Many dog owners go to great lengths just to achieve erect and alert ears on their pets. One of the most popular methods is giving calcium for puppies ears.
The belief is that boosting the puppy’s calcium supply will help make the ears grow upright. However, there are divided opinions about it.
Since I was also curious, I did my research and asked my dog’s veterinarian. Below, I discussed my findings and what you should know about calcium and dogs’ ears.
Why are upright dogs’ ears necessary?
Many pet owners spend a lot of time and resources getting their dogs’ ears upright. While it may seem merely aesthetic for some, upright or erect ears actually have a specific purpose
In general, erect dog ears capture more sounds. Since the earlobes aren’t blocking the opening of the ear, sounds will enter more efficiently.
But dogs already have a sensitive sense of hearing, why is this necessary in the first place?
While this is true, an enhanced sense of hearing is actually beneficial for guard dogs and service dogs. It makes them more effective in sensing danger or picking up cues from their owners.
This is why the likes of German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Cane Corsos are bred with erect ears. Many will also undergo ear cropping and/or taping to achieve the optimal ear appearance.
Most of the time, erect dog ears are usually classified into three types: prick, rose, and semi-prick. Prick ears are the most upright and give canines an alert look.
Does calcium really make dog ears stand up?
One misconception about dogs’ ears is that calcium supplements can make them upright. While calcium is a necessary mineral for canines, it’s unlikely to be the Holy Grail behind erect ears.
The myth is that increasing a dog’s calcium intake will make its ear cartilage stiffer. Through that, some pet owners believe that the calcium content will actually make the canine’s ears stand up.
However, this notion is far from the truth. In fact, too much calcium might be detrimental to your dog’s upright ears.
But first, let me clarify something: calcium is very important for dogs. It supports bone and teeth health, but it must be given in proper amounts to avoid side effects.
When it comes to ear growth, calcium does little in making a dog’s ear perk up. In fact, too much calcium can weigh down your pup’s ears.
During the teething phase, substantial amounts of calcium can be deposited into the canine’s ear cartilage. This will make your pup’s ears floppy.
However, as the teething phase ends, the calcium deposits will get flushed out. But in some cases, this process may be slower, especially if there’s too much calcium in the dog’s system.
Nevertheless, it’s normal for a puppy to have an “up and down” phase on its ears. The truth is that only genetics and external modifications can produce actual results.
Still, keeping a healthy level of calcium in your pup’s diet is crucial for overall health. Just don’t rely on it in making your dog’s ears upright.
How to make your dog’s ears stand up
If you want to make your dog’s ears upright, there are more effective methods you can try. The following can be done with the assistance of your pet’s veterinarian:
Although it may seem unrelated, chewing is a good way to encourage your dog’s ears to become erect. It’s because chewing strengthens the jaw muscles that run up your canine’s ears.
By giving your pup appropriate chew toys and treats, you are boosting this part of their body. Still, this must be paired with a healthy diet.
Aside from helping make your pet’s ears upright, chew toys also benefit its dental health. Teething puppies find relief with chewing and it will also reduce plaque formation.
Also, regular chewing will make your pup’s jaw muscles and head stronger in general.
2. Ear cropping
Another method pet owners use for upright dog ears is ear cropping. Basically, a part of the pet’s ears will be trimmed to achieve optimal shape and uprightness.
By doing this, the excess weight of the dog’s earlobes will be removed. Ear cropping is often done to Giant Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, and Pit Bulls.
For the best results, ear cropping must be done between the age of 6 weeks and 12 weeks. During this period, the pup’s ears are still soft and easier to shape.
However, ear cropping is highly controversial. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is against this practice as it “poses unnecessary risks” to the canine.
On the other hand, the American Kennel Club (AKC) mentions that cropping is crucial to retaining a breed’s character. In the end, it all boils down to preference.
If you’re planning to get your dog’s ears cropped, make sure that you only let a professional do it. This is to ensure your pet’s safety and the effectiveness of the procedure.
Taping is often done after ear cropping, but it can also be a standalone method. This is done to guide the dog’s ears, so it will grow upright.
Moreover, medical cloth tape is used for ear taping to avoid irritating the canine’s fur. Sometimes, pet owners will also add a piece of cardboard or splint to prop the earlobes in place.
As with ear cropping, taping must be done while the pup is still young. This is around 4 months old, so the canine’s ear cartilage is still soft and can be shaped easily.
Take note that you should replace the tape weekly to prevent the risk of infection. Also, you should remove it once your dog’s ears are staying upright permanently.
4. Let genetics do its magic.
In some cases, the only thing you have to do is wait until your pet’s genetics kick in. Breeds like Belgian Malinois, Alaskan Malamute, and Australian Cattle Dogs have naturally pointy ears.
But if you want guaranteed results, there’s nothing bad about trying the methods I mentioned above. Just make sure that you seek the advice of your pet’s veterinarian.
Do dogs’ ears stand up naturally?
Yes, some dog breeds will have their ears stand up naturally. Most of the time, these breeds will have their ears completely up by the time they reach 6 months old.
Overall, this is a matter of genetics. Some dogs will have naturally upright ears while others don’t. Still, ear cropping and taping can help ensure better results.
Why are my dog’s ears suddenly floppy?
As mentioned, pups will have an up-and-down phase with their ears. However, if your doggo is already an adult, something might be wrong.
A sudden droopy ear may indicate an ear infection, parasites, or malnutrition. It’s best to bring your dog to a veterinarian if you’re worried about its unusually floppy ears.
How long does it take for a dog’s ears to become upright?
On average, it will take around 6 months for a dog’s ears to be completely upright. This is the first 6 months of the canine’s life when its ear cartilage becomes stiffer.
During this period, you can also utilize external efforts to ensure that your pet’s ears will stand up. Ear cropping and posting are just some of the widely practiced solutions.
However, if your dog’s ears aren’t standing up after 6 months, it’s unlikely that they will ever be. At this point, your pet’s ear cartilage has already firmed up and is almost impossible to alter.
How do you tell if your dog’s ears will stand up?
As your puppy grows bigger, you will notice its ears starting to perk up bit by bit. It may look lopsided at first, but it will soon become more upright in the coming weeks.
Also, if your dog’s ear cartilage is set higher than its head, it’s a good sign that the lobes will likely stand. But then, if the ears are not standing past the 6-month period, the chances of getting better results are nil.
Why won’t my German Shepherd’s ears stand up?
German Shepherds have naturally pointy ears. But in some cases, the ears may not fully stand up without external efforts.
Overall, you should wait until your GSD is at least four months old before you worry. If its ears aren’t upright by this time, you have to get it posted.
Take note that German Shepherd ears that remain floppy after 6 months will have inconsistent results when posted. If you want your GSDs ears to be upright, you have to give them extra attention in the first 6 months of life.
Calcium for puppies ears is not the only solution if you want to make them stand up. Still, this mineral is necessary for the overall health of your pet.
If you want to make your dog’s ears upright, taping and ear cropping are the most effective methods. Encouraging your pet to chew will also boost the strength of its jaw and ear muscles.
Whatever option you choose, you should always involve your pet’s veterinarian. This way, your dog’s ears will become upright without the risk of infection or injury.
Dave Bryan is an experienced editor with a passion for animals and writing. With a degree in journalism and years of experience in the publishing industry, he has honed his skills in crafting engaging content that informs and entertains readers. As an editor at Petcosset, Dave brings his expertise to ensure that the content produced is accurate, informative, and compelling. He has a keen eye for detail and is committed to maintaining high editorial standards. Dave is also a dedicated pet owner and loves spending time with his furry companions.