When Will My German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?

Categorized as Appearance and Size
when do german shepherd ears stand up

I got a lot of emails asking about German Shepherd ears, more specifically a question about when their German Shepherd’s ears do stand up.

Most GSD parents become anxious and worry when they don’t see their GSDs’ puppy ears go up right away.

If your puppy is just barely 3 or 4 months old, you don’t need to worry too much. On average, German Shepherd ears stand up when they are finished teething or around week 20.

But you need to note that some German Shepherds need a longer time, they need seven to eight months time frame before their ears starting to perk up.

When eight months have passed, and their ears still do not stand up, then they are probably never going to go up forever.

Why Does It Take Five to Eight Months for Your GSD’s Ears to Stand Up Naturally?

German Shepherd puppies need time to develop healthy cartilage that can hold up the weight of their ears. When they are finished teething, usually, you’ll start to see their ears beginning to perk up and flop down back and forth.

If their ears can permanently become straight just before the end of the five months (teething process), then their ears will be straight and pointy otherwise they might get floppy ears for the rest of their life.

Why You Should Never Touch Your German Shepherd’s Ears

You can accidentally damage the ears’ cartilage and make your puppy has partially or floppy ears if you touch their ears.

Therefore, you, your kids or other puppies should never ever rub or touch their ears during the teething period as any significant trauma that the ears get during this period can cause permanent damage and droopy ears.

Do All German Shepherd Ears Stand Up Naturally?

According to the AKC, a good breed German Shepherds are expected to have moderately pointed ears that are carried erect when at attention.

Unfortunately, not all German Shepherd dogs have this genetic trait; a few have floppy ears.

Why Some German Shepherds Have Floppy Ears

German Shepherd with floppy ears

The number one reason is genetic. Some puppies have floppy ears due to their genes. In this case, there’s not much you can do about it.

The second reason is breeding fallacy. Many people adopting German Shepherds expect their dogs to have large ears. Because of this, a lot of breeders, especially breeders of the American Showline type, try to breed German Shepherds with larger ears.

The result of this attempt is enhanced German Shepherds with ears that are too heavy and too big to hold the cartilage up, which makes their ears flop.

Those two points above show us the importance of getting our puppies from good reputable breeders. Ask a lot of questions to the breeder and meet the puppy’s parents before adopting them.

My German Shepherd Puppy’s Ears Were Already Up, But One or Both Went Down Again

During the teething period (from six to twenty weeks), their ears can go up and down frequently. One day their ears can tilt sideways inwards leaning against each other, and the next day the ears can tilt outwards.

This unpredictable behavior, quite often, confuses first-time German Shepherds owners. If this is happening to your puppy, you don’t need to worry too much as it is completely normal.

Why do German Shepherd’s Ears not Stand Up?

If their ears are still not up after five months have passed, the first thing that you need to do is to consult with your vet.

Aside from genetics, there are still other possibilities that can cause your puppy’s ears not to be up yet, so you shouldn’t give up easily.

The first possibility is your puppy might not get the proper nutrition that they need, and the second possibility is they might be sick.

You should check with your vet to ensure that your pup is in good health. Some diseases caused by intestinal parasites can halt the growth of your pup’s ears.

What Should You Feed a German Shepherd Puppy to Make Their Ears Stand Up?

Up until five months of age, I would recommend feeding your puppy with all-natural diet foods, not commercial dog foods. If you feed your puppy with commercial dog foods, they can grow too fast, making their ears too big for the ears’ cartilage to hold up.

Calcium for German Shepherd Ears

To meet your pup’s daily calcium needs, you may want to give them chicken necks once a day.

Chicken necks have an excellent bone to meat ratio; they are enough to supply your pup’s calcium needs without needing any additional calcium supplement.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to supplement your puppy with an additional calcium supplement. Excess calcium can potentially cause a permanent skeletal problem.

Calcium also won’t help German Shepherd puppies ears to go up because calcium does not affect the ears’ cartilage.

Glucosamine for German Shepherd Ears

Instead of supplementing your pup with extra calcium, it’s much better to give them glucosamine supplements. Glucosamine helps to develop healthy cartilage and joints.

Vitamin C for German Shepherd Ears

Naturally, dogs can produce vitamin C in their bodies. Hence, in most cases, it’s not necessary to include vitamin C to your pup’s diet.

However, you may want to check with your vet to find out whether your pup produces enough vitamin C or not.

Why is Vitamin C Important for Dogs?

There are a number of benefits that your GSD puppy can get from vitamin C:

  • Vitamin C is an immune booster. It improves white blood cell function and activity, increases the blood levels of interferon (natural antiviral and anti-cancer), and antibodies.
  • Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that helps your pup becomes more resilient against allergies.
  • Lastly, vitamin C promotes the development of a healthy joint. It reduces the likelihood of your dog developing joint problems like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and spinal disorders.

It may seem that there is no direct correlation between vitamin C and the development of your German Shepherd puppy’s ears, but it is essential to keep them in good health.

And if you recall from our previous discussion above, one of the most common reasons as to why your German Shepherd pup’s ears do not stand up is that they are getting sick.

Vitamin C is water-soluble; this means it is hard to overdose on. Any excessive amount of vitamin C is flushed through urine.

However, if you add an extra vitamin C supplement to your GSD pup’s diet while they are able to produce enough amount of vitamin C on their own to meet their nutritional requirements, you can overdose your pup.

The easiest sign to watch if they are getting too much vitamin C is if they get constant diarrhea or constipation.

Vitamin D for German Shepherd Ears

Unlike vitamin C, vitamin D is a different story. Your pup can produce some of their own vitamin D by basking in the sun, but that’s not enough to meet their nutritional requirements.

To help meet their vitamin D requirements, you need to add vitamin D to their foods. Most commercial dog foods nowadays add vitamin D to their formula to ensure that dogs get the required amount of vitamin D that they need.

If you resort to feeding your pup with 100% natural diet foods, you need to add vitamin D to your pup’s diet since vitamin D deficiency is quite common in German Shepherds that eat home-prepared foods.

Why is Vitamin D Important for Dogs?

Vitamin D is vital for the regulation of the calcium and phosphorus balance in your pup’s body. The lack of vitamin D can make your pup get bone disorders — rickets, heart disease — when they grow up, which ultimately affects the development of their ears as well.

On the other side of the coin too much vitamin D can cause toxicity. So make sure you strike the right balance between too much and too little when giving vitamin D supplements to your puppy.

If you’re hesitant in giving your pup commercially available vitamin supplements, you can alternatively substitute the commercial supplements with natural yogurt or cottage cheese.

Both cottage cheese and yogurt offer the same benefits; they are a natural source of calcium, protein, vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Tough yogurt may be a better choice among the two since yogurt contains probiotics that help the pup’s digestive system stay healthy.

If you pick yogurt to give to your pup, you should only give small amounts of plain yogurt at first, preferably one teaspoon, to avoid upsetting your pup’s stomach.

How to Make My German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?

To recap, here’re the safest and the most natural steps to help your German Shepherd’s ears stand up.

  • Step 1: Make sure your German Shepherd puppy gets the right diet that they need.
  • Step 2: Check with your vet regularly to ensure your puppy is in good health condition.
  • Step 3: Spend some time with your puppy and look for any triggers that make their ears to go up. Their ears may respond when you call their name or when they hear certain sounds. Use that triggers to stimulate their ears.
  • Step 4: Whenever they respond to the triggers, praise them, and give them their favorite treats to encourage them to hold their ears up naturally.

Do those four steps above until after they have finished teething. Be patient when they are teething; it’s completely normal for their ears to go up and down during this period.

How to Tape German Shepherd Dog Ears Up?

Some people recommend taping your German Shepherd’s ears if their ears are not still up at five months old. In some cases, tapping may work for show line German Shepherds. But it rarely works for working line German Shepherds.

If you want to tape your German Shepherd’s ears, you must consult with your vet first, and only do the following steps under your vet’s supervision.

There are several methods to tape your GSD puppy’s ears.

The First Method

Now we’re ready to begin tapping our GSD puppies’ ears.

Step 1: First, you need to get a tape and foam. Most German Shepherds parents use a thin white surgical tape 3M Micropore tape that can be found at your local drug store, don’t use duct tape!

For the foam, you can get either women’s hair rollers, take the plastic part and just use the foam, or a woman’s tampon holder.

After you have found those two items, the next thing to prepare is a popsicle stick.

Now we’re ready to begin tapping our GSD puppies’ ears.

Step 2: Wrap each ear around the foam or tampon holder and then tape them using the paper tape into a tight roll, in a vertical position.

Step 3: Take the popsicle stick and use the tape to attach the stick to the top part of both ears horizontally. In this way, you’ll keep both ears symmetrical to each other.

Step 4: Your puppy is going to get annoyed and is probably trying to scratch the tape or stick to remove it. If this happens, you need to keep re-tapping the ears again until they forget and ignore what is on their ears.

Step 5: Once a week, remove the tape and see the progress. If they stay up, then your job is finished. If their ears still don’t stand up after seven to eight months, then it’s time to give up and accept the fact that their ears are never going to come up.

The Second Method

Step 1: In this second method, you need to prepare a skin bond adhesive, adhesive removers, and dog-ear support forms.

Step 2: Take the skin adhesive and apply it to the skin and ear form. Be careful when you brush the skin adhesive; be sure to stay clear of the ear canal.

Step 3: Wait a little bit until the skin adhesive becomes a bit tacky, then place the dog ear support forms into the ears. The ear support forms need to be positioned correctly. They should be far enough down to the ear base but not too deep into the ear canal.

Step 4: Check out the ears once again and see if there are folds or wrinkles.

Step 5: Once a week, remove adhesive and take off the ear support forms to see if the ears stand up on their own.

German Shepherd Ears Implants

When everything else has failed, there are two last solutions that you can consider: getting surgical implants or having your German Shepherd’s ear cropped.

Bear in mind that those two procedures are quite painful and take a long recovery time. There is no guarantee that your German Shepherd’s ears can go up even after they undergo the process.

So you need to consider whether it’s worth it or not putting your dog into such unfair situations, not to mention the trauma that can last for a lifetime.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.