Why Don't a Yorkie's Ears Stand Up?

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Perky Yorkie ears help frame the sweetest puppy face, so you may be puzzled if your dog's ears are kind of on the floppy side. Truth: Yorkshire terriers are characterized by a set of small V-shaped ears that are supposed to be erect, as if standing at attention, according to the American Kennel Club's breed standard. If your Yorkie's ears are bent over, there may still be hope for erect ears down the road, depending on your dog's ear size, shape, and the amount of hair on each.

A Yorkshire should have erect ears that stand on their own.

Yorkie ears at birth

All Yorkshire terriers are born with floppy ears — and they'll stay this way until they've developed the necessary muscle strength at the base of the ear in order to allow them to stand erect. Yorkie ears typically start to stand up between 3 to 6 months of age and it might even happen in stages, with one ear rising before the other.

Tips for Yorkie ears

Try to be patient when it comes to your Yorkie ears and their ability to stand tall. Alas, some Yorkshire terrier puppies may take longer than others for their ears to become erect and Yorkies with profuse hair or overly large ears may be destined to sport the floppy look for life. Still, you might try and help your Yorkie to build muscle to prop up his ears. The trick: Massage the base of the dog's ears or try shaving some of the hair around them to reduce excess weight.

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Genetics play a role

Muscles must be developed well in order to allow the ears to stand.

You can't fool Mother Nature, or so the saying goes — and the same is true with Yorkie ears. Some pet owners even resort to folding and then taping their dogs' ears with gauze and a bandage but this method isn't a guarantee. In fact, you could end up hurting your pet with a wrap that's too tight. Your best bet is to accept the fact that your Yorkie's ears may be destined to flop over because of his genetic makeup.

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And unless you had planned to show your dog in canine club events (for these types of competitions, your dog must adhere to the breed standard with properly shaped, erect ears), know that your puppy is perfectly fine with a bent style. This particular shape doesn't affect an animal's hearing and the look is rather cute, too. Owning a floppy-eared Yorkie means you may never make it to the show ring, but you'll still have a lovable pet.

Never crop Yorkie ears

Never crop Yorkie ears.
Image Credit: Cris Cantón/Moment/GettyImages

The most important takeaway here might be the issue of cropping a dog's ears to achieve a desired look, whether more erect or smaller in size. Cropping is a surgical procedure that removes the floppy portion of some dogs' ears in order to force a certain kind of shape (in some cases, dogs' tails are also cut or docked, which is the amputation of a portion of a dog's tail).

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But these practices are opposed by many veterinarians as well as some major pet organizations, including the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association, because they can be harmful to the animal. These unnecessary operations, which have been banned in the United Kingdom, much of Europe, and Australia, may lead to complications from the anesthesia that's used. And it's possible that an infection may develop in the postoperative period.

Since dog ear cropping isn't medically indicated, be very wary of the suggestion that this cosmetic procedure is necessary to make your Yorkie ears stand up correctly. Your pet's veterinarian can inform you about the practice of cropping if you have questions or concerns.

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