How to Make Dog Ears Stand Up [From Floppy to Pointy]

The best way to make dog ears stand up is to tape the ears using medical tape. This is especially important in younger dogs. If you keep the ears taped as a puppy, you’ll train them to stand on their own as an adult. It’s also best to avoid ear scratching during the training process.

If your dog is supposed to have ears that stand up but have become floppy, here's a few ways to keep them standing

Our adorable furry friends come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and breeds.

Each individual dog breed possesses a variety of distinguishable characteristics, both physically and mentally.

When it comes to the physical aspects of a dog, certain attributes have been bred into them for thousands of years.

Amongst these physical features, pointy ears are notoriously sought after. Whether it be for health reasons or aesthetics, getting your dog’s ears to stand up is a delicate process.

In today’s article, we will start by talking about ear cropping, when you can expect the ears to start standing on their own, and how to get your dog’s ears to stand on their own if it doesn’t happen naturally.

From Floppy to Pointy

The process of straightening those adorable floppy ears is called Cropping. Also known as “docking,” this procedure trims the cartilage in the ears, prompting them to stand tall and erect. Some dogs are born with pointy ears and don’t need to get them cropped.

Examples of breeds with naturally pointy ears include: German Shepard’s, Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and Boston Terriers. The AKC (American Kennel Association) acknowledges twenty different breeds with pointy ears.

But what if your dog has floppy ears even though they’re a breed with naturally pointy ears? The good news is this is easily fixable, but before you take action to fix things, let’s make sure you understand the developmental timeline.

Pointy Pup’s – Understanding The Timeline

Just when you think a puppy couldn’t get any more irresistible, they meet you with that wet nose and impossibly floppy ears. But wait a minute…my puppy is a German Shepard, shouldn’t they have pointy ears? Yes! You are absolutely right; they just haven’t grown in yet.

It Can Take Up to Eight Months

When puppies are first newborns, they are deaf and blind for a couple days. Their eyes and ears are both securely clamped down. When the pups are around 13-16 days old, the eyes will begin to open, and the ears will begin to point. Keep in mind that if you don’t see the ears point right away, the process may take additional time, up to 8 months! If you are concerned that your pup might not have those pointy delights, you may just have to be patient and wait a little longer.

What About Teething?

Teething can also affect the stature of the pup’s ears. When puppies experience teething (which is around three weeks of age), they develop increased calcium deposits. Some of this calcium is directed to the cartilage in the ears, weighing them down, causing them to turn a bit droopy. After they are done teething (about 6-7 weeks of age), their ears should return to normal.

Ears May Go Up and Down

Dog owners may get excited when they see their puppy’s ears starting to perk up, but then get confused when they see them drop back down a few weeks later. This is completely normal. If the ears begin to perk up, it’s a good sign that your dog will eventually develop pointy ears. The reason they may drop down for a few weeks is because muscle and cartilage are still developing.

The Eight-Month Rule

If the puppy still doesn’t have perky ears after eight months, they’re likely not going to naturally develop. This is where you can come in and help with the process. In the sections below, we will talk about things you can do to help make your dog’s ears stand up, but don’t attempt any of them unless your puppy is at least eight months old. It’s much better to wait to see if it will happen naturally.

Should I Crop My Dogs Ears?

Cropping or docking a dog’s ears has stood in the controversial spotlight for years. Vets and other professionals recommend only docking their ears for medical reasons, rather than vanity.

I know what you’re thinking…what medical reason would there be to get your dog’s ears cropped? Certain dogs may have sensitive skin, and floppy ears may potentially cause further irritation to this. Additionally, certain breeds are more prone to ear infections. Getting the ears cropped can reduce the number of ear infections.

Breeds such as Boxers are notoriously used as service dogs. It is said that the pointy ears help hone their senses, allowing them to perform their job much more effectively.

Here at Dogdorable, we don’t support cropping for aesthetic purposes. But if your vet recommends getting the ears cropped for medical reasons, follow your vet’s advice.

How to Get Dog Ears To Stand Up

Now that we’ve gone into detail about when to expect your dog’s ears to stand up, and whether or not you should get your dog’s ears cropped, let’s talk about getting those pointy ears to stand up on their own.

Strengthen The Jaw and Head Muscles

This should be the first thing you try when attempting to get your dog’s ears to stand up. The jaw and head muscles are important for holding up the ears. Weak muscles will typically result in floppy ears.

So how do you strengthen these muscles? By letting your dog do what it does best…chew on something! Get your dog a couple chew toys and let them go to town. Encourage them to chew as much as possible throughout the day. This may mean putting a small amount of peanut butter on the chew toy.

The more they chew on the toy, the stronger their jaw and head muscles will become. After a few weeks, you should begin to see the ears standing up.

Remember, give this method a try before any of the others. It’s always best to stick to natural methods when possible.

Trim Up That Ear Hair

If you’re struggling to keep those ears nice and pointy, you may have to break out the trimmer. Thick fur on the ears can cause them to sag. By trimming this fur, you can alleviate the pressure on the ears, allowing them to claim their rightfully erect stature. So before doing anything else, take a look at your dog’s fur and see if the fur is preventing the ears from standing up.

Avoid Calcium

I mentioned above that calcium in the teething stage can prompt fluffy ears. Well, this is an issue that can carry into adulthood.

Avoiding diets with high calcium (or calcium supplements) is essential for fixing the issue. If your pup enjoys milk, there are a wide variety of healthy milk alternatives on the market. These substitutes are still packed with essential nutrients.

Avoid the Ear Scratches

Impossible as it may seem, try to avoid scratching those adorable little ears of theirs. Repeated pressure on the ears may cause those pointy delights to become arched and droopy. This will be the ultimate test of self-control.

Taping the Ears

When you hear this, you may think of someone breaking out a roll of scotch tape. Thankfully it’s much more complex than that.

Taping a dog’s ears is a tactic most commonly used by breeders. Using cloth medical tape, this process sets the dog’s ears in a certain position and trains them to stand straight after the tape is removed.

If you plan on taping their ears, you need to begin this process at an early age. Typically, you want to begin the taping process as early as 4-6 weeks of age. But if you start late, around 4-6 months of age, the process will take much longer, and might not even work at all. The sooner you start, the better.

Now, before you get to taping, you need to prepare your pup for the process.

Before you begin, be sure to trim any excess hair out of the way. Not only does this help the tape stay adhesive, but it eliminates any extra weight dragging those ears down.

Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and thoroughly clean the inside of the ears. Be sure that your hands are freshly washed beforehand.

Now cut out 3 pieces of tape and lay them on top of each other, creating a 3-layer strip. Be sure to trim the corners of the tape to get a perfect fit when you place it on the ears.

When setting the tape, be sure to press it flat on the ear, lining it with the ridge of the cartilage. Gently press it down as flat as you can.

After a few days, their ears will naturally secrete enzymes that will defect the tape’s adhesiveness. You will have to replace the tape every 4-5 days until the ears begin to stand independently.

Depending on when you start taping your pup, this process will only take about 3-4 weeks.

There are many reasons you may want to crop those floppy ears, but be sure of your reason. Altering a dog’s body should only be done for essential reasons. If you are considering pursuing this route, be sure to consult your vet or a professional breeder to make sure this is the right choice for your pup.

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