There's something majestic about a dog with ears that stand up straight. But even in breeds known for their perky ears, all puppies have folded ears when they are born. And these folded ears provide no clue as to whether their ears will stand or flop when they are adults. There are, however, other ways to make an educated guess about whether a puppy's ears will stand and tricks that you can use to help them reach full height.
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, so 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 also 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 stand, too. Great Danes, Doberman pinschers, and boxers, however, are among the breeds that have standing ears only when they are surgically cropped. Don't expect your puppy to inherit standing ears from these breeds even of his parents have them.
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. Conversely, if your German Shepherd still has floppy ears at 9 months, he probably always will. 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, even partially, 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 five or 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. A basset hound, after all, will never have standing ears even if they are cropped and a basset hound mix with the same leathery ears will have floppy ears too — even if his mother was a husky.
Check his diet
Your puppy's diet also influences whether his ears will stand. Pup's teething occurs 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.
To combat this, add a teaspoon of yogurt or cottage cheese to your pup's food to give him a little extra calcium, and give him raw bones for chewing under supervision. The chewing action also builds muscles at the base of the ear, helping your dog's ears to stand.
Check his interactions
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. This could cause your dog's ears to flop and may lead to uneven floppiness.
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.
Love him anyway
Even breeds known for prick ears, such as German Shepherds, may have members whose ears flop over. Although unusual, even mighty corgi ears sometimes lay down on the job. Other breeds, like pit bulls, may have standing ears only after a surgical procedure. Despite doing whatever you can to choose a dog whose ears will stand at attention, understand that you could still end up with a loveable but floppy-eared companion.