German shepherd puppy ears stand up usually as the puppy develops and matures.
Sure, those floppy ears look cute in a puppy, but owners of this breed are often looking forward to seeing their pups bloom into majestic representatives of the breed.
Erect ears are one of the most cherished features in this breed which is known for making a vigilant watch dog with its alert, attentive look.
If your German shepherd puppy has floppy ears, fortunately, in most cases, it's just a matter of time, and those floppy ears will finally become erect.
However, in the meantime, it's important to avoid handling those ears in the wrong way.
The German Shepherd Ear Standard
According to the American Kennel Club, the first impression one should get of the German shepherd dog is that of a strong, agile, well-muscled animal, that is alert and full of life.
The ears, ready to rotate in any direction, play a major role in giving this breed its state of vivid alertness, along with a touch of nobility.
The ears are expected to be moderately pointed, carried erect when at attention. The American Kennel Club even provides minute details of the ideal carriage: the center lines of the ears, when viewed from the front, must appear parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.
Owners of German shepherd puppies with floppy ears that do not give signs of standing up any time soon, may therefore feel concerned, especially after reading that German shepherd specimens with hanging hears are disqualified from the show ring.
Of course, for those who have no intention of showing their animals in the conformation rings and whose dogs are destined to being permanent companions, floppy ears are not a major concern other than perhaps nosy people asking impertinent questions.
Fortunately though, in most cases, as most puppies outgrow the floppy stage, those German shepherd puppy ears stand up just shortly afterward.
A Matter of Teething
It's not unusual for a German shepherd puppy's ears to act quite funky at times, almost as if following the unpredictable graph of a stock market. One day they’re up, and the next day they’re down.
At times, they may tilt sideways inwards leaning against each other, almost as if seeking support, while at others they may tilt outwards as if they were wings ready to take flight.
Interestingly, the cause for such unpredictable ear behavior appears to be the fact that puppies are teething. One theory has it that, when calcium production is in full gear to supply the eruption of the puppy's permanent teeth, the ears are the ones to suffer the consequence and therefore they end up tipping down.
Another role may be played by the way blood flows to the ears during rest, sleep and periods of activity.
It's therefore quite normal for German shepherd puppy ears to be "lazy" when the puppies are teething.
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It's just their bodies' way of using their calcium supply for teeth development, rather than focusing on the development of ear structure which is merely a cosmetic affair, after all.
"Sometimes if the ears are beautifully erect in the morning, when the young dogs have rested and slept, in the course of the next few hours they become gradually more wobbly, and finally, flop altogether, and only become erect at times of special watchfulness, which is a result of a stronger flow of blood through the muscles of the ear while resting and during the activity of the ears while being strained to listen."~Max von Stephanitz
When Do German Shepherd Puppy Ears Stand Up?
Many people purchase German shepherd dogs for their protective roles.
They look forward to having their dogs play the role of "guardians" and this guardian role requires a certain "look."
Part of that look encompasses those nicely erect ears that are are a staple of the breed.
It's therefore not unusual for German shepherd puppy owners to worry and ask: "When do German shepherd puppy ears stand up?"
German shepherd puppy ears stand up usually between the ages of 8 weeks and 5 months of age. Whether your German shepherd puppy has floppy ears, or perhaps, one ear up and one down, this time frame can sure feel like a very long time as you're anxiously waiting for those ears to miraculously stand up on their own one morning.
If your German shepherd puppy has still floppy ears and is getting close to 5 months and looks are very important to you, not all hope is entirely lost though.
You may still have some options for getting those ears to stand up, and it's not totally unheard of for some puppies to develop erect ears up to a year of age.
Helping a German Shepherd's Ears Stand Up
If you are wishing that your German shepherd puppy ears stand up soon, consult with your vet about getting the ears taped. Generally, the earlier the better. Usually though, if those ears aren't standing by 7 months, they aren't likely going to ever stand.
However, it may still be worth it trying taping them up for up to the age of a year, as there are a few puppies that took that long, explains veterinarian Dr. Ralston.
In the most extreme cases, some owners may elect to have their German shepherd's ears cropped, which means having them surgically corrected. This latter procedure though requires shortening the muscle that connects to the ear and the recovery time may be painful.
Also, as with taping, there may not be guarantees. If the ears are going to flop, there isn't a lot one can do about it really, other than try.
And what about calcium supplements? One word of caution is needed when it comes to considering calcium supplementation in growing puppies. This practice can lead to cause significant joint and bone issues, warns veterinarian Dr. Rachel. Best to stick instead to a high quality balanced puppy food. Consult with your vet for dietary recommendations.
And handling those ears wrong can also have a negative impact! Avoid squashing those ears, folding them back against the head, or flattening them. These seemingly innocent actions can potentially weaken the cartilage and those delicate developing muscles.
While erect ears give German shepherd dogs a noble, alert look, consider though that if your German shepherd puppy is just destined to being a cherished companion, floppy ears are a cute quirk that adds a touch of character and individuality to your dog.
"If it's just taping, there's really no harm. The principle is to try to train the cartilage to stay erect and the earlier you begin, the better the option. It's not a painful condition, and it may work ... however, it may not. "~Dr. Heindel, veterinarian