German shepherd dogs are very special. They are extremely loyal and intelligent. They will protect you no matter what and will guard you against any person or animal that wants to hurt you.
You may have a question “why my German Shepherd’s ears are floppy.” In this article, we will uncover everything about German Shepherd floppy ears and discuss how to make them pointy, medically. But is it ethical? Is it legal? Let’s find out.
German Shepherd Anatomy
Health-wise, this breed has some problems like any other purebred dog. The joints and cartilages are the main issues. German Shepherds are prone to CHD canine hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and arthritis.
Their cartilages grow rapidly and need good nutrition. Otherwise, it will affect not only the growth of the cartilage but also the joints.
For example, in the case of Osteochondritis Dissecans where the cartilage breaks away from the bone. The outer ear is made of cartilage. The growth and posture of the ear are affected by the health of the cartilage.
Why Do German Shepherd Ears Always Stand Up?
German shepherds are known for their pointy ears. When they have first bred, the intention was for them to be herding dogs.
You can notice how they are always alerted and can hear and react to the smallest sound. The breeders made sure that German Shepherds have pointy ears who are always up to give them a special look.
Medically speaking, this breed has robust and flexible cartilages in its outer ear that help them stand up.
Why Are My German Shepherd Ears Floppy and Not Pointy?
1. Your German Shepherd Is Still A Puppy
All GSD (German Shepherd Dogs) have floppy ears when they are puppies. In fact, it is unnatural for them to have pointy ears when they are less than 5 months old.
German Shepherd Puppy Ears Stages:
(i) From 0 to 5 Months Old
GSD will for sure have their ears down due to teething. Teething is the process where a puppy loses his baby teeth and their adult teeth grow in. It starts when they are 3 weeks old and ends when they are 5-6 months old.
During this process, the teeth require a lot of calcium to support their growth. Therefore, they would absorb the calcium from other areas such as the cartilages of the ears. This absorption will leave the puppy’s ears weak and unable to stand up.
Don’t worry! This is a normal procedure that every puppy goes through. You might see your puppy’s ears stand up every once in a while when they hear a noise, this is a very good sign, it means the cartilages are starting to grow.
(ii) From 5 to 6 Months Old
When the teething stops, it’s time for the ears to stand up. Don’t panic if they don’t! Some dogs take a longer time than usual depending on their health, and genes. During the growing period, it is extremely important to provide your dog with good nutrition.
(iii) From 6 to 8 Months Old
This is the period where you can start questioning why the ears have not stood up yet. Health issues, malnutrition, breeding, genes, and injuries can be your concern.
(iv) Older than 8 Months Old
The floppy ears may be the consequence of bad nutrition.
During their growth, puppies need good nutrition in general. But GSD is more sensitive than other breeds. Plus, bad nutrition can cause them a lot of health issues like hip dysplasia from an early age, and anorexia. In that scenario, surely the cartilage of the ear will not develop, leaving your dog with floppy ears.
2. Your Puppy Might Have An Ear Infection
Disorders of the ear in dogs can be a reason why your GSD ears are not pointy. Sometimes it is only one ear that goes down when there’s an infection unless the disease is in both ears. There are a lot of ear disorders your dog can have which will make his ears floppy including:
Your puppy might have an environmental allergy to either dust, pollen, mold, or food allergy. The ears become red, swollen, and irritated and can cause your GSD pain as well. The vet will diagnose the reason for the allergy by studying your dog’s health history, environment and food. They might change their diet, and prescribe medications. Usually, allergies need lifelong management.
(ii) Ear Mites
Otodectes Cynotis, commonly known as ear mites are mites that live in animals’ ears. They cause a lot of itchiness and you will see them as unusually dark-colored ear wax. The vet will usually diagnose it by putting a sample from the dark wax under the microscope. But don’t worry! the treatment is not hard or complicated and it takes between a week and 10 days for your dog to completely heal.
(iii) Bacterial or Yeast Infection
Otitis interna also known as inflammation of the inner ear is caused by either fungus (yeast) or bacteria. How can this happen? It can be secondary to ear mites or caused by a foreign body such as grass, or even water.
If you’ve ever taken your dog to a groomer who is not very attentive; then chances are water accidentally gets into your dog’s ears which may cause them an infection.
An ear hematoma is when an ear gets swollen and filled with fluids. It is mainly caused by scratching and head shaking. This can be secondary to bacterial and yeast infections as well as ear mites. Treatment usually involves surgery to drain the fluids out.
(v) Inflammation of the Cartilage
Also known as auricular chondritis. It’s the inflammation of the outer ear of the dog. It might become permanent if not treated immediately. It is considered rare but it usually happens in both ears and causes your dog’s floppy ears. Auricular chondritis will cause red ears, swelling, and deformation. It can also manifest in other parts of the body like joints and eyes.
3. Trauma or Injury
Your dog’s ears can be injured when they are still puppies. The cartilages of the ears are not fully developed and they are not the strongest. So, they can easily be injured. Injuries can occur when the puppies are roughly playing together or when you are playing with your own dog. This is why it is very important to be careful and not to touch or pull or twist your puppy’s ears while playing.
4. Breeding and Genes
If your dog is completely healthy and is not a puppy anymore, the only explanation left is breeding and genes. Dogs inherit traits from the father and the mother. Some traits are recessive which means they require 2 copies of the gene from each parent. So they can appear, and other traits are dominant which means they require only 1 copy of the gene for the trait to appear on the dog.
Floppy ears are a dominant trait, you can check with your breeder about the history of your dog and about the parents. If one of the parents has floppy ears, it can be a reason why your GSD has them as well. But do not worry. If the floppy ears are only a result of breeding, it does not cause any health issues and your dog will live a normal life with his cute ears.
How to Choose the Best Food for Your GSD?
❌ When searching for food, stay away from commercial brands you find in grocery shops.
✅ Choose dry food manufactured by veterinarians.
✅ Choose dry food labeled puppy and change into an adult when your dog grows up.
Additional Note: Most veterinarians will tell you to give your German Shepherd puppy glucosamine supplements to avoid canine dip dysplasia at an early age.
How Can You Make Sure Your GSD Will Have Pointy Ears?
✅ Check with the breeder about the dog’s family history.
✅ Clean your dog’s ears regularly and check them for any infection or odd smell or deformation.
❌ Do not play roughly with your dog’s ears. You might injure them.
✅ Feed high-quality meals designed for puppies to help their cartilages grow.
✅ Get your puppy some chewing toys to strengthen the muscles.
❌ Do not use any medical procedure by yourself to make the ears stand up. Instead, contact your Veterinarian.
How to Get a German Shepherd’s Ears From Floppy to Pointy?
There are several procedures a vet can do to help the ears stand up. But not all of them are safe and ethical. And, in some of them, your dog has to be a puppy so the procedures can work.
1. Ear Cropping
This procedure is a cosmetic surgical procedure. The vet will cut and shape your dog’s ears. Though, it’s considered very unethical, unnecessary, and painful to your dog. For this reason, ear cropping became illegal in many countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
But why is it unethical? Your dog will go through an unnecessary surgery which is very painful. Ultimately, it may have complications just for cosmetic purposes and no medical reason. Even in countries where it is legal, a lot of vets refuse to do it.
2. Ear Implants
It is a new surgical procedure. The vet will implant silicone in your dog’s ear to make it stand up. This procedure is still new and getting tested more and more. But for now, no complications have been seen. Except for infections that depend on the vet’s work and the environment of the dog.
If an infection occurs, the implants need to be removed and treatment needs to be done. In this surgery, your dog doesn’t have to be a puppy. It can be done to adult dogs as well. For now, it is successful, but just like ear cropping, it is unnecessary. Because your dog will be the same with pointy and floppy ears.
3. Ear Taping
It is a procedure where the ears are taped to train them to stay up. It usually takes between 5-6 months before removing the tape. But it won’t be successful if the dog is not between 4-5 months old.
If you tape your dog’s ears at 8 months old, there’s a lower chance that this procedure will work and your dog won’t have floppy ears anymore.
Even if you see a lot of DIY videos of how to tape your dog’s ear by yourself, please refrain from doing it alone. Leave it to your veterinarian.
But keep in mind that taping will cause a lot of discomfort and pain to your GSD and if placed wrong it can cause a lot of injuries and won’t be successful. Ear taping can be considered unethical as well because of the unnecessary pain and discomfort it brings to your dog.
Does It Matter if Your German Shepherd Dog Ears Never Stand Up?
Not at all! As long as there are no health issues it is completely harmless for your dog to have floppy ears. Your GSD doesn’t care about how they look. They do not care about appearance at all. They just care about you, your safety, and your happiness.
This is why you should love them no matter how they look because it doesn’t matter if a dog is a purebred or mixed breed with pointy or floppy ears, black or white. What matters is that they will love you unconditionally.
Why do German shepherd ears stand up? GSD has pointy ears because of breeding, it gives them a special look as if they are always alerted. Thanks to their strong ear cartilages as well. That makes the ear robust and flexible.
Why does my German Shepherd have floppy ears? It can be because of many reasons. Trauma, age, infection, malnutrition, genetics, breeding, etc.
When do German shepherd ears stand up? GSD has ear stages. If they are younger than 6 months old, it is normal for them to have floppy ears. Those usually start becoming pointy after 6 months.
How to make sure your dog will have pointy ears? Good nutrition, gentle playing, chew toys, clean ears.
Lamis has remarkable humility, empathy and generosity. Out of love for animals, she founded her own animal rescue team. As of now, this team rescued, treated and rehomed over 60 animals!
She has worked as an Intern in various veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. She has also had numerous voluntary experiences including blood donations and creating educational content for her countrymen.
Currently, she’s pursuing her Master’s Degree in Veterinary Medicine at Lebanese Public University.
She’s CPD certified in –
- Small Animal Nutrition
- Nutrition of Hospitalized Cats
- Dog Grooming
- Pet Psychology