Perhaps the most distinct feature of a German Shepherd is his ear. An adult German Shepherd’s ears are upright and pointy, making them look more alert and regal.
German Shepherds aren’t born with upright ears. Like all puppies, German Shepherd pups are born with tiny ears flopping on the sides. As the puppies grow older, their ears naturally go up, but in some cases, they don’t – and there are different reasons why a GSD’s ears won’t go up.
But don’t fret! There are some things you can do to help your German Shepherds ears go up.
At what age do German Shepherd ears go up?
A German Shepherd puppy’s ears usually go up between 4 to 7 months of age. Though there are puppies whose ears stand up at a very young age. Some German Shepherd ears also up they were about 8 months-old.
My German Shepherd puppy’s ears are already up but it went down again
A German Shepherd puppy’s ear may go up then flop down again during the teething stage, then goes up permanently after that. The reason behind this is your German Shepherd puppy’s body uses calcium when his teeth and bones are developing, so the formation of his ears’ cartilage is being halted.
According to experts, if the puppies’ ears do not go up by the time they turn 7 months-old, they might not go up at all. If you haven’t seen any good progress in the development of your German Shepherd’s ear by the time he turns 4 to 5 months-old, it’s time to help them go up.
What can I do to help my German Shepherd’s ears go up?
There are a lot of things you can do to help your German Shepherd’s ears go up and here are some.
- Keep your hands off your German Shepherd’s ears – This is the most important thing you should remember if you want your GSD’s ears to stand up naturally. Never let anyone – even other dogs – to fold, bend, pull, fondle, or play with your German Shepherd’s ears. There are some research that suggests that massaging the base of the ears – and not the ears themselves – can help as this can help increase blood flow in the cartilage.
- Give your GSD quality food – Cheap commercial food is definitely a no-no. High-quality dog foods with no corn or wheat are ideal.
- Give your pup good and strong toys to chew on — Giving your GSD strong toys like Nylabones, antlers, Kongs, and bully sticks can help strengthen his muscles that support the jaw and ears.
- Have your puppy checked by a vet – This is to make sure that your pup isn’t suffering from ear or any other infections. You will also need to have a fecal test done on your pup to make sure that he doesn’t have intestinal parasites because worms can also be an underlying cause of your German Shepherd pup’s ear issue.
What food or supplements can I give my German Shepherd to help his ears go up?
Some German Shepherd owners think that giving their pups’ calcium supplement will help since it is one of the building blocks of cartilage growth. But the truth is most over-the-counter calcium supplements aren’t absorbed well by the body.
Giving your GSD pup too much calcium isn’t only unnecessary, it can be dangerous thing for your pup as the excess calcium can settle in your puppy’s joint and lead to future health problems.
Instead of calcium supplements, you can opt to give your pup the following foods and supplements instead:
- Cottage cheese – This is a good source of calcium, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins. Adding 1 teaspoon of cottage cheese per meal is a good idea.
- Yogurt – If we were to choose between cottage cheese and yogurt, yogurt is the better choice because it is a great source of protein, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains probiotics that help a lot in keeping your pup’s digestive system healthy. You may add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon to your pup’s food. Remember to give only small amounts at first to prevent digestive upset. Give your pup only plain yogurt to avoid unnecessary sugar intake.
- Glucosamine — Unlike calcium, excess glucosamine won’t put your puppy’s future health at risk. It has been proven that Glucosamine helps strengthen and rebuild cartilage.
- Chicken feet – If you opt to give your pup natural sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin instead of supplements, feeding your dog chicken feet is a good alternative.
Things you must never to do German Shepherd ears
Some German Shepherd owners panic too early and start taping their pup’s ears at the young age of 3 or 4 months because they’re ears are not standing up.
But taping German Shepherd ears too early or in the wrong way can do more damage than good so it’s best to be patient and wait until the pup stops teething.
You must also make sure to keep your GSD puppy away from:
- Playful dogs who may bite and tug his ears,
- Kids who will likely play with your puppy’s ears.
Do not let your puppy sleep with his head wedged up against the wall of his crate.
Also, never neglect your puppy’s ears or clean them the wrong way.
What if I already messed with my dog’s ears, or what if he’s already 5 months-old and his ears are really not standing up?
Experts suggest taping German Shepherd ears after the pup has finished teething. Puppies usually finish teething between 4 to 6 months of age. And if your German Shepherd pup’s ears aren’t up at 5 months-old, it is strongly recommended to tape them.
Here are two ways to tape your German Shepherd’s ears properly:
- Apply the skin bond adhesive onto your pup’s skin and ear form. Do not to get any inside your pup’s ear canal.
- Wait until the adhesive becomes a bit tacky.
- Place the ear form into the ear and make sure that it’s far enough down to the base – but not deep into the ear canal. Your puppy’s ear should stand without flopping at the base.
- Make sure there are no folds or wrinkles in the ear.
For Method 2, you will need foam hair rollers. Make sure to pick up the best size that fits your puppy’s ears and remove the plastic part. You will also need a popsicle stick and a paper tape – either a masking tape or a medical tape. The thinnest tape you can get will be the best.
- Put the foam roller in the ear and wrap the ear around it.
- You must make sure that the ear is up in a vertical position.
- Tape the ear around the foam roller — from the tip to the base.
- Then, tape each end of the popsicle stick at the tip of each ear.
Never, ever, use duct tape or any DIY tapes for your dog’s ears.
What if everything fails, is there any other way to make my GSD’s ears stand up?
If everything fails, you may consider getting your German Shepherd surgical implants. There are surgical implants for dog ears like PermaStay Ear Implants available in the market but the procedure must be done by a qualified vet. Your dog will also need pain killers after the surgery.
If you’re considering this option, it is highly suggested to wait until your German Shepherd puppy is fully grown.
Remember, German Shepherds are amazing the way they are — whether their ears are up or not.