We all know German Shepherds by those signature pointed ears. It’s what gives them their regal appearance and that look as if they’re always on alert. If you’re new to having a GSD puppy, you’re probably curious when those cute, floppy ears are going to stand tall. You may have experienced any of the following:
- Ears go up occasionally, then flops back down
- One ear is erect, while the other goes up and down
- Their ears won’t stay pointed
- One ear is staying floppy
So, what gives?! Initially these stages of ear growth look cute as heck, but after the 3 month mark, owners tend to panic. This is a common concern for new owners, and we’re here to ease your nerves!
“Why Did My German Shepherd’s Ear Go Down!?”
All German Shepherds are born with floppy ears. Once your GSD is done teething, typically around 16-20 weeks, their ears should be standing upright. The reason it takes so long is because their ear cartilage is still forming and developing its strength.
This article covers everything you’ll ever need to know about German Shepherd ears– when to expect their full growth, when to be concerned, what you can do so support their growth, as well as some answers to common questions.
When Will My German Shepherd’s Ears Stand Up?
Your GSDs ears are made up cartilage– this is what holds their ears up. When your GSD is a puppy, it’s still growing, and so too is the cartilage in its ear. To hold those big floppy ears, it requires the development of strong cartilage, which simply takes time.
A general guideline for both ears being up, is once your GSD is done teething– this is usually between 16 to 20 weeks (5 months).
Be aware that this time frame can vary to up to 7 months, even among pups in the same litter. As your pup continues to fill into its body and is getting the right nutrition, those big ears will be pointy in no time.
It takes a bit of patience, so don’t worry too much if their ears aren’t cooperating. In fact, they will go through many funny ear stages, so be sure to take lots of photos to document it!
When should you start to worry?
By the time your GSD pup is 8 months old, their ears should be in full form. After this point, the likelihood of their ears developing further is significantly lower. If one or both of your GSDs ears are not standing tall after 6 months old, this is when you should start getting very interested in their ears. Before jumping the gun to tape your pup’s ears, visit your vet first.
The most probable reasons are due to defective genetics, or ear trauma. Every so often there’s a genetic defect in breeding that may cause one or both ears to remain floppy. That said, we don’t want to rule out the possibility of medical concerns, which is why you should seek out your vet. We speak about ear trauma in the next section.
If you’re a GSD owner, we’re curious when its ears stood up. Respond to our poll so we can update this article later with everyone’s results!
3 Tips To Support Your GSD’s Ear Growth
Using Chew Toys!
Get your pup chew toys as early as you can. This is beneficial for a number of reasons:
Once you’re pup starts teething, it will want to chew on everything and anything it can get its paws on– including your expensive shoes. They do this to ease the pain and irritability caused by their new teeth growing in. Getting those chew toys early will definitely spare you a headache!
OK… so how does this relate to ear growth? The act of chewing exercises their jaw, neck, and head. These are important muscles that support the strength of those upright ears. By stimulating these muscles, your pup is relieved from teething pains, but is also developing those essential muscles to get those pointy ears up.
Avoid Petting, Tugging and Trauma to Your Puppy’s Ears
Basically, leave your GSD puppy’s ears alone. Any force, petting, or irritation to your pups ear during its development stage can be harmful. Your pup needs this time to build strong ear cartilage, so you need to be extra careful to avoid certain things from happening.
- No ear petting, turning it inside out, or scratching. Be extra mindful of children who may rub your pups ears.
- Be cautious with other dogs or pets of your own. They may playfully tug and pull at your dogs ears.
- Watch how your dog is sleeping. Is its ear squished up against a wall or crate? Make efforts to ensure your pup is resting its head on a softer surface.
Although trauma to a dogs ear is often accidental, the results could mean your dogs ears will never perk up. Be extra mindful with how you and others are playing with your dog.
A High-Nutrient Diet
For more reasons than just ear growth the we encourage doing research on high-nutrient foods. German Shepherds are also prone to stomach sensitivities and skin allergies, so its important to consider a healthy diet. From the day you adopt your pup to about 8 months old, your GSD is going through a rapid growth spurt, so they need adequate nutrition to support their development.
For our pups, we made a point to find foods with mostly natural and organic ingredients, that is also high in nutritional content. Even though your GSD puppy is small, you want to pay special attention to the formula. You should only purchase food that’s made specifically for “large breed puppy formula”. These formulas are designed to give puppies the nourishment they need to develop into big strong dogs.
Will My German Shepherd Grow Into His Ears?
Yes, your German Shepherd will grow into his ears! Between the time you adopted your pup, and the 8 month mark, your dog went through a rapid growth cycle. After 8 months, their growth will slow down quite a bit in comparison. By the time your dog is 18 months, it will reach its height, and could take over 3 years before it reaches it full weight and physical maturity.
Generally you can expect your pup to have big satellite ears for up to 18 months! Enjoy it while it lasts.
Can I Tape My German Shepherd’s Ears?
If your pup has passed 6 months, and one or both ears are not permanently up, you may want to consider taping its ears.
The decision is entirely up to you– the upright GSD ears are purely an aesthetic, and do not impact the quality of your GSDs life in any way. Who knows, you may end up finding their floppy ear(s) endearing, and instead opt to leave them the way they are.
Ultimately, if you do decide to tape your German Shepherds ears, we do not recommend starting any sooner than 6 months. It’s quite possible your pup is still teething and its ears are still developing. You will know when your dog is done teething when it stops wanting to bite and chew everything. Nonetheless, we definitely want to avoid interrupting that process if that’s the case.
Once again, after 5 months, consult with your veterinarian to discuss the health of your pup before making this decision. Many people have successfully managed to tape their GSDs ears on their own.
German Shepherd ears truly have a life of their own. They will take many shapes and forms before those big satellite ears are upright. And then, until about the 18-month mark, you can insert as many dad jokes into your dog conversations as you want!
If you continue to nourish your pup and apply our tips to support your pup’s growth, your GSD will be “all ears” in no time– we had to.
If unluckily, your pup’s ears haven’t gone up fully by 6 months, see your vet. We personally think a floppy ear gives a pup character, but there is always the possibility of taping. Your pup will be happy to be with you all the same!