Floppy ears in German Shepherds - genetical issue? - Page 1

Pedigree Database


by Gsdlover91 on 20 December 2020 - 17:12

I had a male German Shepherd, (that I no longer have,) that out of 2 litters he’s sired, 3 of his puppies had weak/floppy ears. The sire had big ears, but his were perfectly normal and and standing correct. Not weak at all. I would like to learn more about this issue from those of you experienced breeders those of you who may be familiar with this problem. I spoke to his breeder and none of her dogs had that issue. I suppose it’s a genetic thing. Would like to hear thoughts and advise on the issue how to tell before buying a dog (gsd) if that may be a problem or does it have something to do with the “bigger ears”?


by mimi on 20 December 2020 - 20:12


Soft ears is a recessive gene in GSD. It means that it comes from BOTH parents that are either carriers or affected.

Western Rider

by Western Rider on 20 December 2020 - 22:12

It has been linked to improper diet of the dam and pups


by Hundmutter on 21 December 2020 - 04:12

Soft ears or a propensity to them being soft IS a genetic thing, but it also depends on some other factors than just the fall of the genetic dice.

Remember all GSD puppies start off with folded ears. (Well they don't actually - they are born with very small 'pricked' ears, but most people unless they bred them do not see that stage). They can start to stand up any time from about 12 weeks, though many take considerably longer. Individual ears may go up, and down again, then up again, for weeks; then you often get a repeat performance when the teeth start to change to adult ones.

Any pup whose ears are very large & heavy, particularly longcoats, stands a chance of having its ears not standing properly in adulthood.  Any pup whose muscles and ear cartilige do not develop as well as they should (that may be where diet comes into the picture) - whatever size the ears are - stands a chance of having its ears not stand properly ... if they carry the genetics, probably nothing you can do, they will not stand.  Soft ear carriage can vary, though, from both ears permanently folded right over, to just one ear with a tip that never straightens up ... and all permutations in between.  There has been some success, for some people, with some dogs, when ears are taped into position from when the pup is around 4 months of age,(or later), if they looked as though they might not go up properly. Please note this does not always work; and in some cases taped ears would have gone up by themselves occasionally even without shaping & taping.  If you ever want to try the technique, get an experienced helper to show you how ... Some people find massage helps, others warn against that in case you damage the cartilige. (As can badly applied taping). If you have a dog where both ears are not up by about 10 months at the latest, they probably never will be.

Can you tell ?  Even if you do not know anything about the genetics in your pups breeding, to give you a clue - how good the parents ears are, whether any of the grandparents had (a) soft ear(s), what has happened to ears of siblings, either in earlier litters from that sire or dam, or both, or if the pup is a little older, how its going with litter sibs - your pup might look as though his ear(s) are a bit heavy and not starting to go up yet. (One clue I used to set some store by was if you saw a relative gaiting around a Show Ring and its ears, though erect, seemed to flap about a bit too much  as it moved or caught the breeze, I would be concerned offspring in that line might suffer the problem). Personally  I do not worry about it these days, but dogs in my care are not destined for breeding or the Show scene; I appreciate it can be very disappointing.


by Rik on 21 December 2020 - 10:12

barring an injury, the dogs have the ears they were born with. in other words, genetics. this could be due to thin ears, weak cartridge, oversize/heavy. I don't know of any studies on this subject but there could be other causes.

it was fairly common in ASL and most people I knew were proficient in learning to tape or glue the ears up. there were also people who did it for a fee and were considered very good.

it soon became common knowledge on most popular stud dogs if they produced a high percentage of "soft ears". I preferred using the pink foam hair rollers for gluing the ears. it's a PIA, but worked most of the time.

often, one can see pups, mostly from w/l with perfect ears up @ 8+ weeks, this can only be genetics.

a lot of the time, the ears may just be slow to come up, but it's easy to panic over.

good luck,

by GSCat on 27 December 2020 - 16:12

My dog's ears took a longer time to stand up than usual/expected, but they're fine, now. I was worried enough I got the ear forms, but the issue fixed itself before I used them. This might have been part of her general very slow maturation (physically and mentally), but she's absolutely "perfect" now.


by jdiaz1791 on 11 April 2021 - 16:04

Is both genetic and environmental 9 lack of proper diet,exercise, accidents )


by Hundmutter on 12 April 2021 - 02:04

Jdiaz I don't think 'exercise' has any bearing on whether ears go up or not. What exactly about exercise do you think makes a difference ?

by Klossbruhe on 12 April 2021 - 14:04

The reason this is a problem in GSDs can be traced back to the founder von Stephanitz. He wanted a dog which looked like a wolf with upright ears. It is the Spitz family of dogs which naturally have prick or upright ears. And they are much smaller than the ears of GSDs today. Von Stephanitz brought a lot of regional dogs into his breeding program such as the Wurttemberger from where we get the tan with black saddle and the Braunscheiger or Brunswick shepherd which had the modern construction but was often white. You can see pictures of these types of dogs in his book The German Shepherd Dog in Work and Picture. He did not interbreed enough stock with Spitz dogs. Hence the problem which he tried to solve unsuccessfully by having dogs with shorter ears. After WWI, breeders, such as Dr Funk, worked on this and a dog like Utz von Haus Schutting had smaller forward pointing ears. After WWII and changing tastes, the Martin Bros. pioneered a different structured dog which is still in vogue. But they did not by themselves create the ear problem. The fact is, the GSD is not a natural prick eared dog.

Most of the things mentioned above are correct as well as what can be done about it to dogs with floppy ears---taping, a diet for puppies rich in calcium such as cottage cheese and so forth. As for breeding, breeders would have to pay scrupulous attention to dogs which regularly produced weak ears. The weakness comes from the cartilage at the base of the ear. But breeders have not done this. If they had, they could reduce its occurence like they have done in Germany with HD, but they would not be able to eliminate it, just like the production of long hairs, entirely.


by Sunsilver on 12 April 2021 - 14:04

Rik, sent you a PM on an unrelated topic.


Contact information  Disclaimer  Privacy Statement  Copyright Information  Terms of Service  Cookie policy  ↑ Back to top