Does your puppy have a floppy ear, or both ears are floppy, or suddenly one has flopped? We explore why and if you can expect their ears, or ear, to return to normal.
Pinnae: A flap of skin covered cartilage, helping funnel sound down the ear canal. The size and shape of the pinnae, or pinna for one, vary greatly between dog breeds.
Why are my Puppy’s ears floppy?
All puppies have floppy ears when they are born. During the 6-10 weeks mark their ears will stand up, unless of course they are a floppy ear breed such as Hounds, Spaniels, Setters, etc.
It can sometimes occur that both ears do not straighten at the same time, and a puppy in this early period can have one erect ear and one floppy ear.
Later on, during the teething period of 3-5 months, a puppy may revert from upright ears to floppy ears. Once this period has ended, their ears should perk up once again.
Other possible reasons for floppy ears in puppies can include:
Overly large ears that are heavier, and therefore will take longer to build the necessary cartilage to hold them up.
Rough handling of ears during their floppy ear stage.
Poor diet not giving the nutrients required to build healthy pinnae (outer part of ear).
Breed may have genetics from a floppy ear dog – this can obviously be the case with mix breed dogs.
Puppy Ear is Suddenly Floppy
It can be a little worrying when your puppy’s usually upright ear/s have suddenly flopped.
There are two possible reasons for this:
- Teething in puppies requires calcium to develop teeth. This draws calcium away from other parts of the body during this time, such as the ear cartilage. (This has been debated by some as the cause)
- The other reason cited by some is that a puppy will be madly chewing during their teething period. This chewing works the jaw muscles which in turn strains the ear muscles, causing loss of strength. Again, this is debated by some as it’s the other side of the coin opposing the first given reason.
If your puppy is older than 6-months, then these are both unlikely the cause of the sudden floppy ear.
Here are other possible causes beyond teething:
When a blood vessel inside your dog’s ear bursts, bleeding into that space between the ear cartilage and skin, can damage the pinna and cause disfigurement.
To a veterinarian, this is called either an aural hematoma or an ear hematoma.
Ear hematomas are actually more common in floppy ear dogs, since they are more prone to infections.
These problems can be caused by physical trauma, like too much scratching, ear shaking, ear fondling, biting, etc.
Such a condition can often require surgery to repair. Without intervention the problem could become worse or lead to permanent floppy ears (possible permanent disfigurement), if not attended to.
If your dog is showing signs of discomfort in the ear or ears, be sure to take them to your veterinarian.
If your puppy has been attacked by another dog or has been roughly handled, it’s possible there could be damage to their ear cartilage.
If you suspect there could be damage, it’s best to consult your veterinarian so they can better assess any damage and come up with a possible resolution.
Parasites and Infections
A rescue dog or a neglected puppy may have a serious fungal infection or parasitic overgrowth that has gone unchecked and resulted in damage to the pinna.
Again, the best way forward in this instance is to seek the help of a veterinarian to address the parasite or infection, and then the disfigurement to the ear/s.
In certain situations, stress seems to be a cause of that odd ‘floppy ear’ case. If you’ve noticed unusual anxiety in your puppy, or your living environment is abnormally stressful, it will be worth investigating further.
Try to limit your dog’s stress and anxiety by maintaining a calm yet cheerful, happy living environment. Consult your veterinarian as to ways you can alleviate any stressful symptoms.
Will My Puppy’s Ears Stay Floppy?
If your puppy’s ears are normally erect but suddenly floppy due to teething, then there’s no need to worry. They will return to normal by 6-8 months of age when your pup’s teeth have all fully developed.
If you can, contact your pup’s breeder. They will be able to advise you based on the puppy’s heritage, breed, and parents, what is an expected time for this to happen.
It’s best you avoid calcium supplements; too much calcium can be detrimental. Puppy food alone normally has higher levels of calcium than adult food.
What you can do to straighten your puppy’s ears
For the most part, the best thing you can do is to wait. By the time your puppy is 6-8 months old their ears should be erect.
If your puppy is already older than this then here are some suggestions:
Provide a quality diet.
Be gentle on their ears
Consider taping their ears (for show dogs)
Taping up a puppy’s ears
Taping up their ears can assist in helping them to grow upright, however it’s difficult to have them taped into a natural position. By intervening with the natural course of ear growth further issues or disfigurement can arise.
Injury and medical issues aside, with the correct diet and time, puppies that are of a breed with upright ears will eventually find their way to healthy pinnae.
If you are raising a show dog, and you feel strongly about getting their ears to sit upright, then you can consider taping their ears.
Consider calling up the breeder of your dog, or an expert in your breed. With any luck you will find someone with experience in doing this and they can help you to ensure correct positioning.
Another possible solution is to use Breath Right Extra Strong Snore Strips. These can keep a floppy ear erect while the muscles gain strength. Watch this video to see how it’s done:
Your veterinarian can perform surgeries like ear cropping or ear trimming to ensure your dog’s ears stand erect, however if there is no harm to your dog, then they would most likely recommend no intervention.
You might have seen breeds like Great Danes, Pit bulls, or Dobermans with tall, erect ears, whereas they will naturally droop, as they’ve been clipped.
Though there are a select few benefits, they are few and far between. Surgeries are uncomfortable for the dog, and often require shaving ear cartilage (pinnae) and thus limiting the ear’s ability to funnel sound.
Some countries have banned surgeries to crop dog’s ears, as it’s considered cruel and unnecessary.
Common Dog Breeds with Floppy Ear
If your dog is a mix-breed and has any of the below bloodlines in their genetics, then it’s possible your dog has inherited the floppy ears from that lineage.
The table below lists many dog breeds that have floppy ears so you can check the list to see if your puppy is among them.
|Cavalier King Charles
If you’re still worried about your puppy’s ears, here are a few final things to consider:
- Visit veterinarian
- Provide a nutritious, balanced diet
- Limit trauma (fondling) to ears
- Limit stress & anxiety
- Ensure puppy doesn’t have an ear infection