Some breeds of dogs through the ages have traditionally been recognized partly by the distinctive look of their head; cropped ears have been a trademark for these breeds. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers and Great Danes come to mind right away. And even many of the smaller breeds such as the Miniature Schnauzer have traditionally had their ears surgically cropped to give them a distinctive appearance.
Ear cropping is an optional cosmetic surgery performed by a licensed veterinarian with a purpose to enable the ears to stand erect. Usually recommended to be done around the age of 8-10 weeks old, the procedure is performed in sterile conditions, under anesthesia and with pain medicine. The ears are then cut in a way that instead of flopping down to the side of the head, they would stand erect on the head (after a series of proper taping).
The newly cropped (surgically altered) ears are required a period of bandaging and administrating of antibiotics/pain relieve drugs till the ears are fully healed and then a series of proper taping techique is employed in order to train the ears to stand. The proper taping techique is essential for the ears to ultimately stand, and if not done sufficiently, the ears may never erect correctly. The longer the ear crop length is kept, the more time and consistency is required for its taping.
Ear cropping is a difficult decision for many purebred dog owners and it should be an informed choice. In our modern times, many people have come to question the need or advisability of cropping the ears of dogs. The aspect of animal cruelty comes into play in that many people will argue that there is no medical, physical, environmental or cosmetic advantage for the dog to have the pinnas (the ear flaps) surgically altered. And to subject any dog to the "disfiguring" and unnecessary surgical procedure and subsequent taping and bandaging that sometimes needs to be done after the surgery amounts to animal cruelty and is indefensible. There are others that will argue that for some dogs, the cropped ear will help prevent ear canal infections and make the opportunity for pinna trauma and infection much less likely. They will state that the ear cropping is no different philosophically or ethically than any elective surgery such as spaying and neutering or removing protruding dew claws.
It is already against the law to crop ears on dogs in many countries including the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore, Cyprus, and the Virgin Islands. The list of countries imposing ban on ear croppping is extending each year.