types of dog ears

Dog Ear Types

When looking at the world of dogs, one will notice that dog ears are all different shapes, sizes, and types. It is not that surprising when you think about it, considering the world of genetics.  It’s interesting to see how the best attributes of dogs have been used to create various breeds.  This has led to dogs with unique coats, personalities, and of course, ears. While many people are used to seeing erect or pendulous ears, there are many other types of ears in the dog world. Today, we are going to be looking at the wide world of dog ears as well as some of the terms that are used by dog clubs and fanciers to help decipher them. Here are just a few of them, but there are many more! 

Erect Ears 

Erect dog earsAs the name states, these types of ears are upright and point in an upwards direction. 

This is the typical ear position on many wolfish looking dogs such as Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Belgian Malinois, and Samoyed. 

Smaller dog breeds that also feature upright ears include West Highland Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Norwich Terriers.

Many people have become fond of erect ears as they feel it gives the dog an intelligent yet alert look as well as bringing back the wolf look.

However, not all dog breeds feature naturally rigid ears. In many cases, breeders and owners have resorted to cosmetic surgery, called ear cropping. 

Great Danes, Boxers, and Dobermans that have erect ears were typically not born with those manufactured alert ears.  But, were instead generally born with floppy or semi-stiff ears; however, surgery has used to make them upright.

Drop Ears 

neosporin as a dog wound care productAs this name implies, drop ears are pendulous and hang down. Oddly enough, these types of ears are often most associated with the domestication of dogs. 

Back in 1923, Max V. Stephanitz, a famed German shepherd breeder, said that floppy ears are the sure sign of domesticated dogs (note: since wolves do NOT have floppy ears)

He believed that any dog that has lived in captivity has no need for ears that are going to provide extra security for protection against predators and to aid in the hunt. Eventually, he surmises, the ears lost their muscle and use and subsequently dropped down to the point where they are now. 

His thoughts were indeed proven when wild foxes were brought into captivity and bred for specific qualities and temperaments. Eventually, their erect ears began to flop, and their color began to change to something that would not easily camouflage in the wild.

Many people tend to gravitate towards dogs with drop ears because this gives the dogs a constant puppy-like look. Some typical breeds with drop ears include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.

These specific breeds were built for swimming, and the drop ears help to prevent water from entering the ears. However, this look is not limited to these breeds and is quite common among most mixed breeds.

Bat Ears 

a dog with pointy earsAs we all know, bats have large ears for their size, which is where the name comes from for dogs with erect ears that are too big for their bodies.

The French bulldog is one breed that has bat ears, being wide at the base and much smaller at the top with a rounded edge.

Bat ears are one of the most distinguishing features of the French bulldog, and anything other than bat ears requires disqualification for the breed.

Rose Ears 

Rose dog earsIn essence, this is an erect ear; however, the skin does fold backward, which leads to the end part of the pinna to fall over to the side.

The name for this specific ear type is solely due to the shape of the ear, which resembles the petal of a rose.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that whippets must have ears shaped as roses that are small and fine in texture during a dog’s relaxed period.

In these specific breeds, moreover, erect ears are penalized by the AKC. Other breeds that feature rose ears are Italian Greyhounds and Greyhounds that have ears that are fine in texture and thrown back unless they are alert or excited.

Semi-Pricked Ears 

semi pricked ears on a border collieThese can also be found under semi-erect ears. This is for those dogs whose ears are in between erect and floppy. Dogs born with semi pricked ears have ears that are generally erect but tend to fold over at the tip. 

Dogs with these ears include Fox Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Collies. 

The American Kennel Club states that Border Collies can, in fact, have ears that can be either erect or semi-erect. Moreover, if they are semi-erect, the tips of the ears must fold either outward to the side of the ear or forwards.

Button Ears 

dog with button earsThese ears are literally as cute as a button. At first glance, these ears may look semi-pricked.  But, as opposed to bending at the tip of the ear, the skin fold is generally longer and covers more of the ear.

The name button ears come from the fact that the ear appears to slightly resemble a buttoned fold, as seen in the pocket of shirts. 

This ear type can be found on several breeds of dogs, such as the standard Pug.  The American Kennel Club states that the ears should be soft and look like black velvet. Two types are accepted, including button and rose, with the button being the most acceptable.

Other breeds that sport this type of ear include the Fox Terrier and Jack Parson Terrier. This style of ear was more than likely chosen when breeding since these dogs are used as tunnel hunters, and it helps to protect them.

Butterfly Ears 

Butterfly dog ear type

This ear type is typical with the Papillion breed. The butterfly ear is erect in nature and tends to move like that of the spread wings of a butterfly. However, you will not find every type of Papillion dog with this confirmation.

A typical litter will not show butterfly ears; many will have dropped ears. In this case, those born with dropped ears are known to have ears, which translates to moth-eared in French. While the phalene ear is in full flight,  it often appears as a moth fluttering in the air.

Candle-Flame Ears 

candle flame dog earsThis is a type of ear is only seen in the English Toy Terrier. As the name  implies, the ear looks similar to the flame of a candle. These are generally narrow and long erect ears.

The Kennel Club of the United Club states that this breed features candle flame ears that are erect and situated at the back of the head with pointed tips. 

Filbert Ears 

The Filbert Ear is another ear found only in one breed, and that is found on the Bedlington terrier. 

Filbert dog ears

This ear is triangular in shape and features rounded tips that feel like velvet. The most common trait of these ears is the small silky tassel found on the tip of the ear.

The name of this ear is derived from the word filbert, which generally means a nut in the hazel tree family.

Folded Ears 

folded ears on a dogThis is an extreme version of the drop-ear where the ears are long and have deep folds. These are ears that touch the ground, typically associated with Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds. These ears are generally found on those dogs that have been bred for tracking.

Their ears drag the ground, which helps to stir up scents and molecules, which are essential for tracking and picking up the right scent. These types of dogs were explicitly built for one task, and that is one in which they excel to this very day. In time, however, they have made the transition to being excellent home dogs for companionship and love.

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