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 purely cosmetic in the American Bully breed, unless a dog has a specific medical condition that requires ear cropping, which is unlikely. Like spaying and neutering, ear cropping is a completely optional surgical procedure. Ear cropping is not required for show dogs. Natural ears should not affect a bully’s performance in the show ring. However, it is not uncommon for American Bully ears to have an awkward, non-symmetrical appearance, depending on the bloodline.
Ear cropping does NOT in any way indicate that a dog is abused or is used in dog fighting. Historically, ear cropping on dogs began long before dog fighting for sport did, and long before the American Pit Bull Terrier breed was established. This article focuses on the American Bully breed, not the American Pit Bull Terrier breed; two officially separate breeds.
American Bully Ear Crop Styles
Short Crop: If you choose to crop your American Bully’s ears, we recommend the Short Crop. Contrary to its name, the Short Crop is not the shortest crop style.
The shortest crop style is the Battle Crop. We would only recommend this crop style if it is obvious that the ears will not stand upright following ear cropping, or if there is some medical reason.
Although there is a longer crop style, known as the “Long Crop”, the “Show Crop” is the longest crop that we would recommend for the American Bully breed. Despite the name, the Show Crop is not required for show dogs, and is not most commonly used in the American Bully breed.
Don’t try this at home!
Cropping ears correctly requires expertise, and should only be done by a licensed veterinarian. 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. However, it is a surgical procedure that requires anesthesia, which has risks. Again, extreme attention to detail is the key for successful ear cropping surgery, and a speedy, pain-free recovery.
Printable Example – Print this for your vet.
The Perfect American Bully Ear Crop
This is the story of a perfect “short crop” on our dog, Trip.
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.
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-gauge sutures, the detailed, precision work by the veterinarian, and the careful post-op treatment by me, the incisions and suture-marks are virtually invisible.
This is the perfect American Bully short crop.
Question: Do you perform ear cropping?
Answer: No. We only use a licensed professional veterinarian, IF we elect to have the ears cropped at all.
Question: Do you recommend ear cropping?
Answer: We only recommend ear crop if it is medically necessary, or if the dog’s ears are injured, or deformed. Unlike most breeders, we select for good, natural ears on our breeding stock, so that our productions look great without ears cropped.
Unfortunately, some breeders crop the ears of French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and mixed breeds so the dogs can be marketed as American Bullies or so-called “Exotic” Bullies. We consider this practice to be unethical and deceptive.
Question: Why crop the ears?
Answer: Ear cropping is mostly cosmetic, but may have health benefits for some dogs with chronic ear conditions. For example, increased airflow to the ear canal may decrease chances for fungal and bacterial ear infections.
Ear crop is indicative of the American Bully breed, and has been performed on dogs since prehistory. However, it IS a surgical procedure, like spaying or neutering, which inherently has risks, including the risk of death from anesthesia, and should ALWAYS be performed by a licensed professional.
Question: How long does recovery take?
Answer: This can vary. Typically, sutures are removed two or three weeks after surgery. Some vets use dissolving sutures that do not need to be removed.
Unless the ears become injured somehow, after three or four weeks, the ears should be healed well.
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 becomes, the more developed the ear cartilage is, and the more difficult the ear cropping 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.
There are many different methods for bracing the ears. The video at the bottom of this page describes one method we use. A tampon applicator inserted into the ear and taped in place with surgical tape also works. Due to ingestion hazard, the cardboard type tampon applicator is recommended, not the plastic type.
Link: Easy Ear Brace
Question: What aftercare do you recommend following the ear crop procedure?
Answer: Antibiotic medication, such as Cephalexin, should be administered for at least ten days following the ear crop surgery. The ears should be braced immediately, unless they stand upright naturally.
It is important to take every step to ensure the dog does not scratch the ears or damage the sutures during the healing process.
Administer 1 low-dose (baby) aspirin every 12 hours for 7-10 days. This reduces pain, inflammation, and itching.
Beginning on day two, at least every 6-12 hours, clean the ears and sutures with Bactine spray. This reduces pain and itching, and helps prevent infection. After cleaning with Bactine, apply 1% hydrocortisone cream (or ointment, or spray) around the suture area. Next, apply triple-antibiotic ointment to the sutures and incisions.
If you notice the dog is frequently trying to scratch the ears, spray the incisions with Bactine and apply hydrocortisone.
Continue with this aftercare until after the sutures are removed, and the incisions are healed. These steps will speed the healing process, reduce the appearance of scars, and reduce the risk of infection.