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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Veterinarian
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when do you cut a pit bulls ears and tail ...

Customer Question

when do you cut a pit bulls ears and tail
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 8 years ago.

Hi thereCustomer

Thank you for your question regarding your Pitbull and the cropping you want to do. Cropping is a personal choice, but please consider the following points:

The AKC standard for AmStaffs actually states UNcropped is preferred. The UKC APBT standard does not promote cropped over natural.

  • Cropping is a completely COSMETIC AND UNNECESSARY surgery. During surgery, the dog is placed under general anesthesia which ALWAYS brings with it the risk of complications and even death.
  • Cropping IS painful for the dogs, despite what some people try to convince themselves and others; there are tons of sensitive nerve endings in the ears.
  • Ears are one of a dog's main means of communication.
  • If you do choose to crop, it should be done before the puppy is 12 weeks of age. Cropping after this age is more painful for the dog, as the cartilage in the ear has begun to set and harden as the pup gets older.
  • Make sure you choose a vet who crops on a regular basis and is familiar with the correct cut and length for a Pit Bull. It helps to bring a photo of exactly the type of crop job you would like done. RPBF's advice is to look at photos of AKC Am Staff show dogs, as these dogs are usually cropped the correct length and shape.
  • Be prepared for a LOT OF AFTER CARE! Taping, splinting, cleaning, etc. The pup will come back with STICHES all up and down the outside of his ears. If the ears are not properly cared for, they will wrinkle, fall, fold, bend, and generally not stand correctly. The risk of a crop job turning out poorly is enough to keep many people from cropping their dogs; a bad crop job can truly ruin a dog's expression and general appearance.
  • Don't be fooled: cropping IS a major deal. It's not like trimming nails or clipping fur. It is SURGICAL AMPUTATION.

    Owners should carefully consider ALL THE FACTS before they choose to put their dogs through this painful and unnecessary surgery. Ear cropping is usually done around 9 to 11 weeks of age. Any later and the ears may not want to stand. You are trying to find that time when the puppy is old enough to handle the surgery and anesthesia well, but young enough that the cartilage is not set in their ears yet.

    The surgery is done by surgically removing a portion of the ear and suturing the incision then placing the ear in an upright position in some form of rack. Often a tall paper cup or aluminum splint. The ears will need to heal for days before the sutures are removed.

    Follow up care is undoubtedly more difficult and time consuming than the surgery itself and is vital to the ultimate outcome. Leaving sutures longer than 7 days can result in scaring along the ear edge. The ears will still have quite a few scabs at this stage and may be very senstive and bleed yet. It now becomes more difficult to keep the ears in the rack. As the ears heal they itch and drive the pup crazy. A mild sedative may even be advisable for this stage of the healing as the puppy may be quite uncomfortable.

  • Tail docking is typically done on puppies between 3 and 5 days of age. No anesthetic is involved, and the tails are docked to an appropriate length for the breed. Some of the breeds normally docked include the Rottweiler, Doberman pincer, Boxer, Schnauzer, Miniature pincer, Toy Fox Terrier (amongst other terrier breeds), Corgi, Poodle, and Sckipperke to name a few. This procedure is much preferred done while the puppies are less than a week of age. Afterwards, the puppy has to wait until it is of age appropriate for anesthesia, which is much more involving a procedure, with a much longer healing process. There is also associated pain with the procedure when done on an older animal, and complications include bleeding, premature stitch removal by the dog, poor healing of the area, and more chances for scarring to occur.

    Unless the dog is being utilized for show purposes in the conformation ring, tail docking is best left undone if beyond the age of 5-7 days. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has recently made a statement with regards XXXXX XXXXX tail docking in the dog. Essentially, and ultimately the AVMA would like to see this type of cosmetic procedure discontinued for cosmetic purposes only.

    For more info on both of these procedures please visit

    Thank you and please now click ACCEPT.

    Kind Regards,

    Dr M D Edwards

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