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Our obession with ears

We all have "ear anxiety" at some point with German Shepherd Dog puppies. Our fear is that those lovable, floppy ears that look so cute on a puppy won't come up as the dog matures into an adult. A GSD's ears are an important element in the dog's look and big, erect ears really contribute to the breed's heroic, alert and mythic image.

I admit, I've succumbed to this worry and subjected a few puppies to all manner of ear supports from tape to foam rollers.But looking back over the years, I've never had a dog grow up with floppy ears. I know it happens, but it is far rarer than people think. Most people start worrying around the ages of 4-5 months. As long as the dog is in good health, the energy required for teething overrides the need for the ears to develop. Since this happens between 4 and 6 months, it is wise to be patient and not obsess over the ears at this stage.

Sometimes the ears come up, only to fall down again during this time - this is normal.Taping or gluing the ears is not harmful to the puppy, but it is better to wait until the pup has finished teething - usually around six months of age.

If the dog is otherwise healthy and the ears are still not standing after six months, taping the ears up is acceptable.

I prefer to use surgical glue with foam inserts but thin, white surgical tape works as well. You can use foam hair rollers after removing the hard plastic from the rollers.

After inserting the foam into the ear flap (not too far down) wrap the ear with tape into a tight roll. Then use a popsicle stick and attach it to the top of both ears in a horizontal position to hold the ears in place.

Expect your puppy to quickly tear the tape off at first. Before too long he will get used to it and leave them alone.Remove the tape every week to see if the ears stand on their own. Don't worry if they don't immediately stand - they may be weak at first.

If the pup's ears are still not up by 7 or 8 months, it is unlikely that they will come up.

The truth is, a German Shepherd Dog is still a great, loyal companion even with goofy, floppy ears. They may not be acceptable for the show ring, but they are still capable of working and fulfilling their role as your best friend.

The key is not to panic. Give the dog time and the vast majority of ears will stand proud.

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