EarCropping Page


Ears can make or break a dog. Proper taping is as important as a pretty and long crop. After all, the whole idea is to make them stand up properly, and cropping won’t do that. When the ears are completely healed, use the following methods of taping. The ear should remain taped until it outgrows the splint, or until the adhesive dries and loosens in up to 10 days. Before retaping, be sure to clean the ear thoroughly and check for any infection or wound. There are numerous methods to use and the following method, used by Mary Anne Zanetos, is what worked best for my dogs. It has some advantages over others in that the base of the ears remain open to the air and a very small amount of tape is used. This tends to minimize soreness.

It is best to assemble your supplies and make the apparatus first, before getting the puppy. You will need the following:

Roll of 1 inch wide WATERPROOF adhesive tape (Johnson & Johnson - Wal-mart)
Roll of 1 inch wide CLOTH adhesive tape (Kendall Curity tape- order from JB Wholesale - or 1-800-526-0388)
2 metal corset stays, 6-8 inches long, depending on the age of your puppy (JAS Townsend Co. Click on women's clothing and then metal boning.)
2 sheets of paper towel (Viva soft paper towels ONLY)
Skin-Bond surgical adhesive (medical supply store - Smith & Nephew stock #400000)
Small set of blunt-topped scissors
very sharp knife or razor blade
wire cutters
Roll of 1" wide Sports tape (Wal-Mart)
pipe insulation (Lowes or Home Depot)
adhesive remover (Duck or Goo Gone - Wal-Mart)


Measure the distance from the "knob" at the base of the inside of ear to tip of ear, being sure to stretch the ear while measuring. Add 1/4". Cut each of 2 stays to this length. You may need wire cutters to do this. File cut edge or wrap tape around edge to smooth out.

Next, measure 2" longer than the stay and cut 2 pieces of WATERPROOF tape. Lay one piece flat on counter with sticky side face up. Position stay in center, lengthwise, leaving 1" of tape at both ends of stay. Lay second piece of tape, directly over this, sticky side up. Press together. Repeat for the other stay.

TAPE SET-UP: Cut four, 5-inch strips of CLOTH adhesive tape. Cut two, 2 1/2" strips of CLOTH tape. Cut one 10" strip of sports tape or cloth tape. The picture below does not include some pieces of tape, but is just to demonstrate how to lay your tape out.


Use 1 sheet of paper towel per ear. Fold lengthwise, and repeat until you have a strip 1 1/2" wide by 12" long. Roll up very tightly, pressing down while rolling, like rolling up a sleeping bag. Depending on the brand of towel you use, this will vary. If needed, trim slightly so that the paper towel cylinder is about 1" in diameter and 1 1/2" long. Get one of the 5" pieces of adhesive tape. Roll the tape around the cylinder to secure it, sticky side out. Be very careful not to let the cylinder loosen as you wrap the tape around it. Repeat with the second cylinder.

Attach the paper towel to the stay part. This involves placing the sticky side of the tape containing the stay onto the sticky side of the tape containing the stay onto the sticky side of the tape which has been wrapped around the cylinder. Then fold the part containing the stay back over itself. You can tell if this is right because the part containing the stay (which will stick to the skin side of the ear) and the cylinder will both be sticky side out. Wrap the third 5" piece of tape sticky side out, around the base of the cylinder, enclosing both the cylinder and stay part inside the tape. Repeat these same steps for the other side using the fourth 5" piece of tape.


Now, get a very sharp knife or razor blade. Cut just below the stay to the middle of the paper towel and then cut in, to cut a "knotch" out of the paper towel. This knotch will sit just on top of the knob inside of the ear and will look L shaped when viewing form the side. Without the knotch, your stay will not fit right.


Cut a 10" piece of sports tape or cloth tape. Also, cut two 3" pieces of this tape. Use a tape wrapped piece of pipe insulation (Lowes/Home Depot - see supply picture above) that is perfectly measured to go between ears so that ears stand straight up. See final pictures to show how to attach the bridge to the apparatus.


Now get the puppy.

Be sure ears are thoroughly cleaned with alcohol or ear solution and completely dry. Have a helper sit in a chair holding the puppy facing you.

Apply Skin-Bond to bottom of paper towel all the way up to tip of apparatus. Use a thin coat and make sure to get the entire sticky side covered. Allow to dry 30 seconds.

Grab ear near the base and bend outward slightly, exposing the knob on the skin side of the ear. Position paper towel so that the bottom rests tightly against the knob, liking sitting on a shelf. Holding the base of the ear against the paper towel part, gently stretch the rest of the ear along the cut edge. Position the upper part of the stay apparatus so that the tip of the ear is entirely within the tape. Then, bend the 1" portion of the tape (not containing the boning) down and over the hair side of the ear.

Secure this with one of the 2 1/2" pieces of tape, placing the top edge of the tape even with the top of the ear apparatus. NOTE: Make sure the tip of the ear is enclosed in the tape and that the stay inside is at least as long as the tip of the ear, preferably about 1/8" longer. Ear tips which stretch too much because they are not secured properly will cause floppy tips later, so be very careful with this.

Next, holding the cylinder part against the knob, take one of the 10-12" pieces of tape and attach the tape to the cylinder, even with the bottom of the cylinder. Pull upward slightly, stretching the ear upward as you go around the base of the ear. Wrap towards the natural fold of the ear so that the fold naturally bends backwards on to the ear (hair to hair).

Wrap around the base of the ear, even with the bottom of the cylinder 2 full times, trimming any excess. Tape firmly but not tight. If you see swelling above/below the tape, remove immediately and retape looser. Repeat same procedure for other ear.

To attach the "bridge":

Have someone hold the pre-made "bridge" perfectly between the ears. Wrap 10" long piece of tape around the ear and onto the bridge and the all the way around the bridge coming back to the start. Use one 3" piece all the way against the ear and wrap around the bridge to make it stay. Do the same on the other side. See picture below:

This next picture is what can happen if you don't use a proper bridge in the middle. This does not happen to all puppies, but it happened to mine and that's why I created my type of "bridge". This is not pretty when your puppy is older, so get control of it very early.


Check daily for signs of redness, swelling or odor. Remove right away if you observe any of these. Unless tape becomes wet or soiled, ears can remain taped up for up to 10 days or so. If the tapes have loosened or the stay inside it bent or broken, take downs ears immediately. Dogs can do serious damage trying to remove loose tapes themselves.

If the ears become wet, take them down immediately or your puppies ears could begin to rot off in as little as 12 hours!!!!!! Redness, swelling and sores are your first signs, do not allow other dog to lick your puppies ears.

Always use Detachol or other solvent to loosen adhesive before removing. Let ears rest for at least a few hours before retaping. Leave ears untaped as long as they are standing with no drooping at the tips. As soon as the tips begin to flip, re-tape unless soreness or oozing is present. As the dog's ears make progress, the intervals where the ears are untaped will get longer and longer.

Continue taping until the dog is done teething (6 months or so) even if ears appear to be standing well. Many will require taping until closer to a year, depending on the length of ear and the ear texture. Most ear problems can be traced to leaving the ears untaped too long between tapings or discontinuing taping before the tips are set. Remember, ear cartilage hardens very gradually, beginning with the part closest to the head and working out toward to the tips. It is not unusual for the tips to take up to a year to harden completely, especially with a long crop. So, it is important not to give up too soon. Other methods such as edge taping may be more suitable for older dogs whose bases are up completely.

Please don't hesitate to ask either me or your breeder for advice on other taping methods if the above technique does not seem to be working for you.

SOURCES: Tape Talk - ShowDanes Yahoo Group
Mary Anne Zanetos - Rojon Great Danes
Raven - my wonderful experiment puppy!


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