advice given by the vet.

  1. You should be on the lookout for any ear infections like redness, swelling, etc and immediately reach out to your vet.
  2. The Puppy would be in trauma and pain. Make sure you give him the medications as recommended as they would help.
  3. Ensure the puppy is eating well and getting all the nourishment needed to recover.

Myth about ear cropping

In modern days, there is a myth that

“Cropping of Pitbull’s ears makes him healthy and it helps in reducing the chances of ear infection.”

While this is quite publicized, but it is just a hypothesis. No studies have confirmed the same and dogs having their ears cropped are likely to have the same chances of ear infection as the ones who don’t.

Reasons why pitbull ears should not be cropped

Let us look at the reasons why Pitbull’s ears should not be cropped.

  1. Cropping a Pitbull’s ear is not healthy as few may believe. It is a false claim that cropping ears can make the dog healthy by lowering the risks of ear infection.
  2. It was a good reason when Pits were used in dogfighting. They were saved of their pain in a sensitive area like ear making them a better fighter. But nowadays dog fighting is banned in most countries except for a few like Japan.
  3. Though it is a small surgical procedure, there are risks associated with the same.
    • There are chances of infection at the surgical wound.
    • This procedure is painful to the puppy for several days and medicines would have to be given to subdue it.
    • It causes psychological trauma to the puppy which is not necessary.
    • There are chances that the procedure may not be successful and the dog is left with surgical scars for the whole life without having erect ears (the primary reason).

Is ear cropping legal?

In the USA there is no law banning ear cropping.

There are many countries in the world where ear cropping is banned. Australia, New Zealand, many countries in Europe like the UK, France, Sweden, and Netherland have banned cropping of ears unless needed for any medical reasons.

Caring for Pitbull ears

Dogs build up the wax faster than us as they have long ear canals. Pitbulls also have part floppy rosebud type of ears.

Caring for Pitbull’s ear would mean removing dirt, debris, excess wax from the same. Because of his ears being floppy, dirt and moisture may remain trapped.

What you can see inside the ear is the dog ear’s external canal that leads to the eardrum. After the eardrum is the sensitive areas. Any damage to that may be very harmful to dogs’ hearing and balance.

Here are simple tips that you can follow so your Pitbull’s ear remains healthy and you don’t need to do a cruel procedure like cropping his ears.

  1. It is best if you do the cleaning just before the bath
  2. Before starting to clean, have a good look for any infections. This may include signs of redness or swelling. If found, it is best to take the Vet’s advice.
  3. For cleaning, use an ear cleaner that is recommended by your vet.
  4. Use a cotton ball or cloth to clean the parts of the ear that are visible.
  5. Do not force your way down, as it could be harmful.

About Pitbull

White Pitbull

Pitbulls are medium-sized dogs having strong and muscular bodies. Pitbull was a term used for a variety of dog breeds known as bullies. Though nowadays, it is used for referring to American Pit Bull Terrier.

This dog breed is not approved by AKC though approved by UKC (similar dog kennel club in England).

Their coat is short and shiny and comes in a variety of colors like red, blue, brown, grey, black and white (read more), and brindle.

Because of their association with dogfighting, Pitbulls are feared for their aggressive behavior. But they actually are wonderful loyal companion dogs with the right training and socialization.

Final Thoughts

Though some may love Pitbulls with cropped ears, this is a cruel thought and action with no actual benefits. This has many cons like pain and trauma for the puppy.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4922641/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288836514_A_review_of_medically_unnecessary_surgeries_in_dogs_and_cats