Chihuahuas can be the perfect small dog for some people. They’re travel sized and adorable lap dogs even if they do get a bad rep sometimes. While chihuahuas are known for their large eyes and pointy ears, some chihuahuas have floppy ears. For those who didn’t know this beforehand, though, it can be a bit of a surprise.
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Reasons Why Chihuahuas Have Floppy Ears
There are numerous reasons why your chihuahua may have floppy ears, but most of them are not within your control. Often it depends on genetics and age, though some reasons such as diet and anxiety levels can affect the ears of your chihuahua too.
There may be a lot of reasons for a chihuahua’s floppy ears, so also don’t assume that it’s their diet or age that is affecting their ears. Their ears are floppy for another reason, and sometimes it’s out of your control.
Here’s a list of reasons why you’re chihuahua may have floppy ears:
1. They’re Young
Just like all puppies, chihuahuas are born with their ears closed. Over time, their ears will stiffen and become pointy, so don’t be surprised if your pup has floppy ears. It’s entirely normal for newborn chihuahuas to have limp, floppy ears.
For newborn puppies, floppy ears at birth are caused by a lack of muscle. Their ears haven’t had the time to stiffen and develop the muscles necessary to hold up their ears. It will take time to develop these muscles, and even then, their ears may stay floppy even while they’re still developing.
Some chihuahua puppies will have floppy ears even at 10 weeks old, while others’ ears should start becoming erect. This is usually when the development process will begin, though, so you can expect their ears start to perk up. This process can last up to six months, so if your chihuahua still has floppy ears after six months, then the cause may lie somewhere else.
2. They’re Teething
Did you know that chihuahuas lose their baby teeth, and sometimes their ears droop? Between about four months old and six months old, chihuahuas will go through a teething phase and prepare for their adult teeth. Surprisingly, this process can have an effect on how floppy or pointy a chihuahua’s ears are.
It’s possible that your chihuahua will have pointy ears before the teething phase, only for their ears to become floppy when they start teething. Don’t worry, though. If this is the case, then more often than not, their ears will perk back up once their teeth have come in.
Why does teething affect their ears, though? While chihuahuas are teething, they chew a lot. Just like human babies, chewing helps ease the teething process. However, chewing so much means that the muscles in their jaws are working overtime. Both their ears and jaw muscles become weak during this time, so their ears are no longer able to hold themselves up.
3. They Aren’t Fully Chihuahua
Maybe your breeder swore up and down that your puppy was 100% chihuahua, but if their ears don’t stand up, it can be a sign that they’re a mix of some sort. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can make it difficult if you planned on showing your pet in dog competitions, as perky ears are a required trait.
Even how they breed chihuahuas, genetics play a huge role in the perkiness of your chihuahuas ears, believe it or not. Perky ears are an iconic characteristic of chihuahuas and when a pup has traces of another breed in their genetics, they may not grow and develop pointy ears, or they may come from a line of floppy-eared chihuahuas.
If you’re dead set on having a full grown chihuahua with ears that are perky, it’s best to look for a breeder that offers a guarantee and can promise their ears will stand. The best breeders will be able to tell you if a puppy’s ears will stand up, though there are some cases where even purebred puppies don’t have perfectly pointed ears.
4. They’re Genetically Inclined to Floppy Ears
As mentioned above, even some purebred chihuahuas have floppy ears. This simply cannot be helped and affects about 10% of all purebred chihuahuas. Although it isn’t a common trait, it is possible that somewhere in your chihuahua’s lineage, they received a floppy ear gene. So if you have a purebred chihuahua with floppy ears, you should definitely expect it!
If your full grown chihuahua is predisposed to floppy ears, then there may not be anything wrong with them. If you get a chihuahua born with floppy ears, it doesn’t always mean there’s a problem with them. You can talk to the breeder to learn more about your dog lineage to determine if it’s possible that your chihuahua may just have genetically floppy ears or if the problem lies elsewhere.
In some cases, breeders or dog owners may breed their chihuahua puppies specifically so that they have floppy ears. If this is the case, they’ll likely tell you ahead of time so you know that you’ll get a full grown floppy-eared pet.
5. It’s a Trait of Domestication: Domestic Syndrome
Through domestication, or Domestic Syndrome, certain aspects and traits change, even in chihuahuas. As wolves and wild dogs were domesticated, the number of neural crest cells (NCCs) lowered, which affects the ear cartilage in dogs.
Before this, dogs needed to be alert, which meant having strong ear cartilage that could alert them to danger, like how wolves survive in the wild. It helped with their fight or flight instinct, but these days, this instinct is less strong, and NCCs are lower. Lower NCCs mean that dog ears may be a bit floppier and may be due to domestic syndrome, but it’s more because domesticated dogs don’t need the extra cartilage to key them into danger.
Lower NCCs also mean lower adrenaline, as the two are directly related. Chihuahua with floppy ears is just a sign that they have fewer NCCs, have less adrenaline, and are less stressed. While floppy ears may not be viewed as a good thing by some people, no one wants their pup to feel stressed and anxious all the time.
6. They Have an Unhealthy Diet
Diet can play a role in full grown chihuahua ears. Make sure whatever food you’re giving your chihuahua is full of nutrients that help their joints, skin, and cartilage. It’s important for them to have a good diet even before they’re born, which is why you want to make sure your breeder is gently caring for their dogs and feeding their puppies nutritious dog food while they breed them.
Some things to avoid are artificial coloring, refined grains, corn, and rice. Some things to look for are fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Your chihuahua will need about 200 calories per day, so make sure they’re getting this from high-quality food sources. Even if your dog’s diet doesn’t change their ears, ensuring they get good nutrition is important for their health and happiness.
Tips To Know for Owners of Chihuahuas Born with Floppy Ears
If your chihuahua has floppy ears, this isn’t a bad thing! While most chihuahuas do have upright ears that stand straight up, chihuahua with floppy ears doesn’t always mean there’s a health issue or problem with your puppy. In some cases, it may mean your pup is less anxious, thanks to adaption and genetics.
When it comes to owning chihuahuas with floppy ears, there can be a lot of misinformation about caring for or “fixing” your dog’s ears. To avoid accidentally harming your dog, here are two tips to know about your little floppy-eared friend.
1. Do Not Crop Their Ears
Cropping is done on some dog breeds to make their ears stick up. It involves cutting the outer ear flap and is typically done when the puppies are still little. Terriers, pinschers, Great Danes, and Dobermans are just a few breeds where it’s common practice to crop the ears of puppies.
Although ear cropping is legal in the US for some breeds, it’s really harmful and traumatic for your dog. Even when done by a professional, cropping chihuahua ears will be painful and scary for your puppy. If you want a perky eared chihuahua, it’s best to simply find a breeder who ensures their puppies have perky and straight ears.
Cropping is only done to serve cosmetic purposes and has no health benefits for your chihuahua. However, cropping can have serious consequences. There’s always a risk that the procedure has complications, and your dog may get an infection, experience increased sensitivity in the area, or suffer from constant pain. In some cases, their ears may end up needing to be amputated.
2. Care for Their Ears
Every dog breed needs to be cared for, and this extends to their ears. Even chihuahuas with perky ears need regular inspections to ensure there isn’t any wax or dirt stuck that could lead to an ear infection. If your chihuahua has floppy ears, though, you’ll need to pay extra attention.
To help prevent ear infections that lead to floppy ears, clean the outside and around the ears of your chihuahua. Never clean the inside of their ear as you may hurt them or damage their eardrum.
Because floppy ears tend to have more folds where bacteria and mites can hide, floppy eared chihuahuas are more prone to ear infections. Signs that your chihuahua may have an ear infection include excessive scratching, constantly shaking their head, or any visual abnormalities. If you think your chihuahua may have one ear infection or both, take them to the vet.
How to Get a Chihuahua Ears to Stand and Not Stay Floppy?
Do chihuahua ears stay floppy? If your chihuahua has floppy ears and you want to make them stand up, it is possible, but it’s strongly discouraged. Unless your puppy is very young, trying to force their ears stand up can hurt your dog. There’s also no perfect solution or guaranteed method to help you get its ears stand upright and not remain floppy, so it’s not worth the pain you’ll cause them.
One of the commonly used methods by many breeders is taping. When a chihuahua pup is about six months old, the breeder uses medical tape to wrap the puppy’s ear and force them into an upright position. The two ears are then connected with a piece of tape to help keep them standing up and achieve successful breeding.
The taping process lasts about a week and is meant to help strengthen the ear muscles of your chihuahua. This needs to be done when they’re young, though, or the process is less likely to work.
Even when done on young puppies, taping is not a guaranteed method. You or the breeder may arrange the taping at the ideal time and in the perfect position for breeding, but your pup may just be destined to have floppy ears. Instead of getting frustrated and turning to more painful and damaging methods, it’s best to accept your chihuahua as it is. Like people, chihuahuas are happiest when someone isn’t trying to constantly change something about their appearance.
2. Calcium Supplements
Some people try to give their chihuahuas calcium supplements as calcium is believed to help the cartilage develop and strengthen. Although this method is based solely on theories, many people still try it in an attempt to help their chihuahua pet’s ears perk up.
Be careful about how much calcium levels you give your chihuahua. Too much can increase their risk of diseases such as hip dysplasia.
3. Massaging Their Ears
One method that is less damaging and more soothing for your chihuahua is an ear massage. Also, based solely on theory, the idea surrounding this method is that the massage will increase blood flow to their ears and help encourage cartilage development. Some veterinarians say that massaging your dog’s ears will have the opposite effect, though.
4. Reduce Stress
Chihuahuas are very anxious dogs, and unfortunately, high stress can cause developmental problems. When you first get your puppy, do your best to reduce stress and anxiety. During the developmental months of your puppy’s life, keeping stress as low as possible can encourage proper development and, in turn, increase the chances of your dog having upright ears.
Although chihuahuas are known for their pointy ears upright, some are just naturally going to have floppy ears. Whether this is caused by their genetics or their environment, it’s not something you can always control. Trying to change your chihuahua to have pointy ears can be stressful for your dog. So if you do find yourself with a floppy eared pet, it’s best to accept your floppy eared chihuahua they are rather than put them through the stress and pain of trying to achieve perfect, perky and upright ears.