Ears: To Crop or Not to Crop
This is a personal preference.
One of the things that I love about this breed is their intelligence, and I feel that the cropped ear just gives a more alert, intelligent look.
As a groomer
I used to think dogs with natural ears were prone to more ear infection. After living with both cropped and natural ears, I really do not see a big difference. If your dog has infected ears, I believe there is an underlining cause. It could be a one time infection or a medical reason or a grooming issue. You or your groomer should be removing the hair from the ears. This can be done with using ear powder and your fingers or hemostats. If your dog has an ear infection, please contact your vet.
All ears, cropped or not, need care.
As a breeder
I'm breeding with my next show dog in mind. Our puppies' ears are cropped at about 7 to 9 weeks of age, which sometimes rushes my decision on what I keep.
I also think that American breeders haven't bred for proper ear sets and correct ear leather. People don't realize that there is a correct way to tape or glue a natural ear so they don't stand up on their own or flop down. The natural ear should bend and the ear set should come straight off the head. Cropped ears are to stand erect.
During the puppies' teething period, (16 to 20 weeks old,) cropped or uncropped ears should be posted or taped to achieve the proper look. After teething, the ears are what they are.
I also think that the "backyard breeder" doesn't want to take the time or spend the money to crop ears. Chances are, once a puppy is sold, the new owners can't see putting any more money into the dog, or they think ear cropping is cruel. The surgery is no more hurtful than spaying or neutering.
Last but not least
Just because cropping is my personal preference doesn't mean that you have to do it too. I will let puppies go without getting cropped.
Taping Cropped Ears
Instructions (with illustrations) for taping cropped ears.