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9 Reasons Why Dogs Have One Ear Up And One Down + 7 Tips

Why Does Only One Ear Stand Up On My Dog

Although you love how your dog looks, there’s one thing that bothers you slightly.

It’s the ears. While one is up, the other persistently stays down. 

Your dog is still cute, but you start to worry. And wonder why this is so. 

Fret no more! 

Here you will find out why your dog has a floppy ear. And what you can do to make both ears erect. 

Read on to learn:

  • 9 reasons why only one ear stands up on your dog.
  • 7 tips to help make your dog’s droopy ear stand up.
  • 5 dangers that can make your dog’s ears floppy forever.
  • And so much more…

Why does only one ear stand up on my dog?

Many factors account for why only one ear stands up on your dog. These include malnutrition, ear problems, and one cartilage being stronger than the other. However, if your dog is healthy, it could be a case of your dog being a puppy. Their pinna is still underdeveloped.

People also ask:

Dog breeds with one floppy ear

Lopsided ears – one ear up, the other down – may either be permanent or temporary. That depends on many factors, which I’ll be discussing shortly.

In the meantime…

Here are the dog breeds that may have one floppy ear:

  • Corgis.
  • Boxers.
  • Chihuahuas.
  • Great Danes.
  • Border Collie.
  • Belgian Malinois.
  • Yorkshire Terriers.
  • Shetland Sheepdog.
  • German Shepherds.
  • Jack Russell Terriers.
  • Doberman Pinschers.

Some mixed breed dogs also exhibit one floppy ear.

9 reasons why only one ear stands up on your dog

#1: Your dog is listening

Have you seen your dog with ears moving independently? When their pinna is fully developed, they can do that.

I guess that’s another addition to their arsenal of superpowers.

When one ear is upright and the other is turned to the side, your dog is listening. Their upright ear is an antenna. They can move it in certain ways to hear something more clearly.

Both ears multitask as they filter sounds from every direction. You might notice your dog moving their ears to better hear the sound.

Or they do that adorable head tilt. Just like what you see Buddy doing here:

What a good listener. 

#2: Underdeveloped pinna

Have you noticed that this one ear up, one ear down phenomenon is more common in puppies?

This happens because puppies are born with floppy ears. And that’s due to the pinna being underdeveloped. 

This is the part of the outer ear that is made up of cartilage and covered with skin and fur.

Fun fact: Small breeds with small heads develop pinna faster than large breeds of dogs.

It takes a while for the pinna to get strong enough to hold the ears upright. And it’s not the same for all dogs.

For some, it may take 8 weeks. For others, as long as 8 months.

You better take a lot of photos of your pupper with their lopsided ears. You’re gonna miss them when their ears are upright permanently.

Note: Your dog’s ears should be upright when they have finished teething. If one ear already stood up but flopped down after a while, it could be one of the problems below.

#3: Ear problems

Dog Ear Problems

You should get worried about your dog’s lopsided ears if they always get ear infections.

When it’s painful, your dog will keep that ear flat against their head. They do that as a protective behavior.

Ear problems include infections such as:

  • Vasculitis.
  • Yeast dermatitis.
  • Foreign objects in the ear.

Despite one affected ear flat against the head, the other can function normally.

Warning: If not given treatment asap, the ear may not stand erect anymore.

#4: Malnutrition

Malnutrition plays a role in your dog’s lopsided ears.

In general, puppies need a specific type of nutrition. They are growing and some body parts are still developing.

Such as the cartilage in their ears.

A diet without enough protein and other nutrients might make an ear floppy.

Also, the presence of parasites robs your dog of much needed nutrition.

#5: Injuries

Accidents and injuries on the ear can cause it to be floppy.

One dog parent shared the accident his dog had as a puppy. The dog fell off the porch, landing on the head.

The dog was fine, except for the ear.

The accident must have damaged the formation of cartilage.

Aside from accidents, bite wounds can also damage an ear. This happens when dogs get involved in fights.

Ears are very vulnerable and accessible. These can be scratched or bitten.

If not treated asap, the injured ear might get an infection. And with a major damage, it’s possible for the ear to go floppy.

#6: Swollen ear

Check your dog’s floppy ear because it might be inflamed.

The usual cause for the inflammation is an abscess. This happens when pus reproduces.

Ear hematoma is another cause for a swollen and drooping ear. It is characterized by a blood vessel rupturing. It bleeds between the cartilage and skin.

It occurs due to scratching, injuries, parasites, or foreign objects. In some cases, this is caused by hygiene issues.

#7: One cartilage is stronger than the other

One possibility is that the cartilage in the upright ear is stronger than the other. 

The ear flops down because the cartilage is not firm enough to hold the ear upright.

If your dog is still a puppy, you have nothing to worry about. That ear will stand erect in time.

When your dog is done teething and one ear remains floppy, don’t lose hope. You can help that ear be upright by taping it. More on this in tip #9.

#8: Genetics

If your dog is already an adult, has no ear problems, and did not have accidents…

Their lopsided ears could be due to genetics.

Dogs such as German Shepherds are famous for their proud, erect ears. These will be floppy when they’re puppies though. 

But at about a year old, their ears should be erect.

If your dog is a mixed breed, it’s possible to have one ear up and the other down.

According to one dog parent, her dog had lopsided ears. She attributed it to her dog’s breed, which was a mix of Border Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and Beagle. 

She said that the floppy ear must have been inherited from the Beagle side of the dog.

In some cases, even if a mixed breed has parents that have erect ears, they will still have lopsided ears. It could be due to their ancestors far back the line with droopy ears.

Did you know that droopy ears are associated with domestication? Droopy ears became more prevalent during the farm fox experiment.

The experiment began in the late 1950s and continues today. The lead researcher, Soviet scientist Dmitry Belyaev, began a breeding program using foxes.

As they retained the tame characteristics of foxes, several changes took place.

One of which involved the foxes’ ears. They began developing floppy ears!

This change in the ears was due to pedomorphosis. In Biology, it means the retention of juvenile traits throughout adulthood.

#9: High dose of prednisone or prednisolone

The dangers of high doses of prednisone or prednisolone can affect your dog’s ears.

Both of these are corticosteroids, which lower inflammation. There are corticosteroids prescribed to treat redness and swelling caused by ear problems.

For instance, vets prescribe prednisone or prednisolone to treat vasculitis. It is a disorder characterized by lesions and crusts on certain body parts. Including the pinna.

According to registered vascular technologists, high doses of prednisone or prednisolone can damage the cartilage.

7 tips for upright dog ears

#1: Leave those (cute) ears alone

Leave The Dog's Ears Alone

Is there anything more charming than a dog with one ear up and the other down?

They look so adorable that you want to squeeze those ears!

But hold up! Better keep your hands off. You don’t want to cause trauma to your dog’s ears.

Also, do your best to prevent your dogs from roughhousing. Playing rough can cause unintentional trauma to the ears.

Further, watch out for small children playing with your dog. Remind them about not playing with the dog’s ears for now.

#2: Check out the puppy

Getting a puppy shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision. In some ways, it’s like you’re having a baby.

You’ll be providing all of their needs and making sure they’re healthy.

And that’s a commitment you’ll take until they grow old.

I understand that you’ll either buy from a breeder or adopt/rescue from a shelter. Either way, I suggest you examine the dog’s ears so you’ll have an idea how those will turn out.

What to look for:

  1. Smaller ears. This means the cartilage has less weight to support.
  2. Thick ears with more depth. This could mean that the cartilage is thicker.

Here’s another thing to remember when your dog is a puppy. They may have one ear up and the other down because they’re still growing. Or they’re teething. 

#3: Clean ears regularly

Clean ears will help keep those adorable ears as upright as a tower!

So regularly check your dog’s ears. Dirt, bacteria, and debris can collect inside, and this could lead to infections.

When cleaning the ears, we want to do it safely. That means no pointy things such as Q-tips. And no solutions that your vet did not approve.

When cleaning, do the following:

  1. Hold the tip of the ear.
  2. Wet a soft cloth or cotton pad with ear cleaning solution. Wipe the part of the ear that you can see. Do it gently.
  3. Reward your dog after cleaning their ears.

Here’s a simple tutorial for ear cleaning:

#4: Healthy diet

Set your dog for success by providing them good nutrition.

This is vital so that their bodies develop properly. Including those ears.

Give them the highest quality food you can afford, as advised by VCA Hospitals. This affects the development of the brain and body. 

Go for dog foods with whole-food ingredients and are corn-free. Simply because corn is not a nutritious ingredient.

Also, make sure they have protein in their diet. The right amount matters as too much protein could make them gain weight.

This study advises dog parents against feeding a high protein diet that is grain-free. The author says that the kidneys might not be able to remove urea efficiently.

What dog parents should avoid, the author furthers, is feeding dogs with high protein diets and high-fat content.

#5: Get rid of parasites

Maximize your dog’s high-quality food and supplements by getting rid of parasites first.

Parasites compete with your dog in getting all the nutrition from food. As a result, it affects the development of your dog’s body.

So their high-quality diet will go to waste if they’re harboring parasites.

Parasites include:

  • Pinworms.
  • Tapeworms.
  • Roundworms.

Have your dog checked first before giving them deworming medications.

#6: Take your dog to a vet

Whatever ails your dog, consult with your vet. They know the best treatment for ear problems, injuries, and anything concerning health.

Much better if you take your dog for regular checkups. This way, the vet can keep track of illnesses that need immediate attention.

Also, any abnormalities can be treated on the onset and prevent worsening.

Tip: Click here to chat with a certified veterinarian.

#7: Chew toys

Want to help those ears stand up? Give your dog chew toys.

That’s right.

You might wonder what a chew toy has to do with ears. My answer: 

Temporalis muscle.

This muscle can be found on either side of the skull. 

There are many muscles around the ears. But the temporalis is responsible for crushing and grinding objects between the dog’s molars.

Aside from that, the muscle has to do with giving your dog upright ears.

Now back to the chew toys.

When dogs chew, it exercises the jaw, head, and neck muscles. Plus, it stimulates the muscles needed to make the ears upright.