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The most common ear crop styles for the American Bully are the Battle Crop, the Short Crop, and the Show Crop. Cropping the ears is optional, but if you choose to crop your American Bully's ears, we recommend the Short Crop.
Cropping ears correctly requires skill and expertise. When choosing a veterinarian to perform ear cropping, ask for examples of previous work, or references, and interview the veterinarian rigorously. Be sure the veterinarian you select has breed-specific experience. Ear cropping is definitely something you do not want to have done improperly, hastily, haphazardly, or without precision, and extreme attention to detail. Never allow anyone unlicensed or inexperienced to practice on your dog!
When done properly, and professionally, ear cropping does not typically adversely affect the dog. Our dogs don't skip a beat after having their ears cropped. Again, extreme attention to detail is the key for successful ear cropping surgery, and a speedy, pain-free recovery.
The Perfect American Bully Ear Crop
This is the story of a perfect "short crop" on our dog, Trip.
Once upon a time ...
Trip was delivered to the veterinarian early in the morning, following a 12-hour period during which he was not allowed to eat anything. The fasting period was necessary in case he became sick during anesthesia.
During the ear cropping procedure, the veterinarian constructed an apparatus of wire and tape and affixed it to the ears. The ear-bracing apparatus was crucial for the first week or two in holding the ears in an upward position while the incisions healed.
Post-op, the veterinarian administered injections of anti-inflammatory and anti-itch medications, and prescribed antibiotic tablets. The anti-inflammatory helped reduce swelling while the anti-itch relieved itching, reducing the dog's desire to scratch the ears.
While he was recovering, I gave Trip a bone to chew as a distraction from any discomfort. However, he didn't appear to be uncomfortable.
The incisions and sutures were primarily on the inside of the ear, with the skin from the outer-ear wrapped around the outer-edge of the ear cartilage. This technique reduced the appearance of scars and helped keep the ears standing upright.
Beginning the second day, I cleaned the incision area with Bactine, and applied hydrocortisone cream around, but not directly on, the incision twice daily. This reduced the occurrence of itching and swelling. Additionally, wound ointment (or triple-antibiotic ointment) was applied to the incision once daily to accelerate healing. Every twelve hours for the first week I gave Trip a low-dose, buffered (baby) aspirin.
A follow-up examination by the veterinarian was conducted one week after the surgery. It was determined at that time that the ear-bracing apparatus was no longer necessary, as the ears were standing upright on their own.
Two-weeks following surgery, the veterinarian conducted a final examination and removed the sutures from the incisions.
A month after the ear cropping procedure, the ears were healed quite nicely. Due to the fine-guage sutures, the detailed, precision work by the veterinarian, and the careful post-op treatment by me, the incisions and suture-marks are virtually invisible.
Trip's ear cropping was performed by:
Dr. James Ernest, D.V.M.
Gull Point Animal Hospital
Just minutes from Pensacola International Airport (PNS).
Question: Why crop the ears?
Answer: Ear cropping is mostly cosmetic, but may have health benefits. However, it IS a surgical procedure, which inherently has risks.
Here are a few reasons some people may choose to crop American Bully ears -
- It's common for American Bullies to have irregularly-shaped and non-symmetrical ears, "bat ears", or one ear that stands up (rose ear) while the other doesn't.
- The "thunder clap". If you've ever heard a Bully with natural ears shake its head, you will know exactly what this means. This refers to the deafening sound of ears slapping cheeks when the dog shakes its head.
- Increased airflow to the ear canal may decrease chances for fungal and bacterial infections of the inner ear.
- It is indicative of the breed.
Question: How long does recovery take?
Answer: This can vary. Typically, sutures are removed two or three weeks after surgery. After three or four weeks, the ears should be healed well. A bracing apparatus is recommended to hold the dog's ears in an upward position as they heal.
Question: How old should a dog be before having ears cropped?
Answer: We recommend cropping the ears when puppies are 8-16 weeks of age. The older the dog, the more developed the ear cartilage becomes, and the more difficult the procedure can be for the dog. However, if the puppy is too young, ear bracing may be required for a longer period because the cartilage may not be developed enough.
Question: How much does ear cropping cost?
Answer: The price can vary dramatically from one veterinarian or geographical location to another. It is best to compare prices locally.
Question: How can I make my bully's ears stand?
Answer: If you want the ears to stand upright, it is recommended to brace them immediately following the ear cropping procedure, and to crop the ears before the puppy's ear cartilage is fully developed. If the cartilage is already fully developed, or the dog is older, corrective surgery may be the only solution.
Easy DIY Brace For Your American Bully's Ears
Clean the back of the ears with rubbing alcohol, and allow the fur to become dry.
Apply a thin layer of Skin-Tac to the back of the ears where the nasal strips will be placed, as outlined in the image below. Only apply Skin-Tac to an area which is equal to the size of the nasal strip.
Allow the Skin-Tac to dry. The adhesive will become tacky as it dries. It is important for the adhesive to become fully dried or the nasal strip will not stick properly. Ten minutes is probably sufficient time for the adhesive to dry.
Once the Skin-Tac is dry and tacky, apply a nasal strip to the back of each ear where the Skin-Tac was applied while pulling the ear upright with your fingers. Press firmly to ensure the nasal strip is secured well. Try to position the bend in the nasal strip on the curvature at the base of the ear. This will prevent the ear from curling inward.
Clean the ears and replace the nasal strips at least once every 3 days, or sooner if needed. Soak the old braces with rubbing alcohol to loosen them from the fur before removing them. Use rubbing alcohol to clean Skin-Tac from the ears and your fingers. Clean the old Skin-Tac from the ears before applying new braces.
Continue using the braces as needed until the ear cartilage is developed. If extra strength is needed, double-up the nasal strips by sticking a second nasal strip directly to the back of the first one. The nasal strips are sold in various sizes. Choose a size that best fits your needs.
Extra calcium in the puppy's diet during the ear bracing period may be beneficial for ear cartilage development. We use Sure Grow 100 tablets.