Ear cropping, though a personal decision for many owners, is a truly fundamental aspect of Cane Corso tradition. We do not incorrectly refer to a dog with un-cropped ears as having 'natural' ears. In nature there is no such thing as floppy ears that close off the ear canal like the man-made breeds of dogs we have created. It is not natural for dogs to have long floppy ears that hang over their ear canals closing them off to the air and light. Cropping restores a functional, upright ear.
With a working dog cropped ears are more difficult for other animals to bite or people to grip. An un-croped ear is easily wounded, and ear wounds will bleed heavily. If a working dog ends up being dragged down by his own ears, and/or blinded by its own blood from an ear wound, that dog is put at a serious disadvantage, its ability to perform may be compromised, and the dog itself may be endangered. Cropping the ear and removing the “handles” to grip and tear, virtually eliminates the possibility that a part of the dog’s own body could be used against itself to impair and/or to immobilize it.
If you have more than one Cane Corso, this will become an important factor in your consideration. The Cane Corso is a high drive dog, and these guys are very rough-and-tumble. They love to play, and they play hard. Big floppy ears will quickly become handles for another dog to bite, hang on to, drag around, and hang off of. You may end up with several trips to the vet to have un-cropped ears stitched back up. Nicks, cuts, and tears are very common when un-cropped Corsos play together.
Ear wounds are generally not serious or life threatening. They can be easily stitched up by a vet, and infection prevented with antibiotics. Ear wounds will however scar, usually badly, after stitching. Oftentimes blood flow thru the ear is compromised resulting in incorrect healing and partial loss of the ear despite your vet's best efforts. The potential of this happening repeatedly must be considered up front. Also consider that ear wounds bleed profusely and when a dog gets a stinging ear cut and shakes his head you will end up with a lot of blood splattered and flung everywhere (walls, windows, furniture, floor, ceiling, yourself, etc).
Cropping your Cane Corso's ears not only prevents injuries, but will also result in a healthier life for your dog by helping to prevent ear infections, repeated trips to the vet, and antibiotic treatments for your dog.
On a health level, dogs with un-cropped floppy ears tend to be prone to ear infections and will spend more of their life on antibiotics as a result. These floppy ears are a variation of what is natural, created by man, as a direct result of our human influence and intervention with selective breeding and shaping of dogs to meet our preferences in type. Infections, mites, ticks, and bacteria thrive in dark, moist, warm environments, (such as is created in an ear canal covered by a floppy hanging ear). The way to prevent such problems is to provide a light, dry, clean environment in the ears as when the ear is cropped to an upright position.
Chronic ear infections are very painful for your dog, and can lead to permanent hearing loss. Many dogs with chronic ear infections have an infection in the middle ear (or bulla). If this is not identified and treated, the ear infection remains hidden and frequently re-infects the outer ear canal leading to continued pain and potential hearing loss.
Despite recent pushes to the contrary, by pencil pushers and animal rights activists, the fact remains that cropping a dog’s ears is NOT cruel when done with appropriate modern veterinary medicine. It actually restors the ear back to a natural state for the improved health and comfort of the dog.
Puppies are usually cropped between 8-12 weeks of age. While it is possible to crop older puppies/dogs, as the pup matures the weight of the hanging ear begins to break the cartilage down. As a result, when a pup is cropped at an older age it becomes more difficult to get the ear to stand upright.
The ear crop process is very simple and done by a licensed veterinarian, and much less invasive than a spay or neuter operation. The pups are sedated and anesthetized (unconscious) during the brief surgery. The ears are cropped, the edges are stitched, and the pups are awake again 15 minutes later. Within a couple hours they are alert, hungry, and ready to go home. The next day pups are back to their normal selves, eating and playing as if nothing had happened. Often the edges of the ear are coated with salve for about a week while healing, and the stitches come out in 7-10 days. The process is that simple, and not invasive.
Choosing The Right Vet for a Correct Cane Corso Ear Crop:
Choosing a vet to crop your Cane Corso pup's ears for you is a very important decision. While there are many vets that can and will crop ears, there are not many that know what a Cane Corso is, or are familiar with what a correct Corso crop should be. We STRONGLY recommend that you make sure your vet has experience with Cane Corso crops and can show you at least 4-5 photos of adult Cane Corso dogs he has cropped. We have seen entirely too many dogs get bad crops from vets that claimed to know what they were doing.
Submitted by Laura Essenmacher