German Shepherds stand out for their pointy ears. In fact, the breed standard requires this characteristic. However, this is not the only ear position these dogs experience in their lifetimes, and it is not the only ear type that adult German Shepherds can have either.
They go through several different ear positions while they are teething. Most notable is the floppy-eared stage that all German Shepherd puppies go through.
When your dog does not advance out of this stage, there are specific steps that you can take to help train his ears to stand upright, including taping. Eventually, most GSDs will progress to having pointy ears.
This guide will discuss the various German Shepherd ear development stages in-depth. I will also cover taping floppy ears. Let’s begin!
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German Shepherd Floppy Ears
All German Shepherd puppies start with floppy ears. Your pup’s ears will stand up when he is anywhere from 8 weeks to 8 months old, which typically coincides with the end of teething. However, some adult German Shepherds will have floppy ears. There are several causes for this.
- Genetics. There is also a genetic trait in some German Shepherds to have floppy ears. When one or both of the parents has floppy ears, there is a strong chance that the offspring will inherit this trait. If this is the case with your dog, there is not much you can do about his floppy ears.
- Rough play. GSD puppies play rough, and a lot of times, this can affect their ears through nips and bites. Cartilage is not like the skin because it is not highly vascularized. Compared to other parts of your dog’s body, his ears have fewer blood vessels to transport nutrients to them.
- Injury. When your dog’s ears get injured, it takes longer for them to heal than other areas of his body. You can support the healing times by offering him a healthy, balanced diet. You may even consider food specially formulated for German Shepherds.
- Ear infections. Because they have such dense fur, German Shepherds are highly susceptible to ear infections. The coat interferes with the air circulation of the ear canals, setting up the perfect circumstances for infections and mites. Signs of these problems include shaking the head and pawing the ears. You may notice that your dog’s ears are flopping as well.
The ears may go up for a bit during the teething process and then return to the floppy position. After more time passes, the ears should return to the upward position again.
Learn Why Dogs Have Floppy Ears In This Video…
If your German Shepherd’s ears are still floppy after eight months, the chances are they will remain floppy for the duration of his life. However, even after nine months, there are several methods that you can try that will assist in training his ears to stand.
When your puppy reaches eight months old and still has floppy ears, you can try giving him chew toys to work out his jaw muscles.
Chewing on toys will work his temporalis muscle, which is one of the muscles involved in supporting upright ears. Check out this article for some cool ideas, Best Chew Toys For German Shepherds.
You can also consider taping your German Shepherd’s ears or getting surgical implants. Ear taping can be done at home, while surgical implants will need to be administered by a veterinarian in a sterile environment.
Should You Post or Tape Your German Shepherd’s Ears?
Taping/posting a German Shepherd puppy’s ears after 7 or 8 months may be too little, too late. The ear may be set in its position at this stage, and the procedure may not have much effect.
If your puppy’s ears show no signs of standing up at four months old, you may want to consider taping.
How To Post Your GSDs Ears
You can use large pink, spongy hair rollers to do the job. Discard the hard plastic clip from the inside of each roller and only keep the spongy foam parts.
You will also need surgical tape (never use duct tape, electrical tape, or similar tape as this will cause more damage to your German Shepherd’s ears than good), skin bond adhesive, and one unsharpened pencil.
Steps to Follow
- The first step is to insert the pencil into one of the rollers roughly one inch to create a handhold.
- Next, apply the skin glue to the roller about ¾ of the way around the roller. Ensure it is well-covered, but do not use it so much that it oozes or drips off the roller. Be careful that none of the adhesives drips down into your dog’s ear canal.
- Hold the pencil end of the roller and wrap the puppy’s ear around the glue-covered roller. Then tape the ear into a fairly firm roll in an upright position. The roller must be placed inside and near the bottom of the ear flap.
- There should be two fingers’ worth of an opening above the puppy’s head and the bottom of the roller inside the ear flap. Ensure that the roller’s ear canal is not entirely blocked, as your puppy will still need to hear.
- Remove the pencil from the roller. You will have to keep your puppy distracted for a few minutes until the glue has time to dry. The rollers will fall out on their own in roughly a week. You can remove them before this if you need to.
Taping is intended to provide support to the cartilage of the ears so that it can form adequately and be strong enough to make the ears stand up. It is a painless procedure, but it can cause some discomfort for your dog.
Additionally, if your German Shepherd is genetically predisposed to having floppy ears, no amount of taping will override his genes.
When GSD Ears Stand Up/Ear Stages
Your puppy will rock the floppy-eared look from newborn to 5 months old. His ears may perk up and flop back down during teething, which begins around 3 months old. Once teething is over, his ears will once again perk up.
From 5 to 6 months old, your puppy’s ears will begin to stand up. At this stage, they may be somewhere in the middle. One ear may be standing while the other is floppy, or both may be half-standing. You may even have a German Shepherd who has both ears fully upright at this age!
At 6 to 8 months old, your puppy’s ears should be fully upright. If they are not, you will have to visit your veterinarian or breeder for advice on what to do. In many cases, if a dog’s ears are not standing by 8 months old, they will not stand at all.
German Shepherd Ear Positions
There are several German Shepherd ear positions that you will observe as your puppy grows from a newborn to 8 months old.
First, he will have teensy ears from birth to 7 weeks of age.
From approximately 7 to 10 weeks, your puppy’s ears will do the side flop. This is when his ears will flop to both sides.
His ears will experience the flying nun position from 10 to 14 weeks. For this position, his ears will still be flopped to the sides but will be slightly lifted.
Starting at around 14 weeks, his ears will be in the comb-over position where both ears will flop to one side of his head or the other.
Anywhere from 15 weeks on, his ears will go into the seashell position. This position has the ears mostly upright but not quite all the way.
At some point, one ear may flop over while one is upright in the one-up ear position. This position may be concerning because an ear that was previously upright suddenly flops over. However, it is temporary, and the ear will return to normal.
Finally, once these stages have been cycled through, the ears will go into the perfect upright position. Note that not all stages will be experienced by every dog.
Pointy ears are a feature of most adult German Shepherd Dogs. They are a product of the dog’s flexible and robust cartilage that allows the ears to stand upright.
Inherited from their wild ancestors, pointy ears were a feature used in hunting food. They needed their ears to be perked upright to be alert to threats. Now when a German Shepherd’s ears are perked up, it indicates that they are alert, engaged, and listening to every sound.
Do you want to know what all the German Shepherd’s ear positions mean? Check out this article: GSD Ear Positions Meaning: 4 Examples with Pictures!
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German Shepherd Ear Guide Conclusion
German Shepherds cycle through various stages of ear positions during their development. Typically by the time they are done teething, their ears are pointy.
For those dogs whose ears have not perked up by 8 months of age, extra effort will have to be made by their owners. Their ears will have to be taped. Nonetheless, if they are genetically predisposed to having floppy ears, no amount of intervention will cause the ears to perk up.