When Will My German Shepherd's Ears Stand Up?
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 GSD (German Shepherd dog), 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 GSD's cartilage is not strong enough and cannot hold up the weight of his big ears. But as he grows and gets the right nutrition, he develops stronger cartilage. This process usually takes about 20 weeks.
When he starts to wean himself out of the teething phase, you will likely begin to notice his ears fluctuating between floppy and pointy. You might see them rise when he perks up in response to a noise but see them flop down quickly afterwards.
If his 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 his 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 German Shepherds may take up to seven months. If his ears do not stand up by the time he is 8 months old, they are probably never going to stand up because this is the time when most GSD's ears take permanent form.
Is There Something Wrong With My Dog's Ears?
If five months have passed and his ears have still not perked up, it could be an indication that he is either not developing properly or that he is not getting proper nutrition. Your dog should have a diet that is abundant in protein, calcium, and vitamin D. If he is not getting enough of these nutrients from his puppy food, it might be time to switch to a higher-quality food. If you are really worried, you should take him 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 his 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:
- 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 “pure” German Shepherds.
- 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 GSD.
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. The idea is that taping trains the cartilage the same way weightlifting trains the muscle. However, it's not a very effective method because you can't fix genetics.
What Else Can I Do to Make German Shepherd Ears Stand Up?
If your GSD does not have the right genetics for pointy ears, then there is nothing you can do. However, if he has shown signs that his ears are going to perk up, then there are a few things you can do to protect them from damage.
- Keep him 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.
- It is also important to talk to children and other family members about handling the puppy in a gentle manner.
- If you see dirt inside his 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 him to the vet for a professional cleaning.
When did your shepherd's ears finally stand up?
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