German Shepherds' Ears

Find out why German Shepherd Dogs' ears become limp or floppy and what you can do to help them stand up.

By By Kitson Jazynka | Posted: March 27, 2012, 6p.m. EDT

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The German Shepherd Dog breed standard calls for ears standing at attention. Most German Shepherds’ ears eventually will stand on their own. Occasionally, however, a rogue ear succumbs to gravity. This might be temporary and related to teething.

"Dogs’ ears are cross-related to their teeth,” says Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a German Shepherd Dog expert in Atlanta, Ga. "When the teeth on the right side start to fall out, the left ear falls down and vice versa.” Battaglia says stressful situations – such as weaning, leaving his littermates, receiving vaccinations or being introduced to a new home or people – also contribute to a dog’s limp ears.

German Shepherd Puppy. Photo: Bowtie Inc, Gina Cioli

"There is a lot going on for a German Shepherd puppy to deal with, and it will take work to get those ears up,” Battaglia says. "For some reason, stress makes it difficult.”

However, in some cases, particularly in a large male German Shepherd puppy, an ear is just too heavy to stand up on its own. Constant creasing of the dog’s ear limits the blood supply to the ear and reduces the chances of it standing erect.

Some owners and breeders tape their German Shepherd’s ears up while others use glue and foam cones. In addition, Battaglia recommends using curiosity to help a German Shepherd puppy’s floppy ears stand up. She suggests temporarily isolating the dog so she can’t see but can only hear what’s going on around her.

"Your GSD puppy will be listening, which makes her ear muscles work to hear what’s going on,” Battaglia says. "Your puppy’s curiosity will make those muscles in her ears work and help them stand up.”

Excerpt from the Popular Puppies Series magabook German Shepherd Puppies with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase German Shepherd Puppies here.


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Becky   Prospect Park, Pennsylvania

2/13/2013 8:15:40 AM

What if the ear lays across his head but he does bring it up from time to
time.
He is 53 pounds and almost 18 weeks old ( 2 days shy)? He hasn't lost any teeth yet. Should I worry?

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