At What Age Can You Crop a Doberman’s Ears?

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A Doberman with newly cropped ears.

When I first brought home my Doberman Pinscher puppy, I was absolutely in love with him. I knew I wanted him to reach his full potential both physically and aesthetically. Like any proud Dad, I was convinced I had the best looking dog of them all. So I made the decision to get his ears cropped

As the weeks ticked by I remember wondering at what age I should be getting his ears cropped. I made some calls, talked to very reputable veterinarians who have worked with some world famous show Dobermans, and eventually got my answer. Along with some other very useful information for someone considering cropping their Dobermans ears.

At What Age Can You Crop a Doberman’s Ears? A Doberman’s ears are generally cropped when the dog is between 7 and 9 weeks old. However, some veterinarians will perform the procedure as late as 12 weeks. Any later than 12 weeks of age and it isn’t likely that the dog’s ears will stand because the cartilage in the ear has hardened.

A veterinarian who is experienced with Doberman ear cropping can look at your dog’s ears and make a determination on how late cropping can be done. Since every dog is different, there are other things the veterinarian will look for, other than just age, to determine if ear cropping is possible.

Why The Short Window of Time?

While dog owners of other breeds might tell you that you can get your dog’s ears cropped at any time, this is not the case for Doberman Pinschers. There is only a small window of time when you should get your Doberman’s ears cropped. There are a few reasons for this.

  • If the ears are cropped when the dog is too young it will be very difficult for the veterinarian to tell what the future proportions of the ear will be. This can lead to unusual looking ears when the dog is older. The youngest a Doberman can be at the time of ear cropping is 6 weeks of age.
  • If the ears are cropped when the dog is too old the cartilage in the ear has already hardened into a flat shape. This means the cartilage in the ear will never harden in a more rounded, vertical standing manner. The oldest a Doberman can be at the time of ear cropping is generally considered to be about 12 weeks of age.
  • The ideal age for a Doberman to get their ears cropped is generally 7-9 weeks of age.

The cartilage in a Doberman’s ears gets thicker and harder with time. A cropping procedure when the dog is too old will also mean increased discomfort since the cartilage being cut is much thicker than in a younger dog.

The good news here is that every dog is different. So although these numbers are a good baseline to go off of, a good veterinarian will want to see your dog in person before deciding if ear cropping is an option.

Cooper the Doberman puppy with newly cropped ears.
This is my puppy Cooper soon after we had his ears cropped. This day the veterinarian advised us to leave his ears unbandaged for a day.

When they examine your dog in person, they are checking the ear to see if it is growing in an expected manner. They are also checking the thickness and flexibility of the cartilage in the ear.

Even if your dog is slightly outside the age ranges listed above for ear cropping, it may still be a possibility for you.

Ear Cropping Older Doberman’s

Cropping a Doberman’s ears after about the age of 12 weeks old is generally not successful and most veterinarians won’t perform the procedure. However, as I mentioned above, no two dogs are the same and after a physical examination, the vet should be able to tell you if it is possible to crop your dog’s ears.

Older Doberman’s have had their ears successfully cropped because their ear cartilage was unusually thin, or still unusually flexible at an older age. Also, if the owner desires a shorter ear crop, that also makes it more likely to be successful at an older age. That is because the longer the ears are, the more difficult it is to get them to stand.

Some people will suggest that you can get any dog’s ear’s cropped at any age. This is not the case at all with Doberman’s. If you crop your dog’s ears outside the recommended age range given to you by your veterinarian after a physical exam, your dog’s ears will likely never stand.

Some Veterinarians will agree to crop older Doberman’s even after their ear cartilage has hardened. They compensate for the hardened ear cartilage usually by inserting an implant into the ears to make them stand up. This is a relatively new procedure that sometimes involves inserting a small wire into the ear after cropping.

It is unclear at this time how much discomfort is experienced by the dog with this implant so I personally wouldn’t want to do it. Don’t let your dog be your vet’s experiment! Besides, floppy-eared Dobermans are insanely cute, according to my wife.

Why Ear Cropping is Done

Cropping a dog’s ears is becoming a more controversial topic as the years go by. Personally, I don’t completely understand why, I mean we regularly dock a dog’s tail, remove their dewclaws, and spay or neuter them without much thought. However, the ear procedure seems to strike a different chord with some people.

I am not here to tell you that you should or shouldn’t get your Doberman’s ears cropped. I think it’s a very personal decision and whether cropped or uncropped, a Doberman is still a great family dog. What I will tell you are the reasons why some people choose to get their Doberman’s ears cropped.

  • It’s their traditional look. Cropped ears are the traditional look for a Doberman. This was originally done because they were bred to be guard dogs. Docking the tail and cropping the ears made the dog harder to hold onto (no handholds).
  • It improves hearing. Cropping the ears removes a large flap a skin that directly covers their ears from the outside world. This was another way to help them be better guard dogs.
  • It can help to reduce ear infections. The increased airflow into the ear can help to keep the ears drier. A dry ear is less likely to develop ear infections. However, Doberman’s are not more prone to ear infections than other breeds.
  • For dog shows. If you plan to have your dog compete in dog shows, you will generally want your Doberman’s ears to be cropped.

There are many reasons someone might want to crop their dog’s ears, but in the end, it’s up to you to decide. Luckily, modern cropping techniques involve numbing medication and full anesthesia to minimalize the discomfort to the dog.

Finding a Good Veterinarian to Do the Ear Cropping

Make sure you take your time and put in the effort to choosing a good veterinarian to do the procedure. Please don’t just go to the first one you find. This is a big procedure and you want your new family friend to be as comfortable as possible.

There are a few things you’ll want to look for when trying to choose a veterinarian to crop your pup’s ears:

  1. Try asking reputable Doberman breeders what veterinarian they use to crop their dog’s ears. If a long time Doberman breeder uses them, they probably have plenty of experience and do good work.
  2. When you talk to the veterinarian for the first time, ask how long they’ve been cropping Doberman’s ears and if they have photos of past dog’s they’ve done. Any reputable vet who crops ears should have a portfolio of pictures showing past dogs they’ve done the procedure on.
  3. Ask about how they do the cropping and ensure they use modern, humane techniques. Ensure they use numbing medication and put your dog under anesthesia for the procedure.
  4. Make sure they have experience cropping Doberman ears specifically. All breeds of dogs have slightly different ears. You want a veterinarian familiar and experienced with Dobermans.

Take your time and find a vet who answers all your questions and makes you feel at ease. If you don’t have a good feeling about them, keep looking.

See the Veterinarian in person. It will give you a better idea of how they run their business. I was very happy when I found my vet, her office was clean, I ran into multiple other Doberman’s in the waiting room (their owners all had great things to say about the vet), and she was great at making me feel at ease.

The cost to get your Doberman’s ears cropped can vary from anywhere between a few hundred dollars, to over a thousand. The price really does vary widely so definitely get multiple quotes before you decide where to get it done. Feel free to take a look at 11 real price quotes we received for Doberman ear cropping to get an idea of how the price differs by the veterinarian.

Strong Doberman with good muscle definition.
This Doberman has a medium length ear crop that appears a little on the shorter side (but not quite a full “working crop”). Your veterinarian should be able to show you example pictures of the various lengths before you have the proceedure performed.

Ear Cropping Styles

It’s important to clarify with your veterinarian what style of ear crop they will give your Doberman. You want to make sure you two are on the same page. There are three basic types of ear crops for Doberman Pinschers.

  • Show Crop: This is the longest crop and your Doberman will have very tall ears as you see at dog shows. If you are going to show your dog someday, obviously this is what you will want to get. This is also the most difficult type of crop to make stand up and generally requires that the dog’s ears are “posted” for a longer period of time after the surgery (held in the upright position by a post and bandages).
  • Medium Crop: This results in a shorter ear than the show crop and is a good mid-range choice. The sweeping curve of the show crop is still present although the ear is not as tall. This is what my dog has, and it looks great!
  • Working Crop: This is the shortest of all ear crops. A veterinarian might recommend this if they are not confident they will be able to get the ears to stand up (if the cropping was done at an older age for example). These ears are very short but stand up quickly and reliably after surgery. Very little posting time is required after surgery.

Your vet should be able to show you photographs of all three styles so you can pick which is best for your dog.

For an idea of what you should expect to pay for ear cropping, have a look at the article I wrote all about Doberman prices and expenses.

Related Questions

At what age should a Doberman’s tail be docked? Tail docking is usually done on Doberman Pinscher puppies when they are between 2 and 5 days of age. Their tails can be docked as late as 13 weeks of age, although this is considered to be a more significant surgery with longer recovery times the older the dog gets.

How long does it take for a dog to heal from ear cropping? Generally, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for a dog’s ears to heal after an ear cropping procedure. Although this can vary based on the individual dog and the length of the crop as longer length ear crops take longer to heal and stand on their own.

Can you tape a Doberman’s ears without cropping them? Although it is possible to tape (or “post”) a Doberman’s ears and train them to stand without cropping them, this practice is rarely done and very often not successful. Fully erect, uncropped ears on a Doberman will look similar in shape and size to that of a German Shepherd.

John Walter and Cooper, his Doberman Pinscher.

About the author

John Walter is a Family Doberman Specialist, holds a CPD certification in Canine Communication, and is an active dog trainer specializing in the Doberman Pinscher breed. He's been quoted in Doberman Network Magazine, Bark Magazine, Doberman Dispatch, and he's the founder of Doberman Planet. Learn More

19 thoughts on “At What Age Can You Crop a Doberman’s Ears?”

  1. Hi John, thank you so much for your website
    I will be picking up my puppy in a few weeks, he’ll be 8 weeks old. Both the breeder and the vet doing the ear cropping are about an hour and a half from my home. I’m thinking about picking up the puppy and then directly going to the vet to get his ears cropped, but I wonder if it might be too stressful for the puppy to have the procedure done and then go to a strange place ( my home), with or would it be better for me to introduce him to his new home for a few days before having the procedure done.
    What do you think? Thank you

    • That’s a great question Kathy, one that I haven’t exactly considered before! To be honest, Doberman pups at that age seem to handle the cropping incredibly well and are usually jumping around being themselves right afterward from what I’ve seen (depending on how your vet does the procedure). I’m not sure what the “right” answer is here, but my instinct is that it would be fine to do it all at the same time. They will be uncomfortable their first night or two with you anyway, and the ear cropping doesn’t appear to cause much discomfort itself. If I had to guess, I’d say the change of environment and being away from Mom will be much more or a stressor than the ear procedure. Those are my thoughts on the topic anyway! Hopefully it’s been somewhat helpful!

  2. Hi! I’m about to rescue 3 year old male doberman and his ears are not crop. I will like to have his ears crops. Is it to late for him to have it done.

    • Hi Eme, yeah it would be too late by pretty much all accounts at that age. You generally don’t want to go too much older than about 12 weeks old since the ear cartilage hardens soon after that and the ear cropping is unlikely to be successful. Especially at the age of 2 or 3 years old.

  3. This is our first Doberman. She’s 9 weeks old and had her ears cropped 10 days ago. The vet up north said to wait 14 days to heal them post. Do the scabs fall on their own?? Could you please make a posting video as there are not vets in my area that post nor are knowledgeable about it. Help please! I don’t want to mess her ears up

    • Hi Esmeralda, your vet should be able to provide a demonstration on ear posting. If not, there are certainly many videos online to help you. The method I use for my dog is the “zip tie ear posting method” which involves the use of Torbot surgical glue to hold things in place. It’s a common method and you should be able to find info on that online as well. I do plan to do a video but it’s a ways off and don’t want you waiting for that information. The scabs will fall off on their own eventually. Usually a few weeks after the procedure. Some people say you should pull them off, but I’m not a believer of that personally. Definitely always follow your vet’s recommendations.

  4. Hi, just a quick question about ear posting. The vet who is going to do my dogs ears asked whether I wanted them posted immediately after surgery.She said some people are waiting a week after surgery before doing the first ear posting. What are your thoughts? Is this something that should be done immediately after surgery to get the best results? Thanks and great website!

    • I guess my opinion would depend on the age the dog was when cropped. Generally, posting the ears immediately after surgery does cause some increased discomfort for your dog during the first posting change. Waiting doesn’t usually risk anything except the ears not standing if you’re really unlucky and the ear cartilage hardens right in that small window of time. If the dog was cropped young, at like 7 or 8 weeks of age for example, then I love the idea of at least waiting a few days before posting. But I’d definitely rely on the recommendations of your veterinarian.

    • It usually takes between 4 and 8 months. The longer crops (such as the show crop) take longer to stand than the shorter ones like the military crop.

  5. Hi :), it’s true that other surgeries apart from ear cropping are common, but they are mainly for medical reasons. My dog has uncropped ears and looks beautiful. Why would anyone cause pain and suffering for no good reason. I hope the trend for crowd ears diminishes.

    • My next doberman will have cropped ears, because I like the look and as a vet student, I know that in the long run it’s better for my dog. It’s a case of nature vs natural in this sort of situation; wolves have erect ears for a reason, we have bred dogs for aesthetic purposes, to have floppy ears. Plus, I want my dog to look more intimidating then my current Dobie becasue he is my service dog but people just walk up and pet/distract him becasue he looks like a sweet not-so-little deer. So truly its preference and if you choose to keep your dogs ears natural, that’s fine! But trust me, dogs with cropped ears dont hope through any suffering 🙂

  6. Hi! I have a European doberman and I was wondering if you had any tips for training. It is extremely hard to walk him since he is very strong and I want to get him more comfortable with other dogs. (I love your website it’s amazing you must put a lot of effort into this.)

    • Hi Leanna! Thank you so much for the kind words! Glad you are getting a lot from the site. Leash training can be a long road and a bit too much to answer here. But the basic concept is to make the walk not fun for your Doberman if he pulls on the leash. Most do this with the “stop and backup” method. If he pulls, stop walking, and backup. Then stop and wait for a few seconds and begin walking forward again. The first few times out it might seem like you’re hardly walking. But if you are very consistent (this is key), eventually your Dobie will get the idea. There is a lot more online about this technique. As far as getting him comfortable with other dogs… Heavy socialization is the only way to do this. Repeated exposure over and over. I’ll have more on these topics on my site shortly!

  7. I live in South Orange County Ca. When I get my 8 1/2 week puppy she will have had her ears cropped. I would like to find a vet to do the after care and posting. I have been calling around and can not find one closer than Riverside. Do you know of anyone in southern Ca that might be able to help me find someone. Thank you

    • Hi Sara, I don’t! I’m really sorry. I know of a vet in the Sacramento area that offers aftercare services, but not down near you. It’s a great idea though because then you have a pro keeping an eye on things every step of the way! It can just be a little pricey is all. Good luck to you!

  8. Hi, we have a male Doberman, he is 6 mths old, we like to have his ear crops but don’t know where to go, I am current live in Elk grove, California,
    Would you or any one recommend a vet for me,
    That would be appreciated


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