Tuesday, November 3, 2009


If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then the ears of a German Shepherd is his crowning glory. Even the pet people when they think of a German Shepherd one of the things that they comment on is how his ears stands so straight up on his head. The German Shepherd is a noble breed and nothing can ruin his look of nobility more than a poor ear set, soft ears or ears that don’t stand. Then there are the different ear sets and the different sizes of ears that we see on this breed. Notice the two dogs in the picture on this blog. The Maturity winner "Nuance" had a wide ear set. Although she was one of my favorite bitches that I ever owned, her ear set was not my favorite......acceptable, but not great. The dark male, "Rajah" in my opinion had a beautiful ear set. The puppy in the pool shows one of the stages most puppies go through at one time or another......down ears!

This is what the breed standard says about the German Shepherd Dog’s ears and I quote from the GSDCA’s website: “Ears are moderately pointed, in proportion to the skull, open toward the front, and carried erect when at attention, the ideal carriage being one in which the center lines of the ears, viewed from the front, are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. A dog with cropped or hanging ears must be disqualified.”

In all honesty, I must say that a great majority of my litters, I had to tape some ears. The only ones’ that I remember that I didn’t have any problems with is going back to the old Waldesruh (I don’t know if I spelled that correctly) lines. These litters had small strong ears. Even with the litters that I had to tape, most of the time I didn’t have any problems getting the ears up, except when I bred a Reno daughter to Ch Zeto of Fran-Jo. She was gorgeous in body structure, deep, plush, and well angulated, but OMG…..those ears! Her ears were very soft and no matter how many times I taped her, only one ear would stand. I ended up letting her go into a pet home.

My last litter of only two puppy bitches was probably the worst that I had to deal with. The ears are huge……very tall ears. I taped and I taped and I taped some more. Finally, after much perseverance on my part, both girls’ ears stood up. Unfortunately one of the girls has one ear that tips into the center of her head, but I didn’t care as I wasn’t going to show her. I just wanted those darn ears up. What a struggle. The sister has a beautiful ear set but she too was taped right up until she was a year old!

Sometimes all you have to do is look in the show ring and many times you can see dog’s ears that must have been taped at one time. Some of them tip in towards the center of the head and some like my one bitch has one that tips towards the center of the head. Nothing is more displeasing to my eye than watching a dog gait around the ring and his ears are waving at you as he goes by.

Some ears have very heavy “leather” to them. What I mean is that the ear is heavy and thick to the feel. Most of the time this type of ear is a large ear and may cause problems for the dog to get to stand on their own. Then you have the ear that waves at you when he moves. This is normally a very thin type of ear where the cartilage doesn’t seem to be able to give the ear enough support to hold it up. Then you’ll see the tall ears and the small short ears. I think from what I’ve seen in pictures that the German dogs have smaller ears and usually a beautiful ear set. Many times in the American ring you’ll see the taller ears on our dogs.

The dog’s ear set is another very important thing that will give the dog the look of nobility or not. Dogs that have too much of a wide ear set sticking out to the sides can appear to look like a “goof” ball. They may look funny looking but they’re not attractive in the show ring.

The German Shepherd puppy through their growth spurts will have many different ear sets at different times in his life. There’s nothing cuter than five or six week old puppies that have one ear up and one ear down or both ears up and looking like a German Shepherd in a miniature form. When a puppy is teething, this is when you might see him put his ears up one day and down the next.

There are many different styles of taping puppy’s ears which I don’t have the room to write about here. Just be forewarned………make sure you know what you’re doing before you attempt to tape the pups ears. Taping incorrectly can ruin a dogs looks for the rest of his life. Get in touch with a breeder that has experience in this area and ask if she will help you tape your pup’s ears. Keeping the ears clean and dry is a must as many times the ears can become infected and raw causing the puppy a lot of pain. It’s best to keep him away from his litter mates so they don’t pull at his ears.

The size and shape and the strength of a German Shepherd’s ears is something that they inherit from their parents and the dogs behind them. It’s the smart breeder that knows his dog’s pedigree and if there are ear problems in the lines. Among the many other genetic problems that breeders face, dealing with weak ears that have to be taped all the time can be a nightmare. Try taping them when you have no one to help you and the puppy is squirming every which way! It’s always best if you have two people when you are taping ears! And even better is to stay away lines that give you these problems in the first place!

My rating: bloodlines with ear problems: (1), using tape and rollers: (3)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the ears - they go up and they go down and they go sideways and you hope that one day they go up and stay there forever!