Pointy, upright ears are one of the defining traits of a purebred German Shepherd. If your German Shepherd has floppy ears, one of the things you can do to rectify the ears is posting.
What is posting? Posting involves taping braces to your dog’s ears in order to help them stand on their own. Posting is an effective way of getting your puppy’s ears to stand up. However, posting should be done only when you’re certain that your Shepherd’s ears won’t stand up naturally.
If you have a German Shepherd with floppy ears and are wondering if this is normal, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll look at what German Shepherd ear positions mean, why your dog’s ears could fail to stand up, and what to do in case your German Shepherd’s ears fail to stand up. Before that, however, let’s understand the age at which a German Shepherd’s ears normally stand up.
At What Age Do German Shepherd Puppies’ Ears Stand Up?
For most people raising their first German Shepherd puppy, one of their biggest concerns is the issue of when their German Shepherd’s ears will stand straight up.
It’s good to note that German Shepherd pups are not born with straight, pointy ears. All German shepherds are born with floppy ears. Your pup will continue having floppy ears until the cartilage in their ears has grown strong enough to support the weight of the ears.
So, at what point will your German Shepherd’s ears stand straight up? The answer to this question will ultimately depend on your dog.
For some, the ears will stand straight up in as little as 8 weeks after birth. For others, it will take up to 8 months for the ears to stand up. For most German Shepherd puppies, the ears will have stood upright by the time they are through with teething.
German Shepherd Ear Growth Stages
All German Shepherd’s ears are naturally pointed, unless the dog is not a purebred, or unless your pooch has some issues that are affecting the position of the ears. However, your pup’s ears will go through several stages before they stand up straight.
Between birth and about 7 weeks, your pup’s ears will be flopped forwards. Between 7 to 10 weeks, the ears will then advance into a side flop.
As your pup continues growing, the ears will start rising and will resemble those of the flying nun. This happens when your pup is about 10 to 14 weeks old.
From there, your pup’s ears will continue straightening gradually until they get to the upright position. This can take just a few weeks, or a couple of months.
Sometimes, the position of your German Shepherd’s ears will change from time to time. Does this have any significant meaning?
What Do German Shepherd’s Ear Positions Mean?
Seeing the changing positions of your German Shepherd’s ears could have prompted you to ask yourself questions like, “is my dog trying to communicate anything?” “What does it mean when a German Shepherd’s ears are down?” or “Is my dog okay?”
Just like how body language can tell you what is going through a person’s mind, the position of your German Shepherd’s ears can tell you what is going through your pooch’s mind. Here are some GSD ear positions and what they mean.
Ears Tilted Backwards
If your canine buddy’s ears are tilted slightly backwards and rigid, this is a sign that your dog is feeling anxious or afraid. This will be coupled with a tense body. However, having ears backwards minus a tense body is a sign of submissiveness.
Whenever your GSD’s ears are tilted forward, this shows that the canine is alert to something that is happening. This is also a show of confidence. However, if you notice the ears tilted forwards, coupled with tense muscles, this is a sign that your dog is about to get aggressive.
Ears Constantly Changing Direction
If your GSD’s ears are moving back and forth in different directions, this tells you that your pooch is trying to follow multiple sounds simultaneously.
Ears Relaxed And Floppy
Ears that are flopping downwards are an indicator that your dog is calm and relaxed. This happens when they are in a restful state.
Do German Shepherds Sleep With Their Ears Up?
This depends on your dog. Some German Shepherds will have their ears up even when sleeping, while others will be lowered slightly. Therefore, there’s no reason to worry if you notice your dog’s ears are not upright while your dog sleeps.
Given what different ear positions communicate, is there any disadvantage if your German Shepherd’s ears do not stand up?
What If My German Shepherd’s Ears Won’t Stand Up?
Sometimes, your German Shepherd’s ears will remain floppy even when your four-legged buddy has grown into an adult. Is it bad if a German Shepherd’s ears don’t stand up?
Not really, and as far as we know, there aren’t disadvantages of sorts if their ears don’t stand up.
There are several reasons why a German Shepherd’s ears will remain floppy. These include…
Sometimes, a puppy whose ears had already straightened up will suddenly become droopy. This usually happens because the puppy is going through teething. Teething happens when the puppy is about 5 to 8 months old.
If you notice that the once-straight ears of your GSD puppy have become floppy during teething, there’s no reason to worry. Once your pup is done teething, their ears will stand up once again.
Genetics is one of the main reasons why a German Shepherd will have droopy ears even in adulthood.
According to the AKC breed standards, a purebred German Shepherd should have pointed ears that are held upright when the dog is at attention. A purebred German Shepherd should not have floppy ears.
Sadly, some breeders are unethical when it comes to breeding German Shepherds. Instead of breeding according to breed standards, they breed to select for a specific trait, such as large ears. Unfortunately, this leads to heavy ears that cannot stand up on their own.
Floppy ears on a German Shepherd could also be caused by trauma while your pup’s ears were still developing. Experiencing significant trauma could cause permanent damage to the ears, making it impossible for your dog’s ears to stand on their own.
Trauma can be caused by things like mishandling, or even playing with your pup’s ears. It can also occur accidentally while puppies are playing with each other. This is why you should keep your hands off your puppy’s ears, and ensure that puppies don’t get too rough when playing with each other.
How Do I Get My German Shepherds’ Ears To Stand Up?
If your Shepherd’s ears have not stood up by 8 months, they’ll never stand up if you don’t intervene. Some things you can do to help include…
Get Some Chew Toys
The Temporalis muscle is one of the muscles that dogs use when chewing. This muscle is also partly responsible for holding your dog’s ears upright. Weak Temporalis muscles could be the reason behind your dog’s droopy ears.
One way to strengthen that muscle is to get some chew toys for your pup. Strengthening the Temporalis muscle will make it more capable of holding your GSD’s ears upright.
You can also assist your pooch in developing upright ears by giving supplements. One of the things that contributes to the upright ears in a German Shepherd is strong cartilage in the dog’s ears. If the cartilage is weak, the ears will not stand upright.
One way to help strengthen your dog’s cartilage is by giving Glucosamine supplements. A good option is Hyalogic HyaFlex Pro-Complete Dog Joint Supplement. Aside from encouraging cartilage growth, this supplement will also keep away joint problems like hip dysplasia.
- BETTER JOINT HEALTH: As your dogs age, their bodies produce less and less joint protecting hyaluronic acid (HA); factors...
- COMPLETE JOINT CARE: HyaFlex Complete Pro liquid joint supplement includes a combination of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) N...
- DOG COAT & CARTILAGE SUPPORT: Hyaluronic acid for dogs is an important dog supplement for growing shiny coats, promoting...
Also referred to as posting, this is the most effective way of getting your dog’s ears to stand up. Posting involves taping braces to your dog’s ears to manually support them in an upright position.
How does taping German Shepherd ears work? Taped ears will maintain an upright position, supported by the braces. At the same time, the cartilage in your dog’s ears is still hardening as your dog grows.
This means the cartilage will harden in an upright position. Even after you remove the braces, your dog’s ears will retain this position.
At what age should you tape your German Shepherd’s ears? If your dog is older than 8 months and their ears are still droopy, it is time to tape the ears.
Will A German Shepherd Lab Mix Ears Stand Up? This will vary from one German Shepherd Lab mix to another. While German Shepherds have upright ears, Labs have floppy ears. It is therefore possible for the German Shepherd Lab mix to inherit the Shepherd’s upright ears, or the Lab’s floppy ears, depending on the parent they take after the most.
Can You Break A German Shepherd’s Ears? No. A German Shepherd’s ears do not have any bones, so you cannot break them in the literal sense. However, it is possible to damage the cartilage that helps keep the ears upright, which will cause the ears to become floppy. To avoid this, don’t be too rough when playing with your doggie’s ears.
How Do You Treat A German Shepherd Ear Infection? Ear infections in German Shepherds are treated by cleaning the ear using a medicated ear cleanser. Depending on the severity of the infection, the vet can give prescription antibiotics. In very extreme cases, the infected dog will have to undergo an operation referred to as a total ear canal ablation.