This is a complicated question because the law varies on a country-by-country basis and there may be variations in the law at a state or perhaps county level in some countries such as the USA. In general terms, in the UK it is illegal for a veterinarian to crop a Doberman’s ears unless it is for therapeutic i.e. medical reasons. It is the same in Germany for instance. The same applies to tail docking. And indeed, the same applies to declawing cats in the UK. It is a different story in the USA.
In contrast, in the USA, the law will vary state by state but the general law as I understand it is that veterinarians can crop the ears of a Doberman under anaesthetic for cosmetic reasons. Therefore, it is legal to crop the ears of a Doberman provided it is carried out by a veterinarian under anaesthetic and it need not be for therapeutic reasons. In other words, what is illegal in the UK is legal in the USA subject to state laws.
In the UK ear cropping by a veterinarian or anybody else would be considered to be a mutilation and animal cruelty. Unless, as stated, there is a truly medical reason for it which benefits the dog. These circumstances will be rare. Perhaps cancer of the ear flap.
Ben the Vet on TikTok makes his views known about how a Doberman should look with proper ears and a tail. Habitually, it seems that breeders and owners dock the tail and crop the ears.
How they do it
As I understand it, the way breeders and owners ensure that the ear flaps stickup is that they put splints in the ear flap cartilage and they trim the ear flap to a certain shape. They do this when the dog is young. It’s a sure form of mutilation for appearance reasons and absolutely cruel by any standards.
Historically, breeds such as Dobermans had their ears cropped as puppies and then splinted – taped to bits of wood or cardboard – to make their ears grow upwards instead of leaving them to go floppy.RSPCA
As at February 2022, one website says that NO US state outlaws cropping up Doberman ears. The cropping might be regulated but not outlawed.
Germany bans the cropping of dogs’ ears. Doberman ear cropping is now banned in many countries but you will have to do your research to find out whether the country in which you live bans ear cropping.
Morally, it is impossible to support or justify the cropping of a dog’s ears for cosmetic reasons. That is common sense. And it is shocking, in my view, that it is not illegal in the USA and the same applies to other countries. It is clearly a cruel operation. It is immoral to mutilate an animal just to please the owner. One doesn’t need to going to a long philosophical discussion on that topic. It is obvious to anybody.