All German Shepherd puppies are born with floppy ears. They are very cute but it’s expected that drooping ears will stand up at some point. When could you expect this to happen? And what to do if your German Shepherd’s ears don’t erect as they should?
Most German shepherd puppy’s ears will start erecting between the age of 4 and 6 months. It’s not uncommon if GSD ears go between standing up and flopping down several times before they mature.
Ears should be fully erected at the age of 6 months. This process is connected with the teething phase. Both should be finished at the same time. If German Shepherd ears don’t stand up straight by the age of 8 months, they probably never will.
Do All German Shepherd Ears Stand Up?
Although the GSD puppies are born with drooping ears, they should stand up by the age of 7-8months .
German Shepherd breed standards suggest that in adult dogs, ears should be firm and erect. The size should be proportional to the dog’s head.
Drooping ears in adult German Shepherd is a sign that something is wrong with genetics/breeding or health. An early period trauma can also be the cause.
Drooping ears or only one floppy ear would surely disqualify your German Shepherd from the American Kennel Club shows.
How Much Time Is Required For German Shepherd Ears To Stand Up?
This process may take a while. The ears may start erecting even at the 2nd month of age but it’s more likely to happen between 4 and 6 months of age.
The ears are made of cartilage and not bone. What may happen is that ears that stood up in the early stages (around or even before 4 months of age), can come back down.
You might read in some articles that this is happening due to a teething process and redistribution of calcium but the truth is that calcium is not needed for proper cartilage build-up.
In case your GSD puppy has had erected ears at some point and then they both or only one ear has drooped, most probably the reason is the development of Frontalis and Temporalis muscles on top of its head.
The temporalis muscle is directly involved in giving a German shepherd that upright ears look. This should not worry you, it’s only temporary. If your dog’s ears stood up once, they will stand up again.
If you notice that your GS ears don’t stand up by the age of 5 months you should consider taping them. Ears should stand up as soon as the teething process is finished. If they are not, they need a little help from your side.
The age of 6-8 months is crucial as after that you won’t be able to do much for your GSD ears and their upright position.
What Can I Do To Stimulate My German Shepherd Dog Ears To Stand Up?
Floppy ears in German Shepherd dogs are usually related to genetics or poor diet.
In the case of genetics, you cannot do much. Once you have decided to get a German Shepherd dog you should contact a reputable breeder and ask tons of questions. Require to see the puppy’s parents.
If you bring a puppy with a perfect genetic background to your home, the rest it’s on you. Proper care and a high-quality diet will ensure your puppy develops as it should. His ears as well.
High–Quality Diet for German Shepherd puppy
Since the ears are made of cartilage, your GSD puppy needs a lot of protein in his diet. Don’t overdo with protein though as excess protein may lead to obesity.
Although calcium is super important for bone development, it’s not crucial for cartilage. High-quality puppy food should contain enough calcium so never give calcium supplements to your dog without a consultation with your vet.
Too much calcium can cause many troubles to your puppy. It may cause serious imbalances in other minerals and problems with bone growth. Calcium supplements will not have any effect on cartilage development though.
A glucosamine supplement is also a good idea. Humans and dogs are using it in case of arthritis as helps maintain healthy cartilage and create joint lubricants.
You can find this supplement in liquid form ( Terra Max Pro’s for Dogs) which is the most suitable form as it is to ingest.
If you are looking for a more natural way to include Glucosamine in your German Shepherds diet then whole food might be a good choice :
- Homemade bone broth
- Chicken feet and neck
- Duck feet and neck
If you feed your German Shepherd with raw food, the whole food option won’t be a problem but if your German Shepherd is eating only dry food for dogs, try to switch at least 10% of dry food to whole food.
Vitamin C can also help with building cartilage. Although dogs are able to produce their own vitamin C ( unlike humans) it’s recommended to provide your dog with whole food that contains this valuable vitamin.
Vitamin C is also a great source of antioxidants.
Puppy-hood can be a rather stressful period – moving to a new home, vaccination, rapid growth… so whole food vitamins support is crucial.
Here is the list of whole food that contains Vitamin C :
- Sweet Potato
Don’t forget to wash the food thoroughly and cut it into smaller pieces. Remove all seeds, stems, and leaves. You can also offer steamed or blended fruits and vegetables to your puppy.
Chewing Toys for German Shepherd puppy
Chewing is extremely important for dogs in general but puppies in particular. Chewing helps your German Shepherd to relieve the pain that comes from teething.
Constant gnawing contributes to jaws, head, and neck muscles proper development. That has an important affect on the ears upright position
Temporalis muscle that is already mentioned is highly involved in chewing. So the more your puppy chews the more it develops Temporalis muscle that is directly related to ears and their upright position.
So knowing this offers your GSD puppy a variety of toys to chew on. Different chew toys will stimulate and exercise different muscle groups.
Why Do Some German Shepherd Dogs Have One or Both Drooping Ears?
As we have already mentioned, one of the reasons may be genetics. In that case, you cannot do anything.
Some breeders tend to breed dogs with larger, heavier ears. The head muscles are simply not strong enough to hold those large ears upright.
That’s why you need to see your potential puppy’s parents before you decide to buy it. If a puppy’s parents have very large, floppy ears, anything you do won’t help your GSD ears to stand up one day.
An improper low protein diet may cause poorly developed cartilage and floppy ears as a result.
Presence of the worms and other parasites. Parasites steal the nutrients from the food leaving your puppy without essential elements for proper development and growth. This will influence the cartilage and ear’s upright position.
You should regularly check your dog’s poop and look for tapeworms, roundworms, or pinworms. For Heartworms your dog should be tested.
Trauma that your puppy had at an early age or even a minor injury of the ears may cause dropping ears in the adult period.
It’s recommended not to touch your puppy’s ears too much. Avoid rubbing, folding, or bending his ears.
Ear Taping And Other Methods
Don’t panic if your German Shepherd still has drooping ears at the age of 5 months. Provide a high-quality diet and offer him a variety of chew toys and start thinking about other options
If your German Shepherd is 6 months old and his ears haven’t stood up yet, then you might consider a few options to help him.
Many GSD owners use Breath Right Strips. There is a McCann Dogs video on Youtube that explains how to use those strips.
You need to clean the Pinna ( ear flap, part of the ear covered by skin) and then apply Breath Right Strip. Check every day the strip as it will eventually fall off in a few days and it’s important to change it with a new one.
These strips are really light in weight, a great thing that can secure your GSD ear in place without weighing them down.
Another option is to use Ear forms ( Redline Canine is usually most recommended ). They are made of special foam.
They are ergonomically designed to promote the proper shape and growth of soft puppy ears. It’s like you add one additional layer of the cartilage to support your German Shepherd soft ears.
Some people prefer the Pink Roller Method. This method was described by Susan Barwig in the German Shepherd Book. Purchase these foam rollers, extra-large ( for large ears) or large ( for smaller ears). You will also need one unsharpened pencil and a plastic knife.
First, put the pencil in the whole of the roller, then spread a layer of glue (a special type, that is safe for dogs) using the plastic knife and let it dry until sticky, then apply another layer of glue.
Insert the roller inside the dog’s ears and wrap the ears around the rollers. Hold the ear wrapped around the roller until the glue is dry. Leave in until the roller falls out.
Cleaning the ear from the glue it’s not recommended because it will grow out anyway but if you try to clean it, that may cause the ear to go down.
Maybe you will have to repeat this process couple of times but it’s not a big deal for your German Shepherd, these rollers are very light in weight, as soon as you place them, your dog will forget about them.
Ear Implants – PermaStay® implants for canines, invented by Mr. Greg Miller are implants that can help your German Shepherd ears to stand up. They are ultra-thin, lightweight, made of surgical mesh, the material suitable for sensitive tissue of dog ears. For more about this topic, visit Neuticles permastay
Unless your German Shepherd is genetically predisposed to have floppy ears or had some trauma in his early days, his ears should stand up at the age of 4-8 months.
A good rule of thumb is that the ears will stand up when the teething process is finished.
Since the ears are made of cartilage, you can stimulate good cartilage development with a quality diet, rich in proteins and vitamin C.
Make sure you provide chewing toys for your German Shepherd to help develop very important head muscles. Strong head muscles, especially Temporalis muscle will ensure your pet’s ear stands up.
If your puppy is 6 months old and he still has floppy ears you may consult the wet and try some of the methods many owners suggest such as the Pink roller method, Ear forms, or some other.