Highly intelligent, easy to train, and obedient, German Shepherds are well-known for their erect ears and attentive expression. Since this breed is known for its pointy-eared appearance, many owners end up surprised when they bring a floppy-eared German Shepherd puppy home.
So, do German Shepherd ears stand up naturally? All German Shepherds are born with floppy ears. Their ears can stand up anywhere from eight weeks to eight months of age. Most German Shepherd get pointy ears when they finish teething. However, if a dog’s ears don’t stand up by nine months, they most likely never will.
But there’s nothing to worry about if your dog’s ears haven’t perked up just yet. Stay with us till the end of this article to find more about German Shepherd ears and what can you do to help them stand up.
What Kind of Ears Will My German Shepherd Have?
Anyone who has seen an adult German Shepherd dog can tell you that this breed is easily recognizable for its erect ears and noble expression. However, it’s a less known fact that all German Shepherd puppies are born with floppy ears.
According to the breed’s standard, German Shepherds should have erect ears of medium size, which are carried upright and aligned. The ears should also be pointed and with the auricle facing forward (source).
Although the standard calls for erect ears, it’s not uncommon for adult German Shepherds to have dropped or floppy ears. Keep in mind that dogs with cropped or hanging ears will be disqualified and won’t be able to compete in dog shows (source).
If your GSD puppy has been obtained from a reputable breeder and not a puppy mill, you can expect your pup’s ears to stand up and remain erect after he finishes teething.
On the other hand, bad breeding practices, trauma, or health problems can account for floppy ears in German Shepherds.
Brief History of German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a medium to large-sized dog breed that originated in Germany in 1899. While originally developed to work as herding dogs, German Shepherds have evolved and become all-purpose working dogs.
Thanks to their intelligence, agility, strength, and loyalty, this breed is preferred by police and military and also used for all types of work including search-and-rescue and as service dogs.
While original German Shepherds were primarily bred as working dogs, the modern German Shepherds are subjected by scrutiny. In the U.S breeders put an accent on looks and started breeding German Shepherds with an extremely sloping back that resulted in poor gait in back legs.
Luckily, some U.S breeders have begun to value the breed’s working abilities and traditional appearance and started to breed German Shepherds with a straight back.
Do German Shepherd Ears Stand Up Straight?
All German Shepherds are born with floppy ears and your puppy’s ears will go through several weird stages before they become pointy and stand up straight.
You should expect your German Shepherds puppy ears to stand up and remain erect when he is finished teething. In most cases, the teething process lasts until the dog reaches five months of age, but it can last longer for some pups (source).
During this period, you will probably notice that your Shepherd’s ears are going through some funny changes. It’s quite common for the ears to be up one day, just to drop down again the next.
If this happens, there’s no need to be alarmed! In fact, this is a sign that your pup’s muscles and cartilage are developing properly.
Keep in mind that all puppies are individuals and develop differently. Thus, there is a big chance that your Shepherd puppy’s ears need seven months to stand up straight.
Generally, if your pup’s ears have gone up at some point and then dropped down again, they will stand up again and stay that way into adulthood. However, if the dog’s ears don’t go up by the time he is eight or nine months old, chances are that they never will.
Percentage of Ears Standing Up
According to owners, nearly one in five German Shepherd dogs have floppy ears (source). However, this doesn’t mean that your GSD’s ears won’t stand up once he’s finished teething.
Let’s take a look at percentages of German Shepherd ears standing up by age:
|Age||Percentage of German Shepherds|
|After 12 months||4%|
Correcting my German Shepherd’s Ears
Many German Shepherd owners jump the gun and start thinking about correcting their dogs’ ears while they are only three or four months old. Please note, there’s no need to correct your puppy’s ears in any way until he has finished teething.
Depending on a dog, the teething can last 16 to 20 weeks, and by that time the cartilage in the ear will become strong enough to hold an erect ear.
You should get interested in your German Shepherd’s ears if five months have passed and they haven’t perked up yet. This could be a sign that your pup is lacking some essential nutrients and isn’t developing properly.
So before you opt to correct your German Shepherd’s ears, take him to the vet for a full check-up. And if everything turns out fine, your pup has most likely inherited the floppy ears from one or both of his parents.
In this case, you should ask yourself whether a correction is really necessary and what’s in it for your dog. On the other hand, if you find your German Shepherd’s floppy ears funny and cute, you don’t have to stress if they are going to perk up at all.
But if you decide to correct your pup’s ears, do it after he has finished teething and do it right. It’s unnecessary and cruel to put your dog through pain and discomfort just for the sake of beauty.
How to Make my German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?
If your puppy has finished teething and his ears haven’t started to perk up, it’s up to you to decide if you want to nudge them in the right direction. Below, we’ll look at different ways that can help your German Shepherd’s ears to stand up.
Taping German Shepherd Ears
Taping is by far the most common practice when it comes to correcting German Shepherd ears. Recommended by vets and breeders, taping is a painless and non-surgical approach that should get your dog’s ears to perk up.
Please note, while taping can help your dog’s ears to stand up, it can’t beat genetics, and might not always work. So if you don’t see any change after some time, you should stop and just accept your dog the way he is, floppy ears and all.
How to Tape my German Shepherd’s Ears?
As mentioned above, it’s very important that you don’t start taping your dog’s ears too early! Give your dog time to develop and let him finish teething before you attempt to correct his ears in any way.
When it comes to taping there are two methods you can try:
For this method, you’ll need foam hair rollers, thin white surgical tape, and a Popsicle stick. Don’t use any duct tape or other similar products and remove the plastic part from the hair roller and use just foam.
Place the foam roller inside your dog’s ear and wrap the ear around it making sure that everything is in a vertical position. Next, use the thin surgical tape to wrap the ear around the foam roller starting from the tip and working your way to the base.
Repeat the same for the other ear, and once both ears are taped use the popsicle stick and attach it horizontally across the top of both ear tips.
Keep the ears taped for a week and then remove the wrap to see if the ears are standing up. If the ears are erect you don’t have to wrap them again.
But if they aren’t, give your dog a break for one day and tape the ears again. Continue wrapping the ears until they are standing up.
Your pooch will probably find it strange to have his ears wrapped and will most likely tear the tape several times. When this happens, just re-apply everything again and your dog will eventually get used to having his ears wrapped.
For this method, you should use dog ear support forms, or as an alternative, you can cut two ears supports out of moleskin. You will also need a skin bond adhesive and adhesive remover that won’t cause skin irritation or pull on your dog’s hair.
Once you have everything close at hand, apply the skin adhesive on the ear form and skin making sure that nothing gets inside the ear canal. Slowly place the ear form inside the ear making sure that it fits nicely at the base and the tip of the ear.
While you tape the ears make sure that there are no wrinkles, creases, or folds on the outside. The ear should stand up and be completely smooth on the outside.
Is Taping Dog Ears Safe?
When done right, taping is a painless and safe method that can help your dog’s ears to stand up. The idea behind taping is to help the cartilage to form properly and become strong enough to hold the weight of a dog’s ears.
While painless, taping can cause discomfort and irritate your dog, so you should consider if it’s really worth it. Bear in mind that nothing is stronger than genetics and that taping might not work for your pooch.
Other Methods in Making Your Dog’s Ear Stand up
Although many German Shepherd owners use taping to correct their dogs’ ears, there are many less invasive, but highly effective methods that you should try first. Let’s take a look:
Chewing on safe puppy chew toys is the easiest way you can help your dog’s ears to stand up. Not only will chewing help with teething, but it will also help your dog to exercise his jaw, head, and neck muscles, thus making them strong enough to hold the weight of his ears.
Many owners believe that supplementing their German Shepherds’ diet with calcium will help their ears to stand up. However, your dog’s ears are made from cartilage, not bone, and calcium doesn’t have any effect on the development of the cartilage.
If you want to supplement your pup’s diet, it’s much safer to supplement it with Glucosamine which lubricates the joints and supports healthy cartilage. As always, you should first talk with your vet to see if your German Shepherd puppy can benefit from using supplements.
Feeding your puppy with high-quality dog food is essential for his overall well-being and proper development. Make sure that you are feeding your pup with the highest quality food you can afford, and steer clear from brands that use fillers such as wheat, corn, or soy.
Check For Parasites
Parasites can hamper your dog’s development, jeopardize his overall health, and will also affect his ears. Intestinal parasites such as tapeworms and roundworms will steal nutrients from your pup causing poor health and deficiencies.
So, do routine fecal tests and keep up with deworming treatments to keep intestinal parasites at bay. Furthermore, get your dog tested for heartworms and talk with your vet about a preventative care plan.
Protect Ears From Trauma
The cartilage inside the ears is very fragile and prone to all sorts of damage while German Shepherds are puppies. At this time, any kind of injury to the ear can damage the cartilage and make it impossible for the ear to stand up.
Hence, do your best to keep your pup’s ears protected from any rough play, pulling, biting, tugging, and tumbling with other dogs to prevent trauma to the ear.
If despite your best efforts your German Shepherd’s ears haven’t perked up, you can consider surgical ear implants. For this procedure, your dog will be under anesthesia and will need pain medication and some time to fully recover.
In our opinion, it’s pointless to subject any dog to pain for cosmetic reasons and you should really consider if you are willing to go down this road.
German Shepherd Ear Health
Like all other purebred dogs, German Shepherds are prone to certain genetic health problems. This breed doesn’t suffer from any inherited ear problems, however German Shepherds that have allergies can experience recurring ear infections.
If this is the case, the most important thing is to discover the allergen and limit your dog’s exposure to it. By doing so, you will also minimize the chance of painful ear infections.
Taking Care of Your German Shepherd’s Ears
As with any other dog, you should care and examine your German Shepherd’s ears regularly. Examine your dog’s ears once a week and use a vet-approved ear cleaning solution to remove any waxy buildup, dirt, or debris.
To clean your dog’s ears, squeeze a few drops of ear cleaning solution directly into the ear canal and massage the base of the ear. Use a cotton ball to wipe out all the dirt and the excess cleaning solution.
Don’t use ear swabs and don’t push anything inside your dog’s ear since this can lead to injury and deafness. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your dog’s ears, you can ask your vet to show you how or let him do it for of you.
Is There Something Wrong with My Dog’s Ears?
By five months of age, most German Shepherds show some signs that their ears will perk up. Pups that have floppy ears at this stage are either not developing properly or the problem is genetic in nature.
At this time your puppy should eat high-quality food that is abundant in all essential nutrients that are necessary for proper development. But if this is already the case, you should schedule an appointment with your vet for a full check-up.
More often, German Shepherds inherit floppy ears from their parents, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Of course, you can try taping your pup’s ears and hope it will work, but it would be much easier to accept your dog the way he is.
In the end, floppy ears are an aesthetic problem and won’t prevent your pooch from being the most amazing pet you have ever had.
Is Taping German Shepherd Ears a Common Practice?
Taping German Shepherd ears is a common practice for many breeders and is often done with dogs who compete at dog shows. However, many owners aren’t concerned with the way their dogs’ ears look and even find floppy ears refreshing and fun.
What Else Can I Do to Make German Shepherd Ears Stand Up?
There are many things you can try to help your German Shepherd’s ears to stand up. However, be patient and give your dog time to finish teething and develop properly before you pull out the big guns and start taping his ears.
Be vigilant and don’t allow other dogs or children to play rough with your Shepherd’s ears. No one should pull, bite, or squeeze your pup’s ears while they are still developing.
Furthermore, start caring about your dog’s ears from a young age. You should check the ears weekly for dirt and waxy buildup, and gently clean them with a cotton ball when necessary.
And as always, whenever in doubt, talk with your vet and see if there is something else you can do to help your pup’s ears to stand up. If despite all your efforts your German Shepherd’s ears haven’t perked up till nine months of age, they most likely never will.
In the end, having a healthy and happy German Shepherd is more important than the way his ears are.
All German Shepherds are born with floppy ears. But while most get their signature alert look and erect ears when they finish teething, some Shepherds grow up sporting floppy ears.
While floppy ears aren’t a health problem, there are several different ways to fix them. Taping is by far the most common way to correct German Shepherd ears, but there are many other things you should consider first.
In the end, even if your dog’s ears never stand up on their own, he’ll still be an amazing, devoted, and loyal companion.
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