When Will My German Shepherd's Ears Stand Up?

Updated on July 20, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.

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Classic German Shepherds have ears that stand up straight. But anyone who has ever adopted this breed knows that their ears are floppy when they are young. Some owners, especially those who want a very classic-looking German Shepherd dog (also named Alsatian or abbreviated GSD), are eager to see the ears stand up right away and often wonder whether there is anything they can do to help.

At What Age Do German Shepherd Ears Stand Up Straight?

When your puppy is finished teething (around week 20), his ears should start to stick up or should be all the way up. Why does it take five months for this to occur?

As a puppy, the German Shepherd's cartilage is not strong enough and cannot hold up the weight of their big ears. But as they grow and get the right nutrition, they will develop stronger cartilage. This process usually takes about 20 weeks.

When they start to wean themselves out of the teething phase, you will likely begin to notice their ears fluctuating between floppy and pointy. You might see them rise when they perk up in response to noise but see them flop down quickly afterward.

If their ears can stick up straight during the first five months (prior to the end of the teething phase), then it’s likely that they will be straight and pointy for the rest of their life.

Can This Process Take Longer?

In some dogs, the process will take longer. Every puppy, even puppies from the same litter, will develop differently. Some dogs may take up to seven months. If their ears do not stand up by the time they are eight to nine months old, they are probably never going to stand up because this is the time when most German Shepherd's ears take permanent form.

After 3000 people voting in my poll and a lot of questions in the comment section, I decided to make a table to provide a clear overview. Keep in mind that polls are self-reporting and can contain flaws or biases.

Around 75% of the dogs have their ears standing up in the first three to ten months. The results also show that nearly one in five German Shepherds will never have their ears stand up straight. That number is higher than I expected. I trained in official clubs with purebred dogs and I've rarely or never seen those, which makes me think there are more mixed dogs in the poll or some people voted too early?

Percentage of Dogs Having Ears Standing Up by Age

Age
Percentage of Dogs
3-4 months
28%
5-6 months
25%
7-8 months
16%
9-10 months
6%
11-12months
3%
After 1 Year
4%
Never
18%
Source

Is There Something Wrong With My Dog's Ears?

If five months have passed and their ears have still not perked up, it could be an indication that they are either not developing properly or that they are not getting proper nutrition. Your dog should have a diet that is abundant in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. If they are not getting enough of these nutrients from their puppy food, it might be time to switch to a higher-quality food. If you are really worried, you should take them to the veterinarian for a checkup.

However, most cases of floppy ears are an indication of non-standard genetics rather than lack of nutrition. Owners might want to rectify this problem with taping, but it rarely works because you cannot correct your dog’s biological makeup.

If you are not too picky with your puppy's appearance, then there is no reason to worry if their ears have not perked up by five months of age.

Is Taping German Shepherd Ears a Common Practice?

Many breeders recommend taping, and this is a fairly common practice, especially in show dog circles.

But taping is a less common practice with family or working German Shepherds for two reasons:

  1. Dogs that are bred to be family pets or working dogs are less likely to come from “show lines,” which means they are less likely to be “purebred” dog.
  2. Owners of dogs that are not going to be shown in competitions are sometimes less concerned about their puppies being standard in appearance and may be perfectly happy with a floppy-eared adult German Shepherd.

Source

Is Taping Safe?

Taping, as long as it is done properly, is usually painless, but it rarely works and can cause irritation or annoy your pet.

People who own domestic dogs are generally not as concerned about the appearance of their dogs to the point that they feel it necessary to manipulate their bodies to reach a certain level of appeal. This isn’t always the case though – some dog owners want their dogs to represent the breed as is indicated by clubs and show lines.

Taping ears isn’t always effective, it actually has a high rate of failure, and it will not fix genetics. The idea is that taping a dog’s ears causes the cartilage to form and shape in the same way that weight lifting causes muscles to grow and get stronger.

I have gotten a lot of messages with people asking me about how to do it safely. If you insist on taping your German Shepherd’s ears follow these steps:

  • Talk to a veterinarian before you tape a young dog’s ears and don't start to early, give nature a chance to do its thing.
  • Make sure that they’re in good health. They can’t have parasites, they need to have good nutrition and they need to be physically fit.
  • Use thin, white surgical tape to tape the ears.
  • Wrap the ear around a foam insert and tape them into a tight roll, vertically.
  • Using a popsicle stick, attach the top part of both ears in a horizontal position. Prepare to replace this – the dog’s going to rip it off a few times.
  • Make sure you change it every once in a while. If they don’t come up after a few months, then they’re not going to.

If possible, avoiding taping the ears. German Shepherds won’t like it and they don’t need to have their ears taped for good health.

When Did Your Shepherd's Ears Finally Stand Up?

See results

What Else Can I Do to Make German Shepherd Ears Stand Up?

If your dog does not have the right genetics for pointy ears, then there is nothing you can do. However, if they have shown signs that their ears are going to perk up, then there are a few things you can do to protect them from damage.

  1. Keep them away from puppies or dogs that like to bite or tug on the ears. While this might be cute and normal behavior, it can damage the cartilage and make it impossible for one or both of the ears to stand up properly.
  2. It is also important to talk to children and other family members about handling the puppy in a gentle manner.
  3. If you see dirt inside their ears, clean them very carefully with a wet cotton ball. Never stick anything down the ear canal! If you notice a lot of hair growth or wax, take them to the vet for a professional cleaning.
  4. Play with your dog and do a lot of fun activities. A happy and fit dog has fewer health issues and will be very attentive. You'll probably see those ears perking up in no time. Love your dog the way he is, up or down it doesn't really matter in the end.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2017 Sam Shepards

Comments

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    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      5 days ago from Europe

      It depends on the age of the dog. Some german shepherd puppies have the ears straight up very young and then they go down again when they are teething, but will come up again after that.

      So it all depends on the age of your dog what the chances are the ears will come up again. You can check the table and read the article. Good puppy food, enough play and patience. Some dogs will always have tipping ears or ears that stay very floppy, it's partly genetic.

    • profile image

      King Whalery 

      5 days ago

      My dog ear was standing be for but now it as drop small.what

      can i do

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      2 months ago from Europe

      @Jeff

      They grow up to fast indeed, I love the floppy ears too. Floppy ears and doing something they shouldn't have done or making a mess and showing a sad face will make you fall in love with young German Shepherds over and over again.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      2 months ago

      Floppy eared GSD are so damn cute though.

    • profile image

      jethro 

      3 months ago

      i have a german shepherd he is 6 weeks old but his ear is standing at early age

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      4 months ago from Europe

      @Linda The ears could go down again when teething, so it could all start over.

    • profile image

      Linda Irion 

      4 months ago

      our puppy is 10 weeks and her left ear is standing up and her right one is almost up, that seems a little early from all I have read. looks adorable with 1 up and 1 almost....kind of wish it would stay like that for a little while

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      4 months ago from Europe

      @Sherin,

      This depends on a lot of things... The age and the time that the other ear was straight up. They often are not straight at the same time. Of course it also happens one ear is never straight or tips over. If you feed your dog well and he's happy and playful there is not that much you can do. Sometimes people tape the ears, but I've never done that so I can't recommend anything for tipping ears.

    • profile image

      Sherin 

      4 months ago

      My dog’s left ear is not straight like the right ear. Can someone please explain

    • profile image

      Destiny Runion 

      6 months ago

      I have a German shepherd and he is 12 weeks one ear is standing straight up but the other is half way but not compelty and won’t stand up unless he is listening to something closely is this normal will his ear eventually stand up?

    • profile image

      Rajnish 

      6 months ago

      My gsd have 3 month old but his hair eas not stand

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      7 months ago from Europe

      Hi,

      No there is no problem. But remember they can go down again during teething, so don't worry about that, during the first 3-4 months things can go up down and up again.

      Greetings,

      Sam

    • profile image

      dhanush 

      8 months ago

      is there any problem if german shephered ears stood earlier within 1 months 15 days

    • profile image

      Curtis Mccray 

      8 months ago

      I have a wolf shepherd mix with laid down ears she is six was old .Her mother’s ears stand up but the dads doesn’t.Will her ears have a chance to stand up

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      9 months ago from Europe

      DucHieu,

      If you look at the statistics of the poll, you have about a 6% chance.

      Good dog food and being active with your dog so he's happy is all you can do. In the end you can't beat nature, but I wish you all the best.

    • profile image

      DucHieu 

      9 months ago

      Hi Sam Shepards. My GSD is 10 months old. And his left ear is not stand up yet, but sometimes when he plays, his left ear stand up for a while, so have any oppotunity his ear can stand up after 10 months? Thank you !

    • profile image

      Arjunsinh Bhati 

      9 months ago

      Thanks for this services

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      11 months ago from Europe

      Hi,

      Ramil if you look at the poll you can see that nearly half the people german shepherds ears are not standing up straight around 4 months. So chances are everything will be fine. Is he eating well and being playful/active?

      Is he changing his teeth ?

    • profile image

      Ramil de Guzman 

      11 months ago

      Hello, I'm about to get a german shepherd that's 4 months old, but both his ears are not standing. Although there are moments when he is walking, his ears are perking up, that is when his head is like stooping. There are also times when i'm playing with him and he is lying on his back, his ears go up out of excitement.

      I'm quite concern since this is my 1st GSD, I want my dog's ears to be normal.

      Thank you

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      12 months ago from Europe

      Ruhound, It happens, but the ears will probably go down again before or during teething.

    • profile image

      ruhound 

      12 months ago

      I'm looking to add another GSD puppy to our household. The breeder has 8 week old purebreds. 3 of them already have fully erect ears. In all my years of owning and experiences with GSD puppies I've never known 8 week old puppies to have fully erect ears, no longer folding at all. Is this an oddity ?

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      13 months ago from Europe

      How did you get a 4 week old German Shepherd? You should not be able to buy them younger than 7 weeks in most regulated countries?

      I suggest you look at the poll. It is completely normal.

    • profile image

      SolidTubeGaming 

      13 months ago

      I have a 4 week old German Shepherd, I was wondering if his ears are totally normal being down at his age?

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      13 months ago from Europe

      Nice to hear, just remember the ears will probably go down (or partly dowb) again for a while around the time they start teething etc. Nothing to worry about, completely normal. :)

    • profile image

      Steve 

      13 months ago

      I have a 7 week gsd name Bessie and her ears came up today. The gsd ears are one of best qualities I like best about the breed besides the temperament.

    • profile image

      Daniel 

      13 months ago

      Hi guys I have a 4 1/2 month GSD dog and the ears are still down, is this a cause for concern or should I just leave it take their course??

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      15 months ago from Europe

      How long has the other ear bean standing?

      Does he/she get decent puppy food for large dogs/gsd's?

      Play and be active.

      Overall a lot can still change in 1-2 months.

    • profile image

      Debby Millar 

      15 months ago

      My GS just turned 4 months one ear is standing perfect, other one is still floppy , but does Stan occasionally but only for a minute or so.

      Should I start to worry ?

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      15 months ago from Europe

      Normally nothing 2.5 months is very young. Just keep giving him decent food and play enough.

    • profile image

      Mohit kumar 

      15 months ago

      Dear sir i have 2.5 months old german shepherd puppy but his ears not standing up. So please tell me what should i do.

    • profile image

      RAVI 

      15 months ago

      hi

      i have a mix gsd 5 months old .but his ears is not standing.

      what i do for stand his ears.

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      16 months ago from Europe

      Hi readers,

      Since I get a lot of personal messages with questions like "when will my German Shepherd's ears stand up straight" or my German Shepherd is already 3-4 months and his ears are still flappy, is this normal.

      I can only say it depends and varies between dogs. For a clue take a look at the poll here you see that 50% of dogs will have their ears up between 3-6 months. Around 30% after 6 months and 15-20% will never have their ears completely up.

      Also just remember it's more important to have a happy and loving dog over having the perfect ears.

      Greetz

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      16 months ago from Europe

      Hi,

      13 weeks is still young, just make sure his food is decent and he's happy and all will probably be fine. And indeed even for people who are unfortunate, if you love your german shepherd puppy it normally doesn't matter that much :)

    • profile image

      16 months ago

      My puppy is 13 weeks and his ears stands up randomly but most of the time they're down. Idc I still love him

    • profile image

      Zed222 

      17 months ago

      Hi wendy so i have a german shepherd he is 8 months old and his ears didn't raise i mean from the back of his ears they are raised but in the front they aren't so should i tape them or they will raise when they grow??

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      19 months ago from Europe

      Hi Wendy,

      Just looking at the age the chances are slim. Also if I read correct they are brothers and both have the same issue? Seems like genetics then?

      Greetz

    • profile image

      Wendy 

      19 months ago

      I have two brother GSD they have one ear up and one ear down . They are 15 months old... I feed them Blue wilderness so it is not a nutrition issue

      Are they ever going to go up?

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      19 months ago from Europe

      sudhanshu, is your German Shepherd teething? Shouldn't start worrying before he has changed all his teeth. Als make sure you puppy has good nutrious puppy food.

    • profile image

      sudhanshu 

      19 months ago

      I HAVE A 3 months old GERMAN SHEPERD Puppy his ear is not stands

    • profile image

      Annika Dinescu 

      22 months ago

      It did tell me???

    • profile image

      Mayur banya 

      23 months ago

      Thanku for explaining everything and making me comfortable

    • profile image

      Kyle 

      2 years ago

      I have a 10 week old GSD I believe but a man told me he looks mix. He has a gsd face someone help me

    • profile image

      nishan 

      2 years ago

      i have a 4 months old GSD puppy.His one ear is stand erectly and another one isnt. Does that one also erect properly?

    • profile image

      Angie Hernandez 

      2 years ago

      Thanks for the article good read.. still waiting for our puppy's ears to stand up she just turned 4 months. They stand when she plays & is running around outside but when she's relaxed they're flopped to the side like pippy long stockings lol

    • Sam Shepards profile imageAUTHOR

      Sam Shepards 

      2 years ago from Europe

      Thank you for the response. I do my best to provide information. It stil need some work, for instance calcium is important for you puppies and can be related to ears not standing straight etc.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Yeah! An actual article on HP - not just somebody's latest thought in a discussion or Q & A. It's hard to find real work on this site any more. Good work, and thanks for making the effort!

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