A lot of German Shepherd owners have nagging questions about floppy puppy ears and whether they can be fixed or not. Since this is an important topic, we have prepared a comprehensive guide including some of the most effective ways to deal with the issue. It goes without saying that one of the distinguishing physical features of a German Shepherd is its pointed ears. This is an essential element of its overall regal looks and alertness that the breed is well-known for.
In this respect, it is not that difficult to understand the concerns of an average German Shepherd owner in this context. However, new owners become edgy and concerned too soon for their own good. Bear in mind that if the puppy is just about 3 to 4 months old and you have already begun to worry about its ears, our first piece of advice is to have more patience. Messing with your dog’s ears at such a tender age can cause long-term complications; timing is important.
The opposite of this is also true to some extent. Actually, some German Shepherd owners get to understand too late that the ears of their puppies need fixing. Normally, the puppies’ ears do not perk up until they are 6 to 7 months old whereas there are examples where taping has been successful even after 6 months.
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Ears Up & Down
It is normal for a pup’s ears to go up and then droop in couple of week, so don’t get alarmed unnecessarily. This is common during teething when new adult teeth are making their way up. In our experience, if the puppy’s ears go up once in a while and then droop, they are surely going to go up again.
So just relax and let your pup’s teething pass by. In our experience, the ears will perk up if they have perked up even once before. In this case, it is recommended that you just relax, and wait for your puppy to finish teething.
Perk Up & Stay Up
Once teething is complete, your pup’s ears will go up again and stay up forever. However, this differs for puppies of different breeds. For instance, some puppies will have perked ears when they are 12 weeks old and the ears will not droop even when teething.
What Causes Droopy Ears?
There are some fairly common reasons for why the ears of German Shepherd puppies droop.
As I clarified earlier, teething has a lot to contribute to droopy ears among puppies. Luckily, this happens a short period and after teething, when the ears should once again perk up. Teething is over by the time puppies are 6 to 7 months old under normal circumstances.
True, we can’t do much about the puppies’ genetics. However, some puppies are genetically predisposed to floppy ears. This is because the genes of their parents passed on to the puppies. Even so, most dog owners care more for a reliable and relaxed temperament, healthy hips, and a good drive. That said, a dog’s ears would come to play a key role if you have plans to use your dog for breeding or at exhibitions and dog shows.
Generally speaking, breeders like to see large ears in their German Shepherds. It’s like giving the public, what it wants to some extent. This is more the case for American & Canadian Showline breeders. We believe it is a poor breeding practice to breed dogs to boost a particular trait, especially one that does not conform to the breed standard. One of the shocking outcomes of this is the presence of droopy ears among German Shepherd puppies that never perk up naturally.
The logic is simple here: The head muscles find the ears too heavy and big to keep them up. Now, no artificial help can reverse this without potentially harming the dog in the process. Try to identify a good breeder and ask as many questions as you may have about the puppy and its parentage. If possible, try to meet the puppy’s parents. There are certain things that must be considered with respect to the puppy’s ears when you are choosing the breeder and puppy.
• The parents’ ear should be neat and close to the skull, not satellite-like big.
• The parents’ head should not be large as in this case even the ears will be large.
• The parent’s ear leather should be thick and firm. For the lack of stiffness, thin ear leather does not perk up.
Up to the age of 4 to 5 months, your puppy’s ears are still undergoing physical changes. And, if the ears suffer significant trauma, it can cause droopy ears and permanent damage. In that regard, refrain from causing the dog any long-term issues if you can help it.
There comes a time in your puppy’s development that would tell you whether you should do something about its ears. By the age of 6 to 7 months, if the ears of the puppy have not perked up, it might be time to look for additional help on the matter:
This is the first step to naturally strengthen the muscles of the puppy’s head, jaw, and neck. You should try this before anything else. Chewing on chew toys that are healthy and safe is the best exercise for the head, jaw, and neck muscles of the puppy that can help its ears perk up gorgeously. The feedback from German Shepherd owners in this context is encouraging. They recount their success with helping puppies perk up their ears with chew toys. Chew toys also help puppies relieve pain and discomfort during teething. The exercise of head and jaw muscles is particularly important for perky ears. Let your puppy chew…!
It is common to give a supplement during the development stages of the puppy. However, you should note that not all of them are necessarily good for your puppy.
Many are those who think that calcium supplements are good for the puppies and may help with the development of their ears. Remember, puppies’ ears are not made of bone, but cartilage. Calcium will have no impact on cartilage. We do not recommend this method of aiding your pup’s ears. Giving extra calcium could lead to long-term negative consequences. Additional calcium will be absorbed by bones and joints and this may cause long term skeletal problems as your puppy grows.
A safer option is Glucosamine, which is a natural supplement that helps in maintaining healthy cartilage. You should add this to your puppy’s diet. This supplement finds its use in relieving arthritis in elderly dogs as well as humans. Bear in mind that this also works for your pup. In case you have any doubts or concerns about this supplement and are unable to decide whether you should give it to your puppy or not, it best that you have a chat with your vet on the issue.
Diet and Vitamins
Food has the most significant impact on the growth of your puppy’s brain and body. We recommend giving a natural diet for your puppy instead of commercial dog food. We would recommend you to stay away from commercially available dog foods and opt for a more natural diet instead. If it has to be commercial puppy food, then opt for cereal free make.
If you are feeding your puppy a raw diet, a raw chicken neck is good as it has a healthy bone to meat ratio. This way, you are sure that your pup is not eating too much calcium. Natural yogurt and cottage cheese can be used as a supplement to your puppy’s diet. Good quality full cream products sourced from the farmers’ market could add value to their diet.
Yes, parasites can hinder the normal development of your puppy’s body including her ears. Parasites eat away the nutrients in the food and they also hamper the absorption of nutrients by the body. Usually, parasites such as pinworms, tapeworms, and roundworms are found in puppy’s poop. You can regularly do poop patrol’ and check for the parasites. But for identifying some parasites like Spirocerca Lupi, tests need to be carried out. It is recommended that you take her to the vet for deworming at regular intervals.
Puppies can also get infected by their mothers as well as other dogs and puppies. Now, there are certain things that will save your puppy from suffering trauma to their ears. The first thing is to keep your hands off the dog’s ears and refrain from playing with their ears too rough. It’s not easy not to fold, rub, or bend those cute things, but it is best not to mess with them to ensure they grow into perky and healthy ears later on.
Also, keep the dog safe from other dogs, especially from excessive roughhousing and tumbling. Your puppy’s ears may suffer significant trauma, unintentionally caused by other puppies or dogs. Some breeders suggest massaging the ears’ base on a regular basis. You should do that at your own risk as we would recommend that you keep your hands off the ears until they begin to naturally perk up.
Taping the Puppy’s Ears
Taping a puppy’s ears to get them to perk up is another common practice and many owners have done this with great success. This is done through three simple and easy methods
• First, apply skin adhesive outside the ear form and let it dry for a minimum of 10 minutes.
• Seal the ear canal with a cotton ball to prevent any adhesive from dripping in.
• Now, put a second coat of adhesive on the ear form.
• Now, place the form carefully on the ear. Allow it to reach the base, but certainly not the ear canal. The ear would stand up and would not flop
• Ensure that no folds exist and it should feel smooth
Notes: You should keep the ear form for a week. You can repeat the process if your puppy’s ears have still not stood up. But first, clean the ears using an adhesive remover. Wait for a day for the ears to regain their normal form.
Items Needed for 2nd Method
• Dog Ear Support Forms
• You can also use Dr. Scholl’s Molefoam Padding if ear support foams are out of stock
• It’s MoleFoam padding, not MoleSkin.
• With MoleFoams, you’ll need to cut them into the perfect size.
• Skin Bond Adhesive: We recommend Montreal Skin Adhesive. It can be removed easily and causes no irritation. It also does not pull the dog’s ear hairs.
• Adhesive Remover: You can try Uni Skin Adhesive Remover. You need only a little amount of the adhesive remover for your purpose. Know that there are adverse effects on the skin.
• Apply the skin adhesive on the ear form and skin. Be careful, don’t let any adhesive in the ear canal
• Let it become a little tacky, not dry
• Fix the ear form carefully into the ear. Let it go to the base, without touching the ear canal.
• The ear would stand firm without flopping. • The ears should have no wrinkles. The outside should feel smooth.
Items Needed for the 3rd Method
• A woman’s hair roller or tampon applicator
• Paper tape: One that tears easily. You can try 2-inch wide Micropore Paper Tape
• A popsicle stickMethod
• Place foam roller or tampon applicator in the ear
• Keep the ear vertical and wrap it
• Tape the foam or tampon applicator around the ear with Micropore Paper Tape
• Tape the ear from the top to base
• Finally, tape popsicle stick
• Don’t use any other tape, not even duct tape or any DIY type
• Keep the ear taped for about a week, remove it, and check if the ears have perked up
• If not, give your puppy a day’s rest and tape the ears again
• Continue this until the puppy’s ears naturally perk up on their own. Initially, your puppy will scratch the tapes off. The key point here is to keep taping your puppy’s ears until you get the desired result and in most cases, you should get good results in no time.
If everything else fails, surgical implants can be considered to get the perky ears of your liking. PermaStay Implants for Dogs offers an effective solution in this field. This procedure involves the administration of anesthesia, so this should be performed by a vet.
Know that your dog will require pain killers as well. Seeing how the procedure is a bit complex and expensive, this should be your last resort. All in all, we strongly recommend that you wait for the pups to fully grow up before you choose this particular method for obvious reasons.