Boxer Dog Ears: Why Do Boxers Get Their Ears Cropped?

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When you think of a boxer, the first thing that comes to mind is probably their trademark ears. But, unfortunately, boxers are one of several breeds of dogs whose ears are cropped. But why do they get their ears cropped in the first place?

Many people wonder why boxer dogs have their ears cropped and whether or not it is necessary.

In short, Boxers originally had their ears cropped to prevent them from getting injured when hunting, fighting, or working. Boxers were initially bred as bull-baiter and working dogs, so their ears were cropped for protection. Nowadays, boxers are bred as companions, and ear cropping no longer serves the same purpose. 

This article will explore the history of ear cropping, what it is, and why some people choose to do it while others do not. We will also look at other breeds of dogs whose ears are often cropped.

Let’s dive in.

Boxer Dog Ears: Why Do Boxers Get Their Ears Cropped?

What Is Ear Cropping?

Ear cropping is the surgical removal of a dog’s ear flaps. It is done for both cosmetic and practical reasons. It is usually done when a puppy is between seven and twelve weeks old.

A veterinarian usually does the procedure, though some breeders will also crop their own puppies’ ears. It is considered major surgery and requires general anesthesia. 

There are a few types of ear crops: show crops, short crops, long crops, and battle crops. Show crops are the most common and involve removing about two-thirds of the ear flap. Short crops remove less ear flap, while long crops remove almost all of it. Finally, battle crops are the most extreme and involve the removal of the entire ear flap.

The History Of Ear Cropping

Boxers dog with cropped ears

Ear cropping has been around for centuries. It is thought to have originated with ancient Roman and Greek warriors, who cropped their dogs’ ears so they would not be grabbed by opponents in battle.

The practice then spread to other countries, such as England, where it became popular among the nobility. They saw cropped ears as a sign of status and power.

Ear cropping eventually made its way to America and other parts of the world, where it became popular among farmers and ranchers. They cropped their dogs’ ears for practical reasons, as it prevented injuries when working with livestock. 

In addition, ear cropping was used to make dogs appear more intimidating. For example, a dog used in fighting, such as pit bulls, often had their ears cropped to look more aggressive. It was also done to avoid their ears being used as a grip by other dogs.

Nowadays, ear cropping is done mostly for cosmetic reasons. Some consider it controversial, as it is considered an unnecessary surgery with potential risks.

Is Ear Cropping Illegal?

Since ear cropping has become controversial recently, some countries have banned the practice.

Ear cropping is illegal in many counties, including: 

  • Australia 
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom

There are, however, many countries where it’s still legal. These countries include:

  • Argentina
  • Parts of Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • United States

Why Do Boxers Have Their Ears Cropped? (5 Reasons)

Boxers dog with cropped ears

So now that we know most of the reasons ear cropping was done in the past, why do Boxers, in particular, have their ears cropped?

Here are 5 reasons boxers will have their ears cropped:

#1 Breed Standard

The first reason is due to breed standards. Technically, the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepts boxers with natural and cropped ears in the show ring. However, many breeders still prefer to crop their dogs’ ears to make them conform to the traditional look of the breed.

Some argue cropped ears give boxers a more regal and powerful appearance. Some believe there is still a slight bias toward cropped ears in the show ring, though this is slowly changing.

In fact, there have already been examples of boxers with natural ears winning best in the show at AKC events.

#2 Protection & Safety

Another reason boxers have their ears cropped is for protection and safety. When working or playing, dogs can sometimes accidentally hit their ears on things. This can cause cuts, scrapes, or even rip a dog’s ears.

Boxers are less likely to sustain these types of injuries by having their ears cropped. In fact, back in the day, Boxer’s ears were cropped specifically for bull-baiting. This was a sport in which dogs were pitted against bulls. 

Cropped ears gave the dogs an advantage, as they prevented the bulls from being able to injure or grab onto their ears.

Ears are delicate, and when they are floppy, they are more susceptible to injury. When they are cropped, this reduces this risk.

#3 Aesthetics

Boxers dog with floppy ears

While some people may think cropped ears look more powerful or regal, others simply think they look better. This is especially true for those who are looking for a traditional-looking Boxer.

Some breeders crop Boxer ears for aesthetic reasons, as it gives the dog a look that they find more appealing. In addition, people who want Boxers as guard dogs for protection want them to look more intimidating.

Cropped ears do that, making the dog look more alert and aggressive. This can help deter intruders or protect property.

#4 Reduce Infections

Another practical reason why Boxers have their ears cropped is to reduce the risk of infection. A dog’s ear flops over can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

This moisture can also lead to yeast infections, which can be painful for dogs. Boxers are less likely to suffer from these types of infections by having their ears cropped.

In addition, when a dog’s ears are floppy, it can be difficult to clean them properly. This can also lead to infection. 

However, there is no scientific evidence backing these claims. In fact, cropped ears could actually increase the risk of infection, as they open and allow debris, dirt, or bacteria to enter the ear canal.

It is important to note that all dogs, regardless of whether or not their ears are cropped, are susceptible to ear infections.

While cropped ears may reduce the risk of infection, it is not a guarantee.

#5 Hearing

Some people believe that cropped ears improve a dog’s hearing. This is because a dog’s ear flops over can block their ear canal, making it difficult for them to hear.

It functions the same way as covering your ears with your hands. But, if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know it reduces your hearing ability.

If something is blocking sound waves from entering the ear, the hearing will be reduced. So cropping a Boxer’s ears could be to improve their hearing.

Why You Might Not Want to Have Your Boxer’s Ears Cropped

Boxers puppy with floppy ears

While there are many reasons why people have Boxer’s ears cropped, there are also some drawbacks. Here are a few things to consider before making the decision to crop your dog’s ears:

Surgical Risk

Any time your dog undergoes surgery, there is a risk involved. There is always the potential for complications or infection.

Many dogs can end up with sensitive ears even after healing from surgery. In fact, some can end with pain that continues to bother them whenever their ears are touched. These risks come with cutting part of a dog’s ears off.

Changes In Their Natural Function

Some people believe that ear cropping can affect a boxer’s natural function. However, when you crop a Boxer’s ears, you are changing the natural structure of their ears.

In fact, one of the main reasons the United Kingdom first banned ear cropping in 2006 was because it affected the natural movement of the dog’s ears.

When a Boxer’s ears are cropped, they do not move in the same way their natural ears do. They cannot pin their ears back, drop or flatten them, so their communication is partially affected.

So a big deterrent to cropping a dog’s ears is reduced communication ability. Dogs use body language, including their ears, to communicate. So without their ears properly functioning, you are giving them a handicap.


Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia. This means it can be expensive, costing between $300-$700. Some surgeons may charge even more.

It is important to factor in the cost when deciding whether or not to crop your Boxer’s ears.

Not Required For Show Quality Dog

If you have a Boxer with uncropped ears, don’t worry – both the AKC and the United Kennel Club (UKC) permit cropped and natural ears as the breed standard. So, you can successfully show your dog in AKC and UKC Conformation.

In fact, Boxers with cropped ears are less common in the UKC show rings. This is due to the ear cropping ban in the United Kingdom. So since it’s uncommon in the UKC and fully prohibited in the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), judges will prefer a dog with natural ears since it conforms more closely to the region’s typical appearance.

The FCI breed standard specifies that Boxer dogs should have natural ears of appropriate size. Therefore, a Boxer with cropped ears would be at a significant disadvantage in the show ring and unlikely to win any blue ribbons.

Boxer Ear Cropping Procedure

Boxers dog with cropped ears

The Boxer ear cropping procedure is usually done when the dog is between eight and twelve weeks old.

The vet will first put the dog under anesthesia, then they will clean and disinfect the area. Once that is done, they will make an incision on the edge of the ear and begin to remove the excess skin. 

After the desired shape is achieved, the vet will then proceed to stitch up the ear. The process usually takes thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the vet’s experience with ear cropping.

How Long Does Ear Cropping Take To Heal?

The incision on the ears heals fairly quickly. However, it takes about two weeks for the scabs to fall off and for the stitches to be removed.

The cartilage in the ears will take longer to heal. It can take up several months for the cartilage to completely heal and for their ears to stand up. During this time, some will consider taping the ears to help them heal in an upright position.

How Much Does Ear Cropping Cost?

The cost of ear cropping will depend on a few different factors, such as the vet you use, the location, and whether or not both ears are being done at the same time.

Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $700 for the procedure. 

Some breeders include ear cropping in the puppy’s price, while others will charge an additional fee. So it is important to ask about this before you make your purchase.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Do Boxer Ears Need To Be Cropped To Enter Dog Shows?

Boxers dog with floppy ears

No, boxers no longer need to have their ears cropped to enter dog shows. In fact, cropped ears are now being discouraged in some show rings.

While there are still some people who prefer the look of cropped ears, it is no longer a requirement. This means that you can show your Boxer regardless of whether or not you decide to crop their ears.

What Is Boxer Ear Taping?

Ear taping is a method to help a Boxer’s ears maintain a specific position. This is often done with cropped ears to help them grow properly. In addition, Ear taping can be done to correct the Boxer’s natural ears. For example, Boxers can develop droopy or “flying nun” ears can be adjusted with ear tapping.

Boxer ear taping is usually done around 3-5 months when the puppy goes through teething.

Final Thoughts

While there is no longer a requirement to crop a Boxer’s ears, many people still choose to do so in certain parts of the world.

The reasons for ear cropping in today’s world vary, but it’s often for aesthetic purposes or to conform to the traditional look of the breed. Whatever the reason, it is important to be informed about the procedure and what it entails before making a decision. 

While risks are involved, the procedure is usually safe and relatively straightforward when done by a qualified vet.

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