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May 27, 2020

Ear cropping for Caucasian Shepherds

If you’ve been exploring the possibilities of getting a Caucasian Shepherd as your guard dog, the issue of ear cropping surely came into discussion in your research and investigation regarding the needs of the breed. The Caucasian Mountain Dog falls into the category of working dogs, shepherds, which used to have ear cropping as a standard for their breed but things have changed in our recent times. Let us take a closer look at the perspectives on dog ear cropping and see how these apply to the Caucasian Shepherd.

Beginnings and purpose of ear cropping in dogs

Like any practice, the cropping of the ears in dogs started out for practical reasons, for working dogs and dogs which were involved in fights. Dogs were long used to protect flocks of animals from predators, so they needed to be in best shape for a possible fight with a wild animal such as a wolf, a boar or a bear. 

People started noticing that some of the weak spots of the dogs were the long ears, as the other animals would easily grab them with their teeth in a fight and decrease the dog’s strength because of the pain. So they started cropping the ears of the puppies soon after they were born so that they would grow with their ears short and also not have a memory of pain. 

There are also some breeds of hunting dogs used for game and large prey such as boars which were considered safer if their ears were cropped. 

Here are some of the breeds that have evolved into the standard of ear cropping: guard dogs such as the Doberman Pischer, Scnauzer, Boxer, Great Dane, Cane Corso or dog breeds used for fighting such as the Pit bull, Bull terrier, Amstaff or Dogo Argentino.The Caucasian Shepherd ears also became part of this protocol of cropping because of their initial exposure to fighting with wild animals and over years it became a standard of the breed and one criteria for many breeders when delivering top competition dogs.

Modern reasons for ear cropping

In the past century people started turning ear cropping in dogs into something fashionable, cosmetic, setting some breed standards according to these criteria. The procedure is performed to puppies ages 7-12 weeks under anesthesia and up to two thirds of the ears may be cropped. 

Although legislation in many countries started to put a ban on ear cropping and tail docking, it is hard to replace some of the breed standards when it comes to exhibits and competitions. That’s why some breeders continue to crop and dock, so as to score high in competitions. 

There are different views on the benefits and disadvantages brought to the health of the animal due to this ear cropping practice. There are two main benefits to the practice: better sense of hearing due to the removal of the ear flaps and a reduction of ear infections or hematomas. However, because very few of the dogs are actually used nowadays as they were used before and risked fighting other animals, the practical use of the cropping is no longer a reason for doing it. 

Present situation and legislation

After the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals became effective in 1992, many European countries signed and ratified it, thus banning the practices of ear cropping and tail docking. In America and Canada it is still practiced and part of the breed standards in some competitions, although the American Veterinary Medical Association encourages the removal of such standards in competitions and advocates against cropping and docking for cosmetic purposes. 

In conclusion, ear cropping is nowadays still widely used with cosmetic purposes, despite of the ban, as it has been for a long time part of the standard appearance of some breeds. In case of the Caucasian Shepherd, ear cropping was for a long time a standard of the breed and for some countries, the breed standards have remained the same. So it seems we are slowly adapting to the new legislations, slowly leaving cropping practices aside.

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