German shepherd ears not standing up! What can I do?

German shepherd ears not standing up! What can I do?

 With German shepherd ears the very first thing you need to do is, evaluate the whole situation, and then contact a Veterinary clinic that has experience in the taping of German shepherd ears. They will be able to give you expert advice on what to do. Here is a list of ideas and concerns that I have dealt with while working with  German shepherd ears not standing up.

 German shepherd ears not standing? Here’s what to look for:

  • How old is the German shepherd puppy?
  • Is the German shepherd puppy still teething?
  • What size are the German shepherd ears?
  • How is the German shepherd puppy’s diet?
  • Has the German shepherd  ears been damaged?
  • Have I already messed with the ears, and possibly caused permanent damage?

 

How old is the German shepherd puppy?

 During the first year of a German shepherd’s life, their ears will go up and down. Some German shepherd  ears come up at 4 weeks and never go back down. Others may go up; then fall to the side, cross over, and then fall back down before ever standing correctly.

German shepherd ears

German shepherd Puppy’s ears standing erect at 12 weeks.

German shepherd ears

Same German shepherd puppy at 16 weeks. With right ear slightly erect.

Before ever messing with  German shepherd  ears, it needs to be determined if it is possible for the ears to still correct themselves. I personally give a German shepherd puppy to the age of 7 months before I start to worry about their ears, unless I know for sure that damage has been done. If their ears stood before they began teething and now they don’t, they will  almost certainty come up again. However it is best to assist them before it’s too late. I have seen German shepherd ears come completely up after nine months.

German shepherd ears

Here is a 5 month old that is still teething. His left ear is not yet strong enough to stand on its own.

German shepherd ears

Here is the same puppy at 9 months with both ears erect.

Is the German shepherd puppy still teething?

 By the age of 7 months, most German Shepherd Puppies have finished cutting their teeth. If they are still cutting in their adult teeth, then I wait until they are done teething before worrying about the ears.  A puppy that is still teething is obviously a sign that it is still in the process of growing into a mature puppy. Always insure that your puppy has plenty to chew on. Use things like Bully Sticks or Knuckle bones filled with peanut butter. This will help with the teething an exercise and strengthen the ears also.

 

What size are the German shepherd puppy’s ears?

 There are different types of ears that a German shepherd puppy might have, and this needs to be taken into consideration. Some German shepherd ears are low and conform to the shape of their slightly larger head. Others are taller, and might even be a little thinner. Generally a German shepherd that has smaller ears will have more success with their ears standing on their own. A German shepherd that has the taller ears might need a little help, if the puppy can’t achieve a full erect ear on its own.

 

German shepherd ears

Here is a puppy with large ears.

German shepherd ears

Here is a German shepherd puppy with smaller ears.

How is the German shepherd puppy’s diet?

 A German shepherd puppy that is on a poor or low quality dog food might not be receiving the amount of nutrients that it might need to. For a list of recommended dog foods; please visit my Recommended Dog Foods page.

Although calcium is what the puppy needs to help them straighten their ears; it is not recommended that you add it to the puppy’s diet. A German shepherd puppy’s digestive system is very sensitive. Extra calcium can also settle in the puppy’s joints causing the puppy more trouble in the long run. It is a better idea to add 1 tbsp. of cottage cheese or unflavored yogurt to each meal. Both of these contain live cultures that can help the puppy. Glucosamine and Chondroitin also helps with the ears. Instead of buying them in supplement form which usually comes from shellfish or shark cartilage. I suggest feeding chicken feet. Chicken feet are full of cartilage and provides a German shepherd with a supply of  Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

Some Veterinarians might even inject calcium directly into the cartilage of the weak ear. You might want to check with your Veterinarian to see if this method is right for your German shepherd puppy.

 

Has the German shepherd  ears been damaged?

 If the German shepherd  ears has been damaged, then it will most likely never correct itself.  German shepherd ears can become damaged easily while they are still a young puppy. Here is a list of ways a puppy’s ears can become damaged:

  1. Other puppies biting or tugging on the ear.
  2. Humans, especially children who like to rub or play with the puppy’s ears.
  3. Neglect! Not examining and cleaning the puppy’s ears properly.
  4. The puppy constantly sleeping with its head wedged up against the wall of a crate.

 

A German shepherd puppy should never be left alone with other dogs that are mouthy, and might like to tug on the puppy’s ears.  German shepherd ears should never be rubbed excessively or played with by human hands. This can weaken the cartilage and cause the puppy’s ears to never stand correctly. Never leave a German shepherd puppy with young children unsupervised, and make sure anyone who comes in contact with the puppy understands that its ears are not to play with.

 

German shepherd ears that don’t stand correctly can become filthy very quickly and go completely unnoticed. It is very important to check and clean  German shepherd  ears frequently. Contact your Veterinarian to receive correct instructions on how clean the puppy’s ears correctly.

 

You must always keep an eye on how your German shepherd puppy sleeps while crate training. If it has a tendency to wedge its head up against the crate’s wall, it can easily cause damage to an ear. Make sure the puppy has enough room to completely lay down flat; without its head touching a wall, but do got give it too much room or it could prolong the crate training process.

 

Have I already messed with the ears, and possibly caused permanent damage?

 

Many times an owner of a German shepherd puppy will over react and begin trying to correct  German shepherd ears prematurely. Often times this does more damage, and in some cases is the only reason the puppy’s ears never stand correctly. Make sure that if you are going to begin trying to correct  German shepherd ears that you have thoroughly looked at all your options and you have consulted your Veterinarian.

 

Different steps that can be taken in trying to correct  German shepherd ears are:

 

Taping the German shepherd  ears.

This is the most preferred method. Here is a great video showing the process of taping  German shepherd ears.

(I also recommend placing tape on the top of the ear to keep the inserts from sliding out. You can also use plumbing pipe insulation or large pink foam hair rollers for the inserts.)

Ear Forms 

These can be adhered to the inside of the puppy’s ears using Torbot Bonding Cement.

German shepherd ears

Moleskin Padding

Moleskin Padding In case you are looking for something a little less expensive than ear forms you can try Moleskin padding. It seems to be the most comfortable thing I’ve ever used to assist with the ears, and without really paying attention you would not even notice they were in there. They seem to hold up real well and they don’t fall apart like pipe insulation does. Here is how you do it:

1) Purchase Moleskin Padding with adhesive backing from a pharmacy.

Moleskin Plus

2) Purchase Torbot skin bond online.

Torbot

 

OR

Purchase 3M Black super Weatherstrip and Gasket Adhesive from any auto parts store. PLEASE READ WARNING LABEL BEFORE CHOOSING TO USE THIS PRODUCT!

3M weather strip adhesive German shepherd ears

3) Purchase large Nasal Strips from a pharmacy.

Nasal Strips

 

4) Purchase some Adhesive Remover wipes online. Or you can simply use baby oil.

Adhesive Remover Wipes

5)  Clean out the ears real well with an ear cleaning solution. Inspect the ears for any irritations or infections and allow ears to dry completely.

6) Cut the moleskin to the shape of the inside of the ear… kind of like a teardrop. Making sure it is small enough to have 1/4″ all around the moleskin.

7) Next  remove the backing off the moleskin and apply a thin layer of  Torbot or adhesive to it. Allow the Torbot glue to dry for about a minute. If you use the 3M adhesive it can be applied instantly.

8) Have an assistant hold the ear open to where you can easily fit the moleskin into the ear as centered best you can… making sure it is covering the crease in the bottom of the ear.

9) Inspect the moleskin for any loose spots and touch up the edges with Torbot or adhesive to make sure it is secure.

Nasal Strips in ear

10) Last  decide where the weakest parts of the ear are at and place the nasal strips over it vertically to help the ear stand correct. You can also place one horizontally at the lowest part of the moleskin over the crease to form a triangle shape with the nasal strips.You should end up using two to three strips per ear, and they stick really well to the moleskin. I noticed it still allows for a full range of motion of the ears. When they are erect they are perfect and not heavy; like with pipe insulation. It also does not restrict any blood flow or have to be removed so the ears can breathe; unlike with taping the ears. Even if the ears never stand perfectly on their own this is a technique that can assist them to be erected without being cumbersome. They can last for days up to weeks with no signs of coming loose. When they begin to come loose use the adhesive remover wipes to remove any glue remaining in the ear. The moleskin should fall out naturally.

 Instructional video on how to apply moleskin padding to a German shepherd’s ear

 

Applying  Glue Tee-Pee Style

This works by applying Tear Mender glue to the outer edge of both ears and pressing them together. Here is a video showing how to do this properly.

Soft ears are a bad genetic trait in German shepherds. If the ears don’t correct themselves and taping or gluing is required;  it would be best for that dog not to be bred. It should be our goal to produce the most healthiest and intelligent German Shepherds we can. Although soft ears do not take away from the intelligence of the breed, nor does it take away our love we may have foe our K-9 companion. It is not according to the breed standards. And no matter what anyone else tells you it can create some health risk for the German shepherd dog. For example: if your German shepherd has one ear that stands and one ear that doesn’t. Try cleaning the inside of both ears with ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball. You will quickly notice that the ear that is erect is much cleaner than the one that is soft. This can cause ear infections, hearing loss, and much worse if the German shepherd ears are not frequently cleaned.

This should not change how much we love our dog if they are a companion dog, but it can hurt us financially and emotionally if we intended the dog to be bred or competed. Many times you will see a German Shepherd dog being rescued or abandoned simply because of it ears not standing correctly. In order for us to learn how to keep a positive attitude if our dogs ears are not according to the standards, and to ensure that we are accepting of the fact that this does not change the responsibility we have to love and provide for the German shepherd I recommend obtaining the Acceptance and Responsibility books from The Peaceful Solution Character Education Program, INC.

All of these steps can aid the German shepherd Puppy in helping its ears stand erect; but should only be done under the advice of a trained professional.

16 comments on “German shepherd ears not standing up! What can I do?

  1. elizabeth trotchie on said:

    Thank you the information i read here was very helpful. Since i am a first time dog owner i have to refer to others alot for info could you recomend the best sites for GSD’s?

  2. kim chapman on said:

    I found this site a great help as my GSD puppy had really erect ears then at 14 weeks one has collapsed which I was a little concerned about. Upon reading the information on your site I am relived to know that is more than likely beacuase of teething, so will keep any eye on things , but Im sure they wil correct themselves.

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  4. Haley on said:

    I was worried about my puppies ears because he is 11 weeks and they haven’t stood up yet. His mothers were on and off till about 7 months of age the people told me when I baught him. They ate standing up for a short period of time and falling now so I’m not as worried about it but he does lay on his ears when he’s in his crate.

  5. Anonymous on said:

    My German Shepard is 2 years old & her ears didn’t go up…when she sleeps they are up…and when she runs their up…also one seems to go up when she’s been sleeping & she’s awaken fast they go up…is it to late for her…she is a pedigree….help!!!.,

    • A German shepherd’s ears will not stand up at all times. Majority of the time they may be laid back, but when the GSD is alert or running they will come up. The thing we need to figure out is if the ears are just relaxing or if they are weak. At 2 years old if they are weak, more than likely they are to the point that they can not be corrected with assistance. Have they ever stood at any point in the dog’s life? Make sure you keep the ear canals clean and free from any debris or dirt, sometimes this can prohibit the dog’s ears from standing due to an ear infection. Also check to see if there is a history of weak eared GSD’s from the bloodline. If one ear doesn’t stand it could be from an injury or damage done early in the dog’s life. If both ear’s don’t stand then it could be either weak genetics or not the dog is not receiving the proper amount of nutrients. This is not your fault, but a change in diet may make a difference.

  6. Pat Moy on said:

    My German Shepard is 2 years old & her ears are still not up…they go up when she’s sleeping or when she’s running….one seems to stay up for a short period of time…is it to late for her? Her ears are really soft & I feel hardly any cartilage in them…help!!!!

    • A German shepherd’s ears will not stand up at all times. Majority of the time they may be laid back, but when the GSD is alert or running they will come up. The thing we need to figure out is if the ears are just relaxing or if they are weak. At 2 years old if they are weak, more than likely they are to the point that they can not be corrected with assistance. Have they ever stood at any point in the dog’s life? Make sure you keep the ear canals clean and free from any debris or dirt, sometimes this can prohibit the dog’s ears from standing due to an ear infection. Also check to see if there is a history of weak eared GSD’s from the bloodline. If one ear doesn’t stand it could be from an injury or damage done early in the dog’s life. If both ear’s don’t stand then it could be either weak genetics or not the dog is not receiving the proper amount of nutrients. This is not your fault, but a change in diet may make a difference.

  7. Anonymous on said:

    Hello, I adopted a German Shepherd/Siberian Husky puppy. He is five months old now and still teething (I found three molars and a canine in the past two days). I realize the aging process can/will be different with the mixed breed, but I have never had a puppy before and am curious if teething at this age is normal. Everywhere that Ive read says they are usually finished teething by 20 weeks. I’ve seen his ears stand up occasionally (usually when he’s laying on his side) but not often. Does the fact that they stand up at all mean anything or is this just the position he’s in making them “stand”? I understand that the fact he is teething has an effect on his ears standing so I am curious about the order they lose their teeth and about how long it takes. I believe he’s been teething since I got him about a month ago. Thank you all so much for the help and advice.

  8. I have a 5 and a half old German Shepherd. His ears are big and they look like batmans wings just laying on the both sides if his head flat. His left ear came up for about a week ( about 2 weeks ago ). Do you think that his ears will come up? Or will they need help?

  9. My German Shepherd is now five and a half months and he is a purebred German Shepherd. About 2 weeks ago his left ear was up quite a bit. Now his ears are just laying on the sides of his head straight out just like the picture of dog with the big ears, which he also has big ears. But by the end of each day right before we are going to bed his left ear is usually up. Do you think that they will come up? Or did we need to do something to help them come up.

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  11. Anonymous on said:

    Would you still tape both ears if only one was floppy? My German Shepherd is just now 9 months and the tip of one of his ears is still down.

    • If you tape you might have to tape both and attach the ears together so one ear supports the other. Since its just one ear I recommend the mole skin padding. Let me know what you decide!

  12. My GSD is 7 and 1/2 months old, we have tried several different dog foods now in the past couple of months and he still doesn’t seem to be getting enough nutrients, we switched to science diet today and on full feed rather than recommended feedings. Is it too late to fix his ears? They are both down, I am hoping the science diet will help but don’t want to wait, can I go ahead and tape as well? What should I do and what is the probability of them coming up? Feeling sad and hopeless!

    • Science Diet isn’t a better dog food it is just more marketed. Let’s try a dog food that is rich with glucosamine or try to add extra with supplements. Victors is highly recommend for some GSD’s that need extra glucosamine. Visit their site and see what would be best for you and if it available in your area. Try some chicken feet, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. I’ve seen ears come up over a year old. Send me some pics.