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A floppy eared German Shepherd dog is an adorable sight to see. With one ear upright and the other down cuteness abounds!
But you might worry about when will your German Shepherd’s floppy ears stand up?
How can you fix those floppy ears?
It’s natural and I’ll tell you exactly how to help fix a German Shepherd with floppy ears.
When Do A German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?
A German Shepherd’s ears stand up when they are around 5 months old, or about 20 weeks of age. This normally happens shortly after they stop teething as the cartilage and muscles that support their ears become stronger.
What if my puppy has floppy ears longer than 5 months old?
It’s totally fine if your GSD’s ears don’t stand up around this time!
In fact, some puppy’s ears flop over for up to 8 or 9 months. A German Shepherd puppy with floppy ears at 9 months isn’t anything to alarm yourself over.
Stay calm and take lots of pictures! 📸
You’re going to make yourself smile later when you look at their adorable floppy ears!
Especially if one ear is up and the other is down. Those ears not standing is considered cute and adorable by most owners.
Even in the same litter the pup’s ears may stand at different times from one another. And, some puppy’s ears don’t naturally stand at all.
According to research, about 1 in 5 German Shepherds will have floppy ears throughout their life.
Does It Matter If Your German Shepherd’s Ears Never Stand Up Naturally?
Not at all!
It’s not unhealthy for them to have one ear flopped over and even adds to their fun personality.
And, most of the time, this isn’t a problem. You should take your dog to the vet to have them complete a thorough vet exam if you’re worried. This gives you some reassurance there aren’t any underlying issues.
Generally, there is no need for concern and your GSD is still totally healthy.
Why Does It Take So Long For A German Shepherd’s Ears To Stand Up On Their Own?
A German Shepherd puppy must develop the cartilage and muscle structure to help its ears stand upright. Having their ears stand up takes properly developed muscles and strong cartilage
Young puppies’ bodies simply aren’t mature enough to have the strength that keeps their ears upright.
You might notice that sometimes your GSD puppy’s ears stand up when they hear an interesting noise.
But, then the ears go down after a bit. This is all part of their ear development stages.
Puppy Ear Development
When puppies move their ears up and down the cartilage and muscles gain strength to keep their ears upright. As your dog moves its ears this helps the muscles and cartilage to eventually become strong enough to stand upright naturally.
Your dog’s ears won’t stand up on their own overnight, either.
The cartilage develops over time and gradually the ears will become erect. Again, don’t worry if this doesn’t happen until your German Shepherd is older.
Even at 9 months their ears could still need a bit more time or help to stand erect.
If you notice your GSD doesn’t move their ears at all, even occasionally, then take them to your vet for a check-up.
Why Does My German Shepherd Have Floppy Ears?
You might wonder a lot about why your German Shepherd has floppy ears. Or just have a curiosity to understand more about your floppy-eared German Shepherd.
There are a few reasons your dog’s ears are quite erect… yet.
Some you can help and others are entirely out of your control. There’s no way to 100% guarantee if your dog’s ears will stand up or lie down.
Some common reasons your GSD’s ears might never stand up include:
Physical Damage or Accidents
Improper and Poor Nutrition
Neglecting Ear Cleaning
Some of these you can help prevent, while others are out of your immediate control.
Your dog’s genetics play a large part in their physical appearance – including those cute floppy ears.
If your GSD carries the genes for ears that lie down, instead of standing erect, then more than likely they will have floppy ears.
This means they may have ears that never stand up and are floppy for life.
Some breeders choose to pair parents that both have large, erect ears. And some buyers and owners prefer this larger style of ears for show or aesthetic purposes.
But, there is some theory that breeding a German Shepherd with larger and larger ears might contribute to ears that stay flopped over.
Always see the parents of the puppy you buy from the breeder on the premises to see their appearance.
Physical Damage or Accidents
Puppies are active and mischievous and can get into plenty of trouble. This includes physical damage or accidents that have the cartilage or muscles in their ears.
If this happens their ears may suffer long-term damage and not stand up naturally on their own.
✅How to Keep Their Ears Safe
You should only touch their ears in soft pets to protect their growing bodies from damage or harm.
In order to keep their ears safe don’t:
or twist their ears…
Even if you’re only playing!
It’s possible that rough play between littermates or other dog friends could cause damage or tear the ears. So watch out for a rough play that might lead to ear damage.
And, if your pup has been in an accident that hurt their ears, take them immediately to the vets.
Improper and Poor Nutrition
German Shepherds need balanced nutrition during crucial growing stages, including vitamins and minerals that aid in cartilage and muscle development of their ears.
Improper or poor nutrition doesn’t provide the right building blocks for growth and can hinder their ear development. You should ensure your dog gets the right nutrition from the start to avoid any issues.
Along with Vitamin D, calcium helps strengthen the cartilage to aid in building a strong foundation for the ears to stand up later.
Neglecting Ear Cleaning
Puppies still need ear cleaning when dirt and build-up are overly present. Dirty ears that become neglected can inhibit proper growth and cause discomfort for your dog, causing them to excessively scratch their ears which can cause damage.
Never stick anything into your dog’s ear canal to clean them! This could cause them more harm!
Instead, wipe away the dirt from the skin of the ear with a warm, damp washcloth or use special ear cleaning wipes.
Why Does My German Shepherd Have One Floppy Ear And One Ear Upright?
Occasionally, your German Shepherd might have one floppy ear and one ear standing upright. If they are a small puppy then they are most likely growing and the one ear down still needs time to go upright naturally.
Remember, having one ear up and one floppy ear might mean that your dog hasn’t developed the right amount of cartilage or muscle strength to keep both of their ears upright.
But, there are options to try if you decide to make your German Shepherd’s floppy ears stand up with your help – instead of waiting.
How To Fix A German Shepherd’s Floppy Ears
A floppy-eared German Shepherd should stand upright around 5 months old, around the time they’re done teething. But, if they don’t stand up then you can use the following ways to help them.
These are some of the best techniques that will help their ears to stand up.
How to Tape a Floppy-Eared German Shepherd’s Ears Upright
Taping your German Shepherd’s floppy ears is easy to try and only take a few items.
Foam rollers (from a woman’s curling set with the plastic piece removed)
Next, follow these steps to prop your puppy’s floppy ears upright.
1. Gently Place the Foam Roller Inside Your Dog’s Ear
Take out the plastic clip on the foam roller and gently place the foam roller against the inside skin of your dog’s ear.
Don’t shove the roller in! They only need to sit inside the ear enough to support cartilage growth.
Make sure you check for any creases or folds in their ears before moving on to the next step.
Repeat in the other ear.
2. Make a Popsicle Support
Now, take the popsicle sticks and place them at the top of the foam rollers (both ears should have foam rollers in them at this point).
You might need another pair of hands to help with this, so ask your family or friends to help.
Take the self-adhering waterproof tape and place a medium-size piece across and around the two foam rollers and popsicle sticks. You’re creating a bridge between your pup’s two ears to help align and support them together.
This ensures even and symmetrical growth.
Never, ever shove the popsicle stick into your dog’s ears or you’ll injure them! Make a bridge across their ears instead.
3. Remove and Inspect Their Ears Weekly
Pick a day of the week to remove and inspect your dog’s ears. Take off the wrapping and foam rollers and see if your dog’s ears stand on their own naturally.
Also, look for any soreness from improper taping and if you see any issues don’t keep applying the tape.
If your GSD’s ears flop over then rewrap them the same way to offer more support for a bit longer. If they stand on their own then you’re good to go and you can discontinue the ear taping.
Don’t forget to check and change the tape weekly so you can see the health of your pup’s ears.
4. When to Stop Taping Their Ears
At 9 months old your German Shepherd’s ear should stand on their own, without the ear taping or other measures.
If your German Shepherd puppy is 9 months old and their ears still flop over, please see your vet for further assistance.
This could mean your dog’s ear might permanently stay flopping and fold over and isn’t anything to worry about.
Is Taping A German Shepherd’s Ears Bad For Them?
If you use the right tape to stand up your German Shepherd’s ears then, no, it isn’t bad.
However, if you injure their ears because you’ve taped them improperly or inserted anything too far into their ear canal then, yes, this isn’t healthy and is bad for them.
When in doubt, get your vet to show you what to do for their ears.
Your puppy might become annoyed with the tape on their ears, so they may need close supervision and even some distraction during the taping process.
Are Surgical Ear Implants Safe For A German Shepherd’s Ears?
Ear implants to get your German Shepherd’s ears to stand up are a last resort that you should avoid.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a German Shepherd that has floppy ears and putting them at risk to have any unnecessary surgery to get their ears to stand up can cause them pain.
Speak to your vet about the side effects and pain associated with ear implants.
Best Ways To Get Your German Shepherd’s Ears To Stand Up
You can help prevent floppy ears in your dog by taking the appropriate steps to keep them healthy.
The top ways to help a GSD with floppy ears include:
1. Feed them a high-quality food
Giving your dog the proper nutrition for optimum growth is a necessity, especially when they are puppies and growing rapidly.
Choose a puppy food with the correct ratio of nutrients and vitamins to ensure they get the correct building blocks for development.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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