German Shepherds arepo known for their large, upright ears. However, German Shepherd puppies often have floppy ears that perk up over time.
Most of the time, a German Shepherd’s ears will start standing up between eight weeks and eight months of age.
This is not always the case, though. There are several reasons why your German Shepherd’s ears aren’t standing up.
In the guide below, you’ll learn about normal ear development, causes of floppy German Shepherdnears, and what you can do to help your German Shepherd’s ears stand up.
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German Shepherd Puppy Ears Stages
While every dog is different, the following are some benchmarks to see where your German Shepherd is in his development.
At different stages, their ears take on different postures. This can be confusing to new German Shepherd owners who are used to seeing the dogs as adults.
These benchmarks are approximate, making them suitable as a rough guide only. Your dog’s ears may develop differently.
- Birth to 7 Weeks: During this stage, your puppy will have very small ears. These tiny ears take several weeks to grow and develop.
- 7 to 10 Weeks: Around this time, your dog’s ears will flop to the side of their heads.
- 10 to 14 Weeks: Your puppy’s ears will begin to perk up, often looking like they’re trying to stand up but can’t quite get there.
- 15 to 20 Weeks: During this stage, your puppy’s ears may be upright but not in the correct position. In some cases, your German Shepherd may have one ear up and another that remains floppy. While this may be concerning, it is normal for this stage of development.
- 5 to 8 Months: Most German Shepherd puppies will have their ears upright and in the right position around twenty weeks, although this can develop anywhere between eight weeks and eight months. Their muscles and cartilage have developed enough at this point to support the upright ear position. Since your dog is still a puppy, his ears may look too big for his head, although he will eventually “grow into” his ears.
7 Reasons Your German Shepherd’s Ears Aren’t Standing Up
If your German Shepherd’s ears aren’t standing up, you may wonder what’s causing them to flop.
The following are seven reasons why your German Shepherd’s ears might not be standing up.
Your German Shepherd’s ears might not stand up if they aren’t old enough to develop the trait. Cartilage needs to develop strong enough to hold your puppy’s ears upright.
While it can happen as early as eight weeks, some German Shepherds don’t develop upright ears until their eight months old.
In general, you should wait until your dog is six to seven months old before consulting your dog’s vet about ears that won’t stand up. At this stage, your dog’s vet may be able to provide guidance on how to remedy the problem.
German Shepherds have upright years due to generations of selective breeding. However, some dogs still develop floppy ears.
If your dog’s ears aren’t standing up, you should look at their parents to determine whether genetics may be the cause.
Sometimes a floppy-eared gene can be passed along, even if your puppy’s parents do not have floppy ears.
It may help to look back a few generations or look at a dog’s siblings to determine if there’s a genetic cause for the difference.
Some puppies may struggle to develop if they aren’t getting the right nutrition. Make sure your German Shepherd puppy is getting enough high-quality and nutrient-dense food for their age and developmental stage.
Your German Shepherd’s ears can be damaged by fighting, pulling, or playing by other puppies or small children.
It’s important to monitor your puppy when he’s around others to ensure he doesn’t receive trauma to his ears (or other parts of the body, for that matter).
If you know your German Shepherd experienced trauma to his ears as a puppy, it may be an explanation for their atypical development.
5. Improper “Fixes”
If you’ve tried some remedies to help “fix” your dog’s ears, you may unintentionally cause damage to their ears.
Taping your dog’s ears or using ear padding without the advice and oversight of your dog’s vet may damage your dog’s ears.
Even though this guide will provide some advice on how to get your German Shepherd’s ears to stand upright, it’s important to consult your dog’s veterinarian before you try any fix.
Sometimes serious illness can cause your German Shepherd to develop at a different pace. This isn’t about a little cold, but about serious illnesses that cause long-term nutritional deficits.
Staying on top of illness when your German Shepherd is a puppy is an important component for healthy development.
Believe it or not, teething can impact your German Shepherd’s ear development. When they’re teething, their ears may temporarily droop (even if they were previously upright).
After they’re done teething, their ears should be upright again. For most German Shepherds, teething lasts until they are six or seven months old.
What You Should Do to Fix German Shepherd Floppy Ears
There are several things you can do if your German Shepherd’s ears won’t stand up. Before you take any action to correct your dog’s ear placement, it’s important to talk to a qualified professional (like your dog’s veterinarian). They can advise you on what is and isn’t safe for your dog.
1. Provide chew toys
Chew toys are a great way to support your dog’s ear development without any invasive or uncomfortable intervention.
When your dog chews, it can help his ears develop and perk up. It will relieve irritation and pain caused by teething and exercise the muscles in his jaw, head, and neck.
Strong muscles in the head and jaw are important for supporting your German Shepherd’s upright ears.
There are also a number of small muscles around your dog’s ears that can be strengthened by regular chewing.
2. Try the right supplements
There are a number of different supplements that can help your puppy develop upright ears.
Because supplements are a much-debated topic, it’s important to get the advice and approval of your dog’s veterinarian. The following are some supplements that could help:
- Calcium: Some believe it can help your puppy’s development, but unless there’s a reason your dog has a calcium deficiency, it shouldn’t be given to your dog. Too much calcium can cause imbalances of other minerals in your dog’s system.
- Glucosamine: This is a substance that promotes healthy joint and cartilage health. You can give your dog a supplement or provide foods like chicken necks, duck feet, and green-lipped mussels (which are rich in glucosamine).
- Dietary Supplements: If your dog’s diet is deficient in any way, dietary supplements may help you provide full and complete nutrition for your dog.
Before trying any supplement, it’s important to talk to your dog’s veterinarian. Your dog’s vet can provide you with a list of supplement options to help improve your dog’s health and development.
3. Check for and deal with any parasites
Parasites can impact your German Shepherd’s development in a number of ways, including inhibiting the proper development of upright ears.
Since parasites rob your dog of important nutrients, your dog can develop a nutrient deficiency without you even knowing it!
Regularly examine your dog’s poop for signs of tapeworms, roundworms, and pinworms. They should all be visible in your dog’s poop.
On the other hand, Spirocerca Lupi and heartworms are not visible in your dog’s poop, so regular testing may be necessary to detect them.
If your dog has parasites, your dog’s veterinarian can give them a prescription to help deal with the problem. Once your dog’s body is free of parasites, he should be able to absorb the nutrients they need to develop normally.
4. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about other interventions
If your German Shepherd’s ears still aren’t upright, you may need additional intervention.
Your dog’s veterinarian can assist you in finding an intervention that is safe for your dog. In some cases, your dog’s vet may suggest allowing your dog’s ears to droop. While this is an atypical appearance, drooping ears are not always a sign of a bigger problem.
Final Thoughts on Floppy German Shepher Ears
German Shepherds are known for their large, upright ears. Due to their development timeline, German Shepherds may have floppy ears for the first eight weeks to eight months of their lives.
Several things can cause them to retain floppy ears, even after eight months of age. Genetics, nutrition, and trauma can all result in droopy German Shepherd ears.
If your dog is six to seven months of age and still hasn’t developed upright ears, set up an appointment with the veterinarian.
Your dog’s vet will identify any underlying issues and provide you with the necessary guidance to help your dog’s ears finish developing.