The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the chihuahua breed as a "tiny dog with a giant personality." The large persona and melt-your-soul round eyes are only overshadowed by the oversize ears that stand at attention. If you have a chihuahua with floppy ears, there are several reasons they might be drooping.
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She's just a pup
Chi's are born with floppy ears. During the first few weeks of life, the cartilage in the ear will begin to firm and the ears will start standing without any assistance, according to Midwest Chihuahuas. Look for fully standing-up ears at the age of 5 to 6 weeks.
She might look once more like a Chihuahua with floppy ears when she reaches the teething stage, however. At 4 to 5 months, as puppy teeth fall out and adult teeth push their way in, it's not unusual for ears to droop over, says Midwest Chihuahuas. In 99 percent of teething ear droop, the ears come to full erectness again after the process is complete.
Not a purebred?
The official AKC breed standard for Chihuahuas mandates "large, erect type ears, held more upright when alert, but flaring to the sides at a 45 degree angle when in repose." A Chihuahua with floppy ears is disqualified from the show ring.
If your chi is full-grown and his ears flop over, it might be because he is mixed with another breed. "Chugs," for example, which are a chihuahua-pug mix, tend toward the crinkled folder ears commonly seen in pugs. "Chippits" — a pitbull-chihuahua mix that could grow up to 45 pounds — might have fold-over ears like a pitbull, even if they're shaped like triangular chi ears, per The Dog Digest. "Chi-weenies" — crossed with a dachshund — sometimes have the long floppy ears of a winner dog, according to Pet Central.
Not in her genes?
Even purebred chis sometimes have ears that just don't stand. If you have registration papers showing your dog is 100 percent chihuahua, there's still a small chance that your dog's ears could tip, droop, fold, or flop.
Midwest Chihuahuas cites one of their momma dogs, Gettysburg, who is an adorable full-blooded chi with fold-over ears. She comes from C and D lines and, although she produces pups whose ears will stand, the breeder doesn't guarantee pups from Gettysburg will possess stand up ears.
If you're looking for a chi that is guaranteed to have stand-up ears suited for the show ring, make sure to get a breeder guarantee. Should your pup be coming home to be a family pet, don't let ear guarantees be your point of decision. Like Gettysburg, dogs with non-standing ears can still be of high breeding quality.
Help them stand
Although taping, cropping, or other artificial means of making your Chihuahua's ears stand up aren't recommended and can even harm your pet, there are things you can do to give its ears the best chance of standing.
Feed a high-quality diet. Chihuahuas eat very small amounts of food per at each meal, so make every bite count, advises Chihuahua Rescue Victoria. The rescue advises making a nutritious stew of meat, fruits, and veggies that you can freeze and serve in small portions once to twice per day along with a half-cup of toy breed dried dog food.
Don't buy a puppy from a breeder that doesn't feed the best of foods to their dogs, advises Midwest Chihuahuas. Closely follow your breeder and veterinarian's feeding advice. It will give ears the nutritional support needed to develop strong cartilage and muscle and prevent hypoglycemia and other issues small dogs are susceptible to.
Keep things low stress. Midwest Chihuahuas points out that stress can cause a chi's ears to droop temporarily. If your dog's ears have been standing and they're suddenly droopy, check what's going on in your environment such as a move, schedule change, or other stressful events and do your best to provide calmer circumstances.
- American Kennel Club: Tiny Dog, Giant Personality
- Midwest Chihuahuas: Will My Chihuahua's Ears Stand Up?
- American Kennel Club: Chihuahua Breed Standard
- The Dog Digest: Chihuahua Pub Mix
- The Dog Digest: Pitbull Chihuahua Mix Facts
- Pet Central: Chiweenie Dog Breed
- Chihuahua Rescue Victoria: Caring for Your Chihuahua