Dog Health

Why Tape Dog Ears? No Health Benefits, Purely Cosmetic!

At Doggie Dawg, I’m flooded with emails asking why tape dog ears, more specifically puppy ears! 

Some of these people however are worried about too much, too fast, meaning their pups are just three to four months old—an age where puppies haven’t even started teething yet—a stage only after which a dog’s ears will stand up.  

There are two ways of taping dog ears—one that involves cropping via a veterinary procedure is known as “cosmetic otoplasty” that involves the removal of a portion of the pinnae, the external flap of the ear, and the other with medical tape. 

The practice of taping dog ears has been around for centuries, and the biggest reason to tape dog ears is to make floppy ears stand up. There are no health benefits of taping dog ears, but this procedure is solely done for cosmetic purposes.

When Do Puppy Ears Stand Up?

The first thing to remember is that your puppy’s ears will only stand up if its breed is known for perky little upright ears. Here are the typical ages of 20 common breeds’ ears become erect.

Breed Age
Alaskan Malamute24 weeks
American Akita9 - 14 weeks
Belgian Malinois16 - 24 weeks
Boston Terrier16 weeks
Chihuahua8 - 12 weeks
Corgi8 - 24 weeks
French Bulldog5 -15 weeks
German Shepherd8 - 24 weeks
Pomeranian12 months old
Siberian Husky6 - 24 weeks
These are approximate ages, but in general, a dog's ears should be pricked up after the teeth have finished erupting.

Every puppy is different, and the ears can go up naturally anytime between four to seven months of age, and after her adult teeth have come in.

Puppy ears usually stand up after the teething process is done, which is roughly around six months. Your puppy may start with tiny floppy ears that will evolve into ears that flop to the side. This may then lead to “flying nun” ears, where one ear is down, and the one looks like it wants to fly away.

German Shepherd Pup with One Ear Up and other Floppy

The comb-over is the next natural stage after flying nun and is where both your puppy’s ears may be flopping over their head. These are all natural stages of getting perfectly erect ears. 

The rule of thumb is if you notice one of your puppy’s ears being erect on its own for any amount of time during its first five months, then great chances are that both ears will stand permanently when the teething period is over. 

What is the Connection Between Puppy teething and Ears?

When puppies are teething, their bodies are using calcium for their teeth development instead of using the calcium for ear development. 

As your pup starts to get its adult teeth, his erect ears may begin to sag and stay this way until he’s done teething.

The Puppy Teething Process – A Survival Guide

The puppy teething process is painful, fussy, and usually results in the uncontrollable urge to tear things up.

  • Your puppy’s deciduous or puppy teeth first appear when they’re between two to four weeks old
  • Prime-puppy teething usually begins at three to four months old, and can last for two to three months, after which your puppy’s adult teeth will start growing and replace the puppy teeth.
  • Can’t find the puppy teeth around your house? You probably won’t because most pups just swallow them as their adult teeth appear.

Is it Safe For My Puppy to Swallow His Teeth?

“My puppy’s canines are coming out. Is it dangerous if she swallows her baby teeth?”

Swallowing her baby teeth should not cause her any problems. Often these teeth end up falling out when they are outdoors chewing on things and we never find them, but we do not have cases of dogs becoming ill or being injured from the loss of their baby teeth or these small teeth being swallowed.”

 Jessica Keay DVM Veterinarian

There are however certain things you can do to prevent your favorite pair of shoes from getting chewed up and slobbered on, starting with soothing. Most techniques to soothe your puppy during the teething stage rely on one simple action—chewing. 

Chihuahua Dog Chewing a Teddy Shaped Dog Toy.

Puppy teething chew options include rubber toys, plush toys, rawhide bones, chew sticks, etc. But you should try and use something hard and preferably non-destructible. 

VANFINE Dog Squeaky Toy

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After the teething phase has passed, it’s important to implement proper oral hygiene practices to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste

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  • 3 ways to apply
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Apart from regularly brushing your dog’s teeth, you can even use dental sticks to help stave off dangerous mouth pathogens. 

If you have any teething questions or concerns, consult your veterinarian, especially if complications arise with your puppy’s teeth or overall health.

N-Bone Puppy Teething Treats

Key Specifications: 

  • Ideal for puppies of all sizes and breeds
  • Completely edible and digestible 
  • Helps soothe teething 
  • Rice flour, chicken flavor, fish oil 
  • Not suitable for puppies less than 5 lbs 
As an Aamzon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you!

Why are My Puppy’s Ears Not Erect After Teething?

Diet plays an important role in puppy ear development because as mentioned earlier, most of the calcium is used during teething for teeth development. 

Many breeders recommend adding calcium to your puppy’s diet for the cartilage to grow strong enough to hold the ears up. 

Speaking of cartilage, you should also avoid excessively patting or handling your pup’s ears, as it can prevent the cartilage from growing. 

Similarly, pups who chew on each other’s ears or play rough can also damage the cartilage. 

Your puppy should also be dewormed every four to six months because a bad worm infestation can prevent his ears from standing up.  

If you’re concerned about your puppy’s ears not turning pointy by seven to eight months, speak to your vet for the right treatment

Cropping, Posting, Taping—What’s the Difference?

This is where things can get a bit confusing, so pay attention. When we speak about taping, there are two processes—one ethical and another that we at Doggie Dawg don’t support when it’s performed for aesthetic purposes—the surgical procedure of cropping, posting, taping.

Cropping, Posting, Taping – Dispelling the Myths of Cropped Ears

The ear cropping process involves posting and taping and has received mixed opinions from the dog community. 

Purebred dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and each feature unique characteristics that help them perform a specific function (s) for which they were purposefully bred. 

These characteristics are clearly seen in the physical appearance of the dog and are also an important part of the breed’s history. 

For example, when cropping was first done, it was for functional reasons like cropping a Doberman’s ears to increase its hearing capabilities. 

Today, dog ear cropping is an elective procedure that is usually performed to comply with show standards or for the owner’s personal preference. 

Many owners feel cropping their dog’s ears gives it a more striking appearance, therefore opt for cosmetic otoplasty for cosmetic purposes. 

The decision whether to crop or not to crop depends on you, but this routine is becoming less popular among dog owners and isn’t taught in many veterinary schools. Adding to this, fewer veterinarians are willing to perform the surgery, and many dog owners are becoming aware of the controversial nature of the surgery.

Is Taping a Dog’s Ears Cruel?

If you ask me, I feel that any surgical procedure that is unnecessary, and will not benefit my dog, but instead may cause pain and distress, accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection is cruel. 

Personally, dog ear cropping is a very strange practice, and needless to say an annoyance to a dog. 

Why Are Some People So Anti-Taping Dog Ears?

For two reasons—first because they think the wayFor two reasons—first, because they think the way I do that the unnecessary and harsh surgical procedure is cruel, and some dog owners have got ear taping confused with taping without cropping a dog’s ears.

Uncropped Doberman Ears vs. Cropped Doberman Ears
Uncropped Doberman Ears vs. Cropped Doberman Ears

People who are anti-taping dog ears love their dog regardless of whether it has floppy or erect ears, even if the breed is noted for erect ears.

Why Are Some People Keen on Taping Dog Ears?

The people that are proponents of dog ear cropping do it exclusively for cosmetic purposes. 

Granted, ears of certain breeds were trimmed back in the day for protection purposes, because people in the past believed that a canine with less tissue on the ear was more secure. 

Boxers for example were often used as guard dogs and had their ears cropped to enhance their job performance. 

Another example is the Brussels Griffon—a hunting breed whose ears were cropped to prevent them from being bitten by rats or other prey. 

Additionally, they also believed that cropping improved ear hygiene to a large extent, but there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate these claims. 

Most of the traditional reasons for cropping a dog’s ears are no longer relevant because most dogs today aren’t working dogs.

Since cropping is a practice that’s been around for centuries, for some people it is still paramount to complete their dog’s look and make it an effective protection and companion pet. 

Some dog breeds have had their ears cropped for so long that the world just can’t have it any other way! 

Believe it or not, some pet owners strongly believe that they’re doing their dog a favor by cropping its ears, and that’s when the good ol’ excuses roll in about better hearing, reduced ear infections, etc. 

You may find a large number of dog ear cropping proponents go as far as comparing ear cropping to surgical neutering, which is also a widespread surgery recommended by vets. 

However, this is a flawed comparison, because there are myriad benefits of spraying or castrating a dog including reducing the incidence of some types of cancers, reducing unwanted pregnancies, and increasing longevity. 

But just like all surgeries, spraying or castrating a dog does carry some risk, but its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.  

Should You Crop Your Dog’s Ears?

While cropped dog ears may look good, cropping a dog’s ears is not a widely accepted practice. It is banned in England, Australia, and several other nations. 

Ear cropping also comes with many risks such as kidney or liver failure caused by the negative reaction to anesthesia. Even if your dog manages to survive the surgery, it might develop post-operative infections that may turn deadly. 

Add to this, complications from the surgery can result in more problems for the pooch in the future. 

And needless to say, the trauma the surgical procedure inflicts on a dog, and that too at just between 8 and 12 weeks of age!

Apart from the medical trauma cropping inflicted on your dog, you also need to give some thought to the cost of dog year cropping, which can range between $150 to more than $600+. 

And if you think your dog insurance will cover the cost of cropping dog ears, think again, because I have yet to come across a dog insurance company that covers cosmetic surgery (ear cropping)

Ask Yourself:

Are you willing to put your pup through the invasive ear cropping surgical procedure? 

Are you after the health or cosmetic benefits of the ear cropping procedure? 

Have you considered the risk factors associated with ear cropping?

Are you aware of the costs of ear cropping, and the fact that most dog insurance companies don’t cover cosmetic surgery?

Watch this Video to Decide Whether to Crop or Not to Crop

Can You Tape Dog Ears Without Cropping or Surgical Procedures? 

It’s a surprise to many dog owners, but YES, you can tape a dog’s ear without the invasive procedure of cropping. There are several ways of taping dog ears without cropping to make them stand up, including a method that doesn’t require tape!

How to Tape Dog Ears Without Cropping?

Before you try any of these methods, you should wait until the time for your dog’s ears to stand up has passed or until they’ve finished teething. 

If you tape your dog’s ears too early, there’s a very little chance of it working, and can damage its ears for life. 

How to Tape Dog Ears with Tape? Step By Step

1. First things first, you will have to shave the hair to reduce the weight on the ears and also make it comfortable for the puppy when removing the tape. 

Even though you can use human trimmers on a dog, since fur is reasonably similar to human hair, you don’t want to use human clippers on double coat dogs. 

But to be on the safer side, it’s best to buy dog hair clippers to trim or shave your dog’s hair. But you should never shave your dog for myriad different reasons unless instructed by your vet! 

1. Power on the trimmer, and work your way up from the base towards the tips. If your puppy isn’t accustomed to the noise of the trimmer, you can use the scissors in the above kit to trim the hair both inside and outside the ear. 

Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova

After you’re done trimming both sides of the ear, you should be left with completely bald ears as seen below. 

2. Next is choosing the right tape for the task, and you can’t use Scotch tape to tape dog ears, but will need tape that has higher adhesive strength, and one that is hypoallergenic and breathable. 

Product box – 

3. Before taping your dog’s ears, you have to wipe them thoroughly to get rid of the wax, dirt, or any leftover hair from the trimming. 

You should not use rubbing alcohol on your dog’s ears because alcohol doesn’t mix well with waxes, which is the base for ear discharge. 

Adding to this, your dog may experience excruciating pain if there are any scratches or abrasions on the ears. 

4. Now it’s time to tape, so get started by cutting two strips of tape that are both equal to the length of your puppy’s ear. 

Hold your dog’s ear up, and either stick one tape in his ear, and the other one over it, or the easier way by sticking both pieces of tape together, and sticking the combined two pieces in the ear. 

Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova

Take note the tape must be placed deep into the ear, but should not cover the ear channel.

Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova

5. After you’ve taped both ears, cut off two longer strips of tape, and wrap each one around each ear near the base, but again not too tight to block the ear canal. 

Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova

Your dog’s ears should now look similar to two little horns. You can even make a bridge connecting the two horns if you’re concerned about the placement of the ears on the head. 

Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova
Photo by: Natalia Gubenkova

Maintaining the Taped Ears 

  • Leave the tape on for no more than three consecutive days.
  • Remove the tape carefully by cutting between the edges.
  • If the plastic is difficult to remove, you can use olive, vegetable, coconut, or sesame oil to break down the adhesive, but never yank the tape off. You can even try washing it with a compatible dog shampoo

How to Tape Dog’s Ears with Adhesive?

You can use an adhesive such as Tear Mender to tape your dogs’ ears. Tear Mender is a convenient and effective alternative to using tape or bandages.

Plus, Tear Mender is safe, non-toxic, and wash-proof, and stays in place until you remove it.

To use Tear Mender, you first have to prepare the ears by leaving hair on the inside, so don’t shave your dog’s ears. Next, clean the inside and outside of your dog’s ears using a safe cleaner.

1. Apply Tear Mender on the area of the head where your dog’s ears will be affixed, and then to the tip of the dog’s ears.

2. Now bring the tip of the ear in position with the head, and hold it in place for 30 seconds or until the hold sets.

3. Monitor the ears for a few days, and reposition if adjustments are needed.

4. The ear flap will automatically separate from the head with new hair growth.

5. To remove the adhesive from your dog’s ears, you can apply a little baby oil, and then use an extra-fine flea comb.

How to Tape Dog Ears Without Cropping, Tape, or Adhesive?

Don’t want to crop, use adhesive or tape—well you can make your dog’s ear stand up straight with something you probably already have in your home— Breathe Right Nasal Strips.

This is definitely a crafty approach but does work miraculously in some dogs, so it’s worth a shot!

Breathe Right nasal strips are lightweight, they have really sticky stuff on the back of them, and then there’s a little metal bar in the middle that helps secure the ear in an upright position without weighing it down.

Before you apply Breathe Right nasal strips, clean your dog’s ears, and make sure that there’s not a lot of hair, so that the strip can stick to the skin as much as possible.

Hold your dog’s ear straight up, and stick the nasal strip in the area where the ear would bend. Leave the nasal strip in place for a few weeks, after which your dog’s ears should get used to being in that erect position.

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Sidney loves dogs of all breeds! He grew up with the most beautiful White German Shepherd. Ever since then, he has been obsessed with dogs and has owned a lot of different breeds. Sidney is the founder of Doggie Dawg., and he looks forward to spreading his love and knowledge of dogs, and the joy they can bring to the life of a pet owner!

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