by Hundmutter on 29 January 2019 - 09:01
Over the past week or more I have been reflecting on the subject of ears in the German Shepherd - and other dogs. The train of thought was started by the earlier thred on here about the TSA reportedly trying to buy only 'soft eared' breeds as detection dogs, why they want to do that, whether there are enough suitable dogs available to buy for the purpose, and the underlying philosophy of those at the financing end of that particular chain.
Now a lot has been said on that thred about all those questions, which I hope we do not try to rehash here; but it might be interesting to get posters' comments on just what it is about prick ears that excites people so much !
We who have German Shepherd Dogs know that a good, sensible, trainable and loyal dog, with working ability, is far more important than what they look like. Sure, it is absolutely right to support keeping the (any) breed true to the size and shape and 'looks' that set that breed aside from other sorts of dog. But unless we are dedicated to that aspect of the 'purity' of our breed and keen on Show competitions that reward good conformation above other aspects, we just want a dog that 'looks like' the breed we want for its other attributes. So we want a GSD that looks like it's a GSD. And that means that we acknowledge that the typical picture of GSDs is of a prick eared dog.
But we know that a percentage of dogs are born with (a) ears that are not perfect, in that they are set on the head wrong and/or have muscle defects that allow them to 'blow with the breeze' when the dog is in movement; and (b) ones that are 'soft', or drop, ears altogether. We also know that if left to their own devices, dropped ears won't win any Conformation Show prizes ... but they won't, by themselves, stop that individual dog being an excellent Sports or Protection or Companion contender.
And yet ... so many owners and breeders obsess over getting the ears to stand up. There are a hundred suggestions for methods and materials to coax or fix ears into the correct pricked position. I have noticed over the years that many people who are so concerned about this are not 'Show folk', they are not concerned about quality of
coat, or smoothness of gait, or correct dentition, or shape & size of feet - but they are determined their dogs ears should stand up. This concern even outranks the debates about the shape of GSDs, the length and curve of their croups, the degree of exageration of hind angulation.
This tendency is universal, but even more noticeable in the context of the countries where other dogs' ears are still cut or tortured into erect and unnatural height and shape. Do some people think the ears of Dobes and Boxers and Danes are supposed, by nature, to be erect ?
And then there is the question of public perception re: prick-eared dogs being 'fiercer' than drop-eared dogs; the thoroughly dog-phobic will react against any dog, but people who have been raised seeing certain types of dog only ever being used to control crowds in public, or mis-used to harass or torture people who the ruling regime sees as criminals or terrorists (even if others would maybe not !) will retain a fear of that type of dog. And that type of dog is often a GSD, or frequently something else with pricked ears. Its all very interesting, isn't it ?.