In German Shepherds, standing ears have been a staple of the breed’s appearance since the very first were bred in the early 1900′s. Unlike other breeds whose ears must be painfully cropped, the German Shepherd has been bred for ears that stand naturally, without the need for unnecessary surgery. Not only do standing ears give the appearance of alertness, but they more effectively channel sound, and are less prone to dirt and infection.
Many people take it for granted that a German Shepherd’s ears have always stood erect. However, German Shepherd puppies go through a process of growth in which the cartilage in their ears firms up, allowing them to stand. When the puppies are first born, their ears are much too soft to stand on their own. In the majority of puppies, the ears will naturally begin to stand between about 3 to 6 months with no extra help. Unfortunately, some puppies are born with softer ears than others, or cartilage that does not firm up enough for the ears to stand. The process of taping ensures that their ears will set properly, in the shape which was intended for the breed. It should be stressed that the majority of pups will have ears that stand naturally. Ear taping should only be used on pups who have shown no signs of standing ears after about 5 or 6 months.
The process of ear taping should not be left too late. In many cases, starting taping at 7 or 8 months may already be too late. It is important to monitor the growth of your dog’s ears, and how they react to noise. Making noise and giving commands will encourage the pup to work the muscles around their ears, and encourage standing. If, by the 5th month, your pups ears have not shown signs of beginning to stand, you should consider taping. While it is recommended to have a vet tape the ears, it can be done at home as well. The most important consideration is to make sure that the right type of tape is used. Only clean surgical tape should be used. Any other type of tape, such as duct tape or scotch tape, can seriously damage your dog’s ears. It is also important to purchase a safe adhesive, specifically designed for use on skin. The process of taping the dog’s ears is fairly simple. You will need some form of soft cylindrical form to place in the ear-flap. The foam inside of hair-rollers, with the hard plastic parts removed, often work well. Apply the skin-bond glue to the foam, being careful not to apply excessive glue, allow the glue to contact your own skin, or allow the glue to drip into the ear of the dog. Gently place the foam along the inside flap of the ear, in an upright fashion. Leave space between the foam and the ear canal. Tape the ear around the foam in a cylindrical fashion, starting from the bottom. Be careful not to tape too loosely or too tightly, and you should be done.
Whether you have a police dog, a guard dog or a personal protection dog, healthy ears are an important part of your German Shepherd puppy‘s development. If, at any time, you are in doubt about the health your puppy, you should never hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice.