A dog with pointy ears.

When Do Dogs Ears Stand Up: Key Factors & Differences!

Have you ever wondered when your puppy’s floppy ears will stand up? Or why some dogs have erect ears while others have droopy ones? The answer lies in dog ear development, which is determined by a variety of factors, including breed genetics, nutrition, and age.

In this article, we’ll explore the different stages of dog ear growth and development, as well as the unique ear shapes, sizes, and placements found across various dog breeds. We’ll also examine common myths and misconceptions about dog ear development and provide practical ear care tips for your furry friend.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs’ ears typically begin to stand up between 8 and 12 weeks of age.
  • Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, have ears that stand up naturally, while others, such as Beagles, may have floppy ears that never stand up.
  • Proper nutrition and care can promote healthy ear development in puppies.
A tan and white dog sleeping on a chair.
Photo by Kevin Johnston on Unsplash

When Do Dogs Ears Stand Up?

Dogs’ ears typically begin to stand up between 8 and 12 weeks of age. However, this can vary depending on the breed and individual dog.

Understanding Dog Ear Growth Stages

Dog ear development is a fascinating and complex process, with many factors influencing when a pup’s ears will stand up. Understanding the stages of dog ear growth is crucial to recognize healthy ear posture in dogs and spotting any potential issues.

There are several key stages of dog ear development that most breeds go through:

Birth to 2 weeksPuppies are born with floppy ears, which are sealed shut to protect their inner ear from dirt and debris.
3 weeks to 2 monthsPuppy ears begin to open up and stand erect, but they may still be wobbly or floppy. During this stage, it’s critical to make sure that the cartilage in your pup’s ears is getting enough calcium to develop properly.
3 months to 6 monthsMost puppies’ ears will be fully erect at this stage, though some breeds may take longer or have ears that never stand up. During this time, the cartilage will continue to harden and take on its final shape.
6 months and upPuppy ear development is complete, and the ear shape and size should remain relatively constant for the rest of the dog’s life.

It’s worth noting that some dog breeds have ears that never stand up or stand up only partially, even when they reach adulthood. This is due to genetics and differences in ear structure from breed to breed.

Tip: If you’re unsure whether your dog’s ears are developing properly, consult your veterinarian. They can examine your pup’s ears and offer guidance on any appropriate interventions that may be necessary.

Genetics and Ear Structure in Dogs

When it comes to ear development in dogs, genetics plays a crucial role. The genes a dog inherits from their parents will determine whether their ears will be floppy or erect.

For example, breeds like the Basset Hound or the Bloodhound have long, droopy ears due to genetics. On the other hand, breeds like the German Shepherd or the Doberman Pinscher have erect ears, also due to genetics.

It’s important to note, however, that not all dogs within the same breed will have the same ear structure. Some dogs may have partially erect ears or ears that don’t stand up all the way due to variations in their genetic makeup.

The Anatomy of Dog Ears

Dog ears are made up of several parts, including the pinna, the ear canal, and the eardrum. The pinna is the visible part of the ear that can be floppy or erect, while the ear canal leads to the eardrum and helps transmit sound to the dog’s inner ear.

The ear structure also plays a role in determining whether the ears will be floppy or erect. For example, dogs with floppy ears have longer ear canals and more curved ear cartilage, which make it difficult for the ears to stand up. Dogs with erect ears have shorter ear canals and straighter ear cartilage, which allow the ears to stand up more easily.

The Controversy of Ear Cropping

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that involves cutting a dog’s ears to create a certain shape or size. This practice is controversial and illegal in some countries due to concerns over animal welfare.

Ear cropping is typically done on breeds with traditionally floppy ears, such as Boxers or Cocker Spaniels, to give them a more “alert” appearance. However, ear cropping is not necessary for a dog’s health and can cause pain, infection, and other complications.

It’s important to note that ear cropping does not guarantee that a dog’s ears will stand up, as a dog’s genetics and ear structure also play a role.

A gorgeous small white dog waiting for its owner.
Image by Mircea – All in collections from Pixabay

Factors That Affect Ear Development in Dogs

Dog ear development can be influenced by a variety of factors beyond genetics and breed. Some of these factors can affect the healthy growth and positioning of your dog’s ears, while others can lead to infections, injuries, or other issues.

Factors That Can Affect Ear Development

Health issues: If your dog experiences frequent ear infections or injuries, it can affect the shape and position of their ears. It’s important to take your dog to the vet if you notice any signs of discomfort or irritation in their ears, as untreated infections can lead to more serious health problems.

Ear cropping: This controversial practice involves surgically altering the shape of a dog’s ears for aesthetic reasons. While some breeds have traditionally been cropped, the practice is becoming less common due to concerns about animal welfare. Ear cropping can also lead to complications and infections, as well as affect the healthy development of the ears.

Ear cleaning: While regular ear cleaning is an important part of dog grooming, it’s important to use the right products and techniques to avoid damaging your dog’s ears. Using cotton swabs or other sharp objects can lead to injuries or infections, and over-cleaning can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the ear canal.

Environmental factors: Exposure to certain chemicals, allergens, or other environmental factors can also affect your dog’s ear health and development. Make sure to keep your dog away from harmful substances and keep their living environment clean and free of irritants.

How to Promote Healthy Ear Development in Your Dog

To ensure that your dog’s ears develop properly and stay healthy, there are a few key steps you can take:

  • Keep up with regular vet visits and address any issues with your dog’s ears promptly.
  • Provide a healthy diet and plenty of exercise to promote overall wellness.
  • Use gentle, dog-safe ear cleaning products and follow proper cleaning techniques.
  • Avoid unnecessary ear cropping or other procedures that can affect ear development.
  • Protect your dog from environmental factors that can harm their ears.

By staying aware of potential issues and taking steps to promote healthy ear development, you can help your dog enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life.

Ear Care Tips for Your Canine Companion

Proper ear care is an essential part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Here are some tips to help you care for your dog’s ears:

Clean your dog’s ears regularly

Ear cleaning should be a regular part of your dog’s grooming routine. Use a cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian, and follow the instructions carefully. Be gentle when cleaning your dog’s ears, and avoid using any sharp objects that could cause injury. If you notice any redness, swelling, or discharge, contact your vet.

Check for signs of infection

Keep an eye out for signs of ear infections, such as frequent scratching, shaking of the head, or a foul odor coming from the ears. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, consult your veterinarian right away. Early treatment can prevent the infection from becoming more serious and causing discomfort to your dog.

Avoid getting water in your dog’s ears

When bathing your dog or going swimming with them, take care to avoid getting water in their ears. Moisture can lead to bacteria growth, which can cause infections. You can use earplugs designed for dogs to help keep their ears dry.

Trim hair around the ears

Excess hair around the ears can trap dirt and moisture, making your dog more susceptible to infections. You can use clippers or scissors to trim the hair around your dog’s ears, but take care not to cut too close to the skin.

Prevent ear injuries

Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear injuries than those with erect ears. To prevent injuries, avoid activities that could cause trauma to your dog’s ears, such as rough play or letting your dog stick their head out of a moving car window. If your dog does sustain an ear injury, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Include ear care in your regular grooming routine

Regular grooming is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Make sure to include ear care in your grooming routine, along with brushing, bathing, and nail trimming. By taking good care of your dog’s ears, you can help prevent infections and other ear problems.

A small dog standing on grass.
Photo by Denis Mustafaev : https://www.pexels.com/photo/small-dog-standing-on-grass-16953829/

Breed-Specific Ear Development in Dogs

Dogs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and their ears are no exception. In fact, the shape, size, and placement of a dog’s ears can be highly indicative of its breed. Here’s a closer look at some common ear shapes and types among different dog breeds.

Drop Ears

Drop ears, also known as pendulous ears, are characterized by long, heavy ear flaps that hang down close to the dog’s cheeks. This ear type is common in many breeds, including:

BreedEar Shape
Basset HoundLong, broad, and rounded at the tips
BeagleLong, narrow, and slightly curved
BloodhoundLong, droopy, and wrinkled

Drop ears are prone to developing infections, as their shape can trap moisture and debris that lead to irritation and inflammation. Owners of dogs with this ear type should be vigilant about keeping their pet’s ears clean and dry.

Prick Ears

Prick ears, also known as upright ears, stand up straight and tall on the dog’s head. This ear type is common in many breeds, including:

BreedEar Shape
German ShepherdPointed and upright, with a slight curve at the tip
Siberian HuskyTriangular and slightly rounded at the top
Doberman PinscherTall, narrow, and pointed

Prick ears are less prone to infections, but they can be susceptible to injury from rough play or accidental bumping. Owners should be careful to watch for any signs of pain or discomfort in their dog’s ears.

Floppy Ears

Floppy ears, also known as soft ears, are characterized by an ear flap that hangs down to some degree, but not as much as drop ears. This ear type is common in many breeds, including:

BreedEar Shape
Cocker SpanielLong, curved, and slightly pointed at the tip
Bernese Mountain DogRounded and triangular, with a slightly curled edge
BulldogShort, rounded, and folded over at the top

Floppy ears are also prone to infection, as their shape can trap moisture and debris. Owners should be diligent in cleaning and drying their dog’s ears to prevent these issues.

A small dog laying down.
Photo by Lukasz Juszczak on Unsplash

Breeds with Floppy Ears

Dogs with floppy ears are beloved for their adorable looks, but it’s important to be aware of the specific care needs and health concerns associated with this ear type. Here are some of the most common dog breeds with floppy ears:

BreedEar Type
Basset HoundLong, floppy ears
BeagleSoft, long ears
BloodhoundLong, droopy ears
Cocker SpanielLong, silky ears
DachshundLong, floppy ears
English SetterLong, feathered ears
Irish SetterLong, feathered ears
Labrador RetrieverSoft, droopy ears

While floppy ears may be cute, they can also lead to health issues. Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections, as the ears’ shape and size can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. To keep your dog’s ears healthy, it’s important to clean them regularly and to keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge.

If you have a floppy-eared dog, it’s also a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about ear care and to schedule regular check-ups to catch any problems early on.

Breeds with Erect Ears

Erect ears are one of the most iconic features of many dog breeds, adding to their regal appearance and alert expression. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the breeds that are known for their erect ears, as well as the unique care needs and health concerns associated with this ear type.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is perhaps the most famous breed with erect ears, known for their iconic triangular ears that stand tall and proud. However, it’s worth noting that not all German Shepherds have erect ears from birth. In fact, many puppies’ ears will start out floppy and gradually become erect over the course of several months.

Some German Shepherds may never fully develop erect ears, which is considered a cosmetic flaw in the breed standard but doesn’t affect their health or temperament. However, if you’re considering showing your German Shepherd, it’s important to be aware of the breed standard and the expectations for ear shape and size.

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is another breed with distinctive erect ears, which are typically cropped for cosmetic purposes when the puppy is a few months old. This practice is controversial and illegal in some countries, as it involves removing a portion of the ear flap to create a smaller, upright ear shape.

Whether or not your Doberman’s ears are cropped, it’s important to monitor and care for them to prevent infections and pests. The upright shape of their ears can make them more susceptible to debris and moisture buildup, which can lead to painful ear infections if left untreated.

Siberian Husky

While not all Siberian Huskies have erect ears, many do have a distinctive “prick ear” shape that stands upright and points forward. This ear shape is thought to have developed as a way to help the breed regulate their body temperature in their native Arctic climate.

Because of their thick fur and active lifestyle, Siberian Huskies can be prone to ear infections and other ear-related health issues. Regular cleaning and inspection of their ears can help prevent these problems before they become serious.


Overall, erect ears are a common and beloved feature of many dog breeds, from the regal German Shepherd to the energetic Husky. While the care needs and health concerns associated with erect ears can vary depending on the breed, all dog owners should be aware of how to monitor and care for their pet’s ears to ensure their long-term health and happiness.

A Jack Russell with its head tilted.
Photo by Natalie Kinnear on Unsplash

Common Myths About Dog Ear Development

Dog ear development is a complex process that is influenced by a range of factors, including genetics, age, and health. Unfortunately, there are many commonly held myths and misconceptions about dog ears that can lead to confusion and incorrect assumptions. Here, we’ll separate fact from fiction and dispel some of the most persistent myths about dog ear development.

Myth: You Can Make Your Dog’s Ears Stand Up By Taping Them

This is a pervasive myth that simply isn’t true. While it’s true that some breeders may tape a puppy’s ears to try to encourage them to stand up, this practice is both ineffective and potentially harmful. In fact, taping a puppy’s ears can cause irritation, injury, and even infection. Additionally, many dogs’ ears will stand up naturally as they mature, so there’s no need to intervene.

Myth: All Dogs Are Born With Floppy Ears

While it’s true that many dogs are born with floppy ears, not all breeds have this ear type. In fact, many breeds are born with ears that stand up or fold over, and these ear types can be influenced by genetics. Additionally, some breeds may have floppy ears as puppies but have them naturally stand up as they grow older.

Myth: Floppy Ears Are Healthier Than Erect Ears

This is another myth that simply isn’t true. While it’s true that some dogs with floppy ears may be more prone to ear infections or other issues, there is no definitive evidence that suggests that these ear types are inherently less healthy than erect ears. Additionally, keeping a dog’s ears clean and healthy can help to prevent many common ear problems, regardless of ear type.

Myth: Ear Cropping Is Necessary For Certain Breeds

Ear cropping is a controversial practice that involves surgically altering a dog’s ears for aesthetic purposes. While some breeders and owners may argue that this practice is necessary for certain breeds, there is no medical or functional reason to crop a dog’s ears. In fact, ear cropping is banned in many countries and is considered unethical by many animal welfare organizations.

Myth: Ears That Don’t Stand Up Signal Poor Health

While it’s true that certain health problems can affect a dog’s ears, such as ear infections or injuries, there is no definitive link between ear posture and overall health. In fact, many healthy and happy dogs may have floppy ears, while others may have erect ears that are perfectly healthy. Additionally, some breeds may be predisposed to certain health conditions that can affect their ear development, regardless of ear posture.


If you’re wondering when your furry friend’s ears will stand up, it’s important to keep in mind that this can vary depending on the breed and individual dog. Most dogs’ ears will begin to stand up between 8 and 12 weeks of age, but some breeds may have ears that stand up naturally, while others may have floppy ears that never stand up.

Proper nutrition and care can promote healthy ear development in puppies. If you have concerns about your dog’s ear development, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian.

A Chihuahua staring at its owner.
Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

FAQs About When Do Dogs Ears Stand Up

As a dog owner, it’s natural to have questions about your furry friend’s development. Here are some commonly asked questions about when dogs’ ears stand up.

1. When do puppies’ ears start to stand up?

The timing varies across breeds, but generally, puppies’ ears begin to stand up between 6 and 8 weeks of age. For some breeds, like the German Shepherd, this may happen earlier, while for others, like the Corgi, it may take longer.

2. Can I make my dog’s ears stand up?

No, you cannot make your dog’s ears stand up by manipulating them or taping them. Ear posture is determined by genetics and the natural growth and development of the ear cartilage.

3. My dog’s ears are still floppy. Is this normal?

Yes, it’s normal for some breeds to have floppy ears throughout their lives. Breeds like the Basset Hound and Bloodhound are known for their characteristic long droopy ears.

4. Why do some dogs have one ear up and one ear down?

Asymmetrical ear posture can be a natural variation in some dogs, but it can also be caused by injury or ear infections. If you notice a sudden change in your dog’s ear posture, it’s worth checking with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

5. How do I clean my dog’s ears?

To clean your dog’s ears, use a gentle, dog-specific cleaner applied on a cotton ball or pad. Avoid using cotton swabs or inserting anything into the ear canal. If your dog has a history of ear infections, consult with your veterinarian for specific cleaning instructions.

6. What are signs that my dog may have an ear infection?

Some common signs of ear infections in dogs include shaking their head, Scratching at their ears, redness, swelling, discharge, and a foul odor. If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, seek veterinary treatment promptly.

7. Can ear cropping affect a dog’s hearing?

Ear cropping, a controversial practice of surgically altering a dog’s ear shape, can have negative effects on a dog’s hearing. The ears play an important role in collecting and funneling sound to the inner ear, and altering their shape can disrupt this function.

8. Can dogs with erect ears get ear infections?

Yes, all dogs, regardless of ear shape, can develop ear infections. However, some breeds with floppy ears may be more prone to infections due to the reduced air circulation and increased moisture in their ears.

Related Post: When Do Dogs Mature and Calm Down? Age & Breed Factors!