If your best friend is a Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Schnauzer, or Pit Bull … not to mention other breeds, you may be trying to decide whether or not to have your puppy cut his ears.
There are several important things to consider, first, do you have a vet around to perform the procedure? It seems that less and less do. Do some research to find out who does it in your area. There is a lot of follow-up care and it is important to have the vet close by. Most veterinarians do not want to be responsible for following up on this procedure if they are unfamiliar with the surgery.
Second, before starting down this path, make sure your pup has received his vaccinations and deworming procedures. Make sure you are eating a good quality and above all very healthy. These things will help you heal faster than if your system was compromised.
Ear trimming is usually done around 9-11 weeks of age. Later, the ears may not want to stop. You are trying to find that time when the puppy is old enough to handle surgery and anesthesia well, but young enough that the cartilage has not yet set in his ears.
The surgery is performed by surgically removing a part of the ear and suturing the incision, then placing the ear upright in some type of support. Often a tall paper cup or aluminum splint. The ears will need to heal for days before the stitches are removed.
Follow-up care is undoubtedly more difficult and time-consuming than the surgery itself and is vital to the end result.
Leaving sutures for more than 7 days can cause scarring along the edge of the ear. The ears will still be quite crusted at this stage and may be very tender and still bleed. Now it is more difficult to keep the ears on the rack.
As the ears heal, they itch and drive the puppy crazy. Diluting betadine and Neosporin can help the healing process and alleviate some of the itchiness, however it can also loosen the tape that is used to secure the ears, so stay away from the tape if you can.
Even a mild sedative may be advisable for this stage of healing, as the puppy may feel quite uncomfortable.
Find out the veterinarians’ hours of operation for future reference. The ears are very susceptible to lowering from now until they stand up.
NEVER try to cover your ears with tape unless your vet has taught you to do so.
If you tape around the raw edge of the ear, or if you do it too hard, you can cut off circulation to the ear very quickly, causing it to die and fall off. Happens. There is no repair for an ear that has died and fallen out.
The ears will remain on the shelf for 17 to 21 days until they are fully healed and begin to stand up on their own. From here they will be wrapped in soft cotton wraps with duct tape and will stay that way until they are standing up. Usually your vet will want to check them every 10 to 14 days if the puppy leaves the bandages on for that long.
If, or rather when, your puppy sticks his ears out of whatever device he’s in, it’s vital that you take him to the vet in about an hour. The longer the ears stay down, the longer it takes for them to stand up.
It may be a good idea to take a crash course on the dos and don’ts of emergency recording in case you have a mishap on a weekend or holiday.
A breed with short ears, such as a pit bull or schnauzer, will have faster results. Dobermans, Danes, and Boxers will take longer because they have a better ear to fight gravity. Post-surgery healing and aftercare play an important role in how long it takes to have a finished ear, but genetics, as much as anything else, is the biggest influence.
Some ears stand up quickly, others can take months. The longest I have known was my own dog, Dharma. She is a beautiful boxer who took 10 months to get the desired result. Most take about 3-4 months total.
Make sure you are ready for this endeavor. It’s a lot to go through for you and your puppy, but create a beautiful profile and a very distinct look specific to your breed of choice.