What’s not to love about the German Shepherd dog? A typical classic German Shepherd, also known as an Alsatian is characterized by its strong, regal profile, bright eyes and perky, upright ears. However, if you’ve brought home a German Shepherd puppy, you would have noticed that his ears are droopy and floppy. The ears may stand up at times but fall back again.
Often owners of German Shepherd dogs are very eager to see their pooch’s ears stand upright and worry when they see their puppy’s dropping ears. The often-asked question is, “At what age will my German Shepherd puppy’s ears stand up?” or “Can I do anything to help?”
In this article, we will discuss all that you must know about your German Shepherd pup’s ears and what you can/not do if his ears are not standing up.
When they are born, German Shepherd puppies have tiny ears that flop onto the side. When the puppy grows older, its ears go up naturally; however, sometimes, they don’t. The ears of the German Shepherd, like other dogs, are made of cartilage and to hold the weight of the large ears, the cartilage must be strong. As your puppy grows, the cartilage becomes stronger with the right nutrition and your German Shepherd will have straight, pointy ears for life.
German Shepherd Puppy Ear Stages
In this section, we have discussed the typical ear stages of a German Shepherd puppy. However, you must remember that the ears of the German Shepherd pup can be changeable and these ear stages are not immutable. If your German Shepherd pup’s ears are wobbly and do not fit into any of these phases, don’t panic. You must be patient and allow your puppy’s ears time so that they can develop by themselves. So, read on to know more about the typical ear stages of the German Shepherd pup.
When the German Shepherd pup is about 3 months, he starts teething. At this time, it’s quite common for the puppy’s ears to stand up erect and go down again. Usually, the ears go up again after the pup finishes teething.
Typically, your German Shepherd pup will have completed his teething when he’s around 5 months old. Your puppy’s ears may be standing upright already by this time. However, if they are not standing up yet, usually, it is at this time that they begin to perk up.
Usually, by this time, your German Shepherd pup’s ears must be perky and upright and if they are not, then it may be the time to be a bit concerned. When your pup is around 6 months, it may be a good idea for you to speak with your breeder or vet to get guidance on what you can do so that your puppy’s ears become perky. However, if your pup’s ears are not standing upright by when he’s 8 months old, then the likelihood of them standing up reduces significantly. Hence, the important thing is to figure it out in time.
Related: Are German Shepherds Easy to Train?
Why Are My German Shepherd Puppy’s Ears Not Standing Up?
There may be several reasons as to why your German Shepherd puppy’s ears are not standing up such as:
As we have already discussed earlier, teething may be the common reason as to why your pup’s ears are not perking up. When the German Shepherd pup is teething, it is quite common for his ears to perk up and then go down and this flippy-floppy ear stage is totally normal.
If your puppy’s floppy ears are because of genetics, then there is not a lot that you can do. Some pups are inclined to have floppy ears because of the genes that have been passed on from their parents. Sometimes, German Shepherd dogs are bred by breeders to have larger ears. In such cases, the dog’s large and oversized ears may be very heavy to stand upright.
If you’re very particular that your German Shepherd dog has pointy, upright ears, then you must choose both the breeder, as well as the pup very carefully. Examine the German Shepherd parents and see how their ears are.
Your German Shepherd puppy’s ears develop from his birth until he’s about five months old. And, during this time, any trauma to his ears can result in permanent damage that can cause floppy ears. For instance, if your kids love pulling and tugging on your lil’ pup’s floppy ears or if his ears are pulled very hard or are bitten by another dog while playing, this can cause considerable damage to your German Shepherd’s ears.
As much as it is possible, try and keep everyone’s hands off your puppy’s ears. Avoid cuddling, fondling or playing with his ears to ensure that they develop properly and stand upright.
Ear infections are quite a common problem that trouble German Shepherd dogs and this can lead to serious issues. Ear infections can be quite painful and this may prevent your German Shepherd from opening his ears, which causes his ears to droop. You can prevent ear infections by maintaining proper hygiene.
Parasites are a reality with pups who love eating things that they should not and sniffing around dirty places and dealing with them can be rather painful. Parasites are dangerous and can drain your German Shepherd pup’s vital nutrients, which can hinder your pup’s general development and also the development of strong, perky ears. So, ensure that you check your puppy’s poop regularly and look for worms that could be stealing your puppy’s nutrition.
Related: Do German Shepherds Bark a Lot?
How You Can Help Your German Shepherd Pup’s Ears Stand Upright
Giving your German Shepherd puppy chew toys can help to exercise and strengthen their jaw, neck and head muscles, which help to support the ears and make them perky. You could get strong toys such as antlers, Nylabones, bully sticks and Kongs for your pup to chew on.
Proper Diet and Nutrition
If your German Shepherd puppy’s ears are not standing upright, then the main culprit for this could be cheap, commercial food. Always feed your dog, high-quality food. Often, dog owners recommend giving puppy supplements like calcium to help their ears grow upright and perky. However, this may not be a great idea because too much calcium can affect your puppy’s bones and joints resulting in permanent skeletal issues.
So, the best thing to do is follow a natural diet consisting of high-quality foods such as chicken feet, yogurt and cottage cheese. All these foods can help to make your German Shepherd puppy’s ears pointy and perky. Both yogurt and cottage cheese are rich in calcium and chicken feet are rich in glucosamine. These help to strengthen the cartilage.
Usually, taping is the final effort that could help your German Shepherd pup’s ears to stand upright. However, it is extremely vital not to resort to taping and allow the ears to grow and develop by themselves. The steps for taping are described below:
- Use foam or some similar material to wrap your pup’s ear and then it into a tight roll around the foam roller from the base to the tip, keeping the ear in a vertical position.
- Take a popsicle stick or pencil and, using tape, attach the stick to both the ears horizontally, which will help to keep the puppy’s ears symmetrical.
- Your puppy will most likely remove the taping by scratching at it or rolling around. So, you will need to re-tape the ears repeatedly.
- Remove the tape once a week to see if your puppy’s ears will stand upright on their own. If they do, then there’s no need to re-tape the ears.
- Even after taping your German Shepherd puppy’s ears for 7 to 8 months if they don’t stand upright, then it’s probably time to give up taping.
- Consult a vet to ensure that your pup is not suffering from any serious problems that are preventing its ears from standing upright.
- For this method, you’ll require skin bond adhesive, ear support forms and adhesive remover.
- First, put the adhesive on your German Shepherd puppy’s ear form and skin. Take care that the adhesive does not get into the puppy’s ear canal.
- Let the adhesive become a little sticky.
- Then, use the ear support form and place it into your puppy’s ear and ensure that it is close to the base. It should not be deep in the pup’s ear canal.
- The pup’s ear must stand upright without drooping near the base.
- Ensure that the ear does not have any wrinkles or folds.
Is Taping Your German Shepherd Puppy’s Ears Safe?
As long as taping is done properly, it is painless; however, it can cause your pet to get annoyed or irritated. Taping your dog’s ears to make it stay upright is not a foolproof method and has a high failure rate and it does not fix the dog’s genetics.
- Taping essentially helps the cartilage to shape up and get formed just like weightlifting causes your muscles to grow and become stronger. So, the common question is, is taping your safe? Well, if you do plan to tape your German Shepherd puppy’s ears, here are a few steps that you can follow to do it safely.
- Speak to your vet before you tape your German Shepherd puppy’s ears. Do not start very early and allow your pup’s ears to stand up on its own.
- Ensure that your German Shepherd pup is in good health. He should be physically fit, have a good and healthy diet and not have parasites.
- When taping your pup’s ears, make sure to use thin surgical tape.
- If your dog rips off the taping, then re-tape his ears.
- Ensure that you change the taping often and if your pup’s ears don’t stand upright after a few months, then they probably won’t and so you must stop the process.
Click and Reward Method
- Using a clicker is a great way by which you can communicate with your puppy. Whenever your German Shepherd pup follows your instruction correctly, click the clicker and give him a treat. This can help to hasten your pup’s learning process.
- Watch your puppy closely for a couple of days and identify triggers that cause his ears to perk up. For example, his ears may stand up when you bring him his food or if someone enters your home.
- Once you find the trigger, click once and repeat the process again and stay close by with the clicker and a toy.
- As soon as your pup’s ears stand upright, click to signal that he has done something correctly, even if he is not sure what it is.
- Once you click the clicker, give your puppy a reward by playing with him for a bit. You could play tug of war, fetch or anything that makes your pooch excited and happy.
- Repeat the entire exercise for a few minutes every day. The more often you train your pet, he will learn to use his ear muscles and before long, your German Shepherd pup’s ears will be standing upright with ease.
If all the methods to make your German Shepherd puppy’s ears stand upright fails, then the last resort is to get surgical implants. However, a professional vet should do the implant procedure. Your pet will also require painkillers after the implant surgery. And, if you are thinking of the surgical implant method, then it is recommended that you do this after your German Shepherd pup is a fully grown adult.
In conclusion, if your German Shepherd pup is under 6 months and has droopy ears, don’t panic. Give your pup’s ears a lot of time to grow stronger and develop before you do something about it. However, if by the time he’s 6 months old, his ears don’t stand upright, then it may be time to look for some alternatives to help your puppy’s ears to perk up. And, for some reason, if your German Shepherd puppy’s ears don’t stand up, always remember that your pet is amazing the way he is, whether his ears are upright or not.