Everything you need to know about why, and how to help, your German Shepherd Dog have upright ears.

The German Shepherd Dog was first bred just over 100 years ago, and in that time it has become one of the most stunning, distinctive and recognizable breeds. And perhaps the most noticeable feature of a German Shepherd is the ears. An adult German Shepherd’s ears are immediately obvious as they are upright and pointy, making them look alert and regal!

But German Shepherds are not born with upright ears. Like all puppies, German Shepherd are born with tiny ears flopping on the sides. As the puppies grow older, their ears should naturally go up, but in some cases, they don’t – and there are different reasons why a German Shepherd Dog’s ears won’t go up.

For many owners it is a big issue if the ears don’t go up, after all they should, it is part of the breed standard, and breeding and showing is not recommended if they don’t.

If you have, or are thinking of, getting a German Shepherd Dog, and you are concerned about their ears, then read on!

When will my German Shepherd's ears stand up?

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    For some owners the worry mode can already be reached at 4 months old if their German Shepherd Dog still has floppy ears, and by 6 months it can be full on panic stations!
But 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. Stop! Taping German Shepherd ears too early or in the wrong way can do more damage than good. 
    It’s best to be patient and wait until the pup stops teething.
For the ears to go up, it usually has to happen when the teething has finished.
    • But nevertheless there is no fixed moment for the ears to sudden fly up, and certainly at 4 months old there is nothing to worry about yet.¹
              • Some owners have experienced the ears going up as early as 4 weeks old, but it can realistically happen anytime, especially in the teething period – which is the first 5-6 months.

      Why does this happen? Simple. When the pup is teething the body will need to borrow some calcium for the teeth to grow well, along with important bones. The cartilage of the ear at this time is not that important overall, so they will resume using the calcium only once the teeth and bones have used it.

      Now it gets a bit more complicated! You need to be aware that the ears can also go up, come down, and go up again during teething. And it sometimes isn't even that simple!

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              • Anything can happen in the first 4 to 6 months from when a puppy is born. Sometimes your German Shepherd’s ears stand up a few weeks after they are born, and never go back down. Sometimes they go up and down a few times for the first 6 or 7 months. Sometimes one will go up while the other is down.
               
                        • It is only naturally to be unhappy if your German Shepherd Dogs ears continue to stay down, and to have concerns about whose fault it is.
                  But you must be proactive and get to your vet, trying something they suggest may very well help, doing nothing will all but ensure those ears stay down!

                  Why are my German Shepherds floppy ears not rising?

                  There are many reasons why a German Shepherd may not develop the standard upright ears.

                  Genetics

                        • Some GSDs are genetically predisposed to have floppy ears if their parents passed this gene onto them.
                  This is particularly true if the German Shepherd is not a purebred.
                    • Sometimes a pup can have ear flaps that are particularly large and heavy and the weight proves impossible to overcome and sadly this can be unavoidable despite good breeding.

              But perhaps the biggest factor is Environment and Upbringing!

              Like always with a dog, you have to be prepared beforehand, or you will have to play catch up later!
                          • A German Shepherd Dogs ears can be easily damaged from fighting, playing and pulling! The damage can be from other puppies and dogs and young children, usually by accident. Never let anyone – even other dogs – to fold, bend, pull, fondle, or play with your German Shepherd’s ears. There is some research that suggests that massaging the base of the ears – and not the ears themselves – can help as this can increase blood flow to the cartilage.
                          • Taping. Like we mentioned before, taping too early, without advice, or without proper experience, will hurt more than it helps. This is particularly common in first time or inexperienced owners who are impatient or panic. You will not want to do more damage than good!
                          • If your German Shepherd puppy is effected for a period of time from a sickness that means it can’t absorb the nutrients from its food, it may affect how the body and ears develop. Regular vet checks can help prevent this.

              How to get a German Shepherd's ears to stand up!

                    • Do not despair!
              There are several techniques you can try to help the process of ear rising.
                          • 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 German Shepherd 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.
                          • Shave the hair on the ears, the hair can make them more heavy and harder to stand up.
                          • Avoid calcium supplements. You may give too much which will cause problems in the long run such as bone spurts, arthritis and joint problems in a growing pup.
                          • A better idea is to give only 1 tablespoon of cottage cheese or yogurt.
                          • Taping the ears is the last resort and should only be done after consultation with your veterinarian.³

              . . .

                    • Like everything in life, getting a German Shepherd’s ears to go up is not always simple. If everything is done right, from breeding, to care, to diet, and there is no unnecessary interference, then those ears should go up.
              But remember, once you have your pup there is a lot you can do right, and a lot you can do wrong to help the process of pointiness.  The worst mistake you can make is doing nothing for too long!
                  • Firstly, don’t panic too soon; secondly ensure you are feeding your dog right; and thirdly that you are treating those ears carefully. And most importantly talk to your vet before taking any serious action.
                • Nothing in life is guaranteed, and even if everything is done right, sometimes those ears won’t come up. But by following the right steps and with a little time, those regal, alert ears will appear.
              ¹ http://thedailyshep.com/german-shepherd-ears-12-commonly-asked-questions-answers/
              ² http://germanshepherdworld.com/german-shepherd-ears-not-going-up/
              ³ http://texasworkingshepherds.com/german-shepherd-ears-not-standing-up-what-can-i-do/