Why does my German Shepherd puppy have floppy ears?

You've brought home a new German Shepherd puppy. Congratulations! Now you may wonder, “why does my German Shepherd puppy have floppy ears? I thought this breed had tall, strong, alert ears? Is there something wrong with my puppy?"


Naturally, a German Shepherd’s ears should stand up on their own by 20 weeks old. This typically corresponds with the end of the teething stage.


It's been five months, and my puppy's ears aren't fully up. What gives?


Just like every human is unique, all German Shepherds are as well. Sometimes it can be up to eight months before your German Shepherd’s ears will erect on their own.


Also, don’t fret if other litter mates already have risen ears. Each puppy in every litter is an individual, and they’re also growing at different paces. So just because your German Shepherd puppy doesn’t have straight ears at five months doesn’t mean they'll be floppy forever.


Eight months?! Why so long?


Cartilage isn't strong enough to carry the weight of your German Shepherd puppy ears when they're very young. As the puppy ages, the cartilage will strengthen and be capable of holding the heavy weight of the ears.


Normally, German Shepherd puppy ears won't stand up in an instantaneous moment, but rather a progressive manner. You'll see them erect if the puppy is startled or when they tilt their head back. This will happen briefly before collapsing back to what they were. If you see this happen within the first five months, it's a good indication that the ears will stick up all through adulthood.

Should I worry if my German Shepherds Ears Never Rise?


Being concerned about a German Shepherd's ears rising or not is purely an aesthetic taste. From a health perspective It does not affect your German Shepherd puppy if his/her's ears are vertical or not. Though, there can be instances where floppy ears may signal minor concerns with your German Shepherd. In the majority of situations, there's nothing to be worried about.


If your German Shepherd puppy is between five to eight months of age and still has consistently floppy ears, you may want to check in with your Vet to rule anything out.


Is there a way to know if your new German Shepherd puppy's ears will stand up when you pick him/her out?



Unfortunately, there is no definite way you can know ahead of time if your puppy's ears will stand up or not. Time is the only predictor.

Below are the most probable reasons your German Shepherd puppy's ears may never rise.


Genetic

The biggest cause of whether or not your German Shepherd puppy will have ears that stick up or flop is genetics.


Did your puppy's parents have floppy ears (or a rogue floppy ear)? If so, your puppy's genetics show that they may have floppy ears as well. There are various methods to encourage floppy ears to stick up, but genetics is one cause that you can't fix.



Accidental Damage


Accidental damage can be another common cause for floppy ears in German Shepherds. This typically happens by your puppy's littermates during its first 12 weeks. Constant nipping, tugging, and biting on a puppy's ears disrupts the cartilage growth in your German Shepherd’s ears. In most cases, it means that their ears may stay partially, if not fully floppy.



It's not just littermates, though. As tempting as it may be, you should never rub or play with your puppy's ears before they’ve started to rise independently on their own. This can also cause permanent damage to the cartilage in your puppy's delicate ears.


Your Breeder


The breeder you buy your German Shepherd puppy from will also be a key factor in how their ears will settle. (First, make sure you're dealing with a reputable breeder. Getting a German Shepherd puppy from a shelter, you may actually be getting a mixed breed, which can lend itself to floppy ears.)



Many breeders will often breed German Shepherds with large ears in mind, making them present better during shows. Unfortunately, if their ears are too big, they often become unable to hold themselves up, resulting in floppy ears.


Dietary Deficiency


While your German Shepherd puppy is growing, he/she needs quality nutrition to make sure they’re flourishing. If your puppy doesn't have quality nutrition, the cartilage in their ears will often be affected and won’t have the strength to hold up their ears.



Calcium and vitamin D are vital for cartilage strength. If they're deficient in these two vitamins, it does increase the odds of your German Shepherd having floppy ears. See our article here on 10 of the highest rated / best quality food for your GSD puppies.


Dirty Ears


Believe it or not, a build-up of dirt in your German Shepherd's ears can also affect the cartilage's development and whether they will have floppy or straight ears.

Make cleaning your puppy's ears part of your routine. Skipping this important puppy care chore can result in floppy ears becoming a permanent consequence.


What if your German Shepherd puppy has only one Floppy Ear?

If your German Shepherd puppy (under five months old) has just one floppy ear, you can rest assured it's completely normal. It just means your puppy's individual ears are growing at a different pace.



However, suppose your puppy is over eight months old and he/she still has mismatched ears. In that case, it’s likely to be a permanent condition.

Recap:

  • A German Shepherd’s ears can be expected to rise after five months; but, it can take nearly 8 months before their ears consistently stay up full time.

  • Some German Shepherds ears will never stand up, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with them.

  • There’s no definite way for you to know if your German Shepherd’s ears will stand up; but, if you do notice them raising before flopping down again, the chances are they will in due time.

  • There are various reasons that your German Shepherd’s ears could stay floppy. This includes genetics, your breeder, accidental damage, dietary deficiency, and poor ear hygiene.

  • Your German Shepherd’s ears develop individually. Don't be surprised to see one ear raise before the other.



Final Words


The most important take-away from this article is that it doesn’t matter if your German Shepherd puppy's ears are upright or floppy. They’ll be fine either way. In all honesty, I think the one floppy ear is charming!


Welcome to the Pack!


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