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Is It Bad If a German Shepherd’s Ears Don’t Stand Up?

German Shepherds are known for having standing ears that always seem to be on alert. 

However, some German Shepherds have one or both floppy ears where their ears don’t stand up on their own. 

For some German Shepherds, this floppy ear situation only happens in puppyhood. 

For others, their floppy ears last their whole life. 

Is It Bad If a German Shepherd’s Ears Don’t Stand Up?

It’s not a bad thing if a German Shepherd’s ears don’t stand up. Having floppy ears is a very natural part of growing up and for the shepherds that have floppy ears their whole life, it still isn’t a problem. Floppy ears aren’t connected to other health issues, and they don’t hurt the German Shepherd on their own. 

Having floppy ears is a typical part of being a puppy for German Shepherds. 

As they age, their ears will usually begin to stand up to the typical German Shepherd’s ear height.

German Shepherd’s ears begin to stand up around 5 months, however, some German Shepherds might take 9 months for their ears to stand. 

Each ear takes its own time to stand, which can leave some German Shepherds with a ‘one ear up the other ear down’ look. 

Many people find this look to be super cute for German Shepherds and will want to take plenty of pictures. 

If you have several German Shepherd puppies, it is also completely normal for each puppy to have its own ear-standing time. 

The ears of your German Shepherd puppies are more likely to stand up at different times than to stand at the same rate. 

How Many German Shepherds Have Permanent Floppy Ears?

German Shepherds with floppy ears that last their whole life is more common than some may think. 

1 in 5 German Shepherds has floppy ears throughout their whole life. 

That is 20% of the German Shepherd population that has adorable floppy ears. That’s a lot!

Even though the media typically only shows German Shepherds with high-standing ears, there are still many German Shepherds that don’t have the standing ear trait. 

What Is It That Makes German Shepherd’s Ears Stand?

As a German Shepherd grows up, they develop muscles over their body that helps them do the jobs they were bred to do. 

There is also some muscle, along with plenty of cartilage, that has to develop in their ears in order to make them stand. 

The cartilage in the ears of dogs gives them their structure. Then, the muscles in their ears allow them to move. 

Some dogs have ears that naturally rest in a floppy position, but then they’ll perk up when listening to something interesting. 

Why Do Some German Shepherds Have Permanently Floppy Ears?

The simple answer is that German Shepherds with floppy ears have never developed the proper cartilage and/or the muscles in their ears in order to make them permanently stand. 

However, what causes this lack of development?

Genetics

There are also genetic reasons why your German Shepherd might always have floppy ears.

If both of the parents of your German Shepherd had floppy ears, then it is highly likely that your German Shepherd will also have floppy ears. 

Your German Shepherd might also have a gene for their ears lying down instead of standing. 

Ear Size

Some breeders breed German Shepherds to have large ears that look good in shows.

However, larger ears are more likely to flop over, especially if the German Shepherd isn’t able to develop enough cartilage in their ears. 

Smaller ears don’t need as much cartilage to stand up whereas larger ears need a lot more. 

Ear Injuries

A German Shepherd can have floppy ears due to an injury to the ear.

This is more likely to be present with adopted German Shepherds as many are rescued from abusive situations. 

Injuries such as a car accident, repetitive abuse, or even playing too rough can damage the cartilage or muscle in the ears. 

If damage is sustained, then the German Shepherd won’t be able to properly raise or keep its ears standing. 

Be careful when playing with your German Shepherd and keep an eye on your German Shepherd when they are playing with other dogs or kids. 

Especially with other German Shepherds or kids, they might get too rough and not mean to hurt their ears. 

Neglect

While improper care can cause more problems than just floppy ears, it is surely one of the consequences that can happen. 

If a German Shepherd puppy doesn’t get the proper nutritional care that they need, their bodies won’t be able to develop properly. 

This means that they will have significantly fewer muscles and won’t develop cartilage. 

Not only will the German Shepherd be a lot weaker, but they also won’t have the strength or structure to have standing ears. 

Improper care can also lead to infections. 

Many dogs are prone to having ear infections if they aren’t cleaned properly. 

Infections can sap away a German Shepherd’s strength and cause damage to the ears. 

The same improper care can lead to really dirty ears that can cause discomfort to the dog. 

A German Shepherd with irritating ears might paw and scratch at them, which can cause overall damage. 

This all can lead to damage to the ear structure and cause the ears to become floppy. 

The effects of improper care are worse if your German Shepherd is a puppy and misses a lot of the crucial developmental milestones. 

Neglect while a puppy can cause permanent problems for their entire life. 

Can You Fix a German Shepherd’s Floppy Ears?

Again, there’s nothing wrong if your German Shepherd has floppy ears, as long as it isn’t caused by neglect. 

However, some owners might want to encourage their German Shepherd’s ears to stand up.

While this isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed, you can help your German Shepherd train their ears to stand. 

It is recommended that you talk to your vet before trying to train your German Shepherd’s ears. 

They will help you find the right method that won’t also hurt your dog’s ears. 

Since all German Shepherd’s ears are different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method.

Taping Your German Shepherd’s Ears

Taping your German Shepherd’s ears means creating a structure in their ears that will force them to stand and create a mold of sorts to strengthen their ears. 

For this, you will need small and thin foam rollers, self-adhering waterproof tape, and popsicle sticks. 

Make sure that the foam rollers and popsicle sticks are clean and dry before using them.

To start, place the foam rollers inside your German Shepherd’s ears so that they begin to stand up on their own.

Don’t place the foam roller too deep, move it just enough so that it keeps up the ear.

Place the popsicle sticks on top of the foam rollers and tape the foam rollers together. 

(Don’t place the popsicle sticks in your German Shepherd’s ears as this can cause injury.) Check their ears every week and make sure that no damage is happening to the ears. 

Stop taping your German Shepherd’s ears when they reach 9 months old if they don’t start standing up on their own beforehand.

If your German Shepherd’s ears still don’t stand up on their own, you can take them to the vet and get their opinion on it.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with your German Shepherd having floppy ears.

Some German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to have floppy ears and it doesn’t hurt them or impact their hearing at all.

Chew Toys

Chewing on chew toys will help strengthen the muscles in your German Shepherd’s face and ears. 

The act of chewing takes a lot of different muscles to properly work and some of these muscles will strengthen the ears as well. 

Choosing the right chew toy is also important for muscle structure. 

Get a chew toy that isn’t too big or small for your German Shepherd, so their muscles are properly activated. 

Over time, the use of chew toys can strengthen the ears to the point where they can start standing on their own. 

Final Thoughts

While having standing ears is typical for German Shepherds, 20% of German Shepherds will grow up to have floppy ears for life.

This is a completely okay outcome as it doesn’t hurt the German Shepherd to have floppy ears. 

It won’t affect the rest of their muscle development and it won’t hurt their hearing. 

Usually, a German Shepherd puppy will have its ears stand at around 5 months, though for some dogs it will take 9 months.

There are ways to help train your German Shepherd to have standing ears over time but always consult with a vet before trying a new method to prevent injury.

German Shepherds with floppy ears are adorable and can capture the hearts of many people. 

Sure, they may not be preferred in dog shows, but floppy-eared German Shepherds may be preferred by loving families.