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Cane Corso Ear Crop & Tail Dock Information

Ears will be cropped on all 'About Time' Show/Working pick pups. Ears on companion pups will be left to buyer's preference for pups purchased before 8 weeks of age. (After 8 weeks of age unsold pups will be cropped by breeder). If a good vet familiar with Corso crops is not available in your area, we can take a limited number of pups from our litters in to be cropped here before they go home. The vet we use is very good and does excellent work. (We make a 16 hour round trip - past many closer vets - as Doc has been doing show crops on Cane Corsos for over 20 years and does an exceptional crop on every puppy).

If you are a new puppy buyer considering your options regarding ear cropping, we are happy to share information and our experience to help you make an informed decision. We have many Cane Corso dogs with cropped ears, several Cane Corso dogs with un-croped floppy ears, and have plenty of experience to share from. There are several things to consider when making an ear crop decision.

  1. Aesthetic preference for the look/appearance of the dog
  2. Practical / Functional consideration
  3. Health Issues and concerns related to floppy un-croped ears

We will touch on all three below in detail.

Cane Corso Cropped and UnCropped Ears

Aesthetic Differences in Appearance and Impression between Cropped and UnCropped Ears:

There is no doubt the appearance of a Cane Corso with cropped vs. floppy ears is quite different. The cropped Cane Corso will have a more alert look, and that strikingly impressive presence that makes people stop and go 'Wow!'. A Corso with floppy un-cropped ears tends to give more of a cute cuddly friendly teddy bear impression, like an overgrown labrador retriever. I can show people photos time and time again of very well bred dogs with cropped ears, and the impressed responses are such as "wow, stunning, whoa, incredible, gorgeous, etc". I can show people photos of other Cane Corsos that are every bit as equally well bred and impressive, but have natural ears, and the responses consistently lack the impression made by the cropped dog. Floppy ears get responses such as "awww, cute, adorable, teddy-bear, etc". The first impression that your dog makes to other people is going to be very different based on whether it has cropped or floppy ears.

From an aesthetic level, and personal preference, we prefer the ears cropped. In our opinion this gives the best impression of the dog, and best shows and accentuates the Cane Corso breed's correct square head and muzzle.

Cane Corso with correct ear crop Cane Corso with cropped ears Cane Corso with ear crop
(photo examples of good expression, impression, and head-type correctly shown by cropped ears)

On a young pup, those floppy ears sure are 'cute'! As that pup grows and matures into an adult dog however, their ear-set will change. There is no way to know or guarantee what type of ear-set a pup will mature to have.

  • Ideally, an un-croped Corso will mature with ears that will retain a little lift and fold nicely on either side of the face (think duck-dog look, like a lab). This gives the dog a better overall appearance than the following two possibilities, although the correct impression of square cube-like head and muzzle are still lost to a more basketball like rounding effect.

Cane Corso with uncropped ears Cane Corso with un-cropped ears Cane Corso uncropped ears
(photo examples of nicely folded 'duck-dog' ears)

  • Some un-croped Corsos develop what are known as rose ears (think sight hound look, like a greyhound). These are what I fondly refer to as 'airplane wings' sticking out on either side of their head. These ears can be 'cute' and 'goofy' on a pet, but they are very detracting from a correct head type. When looking at a dog with 'flying' or 'airplane' ears, the true massive quality of the head type and structure is overshadowed by the distraction of the ears flopping and flying around to either side of the head.

Cane Corso with uncropped flying ears Cane Corso with uncropped airplane ears Cane Corso with uncropped rose earset
(photo examples of rose ear-set, ie: 'flying' or 'airplane' ears)

  • More often than not, the un-croped Corso will grow to have long floppy hanging ears (think hound-dog look, like a bloodhound). If the long heavy ear drags and simply hangs down from the head on either side, it tends to detract from correct type and give a poor overall appearance to the dog's head. With hanging ears, the head appears to be rounded, giving the impression of a basketball and losing the cube like correctness that the breed is recognized for. These ears are not flattering to the Cane Corso in any way.

Cane Corso with uncropped ears Cane Corso with uncropped hanging ears Cane Corso with uncropped hound-dog ears
(photo examples of hanging 'hound-dog' ears)

Practical and Functional Reasons for Cropping Ears:

On a practical level, ear cropping removes those convenient 'handles' for another dog, human, or opponent, to bite, grab onto, and tear. With a working dog, smaller 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.

Cane Corso with torn un-cropped ear injuries  Cane Corso with uncropped ear injury Uncropped Cane Corso ear injury
(The Cane Corso is a high-drive, rough-and-tumble dog ... they play hard, and floppy ears will get torn)

Especially 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 the poor unlucky dog that still has them attached to his head. You will 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-croped Corsos play together ... those with ears are at a serious disadvantage as they tend to get shredded.

Cane Corso with torn un-cropped ear injuries  Cane Corso with uncropped ear injury Uncropped Cane Corso ear injury
(photo examples of torn un-cropped ear injuries)

Ear wounds are generally not serious or life threatening, and can be stitched back up by a vet and infection prevented with antibiotics. Ear wounds will 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. Your willingness to put your dog thru this, repeatedly, must be considered up front. It is only fair to also warn you in advance 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).

Uncropped Cane Corso ear injury Cane Corso with uncropped ear injury Cane Corso with torn un-cropped ear injuries
(photo examples of damaged un-cropped ear that healed incorrectly due to loss of blood flow after injuries)
(These photos were taken AFTER two surgeries and $1,800 in vet bills trying to save the ears)

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. More on this below, in the section detailing health issues and concerns that can be alleviated by cropping your Cane Corso's ears.

Health Issues and Concerns Related to Un-Cropped Ears:

You will notice thru this page that we do not incorrectly refer to a dog with un-cropped ears as having 'natural' ears. There is no such thing as 'natural' floppy ears. In nature there is no canine or animal that has naturally occurring 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.

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 happens when the ear is cropped to an upright position).

On a health level, dogs with un-cropped floppy ears tend to be very 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 meet our preferences in type. If we have chosen to use our power to modify create a type of problem in our dogs, we owe it to them to do what we are able to restore them back as close as possible to the life they naturally would live - free of constant and pain and discomfort from repeated ear infections and the invasion to their system of continued antibiotic treatments.

Cane Corso healthy ear canal Cane Corso infected ear canal Cane Corso with a bad ear infection
(photo examples of a healthy ear canal, an infected ear canal, and a dog with a bad ear infection)

Chronic ear infections are very painful for your dog, and can lead to permanent hearing loss. One study found that 80% of dogs with chronic ear infections had 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. “70-80 % of dogs with chronically infected ears have experienced a ruptured ear drum and have infection in the bulla”. - Small Animal Ear Diseases, Louis Gotthelf, DVM

The inner ear is an ideal place for bacteria to flourish when it is covered by a flap of hanging ear and kept warm, dark, and damp. When the ear is cropped to an upright position, the inner ear is brought back to its natural intended state - remaining open, bright, and dry - mimicking the natural type of protection for the inner ear that nature provides her animals.

Is Ear Cropping a Cruel, Painful, and Barbaric Practice?

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 but is actually restoring the ear back to a natural state for the improved health and comfort of the dog. Cropped ears are safer, healthier, and more natural for your Cane Corso 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. 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. As soon as they are home the pups are eating, playing, and acting like nothing ever happened. We actually have to keep them separated when not supervised to prevent them from roughhousing too much with each other. 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 the puppy now has a chance to live as close as possible to a natural healthy happy life as nature intended.

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. Just check out a few of the photo examples of bad crops shown below. Remember, once you get a bad crop, your dog is stuck with it for the rest of its life.

Cane Corso with bad ear crop, wrong angles, not standing Cane Corso with bad ear crop, too tall, wrong shape Cane Corso with bad ear crop, too short, chopped off
Cane Corso with bad ear crop, wrong shape Cane Corso with bad ear crop, wrong shape Cane Corso with bad ear crop, too long, boxer crop, dane crop, doberman crop
(a few photo examples of bad ear crops)
(wrong angles / not standing / too tall / too short / no ear left / wrong shape / too long / etc)

Get a Great Crop - Guaranteed!

As a service to our clients, we offer our About Time puppy buyers the option to have us take care of the ear crop for you here with our vet before your pup goes home to you. We now make a 16 hour round trip drive with each litter of puppies for our ear crops. The vet we use is incredible, Doc has been doing show crops on Cane Corsos for over 20 years. He does an awesome job and produces consistently beautiful show quality crops on our pups every time. If you want to have your pup's ears cropped here by our vet before the pup goes home to you, we guarantee you are going to get a correct and well done crop. Aftercare is very minimal and simple, no taping, no bandages, just salve ointment on the edge of the ear for a week until the stitches come out. In 99% of the pups with these crops, the ears come up and stand on their own (without taping and splinting). It can't get any easier than that! Here are just a few examples of the quality of ear crop done by this vet:

Blue Cane Corso with Great Ear Crop Fawn Cane Corso with Cropped ears Black Cane Corso, Cropped ears
Brindle Cane Corwo with Nice Ear Crop Black Brindle Cane Corso with correct ear crop Grey Cane Corso with cropped ears
Blue Brindle Cane Corso with correct ear crop Black Cropped Cane Corso Cane Corso puppy with ear crop
(a few photo examples of great ear crops by our vet)

Ear Crop / Tail Dock Bans

There is currently much concern about allowing the future of the Cane Corso and the breed standard to be changed by the elimination of ear cropping and/or tail docking in our breed. Due to animal rights activists calling for legislation against cropping and docking in many countries, the very future of the Cane Corso breed is at stake.

With regards to cropping and docking, the AKC states that "Mislabeling these procedures as 'cosmetic' is a severe mis-characterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs." Yet veterinary colleges no longer teach cropping and docking to their students, and a growing number of veterinarians are shying away from performing crop/dock procedures. Already in several European countries, pencil pushers have decided that cropping/docking is ‘wrong’ and passed legislation banning cropping, docking, and limiting the ability to compete with a cropped/docked dog. This legislation is passed by people who have no knowledge of the breed or how their legislation affects the breed’s future, they are simply ‘anti-crop’ and ‘anti-dock’ in their personal opinions.

There are breeds with long floppy ears that are functional. For example a Bloodhound’s long ears help it pick up scents, assisting the dog in performing the task for which it was bred. The reasons for the Cane Corso breed being cropped are also functional, preventing catching and tearing of the ears on a working dog, and reducing health problems that stem as a result of the ears remaining un-croped and floppy. Health issues aside, the dramatic impact of un-croped ears on the Cane Corso, its look, and breed type, are profound.

When the floppy ears are left un-croped, several optical illusions come into play and dominate. The correct image of square head and muzzle are lost in a rounding effect. The headpiece, over all, now gives the impression of a basketball and loses the cube like correctness that the breed is recognized for. The skull and muzzle together take on an elongated image, and the once well defined stop is drowned out. The definition of powerful muscle in the cheeks is lost and the entire impression and expression is changed. With the ears cropped, the majestic expression and correct head type, or lack thereof, are easily recognized. Cropped ears allow to see the true squareness of head and the muzzle. With floppy un-croped ears, it becomes all muddled.

Eliminating / banning cropped ears would devastate the Cane Corso breed as we know it.
Breeders will be forced to exaggerate certain aspects of the head to counter the effect of the illusion given by long ears. In their subsequent efforts to maintain the appearance of the chiseled squareness that is the defining marker of the Cane Corso breed’s head piece, the true original standard and correct head type will be lost.

Not to imply that all Cane Corso dogs must be cropped/docked, as there are some who have a preference for the un-cropped look. The decision to crop a dog comes down to personal preference on the part of the dog’s breeder and/or owner, and the freedom to make that choice is vitally important to the future of our breed.

Practical and Functional Reasons for Docking Tails:

Tails will be docked on all 'About Time' puppies at 3 days of age. Due to the fact that puppy selection (based on type and temperament evaluations) is not done until 6 weeks of age, we do not offer the option for our pups to go home with undocked tails. The only exception made is for puppies being exported to countries with current crop/dock bans.

Cane Corso Tail Dock Cane Corso Puppy with Docked Tail Cane Corso with Docked Tail
(photo examples of Cane Corsos with docked tails)

The Cane Corso standard calls for a tail dock at 1/3 the length of the tail, or at the 4th vertebrae. Un-docked tails are accepted, but are much more difficult to win successfully with in the show rings in the US. Un-docked tails are also prone to damage and difficult to live with. Due to the thick and heavy weight and mass of an un-docked Cane Corso tail, enthusiastic wagging will easily lead to bruised, torn, and bleeding tails when wagged against corners of walls, tables, or furniture. Wagging bloody tails splatter blood everywhere, tail bandages are notoriously difficult to keep on, and tail wounds are slow to heal due to constant continued damage. The swinging weight and mass of a cumbersome un-docked tail will sweep the contents off low tables or shelves, knock over young children, and leave bruises on your shins. Tails docked at a young age heal quickly and easily, and prevent common tail injuries which are painful and extremely difficult to treat.

Cane Corso Tail UnDocked Cane Corso with Un-Docked Tail Cane Corso Puppy with UnDocked Tail
(photo examples of Cane Corsos with un-docked tails)

Docking is a perfectly humane procedure when properly carried out, avoiding tail damage, eliminating the risk of injury, and preventing far more distress than it causes. Like neutering, it is a simple and practical animal management technique which should remain available to dog breeders and owners. When done correctly, between 2 to 5 days old, the docking procedure causes no more than momentary discomfort as a neonate puppy does not yet have a fully developed nervous system.

When docking must be done on an older dog, the procedure becomes more traumatic and should only be performed under anaesthesia. Many adult dogs that were not docked as pups end up having their tails docked out of necessity due to injury or trauma to the tail. Docking a puppy's tail only causes momentary discomfort to the pup, however, if left un-docked, tail damage that requires docking during adulthood can cause the dog to be seriously distressed and the healing process can be painful and protracted.

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