Traditionally, Affenpinschers have been shown in competition with cropped ears. Originally, ear cropping was done on "working" dogs such as terriers or hunting dogs to save their ears from being injured while they were working, and the practice has continued because many dog fanciers felt that the cropped ears completed the look of the dog. Today, cropped ears are no longer a requirement in kennel clubs and the choice is left up to the owner of the dog if he wants to have the procedure done.
Affenpinschers generally have their ears cropped between eight weeks and four to five months in age. Some breeders prefer to have the procedure done with a trusted veterinarian before the puppy is sold, while it may be up to the owner to find their own veterinarian. Owners are highly recommended to search out a referral from other Affenpinscher owners to find a veterinarian with experience in cropping ears.
The surgery generally requires an overnight stay at the veterinarian's office. The dog will be sedated and then the ears are marked where the incisions will be made. Then the ears are clipped, sutured and disinfected. At that point, the ears are often taped and covered to help shape the ears, although often Affenpinschers do not have to have their ears taped because their ears are usually small enough to stand on their own without assistance. Sometimes, dogs will stay at the veterinarian's office for several days because the ears tend to bleed a little a couple of days after surgery. The veterinarian and his staff will also be close at hand to monitor the ears and help the dog manage his pain.
Whether the ears are taped or not, they will need to be covered for at least three weeks while the ears are healing, as they are very prone to infection at this stage. The puppy will see the veterinarian seven days after the surgery to have the sutures removed, and it is not unusual to see the veterinarian once or twice after that if the puppy has managed to remove the ear covering.
Falling out of favor?
Recently, questions have been raised about the ethics of ear cropping. Those that are against the practice ask why puppies are put through the painful surgery if the procedure is not medically necessary. In fact, the practice has been banned in countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and Germany.
Others complain that as long as kennel club judges favor dogs with cropped ears over natural ears, the practice will continue. The breed standard for Affenpinschers, written by the Affenpinschers Club of America, states that ears may be "cropped to a point, set high and standing erect; or natural, standing erect, semi-erect or dropped". Some breeders have begun showing Affenpinschers with natural ears and are even finding some success in the competition ring.
Ultimately, it is up to each owner to make the decision to have his puppies ears cropped or left natural. No matter where you stand, it is important to consider both sides of the issue before making a decision.