From Spaniels to beagles to retrievers to Bassett Hounds, those adorable floppy ears have stolen tons of hearts worldwide!
But have you wondered why these ears flop as they do (other than to magnify cuteness by a gazillion times, especially in those slow-motion wind-in-my-ears videos)?
Well, if you have, you wouldn’t be the only one; in fact, you’d be among the likes of esteemed intellectuals like Charles Darwin!
Well, not only will this article give you a few answers, but also a list of the top 17 dog breeds with floppy ears.
So Why Do Dogs Have Floppy Ears?
Well, there was a time when dogs were wolves! Even today, both species share a lot of genetic similarities, even though they often look nothing like each other.
After centuries of leaving scientists perplexed, it took Charles Darwin to bring to light a little something known as the “domestication syndrome”, running through every domesticated animal.
Eons ago, wolves and humans started getting friendly, with the tamer specimens of the latter being allowed to chill with humans.
These animals were more manageable and approachable and more likely to stick around and additionally, quite useful! There started the doggo-hooman bonding that was to lead to the former becoming the latter’s best friend.
As wolves became increasingly tame, their natural survival instincts also diminished, in addition to changes in their behavior and appearance. Floppy ears were one such change.
In his book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin explains that dogs’ ears started flopping because of disuse of the ear muscles; dogs didn’t have much cause to be alarmed with all the domestication happening.
In addition to this change, snouts got smaller, brains got smaller, coats got lighter and tails got shorter and/or curlier.
Swiss anatomist Wilhelm His Sr.’s studies further supported this, thanks to his identification of neural crest cells, a special group of cells believed to cause changes in animal physiology and most importantly, the adrenal glands.
As dogs became more domesticated, these neural cells decreased in both number and efficiency, making them more friendly—a trait that carried through generations.
Neural cells are not only responsible for friendly behavior caused by a decrease in adrenaline production; they’re also responsible for producing cartilage in the ears.
In a nutshell, it is mostly agreed that centuries of domestication have led to a cellular-level change in dogs, causing floppy ears.
The Top 17 Floppy-Eared Dog Breeds!
The first on our ‘Top 17’ list is the famous ‘Sleuth Hound’, known for being the best at finding lost people!
Bloodhounds are relatively docile dogs, substantially large; however, don’t let the docility fool you—these dogs can be quite stubborn and relentless.
As stated, bloodhounds are large dogs, measuring anywhere between 23 to 25 (for females) or 25 to 27 inches (for males) inches at the shoulders and weighing between 90-110 pounds (for males) and 80-100 pounds (for females).
Their long, wrinkled faces, with loose skin hanging down, is what they’re recognized by—and large, drooping ears too, of course! Equally adorable are their deep-set eyes, giving them a solemn, wise mien.
Bloodhounds’ coats can be a combination of tan and liver, black and tan, or simply just red.
Their powerful legs make them excellent long-distance sniffers, making quick work of any terrain. These dogs have a lifespan of 10-12 years.
Bloodhounds are extremely friendly dogs owing to being pack dogs, often enjoying the company of other dogs and children.
Easygoing as these droolers are, they are also known to be quite independent, letting their extremely inquisitive noses lead them with wild abandon!
Try pulling them away from the scent and you may just be met with unrelenting stubbornness, but not much that a strong leash, long walks and good training can’t cure.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not only one of the most adorable toy breeds out there but also an extremely royal, graceful and beautiful one; unsurprising, given the breed’s strong connection to British History.
Think a canine equivalent of Mr. Darcy, if you will, combining the physical prowess of a spaniel with the gentle nature that toy breeds generally exhibit!
Cavaliers are generally no taller than 13 inches, weighing 13 to 18 pounds.
What draws you in though, are the large, round eyes coupled with the perpetually gentle, extremely sweet expression—the very embodiment of the “puppy dog eyes”!
Equally attractive is the coat—silky and colored richly—generally available in 4 varieties.
Though Cavaliers do seem to descend from royalty and therefore, are gentle and graceful, they’re extremely friendly dogs with absolutely no air, especially when it comes to bouncing around the backyard or chasing a squirrel into its hole!
Cavaliers are affectionate and sociable, always ready to mingle with other dogs and kids, too. This breed is extremely active but can turn into quite a homebody—it all depends on the owner!
These dogs have a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Another endearing toy breed that hails from Asia, the Japanese Chin is all kinds of noble and charming, with a lovely, generous coat and an aristocratic air.
Japanese Chin manage to be graceful even while being lively and can be quite fastidious, often leading to them being likened to cats!
Japanese Chin are tiny dogs meant for the indoors, displaying their Asian heritage in their physical features as well as their bearing.
These dogs generally weigh between 7 and 11 pounds, measuring between 9 and 11 inches, and have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Chin have large heads with short muzzles, a silky coat and perpetually astonished eyes (in the cutest way possible!) that are dark and round.
Their mane is thickest around the shoulders and neck, while a plumed tail arches over their back and the hind legs display the exoticism and elegance associated with royal Asian breeds.
Defying the stereotype that small dogs are noisy, Japanese Chin are generally quiet dogs, graceful in all that they do.
These noble dogs are loving, charming and lively by nature. Though they do like their daily walks (which dog doesn’t?), they love being indoors and are quite meticulous.
Easily one of the most popular, energetic and merry dog breeds out there, Cocker Spaniels are adored the world over for their huge, endearing eyes and mischievous personality.
Originally hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels, today, have gained quite a reputation for being amazing companions.
It’s unsurprising that Cocker Spaniels spent long years (and are still spending long years!) being one of America’s most favorite dog breeds, especially given their long, silky ears and sweet eyes.
These dogs grow up to 14.5-15.5 inches and weigh 25-30 pounds (for males) and 13.5-14.5 inches and 20-25 pounds (for females). Their lifespan is 10-14 years.
Their coats come in a wide range of colors, while their bodies are sturdy and solid, as is befitting a sporting dog, and they move smoothly and easily.
Cocker Spaniels are happy dogs, eagerly taking any opportunity to play with kids—this makes them great playmates and companions for tots.
They can also be easily trained, the gentle, smart dogs that they are. Cocker Spaniels are deemed perfectly sized by many, large enough to be considered sporting dogs yet small enough to be portable.
Cocker Spaniels love playtime and always have the energy for brisk walks. Their lush coats may require quite a bit of grooming, but the end result is more than worth it!
Beagles, like Spaniels, are excellent hunting dogs that also make for loyal companions. They’re extremely cute thanks to their adorable eyes and expression and their happy-go-lucky nature.
Beagles are of two types, physically—one type measures under 13 inches (under 20 pounds) and one between 13 and 15 inches (20-30 pounds). The life expectancy is 10-15 years.
Despite the difference in size, both types are sturdy dogs and have coats ranging from red and white to brown-white-black and even a pleasant lemon!
Beagles’ faces are their main draw—huge hazel or brown eyes coupled with long ears on a broad head can be quite irresistible.
Originally pack dogs, Beagles love company and are friendly and pleasant by nature. They are extremely cute and easygoing, with many pet parents describing them as merry.
Beagles are not only lovable but also very loving, making them great family dogs and companions. They are clever and their curiosity is supplemented by their energy.
Their curiosity also begs for never-ending playtime!
As cheerful as the people in their motherland, Havanese are the only dogs native to lovely Cuba, with large, gleaming eyes and a bounce in their walks!
Extremely social and spirited, these dogs make excellent companions to those living in cities.
The Havanese can be easily identified thanks to its curled tail and a lush, silky coat that can be found in a range of colors and is always gorgeous, whether corded or clipped short.
Havanese weigh between 7 and 13 pounds and can grow up to be between 8.5 and 11.5 inches; they have a life expectancy of 14-16 years.
A unique feature that these dogs exhibit is their bouncy walk, an indicator of their vivacious, animated personalities.
Their size, sociable, extroverted nature and adaptability all make Havanese excellent city dogs, though these dogs will thrive anywhere where they can be the center of attention.
Extremely smart, Havanese can easily learn tricks, aided by their natural instincts for comedy.
These intelligent dogs also make very efficient watchdogs, though they don’t bark unless they have to.
You could recognize a Dachshund from anywhere, even if you’re relatively uninitiated into the world of doggos!
Dachshunds are recognized by their low, long bodies, and extremely funky personalities. With an always-alert expression that only adds to their cuteness, they’re an extremely popular breed.
As mentioned, Dachshunds are known for their unique body shape, with long torsos and short legs. They have a lifespan of 12-16 years.
Dachshunds generally have 3 types of coats in a variety of colors—long haired, wire haired and smooth. They can either be standard sized or miniature.
Dachshunds generally weigh between 16 and 32 pounds, if standard sized, and under 11 pounds, if they’re miniatures. The former grow 8-9 inches whereas the latter grow 5-6 inches.
Friendly and curious, Dachshunds are hounds, but are not built for any kind of leaping, high-intensity swimming or running long distances.
Their smartness and vigilance make them great watchdogs, backed by their big barks—this barking dog definitely can bite!
An independent nature has been bred into these dogs, especially while hunting, that sometimes makes them rash and stubborn.
So cute is this breed that even Metro Goldwyn Mayer scooped it up for one of their most popular, most-loved dog characters—Droopy!
The endearing Basset Hound, with its low-key, charming nature, has been an excellent companion to humans since times immemorial.
Basset Hounds grow to a maximum height of 14 inches (shoulder height) and weigh 40-65 pounds, but are one of the most powerful hound breeds.
These dogs are born with an extremely strong, heavy bone structure, backed by powerful legs and huge paws, all of which give them the power and endurance that big dogs generally have.
Their domed heads, with long, silky ears, beautiful eyes and wrinkled brows are distinguishing features—many have likened their faces to sad clowns!
Though their movements are deliberate, they are effortless, and when it comes to their scenting ability, only the Bloodhound is a worthy opponent.
The life expectancy for Basset Hounds is 12-13 years.
Their charm and patience make Basset Hounds mild, agreeable dogs to be around, but don’t let that fool you!
They can be extremely stubborn when they’re trailing a scent and have barks that could probably wake up Rip Van Winkle—loud and ringing.
Though they may not show it, they’re extremely loyal and loving.
The “OG” divas, Poodles are among the smartest canines, accompanied by the kind of pride that could rival any aristocrat.
Whatever color or whatever size, these elegant dogs are great athletes and even better companions.
Whether they’re standard, toy, or miniature sized, poodles have always stolen hearts with their curly-haired coats and for more than just their looks—they are hypo-allergenic.
Standard poodles grow beyond 15 inches, whereas miniatures grow up to 15 and toy poodles don’t exceed 10. However, body proportions are the same in all 3.
Another unique feature of Poodles is how they are groomed, whether it’s the detailed Continental Clip, or the less-complicated Sporting Clip that outlines the smooth muscles on their square build, both of which add majorly to the breed’s dignified and proud air.
While many people associate Poodles with cowardice, these dogs are one of the smartest, most versatile, eager and athletic out there.
Standard-sized Poodles are the strongest within the breed, making them superior athletes; however, all Poodles can be trained efficiently.
Black and Tan Coonhound
An extremely athletic, nocturnal breed, Black and Tan Coonhounds are extremely friendly hounds who love lounging about just as much as they love pursuing scents.
These all-American dogs weigh between 65-110 pounds, with males reaching 25-27 inches and females reaching 23-25 inches. The life expectancy is 10-12 years.
These dogs have excellent noses, members of the hound family that they are, with lovely, long ears, and rich black coats with lovely accents in tan.
You’ll also see the distinct “pumpkin seed” markings above the expressive eyes, adding to the cuteness quotient!
These dogs are strong, thanks to a big build that also produces long, effortless strides.
Basset Hounds are generally sweet and extremely sociable, so much so that leaving them alone makes them feel extremely lonely and bereft—you’ll know by the long, mournful wailing!
As mentioned, they are equally at ease being active or comfily dozing for hours on the sofa; however, they are extremely excitable too, which makes strong leashes and fences a necessity.
Irish Setters are extremely spirited gundogs, but also make for great family pets thanks to their sweet nature. Their rich red-hued coats make them instantly recognizable, as do their swiftness and graceful movements.
One of the most beautiful breeds out there, Irish Setters can reach over 2 feet in height, featuring a solid build that is no way bulky or takes away from their overall elegance.
Males can grow up to 27 inches, whereas females can hit 25 inches; the former weigh up to 70 pounds and the latter, up to 60. The life expectancy is 12-15 years.
Their major appeal lies in their unique mahogany or chestnut coats. They have strong muscular legs, especially the rear, that contributes to their speed.
Irish Setters have been conquering hearts and homes (in the best way!) for over 200 years now.
These outgoing dogs love making new friends and have the soul of a puppy trapped in their big bodies!
Irish Setters respond best to positive reinforcement and patient training; their eagerness to please makes them relatively easy to train.
They’re excellent hunting dogs, fearless to the point of foolishness in their pursuits.
Gordon Setters are gorgeous dogs, with gleaming coats, athletic builds and a confident air.
Though aristocratic in name and bearing (they get their name from a Scottish aristocrat), these dogs absolutely love cuddling up next to you by a crackling fire!
The largest in the setter family, male Gordons can weigh 55-80 pounds and reach 24-27 inches, whereas female Gordons can weigh 45-70 pounds and reach 23-26 inches.
These bird dogs have beautiful black coats highlighted with tan accents (especially endearing above those baby browns!) and long hair on their tails, chests, bellies, legs and ears, either straight or slightly wavy.
Their life expectancy is 12-13 years.
Gordons thrive in the outdoors, with a body that is built to withstand their native land’s unforgiving terrain and harsh weather.
Additionally, they are extremely bold and determined in any outdoor activities they do. They’re also extremely affectionate and seem not to have a single shy bone in their bodies!
Afghan Hounds have a regal bearing, known for their unwavering loyalty, sensitive disposition and fierce love and possessiveness for their “hoomans”.
Afghan Hounds are renowned for their beauty and elegance and have always been.
Their thick, silky coats that look like rippling water when they move is the breed’s crown jewel.
Not only does this help them conquer competitions and shows but also protects them from the harsh weather that the mountainous regions in their homelands are subject to.
Underneath all the hair is a strong, powerful body that grows up to 27 inches and weighs up to 60 pounds.
This, coupled with their large paw-pads that act as much-needed shock absorbers in the Afghan terrain, makes them a great option for a long day of hunting.
Loyal and dignified, Afghan Hounds often come across as aloof, but an independent, intelligent mind lies underneath that exterior.
These dogs have charming, vivacious personalities, and with their immense inbuilt strength and speed, require ample exercise and large areas to run around in.
English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels are sweet, lovable dogs—a bundle of fluff that packs a ton of smarts, stamina and strength!
These handsome dogs are extremely well mannered if trained right and also make for great hunting companions.
Hardy, well built and muscular, Springer Spaniels are great companions on long hunts, with males growing up to 20 inches and 50 pounds and females growing up to 19 inches and 40 pounds.
These dogs have double coats that come in a variety of patterns and colors, with long, velvety ears and kind eyes.
Springers have long, smooth strides and a life expectancy of 12-14 years.
English Springer Spaniels are generally obedient; bonding with humans and working with them has been bred into these canines.
Put this together with the fact that they love pleasing people, and you have on your hands a playful-yet-easily-trainable piece of fluff!
Due to this, they also always need company and can get quite dejected when ignored.
Springers are great with kids and other animals, always eager to join in the fun—whether it’s long walks, swimming (which they especially love) or playing fetch.
Originally gundogs, Golden Retrievers are easily one of the most popular breeds in not just America, but the world!
These beautiful dogs are exuberant yet serious when it comes down to work; this makes them extremely efficient as help dogs, guide dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs.
Golden Retriever males can grow up to 24 inches whereas females grow up to 22.5 inches. Males can weigh as much as 75 pounds whereas females can weigh up to 65 pounds.
Retrievers are medium-sized dogs with a sturdy, muscular build, and get their name from their gleaming golden coats.
Their broad heads, short ears and friendly eyes endear them to many and their unique walk is a much-celebrated feature, smooth, powerful, yet merry!
Golden Retrievers are people pleasers; this characteristic, along with their outgoing nature and trustworthiness, makes them great family dogs and also easy to train.
They are always playful and merry, often forgetting that they are no longer puppies!
Golden Retrievers love playing outdoors and are natural swimmers and fetchers.
Like their cousins, Labrador Retrievers are also extremely popular, much loved for their energy, friendliness and outgoing nature.
Female Labs grow up to 23.5 inches and weigh between 55-70 pounds, whereas males grow up to 24.5 inches and weigh up to 80 pounds.
Their life expectancy is 10-12 years.
Labs can have black, yellow or brown coats, with wide heads, kind eyes and a forever-wagging “otter tail”! Their coats are also weather resistant.
Another feature that makes them great game dogs is how well balanced they are.
Labs are known for their friendliness and ability to bond and socialize with other dogs and humans alike.
They are extremely energetic and excellent athletes, requiring sufficient physical activity to keep themselves healthy in all aspects.
They love swimming and endless games of fetch; as the name suggests, they’re excellent at retrieving.
Last but not least is the Saint Bernard—these gentle giants from the Swiss Alps are among the most-loved breeds in the world
The image of Saint Bernards with their little flasks going around saving those lost in the snow, and of course, Beethoven being his usual self, is all too popular in children’s cartoons and mainstream media!
Saint Bernards are huge dogs, with males growing up to 30 inches and weighing up to 180 pounds and females up to 28 inches and weighing 140 pounds.
Their size makes them extremely powerful and their bodies are proportionate and well muscled.
They have large, powerful heads with wrinkled brows, short muzzles and dark eyes and while their coloring may make them seem imposing, they are sweet-natured dogs.
They have a life expectancy of 8-10 years.
Saint Bernards are genial by nature, and are extremely patient, careful and watchful, especially around kids.
They are friendly and intelligent and belying their size, are surprisingly playful, inquisitive and charming!
Hopefully, this article cleared up a lot surrounding why dogs have floppy ears, as well as our top 17 dog breeds with floppy ears!
Remember, this isn’t an exclusive list—there are many more floppy-eared dogs out there who are all just as great; it all comes down to who opens their heart to them, how much and who they, in turn, open their hearts.
Regardless, just because floppy ears are cute, don’t obsess over this feature to the extent of buying puppies from puppy mills or greedy breeders.
Adopt—there are many floppy-eared dogs that aren’t purebred but can give you just as much loyalty and love as a pure breed.