Floppy Eared Dobermans: The Unconventional Beauty of an Iconic Breed
When you imagine a Doberman Pinscher, you probably imagine a tall, muscular, formidable dog made iconic by hundreds of movies and their unique look. But why do some Dobermans have pointy ears while others have floppy ears?
In this guide to the floppy ear Doberman Pinscher, we’ll cover all the ins and outs of ear cropping and why some people choose to remove part of their Doberman’s ears. Doberman Pinschers are born with beautiful floppy ears, and only through plastic surgery and weeks of “shaping” can their ears point straight upwards. But are cropped ears purely for aesthetics, or should a Doberman always have their ears docked for their health and safety?
Before we dive into all the ins, outs, and ethics of Doberman ear-cropping, let’s meet a very special floppy-eared Doberman named Bear.
Pictured above: Bear—a two-year-old Doberman mix who was recently found wandering a parking lot searching for scraps—sitting with Rocky Kanaka, pet rescue advocate.
Bear is a sweet young Doberman Pinscher mix in need of a home! As you can see, Bear is emaciated and has been on the street fending for himself for quite some time. Although Bear has a microchip, his owners tragically are not willing to claim him. When Rocky heard about this two-year-old pup who was feeling stressed at the shelter, he took it upon himself to get involved and gain Bear’s trust.
Like a classic Doberman, Bear took a little time to warm up to Rocky, but we can already tell he is ready to be someone’s shadow if they are willing to open their heart and home to this good boy. Click here to learn more about adopting Bear who is currently getting lots of tasty food and plenty of love at a shelter in Wildomar, California.
Meet 7 Floppy-Eared Dobermans from Instagram
Ready to take a look at some Dobermans with their full, intact, floppy ears? These pups are so cute, and we guarantee you’re about to fall in love with the natural floppy ears Doberman Pinscher.
Loki is a one-year-old Doberman Pinscher who not only has his beautiful natural floppy ears, but his gorgeous long tail, too! Ear cropping and tail docking are equally unnecessary, and we’re so happy to see a Dobie who has all of his body parts intact.
Handsome Reyo is a five-year-old Doberman with floppy ears and a tail so long it doesn’t even fit in the frame! Reyo lives in Belgium and his humans say he is a professional smoocher and sock thief.
Would you believe it if we told you this stunning, royal-looking Doberman is a rescue? Duke’s humans are dog savvy and very understanding and are helping him manage life as a reactive dog, and they love his beautiful natural floppy ears.
Beautiful Arya—whose full name is Winningmood Zensation Zaladane—is the youngest in a pack of floppy-eared Dobies from Helsinki, Finland. Still just a pup, Arya has a lot of growing to do, but she’s already absolutely gorgeous. Unlike the first three Dobermans on this list who are black and rust, Miss Arya is red and rust!
Ted is a two-year-old Isabella and rust Doberman with natural floppy ears and a long intact tail! The lightest Doberman Pinscher color approved by the American Kennel Club, Isabella and rust is one of the most sought-after color combos for the breed.
Harlee is a very attentive five-year-old red and rust Doberman with floppy ears who loves to play outside and go on adventures with her human.
Whisky is a full-grown one-year-old Doberman now, but we just had to show you how adorable he was when he was a little tiny baby puppy! Whisky still has his beautiful floppy Doberman ears and lives a lovely life in Japan with his Toy Poodle bestie.
Floppy-Eared Doberman Basic Info
Aren’t floppy-eared Dobermans so stinking cute? We love how this breed looks with all of its natural features. But what is owning a Doberman Pinscher like, floppy ears or not?
Doberman Pinscher Temperament
Doberman Pinschers are alert, intelligent, and incredibly loyal dogs who form deep bonds with their humans. Many Dobies are described as “velcro dogs” since they will choose a person and want all their time and attention. Because of this, some Dobermans are prone to separation anxiety and nervousness around strangers, but these issues can be managed with training, socialization, and proper handling.
High-energy, fearless, and sometimes obsessive, the Doberman Pinscher commands attention and requires an owner with dog experience and plenty of time to dedicate to this canine. While they can be excellent with children, some Dobermans are a touch neurotic and may be mouthy or skittish around younger children who don’t understand dog boundaries.
With their humans, Dobermans are very loving and cuddly but will snap to attention and devote all their energy to investigating a noise or sound. Curious and tenacious, Dobermans make excellent working dogs and respond well to training and routine from an early age.
Doberman Pinscher Size
Dobermans are large dogs standing 24–28 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing in at 60–100 pounds.
Doberman Pinscher Health
Generally healthy dogs, Dobermans are prone to several health conditions unrelated to whether or not their ears are cropped. A few health issues to keep an eye out for if you own a Dobie include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye issues (e.g. progressive retinal atrophy)
- Von Willebrand’s disease (a clotting disorder)
- Heart issues (e.g. cardiomyopathy)
Where To Find a Floppy-Eared Doberman Puppy
If you’re committed to getting a Doberman with its natural floppy ears and long tail, we recommend starting with a quick Google search. Something like “natural-ear Doberman breeder near me” will bring up at least a handful of results, or forums where you can connect with other Doberman lovers and the breeders they trust.
Of course, you can also adopt a Doberman, floppy ears, or otherwise! Take a look at the Doberman Pinscher Club of America’s list of approved Doberman rescues to start the search for your new best friend.
If you live in California and want a floppy-eared Doberman, consider adopting Bear who is currently in need of a home!
Pros & Cons of Cropping Doberman Ears
So, you’ve purchased a Dobie puppy and you’re wondering: Should I crop my Doberman Pinscher’s ears?
If it were up to us, the answer would always be NO! But if you’re still on the fence, let’s take a look at the benefits and potential risks of cropping a Doberman’s ears.
Pros: Why is cropping a Doberman’s ears important?
While we understand that personal preference is often the reason people choose to crop their Dobermans’ ears, we will not be including this as a reason to crop your dog’s ears. The whims and wants of a human should not dictate whether or not a dog gets to keep their ears, and we will solely be focusing on what we see as legitimate considerations in favor of ear cropping.
You may have heard myths that some of the reasons people crop their Dobermans’ ears are medical and to improve their senses, but there is no evidence that ear cropping reduces ear infections, improves hearing, or has any medical benefit.
1. Meeting Breed Standards
As mentioned, the American Kennel Club considered pricked/cropped ears and a docked tail to be breed standard for the Doberman Pinscher, but you do not have to crop your dog’s ears or tail if you are a regular pet owner. Unless you are going to be bringing your dog to breed-confirmation competitions, your dog does not need to conform to “breed standards.”
2. Protecting Working Dobermans from Injury
Some people who train Dobermans as guard and watchdogs, police dogs, and for other canine professions believe that cropping their ears and docking their tails can prevent them from sustaining extra injury on duty. The idea is that the floppy ears and long tail are easy to grab, which can easily stop the dog from doing its job and cause serious damage.
Dogs who are being trained using watchdog or working dog methods but are not professional working dogs should not have their ears cropped or tails docked.
3. Emergency Ear Cropping
The only medically necessary ear cropping procedures are to address serious ear damage following an accident, dog fight, etc. Some vets may recommend amputation of your dog’s ear if the tissue cannot be saved.
Cons: Are Dobermans better with or without cropped ears?
Decidedly, Dobermans—and all dog breeds—are better with their natural ears and tails! Cropping is a cruel, outdated practice that poses more risk than reward. Let’s take a look at some of the very real reasons ear cropping can be harmful to your Doberman.
1. Risks During Surgery
To have their ears cropped, Dobermans need to be put under general anesthesia. Unfortunately, general anesthesia is always a risk, and some dogs can experience sudden medical emergencies or even death during the ear cropping procedure.
2. Risk of Infection
Once your puppy comes out of ear cropping surgery, it becomes your job to keep their wounds clean and prevent them from busting open their stitches for the next week or more. As most people know, puppies aren’t very clean or easy to keep still for long periods, and puppies run the risk of developing infections in their newly cropped ears.
3. Pain, Discomfort, & Disorientation
The days and weeks following an ear cropping surgery can be extremely painful and uncomfortable for your Doberman puppy. Not only will they have lost the majority of their ears, they will be dealing with open wounds and bandages that need to be changed regularly. To achieve the pricked ear look, your Dobie will also need to wear special tape to hold their ears in an upward position, which is uncomfortable and disorienting. Dogs don’t like to have their ears covered, and Dobermans spend weeks of their puppyhood forced to wear confining ear bandages, casts, tape, and cones.
4. Reducing Your Doberman’s Expressiveness
Ears are an important tool for dogs to express their emotions, and cropping reduces their ability to show humans what they are thinking. By cropping your dog’s ears and docking their tail, you remove an entire avenue for communicating with them.
5. Making Dobermans Less Approachable
Unfortunately, dogs with cropped ears look more intimidating and can deter people from approaching them or learning more about the breed. Not only is this bad for the individual dog’s socialization it can also cause issues while trying to find housing thanks to breed discrimination.
Is Cropping a Doberman Pinscher’s Ears Cruel?
Yes, Doberman ear cropping for aesthetics is considered a cruel and unnecessary process. Although cropped ears are considered “breed standard” by the American Kennel Club, this only applies to dogs shown in breed-conformation dog shows. For everyday pet owners, conforming to this “breed standard” requires subjecting your beloved puppy to a painful procedure that may or may not be successful in the short and long term.
Many veterinarians now refuse to crop ears and dock tails for dogs not participating in Kennel Club dog shows, and even show dogs can be refused this procedure.
Unfortunately, many breeders still crop their dogs’ ears themselves, and some everyday pet owners choose to do at-home surgeries to crop their Dobermans’ ears without a professional’s help. Both of these situations are exceptionally cruel to the dog, have far lower success rates , and pose a higher risk of infection or complications.
Floppy-Eared Doberman FAQ
We’ve got more answers to the internet’s pressing questions about Doberman ears and whether to crop or not!
Are Dobermans born with floppy ears?
Yes! Dobermans are born with beautiful floppy ears and long tails—makes you wonder why “breed standards” require this breed to have part of its body removed!
Are Dobermans born with long tails?
Yes! See the answer above.
Can you crop a Doberman’s ears after 1 year?
No. Doberman ear cropping happens before 12 weeks. After this, the ears are too formed and the cartilage has already solidified too much to safely crop.
Why do some Dobermans have tape on their ears?
Because their ears have been cropped. The tape is to hold bandages in place and to shape the ears into points.
Does ear cropping reduce ear infections?
No. There is zero evidence suggesting that ear cropping can help reduce ear infections.
Does ear cropping improve a dog’s hearing?
No. Dogs with floppy ears can maneuver their ear flaps to allow more or less noise in—this is a great asset for them, and simply removing the outer flap of skin does not improve their hearing. Cropping can actually make it difficult for dogs to protect themselves against loud noises.
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