How to Tell If a Dog's Ears Will Stand

All puppies have folded ears when they are born, giving little clue by looking at them as to whether their ears will stand when they are adults. Even breeds known for prick ears, such as German shepherds, may have members whose ears flop over. Other breeds may have standing ears only after a surgical procedure. Knowing what to look for can tell you whether your pup's ears should stand, and how to help them reach full height.

puppy
Ears set high on the head have the potential to stand.
credit: Андрей Березовский/iStock/Getty Images

Check His Breed

Your puppy's breeding is a good indicator of whether his ears will stand up. Dogs inherit the prick ear from their wolf ancestry. You'll see standing ears on wolflike breeds with thick, double coats such as the Alaskan malamute, Samoyed and Siberian husky. Primitive breeds such as the Mexican hairless, basenji and pharaoh hound have naturally standing ears and a sleek, short coat. Rounded ears that stand up grace breeds such as the Chihuahua, Welsh corgis and French bulldog. If you're not sure of your dog's breed but the pup's parents had standing ears, chances are that his will too. Great Danes, Doberman pinschers and boxers are among the breeds that have standing ears only when they are cropped.

Check His Ears

If your puppy's ears stand up when he gets excited, they probably will stand permanently by the time he is 6 months old. Another way to tell if your pup's ears are likely to stand is by observing where they are set on the head. Ears that will stand tend to be set higher on the head and closer together than pendant ears. The cartilage at the base of a standing ear will begin to start feeling firm by 4 to 6 weeks old. However, it can take as long as six months for your dog's ear cartilage to harden sufficiently for his ears to stand up. If your dog's ears have thick, heavy ear leather, chances are the ears will not be able to stand.

Check His Diet

Your puppy's diet also influences whether his ears will stand. Pup's teeth between 3 to 5 months old. A deficiency of calcium in his diet during this time can mean that cartilage may not get enough calcium to develop properly. Add a teaspoon of yogurt or cottage cheese to your pup's food to give him a little extra calcium, and give raw bones for chewing. The chewing action also builds muscles at the base of the ear, helping your dog's ears to stand.

Check His Interaction

If your puppy is so cute you just want to scrub his head with your hand, resist the urge. Petting and fondling the ears breaks down cartilage, leaving it soft and pliable instead of firm enough to support a standing ear. Your dog will be left with ears that flop unevenly or only partly stand up. Roughhousing with other puppies or dogs in the household is another activity that breaks down ear cartilage. Put each dog in a separate crate and be sure to supervise activity time when they are together to make sure they're not pulling each other by the ears.