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I get a lot of emails about taping German Shepherds puppy ears. The majority of these emails come from people who are jumping the gun and worrying too much. By that I mean their pups are 3 or 4 months old and they are starting to panic because their puppies ears are not standing. I tell these people that they need patience, they need to wait until their pup has finished teething.
I caution these people not to jump the gun and tape the dogs ears too early or in the wrong way. I know people who have screwed their dogs ears up for life by doing this. I have had puppy customers who go ballistic on me and panic. So I issue a word of caution here.
With that said, the other side of the spectrum of taping ears is something that many people do not take seriously until it's too late. When ears are taped at 7 and 8 months there is very little chance of it working. This is an unfortunate fact of life.
German Shepherd puppy ears can come up between 8 weeks and 6 months. If they are not up when the dog is through teething (this varies from dog to dog but in general between 16 weeks and 20 weeks of age) I tell my puppy customers to get very interested in their ears. While its not time to panic, it is time to sit up and take notice.
The first thing to do is make sure that the puppies are in good health. This means no intestinal parasites, take a stool sample to your vet to have it analyzed.It's also important to make sure the pup is getting a good quality food. I am not a fan of any commercial dog food. I feed all of the dogs in my kennel and all-natural diet. If you do feed commercial dog food I strongly recommend puppies GO OFF of puppy food at 5 months of age. It causes pups to grow too fast and this causes skeletal problems.
Its not uncommon for ears not to be up until 4 1/2 to 5 months of age. In fact a lot of times a pup will have both ears up and all of a sudden they will come back down when the pup starts to teeth. Many owners panic when this happens. But not to worry, I have never seen a pup whose ears did not go back up when this happens.
If a pup does not have his ears up by 5 months I strongly recommend that you get involved with taping your dogs ears.
- Use the thin white surgical tape (the kind that's paper thin and tears easily). The 3M Micropore tape, 2" wide works well (found at the drug store). I like to use women's hair rollers (some people use tampons holder.) I prefer the foam hair rollers that are sold in K-Mart. Take the plastic out of them and just use the foam. (DON'T USE DUCT TAPE OR SIMILAR TAPES!!)
- Wrap the ear around the foam and tape them into atight roll. In a vertical position.
- Take a popsicle stick and attach it to the top part of both ears. In a horizontal position.
- The pup is going to tear the tape or stick off the ears several times. The key is to continue to re-tape the ears. Sooner or later the pup will forget the tape and ignore it.
- About once a week, take the tape off and see if the ears will stand on their own. Continue to re-tape until the ears stand.
- If the ears are not up by 7 or 8 months they are not going to come up.
I have seen ears that did not stand which in my opinion would have stood had they been taped. So this process is not something to take lightly.
I also need to say that many ears will be a little weak right after taping but with time they will strengthen. So when an ear does not stand perfectly after taping don't panic. Just have patience and see what happens. You will really not have an idea exactly what you have until the pup is 12 months old.
When ears do not stand there are ear implants that can be surgically added. I have no experience with this and do not know anything about them. If you are unlucky enough to have a dog whose ears will not stand. I would point you towards a vet that has some experience in this area. I don't think its something that normal small animal vets know how to do (at least not well).
Ripken with his ears taped
Owned by Cheryl Graper
A 15 week old puppy with floppy ears.
Bandit - 11 Weeks
We also use glue to tape German Shepherd Dogs ears. Here are some photos sent in from a reader that used this method:
Before at 4 1/2 months - in my opinion too young to tape
The material to use to tape German Shepherd Ears
The pup with it's ears taped
I prefer taping German Shepherd Dogs ears after the dog has finished teething. This usually means the dog is older than 4 - 6 months - maybe waiting another month would have been a better idea.