American Bully Ear Cropping Explained! [Legal & Ethical Sides]

To crop or not to crop. American Bully ear cropping is one of the most controversial topics among American Bully and Pit Bull owners.

Ear cropping is the process in which the American Bully gets their naturally floppy ears cropped short to various different sizes according to the owner’s preference. Some people believe it’s a personal choice that should be accepted, while others argue that it’s cruel and inhuman.

In order for you to form your own opinion on the matter, you need to understand all the facts and myths about ear cropping. We’ll discuss why people do it, how it’s done, the after-effects of ear cropping, and all the pros and cons you need to know to have an informed opinion.

4 Reasons People Crop Their Bully’s Ears

People who are in favor of cropping American Bully’s ears have many reasons for it. It’s a controversial and argumentative topic because both sides have strong reasons for believing they are right. 

The opposing side’s reasons are simple and clear; it’s cruel and unnecessary. But on the other hand, people who believe in ear cropping can talk about their reason in more detail. 


Aesthetics is the most common reason for American Bully owners to get their dog’s ears cropped.

Naturally, American Bullies have big floppy ears, but back in the day, owners used to crop their ears to give them a more intimidating look.

Since American Bullies are already very muscular and strong-looking, owners believe that the cropped ear look adds to the menacing aesthetic of the dog.

Nowadays, even though American Bullies are treated as house pets, and they are one of the friendliest dogs you can have around you and your family, people still want them to maintain the intimidating aesthetic by cropping their ears.

Fighting and Hunting

The main reason American Bullies got their ears cropped in the past was to give them an advantage during fighting and hunting.

However, many believe that the Bully’s floppy ear can become a disadvantage in the fighting arena as it can be grabbed by the other dog or bitten. 

Later on, after dogfighting was deemed illegal, hunting became the Bully’s next job. And ear cropping became an essential part of preparing an American Bully to be a hunter.

It’s believed that the cropped ear will not just stop the ears from being disadvantaged but will also increase their hearing ability.

Breed Standards

Nowadays, most people don’t take their American Bully on hunting trips, but a lot of people enter their dogs into dog shows. In most dog shows, ear cropping for American Bully is a breed standard that is expected from all the show dogs as part of the rules. 

Breed standards for American Bullies include a certain weight, size, colors, and ear cropping, which can be optional but preferred for many shows. You can learn more about the breed standards of bullies in this guide on American Bully types.

Ear infections

For pet owners who do not plan to use their American Bully for fighting, hunting, or parading them around in dog shows, avoiding ear infections is their reason for cropping.

Many people believe that dogs with big floppy ears are more likely to catch ear infections, so ear cropping is used as a preventative procedure to keep the dog healthy and avoid unwanted complications.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no real evidence that ear cropping prevents ear infections in dogs. On the contrary, sometimes, after the ear cropping procedure, if the wound isn’t treated right, the dog gets ear infections.

What Are Steps Of Cropping American Bully Ears?

American Bully ear cropping is a surgical procedure, and therefore it needs a lot of care before, during, and after the process. The care the American Bully gets is an important factor in how well or bad the ear cropping will go.

Step 1: Pre-procedure care

Before the ear cropping surgery, you need to take your American Bully to a vet for inspection and make sure your dog is healthy and up for the surgery.

Make sure to research veterinarians in your area and choose one that has previous experience with ear cropping.

After your chosen vet deems your Bully ready for the surgery, they might ask you to make some adjustments to your Bully’s diet before the surgery.

This is similar to when humans get surgery. The pre-procedure steps might include decreasing the amount of food they get the night before or getting some kind of supplement to help them feel ready.

Step 2: The procedure

This is a surgical procedure, and your Bully will be completely drugged and under anesthesia while getting their ears cropped. Before the surgery, your vet will make you choose the style of ear crop you want for your dog: battle, short, show, or long crop. 

The procedure takes from 30 to 45 minutes, and then you are given instructions on how to care for your American Bully post-surgery.

Step 3: Post-procedure care

After the procedure, your Bully will be prescribed some pain relief medicine and maybe some supplements to help with the healing process. Their ears will be bandaged to prevent infection from the open wound.

At home, you will need to clean your Bully’s wounded ear 2 to 3 times a day to prevent infections. You will also need to rebandage their ear once a week until it’s fully healed. Your dog will be tempted to scratch the wounds, and that is why you will probably need to use a neck cone to prevent them from damaging their ears. 

Make sure your American Bully gets a healthy diet during the time after the procedure to help their body heal faster.

The 3 Bully Ear Cropping Types

a photo of an American bully to show what ear cropping looks like

As we have quickly mentioned before, there are many types or styles of ear crops for American Bullies. These are the most popular ones:

Show Crop

The show crop is the most popular crop style among American Bullies. It is the longest crop style and gives the Bully a look of alertness.

Battle Crop

The battle crop is the shortest crop style among American Bullies. It is not preferred anymore as it leaves your Bully’s ear canals exposed and more prone to infections.

Short Crop

The short crop is the most preferred crop style among American Bullies. Its length sits between the Show crop and the Battle crop. It gives your dog this strong look without exposing its ear canals.

How To Care For Your Bully’s Cropped Ears?

Long-term care after the procedure is as essential as post-procedure care. Your American Bully’s cropped ear will need special care throughout their lives to make sure their ears do not get infected. 

Prevention is better than cure, so you will need to clean your dog’s cropped ears on a daily basis.

Using a soft washcloth and mild soap, make sure to scrub and wipe your dog’s ears from dirt and other substances they come across throughout their day. You can also use special ear cleaning products if you want to do a thorough job.

Regularly check for signs of infections and make sure you have regularly scheduled vet visits to ensure your American Bully is always healthy.

How Long Does It Take For A Bully’s Ears To Heal After Being Cropped?

The healing process of the cropped ears takes several stages until it reaches the fully healed step. After two or three weeks, stitches will be removed, and the cropped ear will be bandaged upright to a hard surface, so it continues its healing in an upright position. 

In four to eight weeks after the procedure, the ear will be fully healed. You need to keep an eye out for your American Bully’s cropped ear and look out for any signs of infections. If you see any discharge or any foul smell coming from your dog’s ear, you need to clean it and contact your vet immediately.

How To Clean Cropped Ears With Stitches?

Your dog might have stitches in their ears after the cropping procedure. You must clean the area regularly to avoid infection. Here are some simple steps on how you can clean your Bully’s cropped ear with stitches:

  1. Clean your hands and the dog’s ears carefully with warm water and soap. Make sure the soap does not touch the stitches or the wound.
  2. Check your dog’s ears for any signs of infections like discharge, foul smell, swelling, or redness.
  3. Get a soft cotton ball and dip it in mild soap or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect and clean the wound. 
  4. Gently wipe the inside of the ear and the surrounding area. Make sure you don’t get soap or hydrogen peroxide on the stitches.

Cropped Ears Vs. Uncropped Ears

Now that you know all about the reasons why people crop their Bully’s ears, how the procedure goes, and the after-care. It’s time to compare the two opposing opinions. Cropped ears or uncropped ears?

How They Look

Cropped earUncropped ear
Cropped ears are, well…cropped. They are short and erect.Uncropped ears are big and floppy and bend down.
They stand up straight and give the American Bully an intimidating, menacing look. They are the natural shape of an American Bully’s ears, and they make them look friendly and approachable.

Pros And Cons Of Ear Cropping

The American Bully will look more intimidating.It takes away body autonomy from the dog.
They will be able to take part in dog shows.After-care of the procedure is long and needs a lot of commitment and work.
They are less likely to get their ears bitten in a dog fight.Ears can get infected during the period of healing.
It’s said that cropped ears are less likely to get infections.Dogs can suffer from increased pain or bleeding.

Is Cropping Bully Ears Legal?

Ear cropping is illegal in many countries around the world. Nearly all European countries have laws against ear cropping. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have also outlawed ear cropping.

Ear cropping is still legalized in most American states though with no law or regulation whatsoever.

There are only a couple of states in which ear cropping is illegal or is at least regulated, which are Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington.  

Is Cropping Bully Ears Cruel?

If you do not have a medical reason to crop your Bully’s ears, many people will deem the procedure cruel and inhumane even. Many vets will also refuse to do ear cropping surgeries unless it’s medically required for the Bully. Doing it for purely cosmetic reasons is unnecessary.

Conclusion: Should you crop your Bully’s ears?

Well, that is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question for you.

After everything you have read about the process of ear cropping and the reason people have to do it, you need to come to that decision for yourself. Make sure to assess the pros and cons and come to the best decision for you and your dog.

Related Questions 

What Is The Best Type of Ear Cropping For American Bullies?

The short crop is considered to be the best ear crop style for American Bullies. It is longer than the battle crop, which might cause an infection in the dog’s ear. It’s shorter than the show crop and will give your dog a more erect ear.

What Is The Best Age to Crop Your Bully’s Ears?

The best age to crop your Bully’s ear is between 6 and 12 months old. Cropping the ears while the dog is still a puppy makes the procedure smoother as it’s easier to control a puppy than a full-grown Bully. Doing it early will also ensure your dog is not traumatized by the loss.

How Much Does Ear Cropping Cost?

The average cost of ear cropping should be around $150 to $600. The cost can vary from one veterinarian to another. Although a higher cost does not ensure a better procedure, you should always choose a reputable vet with enough experience.

This article has been reviewed and edited by a vet, but it doesn’t replace your own vet. Please see your vet for specific and trusted advice. This site DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE and all the information provided here is meant for informational purposes only.

Helpful Resources

Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

My Top Picks for American Bullies!

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