Doberman Pinschers naturally have floppy ears of medium length. In order to have the pointed ears that many associate with the Doberman Pinscher, it is necessary to do the cosmetic surgery that is known as ear cropping.
Ear cropping surgery is done when a Doberman Pinscher is approximately seven or eight weeks of age and is performed under a general anesthetic, so it is important that your puppy doesn't eat during the twelve hours before the procedure is done. The surgery usually takes about thirty minutes, in which the ears are cut and sutured. For the first week, the puppy will have his ears in a rack or in a cup, and then he will visit the veterinarian to have the sutures removed. The puppy will then go another week or so with the rack or cups until the ears have healed.
Once the ears have fully healed, the ears will be taped in order to encourage them to stand erect on their own. For Dobermans, taping will generally need to be done for about four to five months, and in the worst case it can take up to a year for the ears to stand without the assistance of tape.
There are three different types of ear cropping for Doberman Pinschers which are largely left up to the owners depending on their taste. The smallest version is called the military crop, in which the ears are shortest in length but has a wide base, or bell. These crops usually don't take as long to stand as the others.
The medium crop is slightly longer than the military crop with a smaller bell. The longest crop is called the show crop, which is both longer in length and narrower at the base.
Over the last twenty years, ear cropping has come into a negative light, as more and more people are claiming that ear cropping for cosmetic reasons is ethically wrong. The practice has been outlawed in many countries around the world, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and Germany. As a result, while the practice is still allowed in the United States, veterinarians that are experts in the procedure are becoming fewer and more difficult to find. The breed standard of the Doberman Pinscher still states that ears are "normally cropped and carried erect," leaving many owners who wish to show their dogs feeling that they cannot possibly win with dogs that have natural ears. Ultimately, the decision will be up to the owner.
Proceed with Caution
As more veterinarians refuse to carry out ear cropping, it is very important to find a vet that has experience in the procedure if you've decided to have your Doberman's ears cropped. The best method for you is to seek the advice of a local Doberman breeder or handler, ask for a referral for a vet with experience, and learn about the commitment you'll have to take in order to have your puppy's ears stand properly.