American Bully Ear Cropping Facts

  • Time to read: 9 min.

The American Bully is a fairly new breed of dog. It was “developed” in the 1990s, with its parent breed being the pit bull terrier. Many American Bully breeders like to crop their dogs’ ears from a young age.

Ear cropping your American Bully is a surgical procedure that makes the ears permanently stand up into points. Breeders employ the procedure for cosmetic purposes such as entry into dog shows. Ear cropping also makes the American Bully appear more alert and intimidating.

As you read this article, you’ll find important information about ear cropping for your American Bully. You’ll learn when (and if) it should be done, why, and by whom. So go get a fresh cup of coffee, and we’ll begin.

Ear Cropping Defined

So what exactly is ear cropping? There’s an old writing trope that goes something like this: “His ears cropped up.” If you’ve ever read it, you may have pictured the character’s ears rising to a point so as to hear better. Bingo! You’re on the right track.

Ear cropping is a form of elective surgery done while the dog is still a puppy. An animal doctor will cut the floppy part of the ear off, then anchor the remaining part against a rigid surface. The rigid surface influences the ear to grow into an upward-facing point.

Ear cropping will do a couple of things for your American Pit Bull. First, it will gain the perpetual look of being at full attention; even when the dog falls asleep during obedience school class, the teacher will think it’s listening. Second, because the ears are so pointy, you’ll be able to play ring toss with this guy like nobody’s business, so long as you make sure the dog is in a good mood before you begin.

Okay, that’s enough bad jokes for now. There is of course more to ear cropping than meets the eye. Or is it the ear? Let’s move on to some of the reasons people have for cropping an American Bully’s ears.

Why Crop an American Bully Dog’s Ears?

Guys like Michael Vick might tell you that ear cropping gets done to make dogs look tougher or more fierce. And while this might be true, by subjective definition if nothing else, cropping a dog’s ears strictly for cosmetic purposes is widely considered to be unethical by both breeders and veterinarians. However, the practice is not entirely without validity.

American Bully owners may choose to have their dogs’ ears cropped because they believe it improves the breed’s quality of life. Fear of parasites and physical ear injuries top the list of reasons owners like to have their American Bully ears cropped.

I will point out here that there is no actual science to support any of these reasons. The main purpose for ear cropping, in any breed of dog, remains cosmetic.

As we consider the reasons to crop an American Bully’s ears, it’s important to remember that this breed didn’t come into being without design; instead, they are a product of at least five other breeds, created from a pinch of this and a dash of that. Holding this fact in mind, the argument that ear cropping “isn’t natural” doesn’t hold water, because the breed itself owes its existence to human contrivance.

Some American Bully owners feel that leaving the breed’s ears uncropped attracts mites and bacteria more easily. Other owners are concerned about a “floppy” ear getting snagged on fences or doors. More owners still feel like a cropped ear provides their dog with better hearing.

When To Have Your American Bully’s Ears Cropped

All of these reasons are debated within pet care communities and are largely proven to be untrue. Indeed, some kennels and veterinarians will tell you flat out that there are no benefits whatsoever to ear cropping. Later in this article I will provide more information about the politics of ear cropping, and whether or not the procedure is dangerous.

Purchasing an American Bully is as easy as locating a breeder who’s willing to sell. You’ll find that the puppies are not cheap—they can run for as much as $7000 each. This is some truly serious money; not long after you spend it, it’ll be time to consider ear cropping.

The best time to crop an American Bully’s ears is while the dog is still very young—between six and 12 weeks old. Being so young, the bully is less likely to be traumatized by the experience, simply because it won’t remember it happening.

Also, with the ears not yet fully developed, they are more likely to grow into the “point” desired by owners. Finally, a puppy is easier for surgeons to deal with than, say, a brawny adult that’s already popped its share of red pills about what it’s like to live life as a dog.

Waiting until the American Bully is fully grown is waiting too long. You may never find a reputable veterinarian or animal surgeon to perform the task. Most states—and indeed, most countries—consider it a form of animal cruelty to crop the ears of an adult dog. (This last point should make for a kind of yellow flag about ear cropping altogether).

Ear cropping will most likely scare your little puppy, if only for a short time. But besides fear, is there anything else a puppy owner should worry about?

Is American Bully Ear Cropping Dangerous?

You have an eight-week-old American Bully you’ve just purchased for a whopping five thousand dollars. Now you’re considering having the little fellow’s ears cropped. Are the risks worth the rewards?

Ear cropping could be dangerous. It is a surgical procedure and, as with any kind of surgery, nothing is 100% guaranteed. Parlous side-effects from anesthesia and during recovery, while not common, can occur. Your veterinarian will go over such risks with you in detail.

Animal surgeons typically use Ketamine for anesthesia on dogs, which is widely considered safe. It is a dissociative analgesic, meaning that the puppy will experience a lack of connection with awareness, memory, and its surroundings. When used on dogs, the drug has a solid overall track record. Side-effects are not common but can include:

  • Increased pulse
  • Tremors
  • Slow recovery time or coming to alertness

If you’ve had your American Bully’s ears cropped, you must also guard against the risk of infection during recovery time. This and other caveats will be analyzed in the following sections.

Prepping Your American Bully Pup for Ear Cropping

Ear cropping is a delicate procedure that requires a bit of preparation. The surgeon will meet with you and your dog to discuss risks, expectations, and costs. This is also a time for you to ask questions, so fire away.

The surgeon will examine your puppy to ensure it’s healthy and up to date on all necessary vaccinations. Assuming everything is good to this point, you’ll receive instructions to follow on the night before surgery. (The instructions aren’t complicated; the most important part is to fast the puppy for 12 hours beforehand).

On the day of the surgery, you will confirm with the clinic where you would like the puppy’s ears cropped. Beyond this, it’s all in the hands of the professionals—that is, until it’s time for the puppy to come home.

American Bully Ear Cropping Recovery Time—How Long?

After your puppy comes home from ear cropping surgery, it is imperative that you follow a set of instructions provided by the surgeon. Proper healing, getting the ears to grow just right, and comfort for the patient are all top priorities. After all, he’s your dog.

Recovery time for American Bully ear cropping takes three weeks to three months. Determiners include how well the puppy heals and how long it takes for the cropped ears to look good to the owner. Potential complications range from ear infections to the puppy reopening a bandaged suture.

The puppy will go home with bandaged ears, plus one of those Elizabethan collars that look like a funnel. Make sure the puppy wears this E-collar for two weeks; do not remove the collar for any reason. The owner—that’s you—will also be given medications for pain and infection prevention. Follow the doctor’s dosage instructions to the letter.

Each week you will need to return to the office for a check-up. This enables the doctor to gauge your American Bully’s healing progress. He or she will clean the ears and inspect them for infection. Post-op check-ups normally go on for three weeks.

At the second-week check-up, it’s time to remove the sutures and “post” your dog’s ears. Posted ears look somewhat like goal posts at a football game. The doctor bandages your dog’s ears upright, holding the ears in place with a connector in between. This same doctor will teach you how to re-post the ears when it comes time to do so. (You will be provided with a set of posts customized to the puppy’s ear size and shape).

The third-week check-up ensures you’re doing the posting job correctly. A common practice for ear posts goes like this: three days on, one day off. Once you are happy with how your puppy’s ears look, you can cease posting; how long this takes depends on the look you’re trying to achieve.

American Bully Ear Cropping Styles

There are different ways to crop your American Bully’s ears depending on how you’d like the dog to look. The four main choices for this breed are:

  • Battle crop
  • Short crop
  • Show crop
  • Long crop

Let’s look at each one in turn.

The Battle Crop

This is the shortest of the four crops. It basically involves chopping the dog’s entire outer ear off. Will the dog look intimidating afterward? You’d better believe it. 

However, since this is an American Bully we’re talking about, it’s already intimidating. To be sure, battle crops are popular with owners; however, because they’re so short, they leave the dog more prone to mites and infections. Take heed.

The Short Crop

Moving up a step, we have the short crop. About one-third of the dog’s outer ear is removed to achieve this look. American Bully owners tend to like the balance between “too short” and “too long.” It still leaves the dog with an intimidating look, though not to the point where women and children might feel compelled to cross the street. The short crop is a good style for any “bull” breed.

The Show Crop

If you intend to enter your American Bully in a dog show, this crop style is for you. Indeed, the show crop is the most popular style for bully breeds. Your dog will look alert, aware, and ready to take home some blue ribbons. Keep in mind, though, that some dog shows forbid ear cropping altogether.

The Long Crop

The long crop leaves most of a bully’s ears intact and pointed up straight as if to capture radio signals. The dog’s friends, assuming he has any, might make fun of him—once. (Poking fun at American Bullies is not advised). 

All kidding aside, the long crop makes for a pretty good look. Not only does the dog appear ready to defend his home at all times, but with most of the ear left in place, he is also safer from parasites.

When you first speak with your veterinarian or animal surgeon about ear cropping, these four styles are the most likely to be discussed. And speaking of discussion, I’d like to cover one final thing about ear cropping: whether or not it’s right to do it at all.

The Politics of Ear Cropping

I promised earlier that I would cover this topic, and here we are. Indeed, this article would be remiss without addressing voices from the opposite side of the fence.

Ear cropping is considered a surgical alteration and thus wholly unnecessary. Just about every breeder, kennel, and animal clinic will tell you this—and they’re correct. In Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, ear cropping for cosmetic purposes is banned. Some U.S. states ban the procedure as well.

Dogs use their ears for both hearing and communication. With parts of them—the ears—lopped off, both of these abilities become inhibited. These are the facts, not the “beliefs” mentioned above. Worse still, a shorter ear makes it easier for bacteria and other parasites to invade the canal. To this day, animal rights activists all over the world follow a crusade to make ear cropping globally illegal.

Okay, down from the soap box. I’m not saying “do it” or “don’t do it.” However, do consider your motivations, along with the health and well-being of your beloved American Bully.

Conclusion

Cropping the ears of American Bully puppies is a common practice—where legal. The procedure does cause the puppy some fear, though while under anesthesia, he is unlikely to remember much about it. Ear cropping is almost completely safe and will certainly give your American Bully a unique look.