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One of the most distinctive physical features of German Shepherds is their large pointy ears. And it’s a moment that all German shepherd puppy owners are waiting for, so when will your German Shepherd’s ears stand up? This article will explain everything!
German Shepherd ears usually stand up between 4-5 months of age. Ears will not stand up until the cartilage and small bones are developed enough. Teething also impacts ear movement significantly, which we all know can last several months.
Everything will be explained in full detail with additional tips and FAQs below.
When Will My German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?
So let’s move on to the question that brought you here, WHEN will your puppy’s ears stand up?
In most cases, your German Shepherd’s ears will stand up anywhere between 16 and 20 weeks old. But it’s entirely possible to see erect ears earlier or later than this age.
This is a rough timeline and is standard advice that breeders give out. It’s important to understand that the times can vary and some owners have reported their puppy’s ears not standing up until 6 months of age (28 weeks) although this is rare, it can still happen.
⭐ It’s also not uncommon to see ears “dancing” around during the early stages. It’s more than likely you will witness one ear go up first; and just when you think it’s happening, it flops back down again! Left and right ears can actually alternate between standing up and flopping down. This is all considered normal to see.
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Do German Shepherd Puppies Have Floppy Ears?
German Shepherds are one of the most striking breeds, and their large, triangle-shaped ears are a classic feature that we expect to see. So if you have a German Shepherd puppy you’re likely wondering should he have floppy ears? is this normal?
When German Shepherds start life, they have small, floppy ears that fold over to the front side. So yes, German Shepherd puppies do have floppy ears. And it’s completely normal.
It can be quite a concern for new puppy owners who see their GSD’s floppy ears when they were expecting the classic upright triangle pyramids! So let’s get into when you can expect your German Shepherd to have upright ears.
What Causes German Shepherds To Have Floppy Ears (for so long)
There are three contributing factors that explain floppy ears. Let’s run through each one with a solid explanation.
1. Teething ⭐
The main reason is due to teething. All puppies have to go through teething, and it can be quite a grueling process for them. Teething usually begins around 4 weeks and can last up to 28 weeks (6 months).
So how does teething affect the ears? Teething has a big impact on ear development because it’s the jaw and neck muscles that are actually responsible for healthy perky ears (aside from the cartilage itself). With a considerable amount of new stress and pressure being applied to the mouth, jaw, and neck from teething, the development of the ears takes a back seat, until it’s all over with.
As teething fluctuates with its intensiveness, so too can the ears. This is why the ears sometimes “dance” around. One day they are up, the next day they’re down. It usually coincides with the teething process and how much physical stress is being caused.
2. Developing Cartilage ⭐
It’s also possible that weak or developing cartilage is responsible for floppy ears. Ears are made to stand up by cartilage and small bones. As German Shepherds have large ears, it does in fact require the cartilage to be healthy and strong, for it to bear the weight of the ears.
Weak cartilage can be caused by many different things, but the most likely is due to injury from playing or from someone who has mistakenly been touching their ears too much. Despite how cute they are, fondling the ears must be avoided to ensure they are not accidentally damaged or weakened.
3. Breeding ⭐
Bloodline affects dogs the same way it affects us! Traits that the parents have can be passed down to the offspring. So a quick look at the mom and dad of your German Shepherd will give you an idea of what to expect.
This goes for whether or not they are perky, how big they are, and their shape. It’s important to note that some breed variations of German Shepherds do have floppy ears throughout their life. If your German Shepherd is mixed then there is an increased chance of different ears to what you would expect. Purebred German Shepherds have erect, triangle-shaped ears.
Tips To Help Your German Shepherd’s Ears
While you can’t speed up this natural process, there are certainly good and bad habits that affect the ears of your German Shepherd puppy. Let’s run through them:
1. Chew toys ⭐
Chew toys provide valuable support throughout the teething timeline. Your GSD will be inclined to chew everything in sight as this promotes blood flow to the gums and provides effective pain relief.
Instead of your furniture being the victim, invest in a selection of high-quality chew toys, and rotate them on a weekly basis. This keeps your GSD excited because he’ll be receiving what he considers to be a new toy every week (even if it’s one he’s already used).
As well as helping teething, which directly affects ear development, they will strengthen and build the jaw and neck muscles that also play a key part in overall ear growth and structure. Chew toys are great.
2. Don’t touch or fondle with his ears ⭐
The ears on puppies are so irresistible that we always want to touch them. But this is a big no-no!
Too much fondling can weaken cartilage and bones that are not yet strong or developed. This will not only prolong the time that it takes for them to stand up, but it may even damage them permanently.
Some breeders advise to gently massage the base of the ear to promote blood flow. This may work, but I cannot vouch for that as I have never done it. If you’re unsure, just avoid the ears.
3. Nutrition ⭐
The food and nutrition that your GSD puppy receives is important for every aspect of his growth and development, including his ears!
Ensure his food is rich in protein from whole-meat sources, is high in healthy fats, and contains a range of vegetables and fruits for essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Use a trusted premium brand like Taste of The Wild, Wellness, or Nutro to ensure you aren’t giving your puppy cheap, nasty ingredients. It’s very important to choose an option that’s made for puppies. Stay away from “all-life stages” because these formulas don’t take into consideration that a puppy needs extra nutrition to support their growth and development. Puppy-formulas are made with this in mind.
4. Be careful with Glucosamine ⭐
Glucosamine is an over-the-counter supplement made for humans that maintains healthy cartilage and keeps joints lubricated, but it’s also commonly given to dogs too.
I’m not saying Glucosamine is necessarily bad for dogs, but it’s something you will need to talk to your veterinarian about first. Don’t automatically assume your puppy needs Glucosamine because his ears are staying floppy for a little longer than usual.
One thing about Glucosamine is that we rarely give it to young children, so this leads me to believe that puppies should stay away from it too. But as I said, speak to your veterinarian if you’re considering Glucosamine.
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Should You Tape Up Your German Shepherds Ears? Good or Bad?
Time to address the elephant in the room.
A big topic for discussion for all breeds that have pointy, erect ears, is whether or not we should tape them in an upright position, to help them stand up.
As people have had success with this in the past, it’s caught on… but there is room for concern here. And that’s because we don’t really know if we are taping their ears up in the correct position. The bones and cartilages are so small and weak throughout their puppy months that it’s entirely possible we tape them out of proper alignment. This would then cause the ears to grow incorrectly which may lead to permanent cartilage or bone damage.
⭐ To stay on the safe side, taping ears is not recommended as a solution to fix floppy puppy ears. It’s important to remember that in some cases, it can be up to 6 months before the ears stand up.
When To See a Veterinarian
If you are concerned that your puppy’s ears are not standing up or showing signs of erecting, you can always visit your veterinarian for a check-up.
If you visit a veterinarian too early on, there’s a very strong chance they are going to tell you that you need to wait.
If you wait until around 5 months old, your veterinarian should no longer dismiss your puppy’s floppy ears and will provide further help.
Having said that, if you suspect there is something wrong with your puppy’s ears, it’s always up to you to bring them to a veterinarian, regardless of their age.
So there you have it! Your German Shepherd’s ears should be standing up by around 20 weeks of age. Sometimes it can be earlier or even later than this. Teething, bloodline, and cartilage health all play a part in how early or late, your puppy’s ears will stand up.