When I was first in the market for a dog, I wanted a pup that was small, snuggly, fierce, and even a little stubborn. If you’ve ever come across a Yorkie, you know they fit the bill perfectly.
Once I got my lovely Yorkie, one of the things I kept struggling with was getting his little ears to stand up properly. Finally, one would stand, only for the other to flop down just a day later. Admittedly, it was pretty adorable to look at. But was it normal?
After hours of digging, I determined that, yes, floppy ears on a Yorkshire Terrier are perfectly normal. However, I was still interested in finding out if I could remedy the floppiness, so I kept digging. Here’s what I found.
Do Yorkie Ears Stand Up Naturally?
The American Kennel Club, or AKC, has pretty specific breed standards for all dog breeds, and Yorkies are no exception. Based on AKC standards, a Yorkie’s ears should be perky and pointy, with not a droop in sight.
If only all dogs could follow that rule. But of course, that’s not the case.
When Do Yorkie Ears Stand Up
I noticed my pup’s ears start to perk up at around four months, which is pretty typical for Yorkies. However, some Yorkies’ ears might not stand up fully until about 8 or 9 months, depending on various factors.
What really threw me off was when my little guy’s ears finally stood tall around 6 months. I thought that was that, but I was wrong.
Instead, they stayed that way for a few days before the right ear decided it’d had enough. So, we were left with the cute yet frustrating, single-ear droop.
Why Yorkie Ears Might Not Stay Up
Even though a Yorkie’s ears are supposed to stand up, genetics is the most common culprit when they don’t. However, DNA doesn’t always get the final say. There are a few other reasons you might experience droopy-ear woes that aren’t genetic at all.
I said genetics don’t always get the final say, but I didn’t say they’re never the cause. In fact, the likely reason your Yorkie’s ears are floppy could very well be that they’re simply predisposed to more floppy ears.
Even purebred pups might carry genes that could lead to floppy ears. Unfortunately, without genetic testing, you’ll only be able to trace their lineage back so far, especially if you purchase from a new breeder.
In most cases, there’s no way to know whether Grandma and Grandpa Yorkshire Terrier had AKC-approved ears or not.
If you’ve ever encountered a teething puppy (or baby, for that matter), you’ll know just how stressful it can be. Not only does it hurt when teeth are coming in, but dogs begin to mouth everything they can get their little teeth on to try and find some relief.
As a result, you’ll also see a noticeable uptick in nutritional demands around teething time.
Teething usually peaks around 4-8 months, so don’t be surprised if your puppy’s ears start to droop a bit around that time. This happens because the nutrients that would usually be directed to muscle and cartilage development are being redirected toward growing new teeth.
Fortunately, it’s temporary. It’s more than likely your dog’s ears will perk right back up once they get through the teething stage, and you won’t have anything else to worry about.
Your puppy’s diet is paramount to good health and proper development. Once your little guy gets weaned from Mama, he’ll be completely reliant on you to give him all the necessary vitamins and nutrients he needs to build strong muscles, cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Unfortunately, if your dog is missing essential nutrients in their diet, their muscle and cartilage development could suffer severely. Since muscle and cartilage are the key factors in whether ears stand up or not, you’ll need to make sure you’re giving your pup everything they need to grow.
What To Do If Your Yorkie’s Ears Won’t Stand Up
When your Yorkie’s ears are showing just as much stubbornness as your pup’s personality, there are a few things you can try to get the ears show-worthy. Most take minimal effort on your part and will help keep your puppy’s ears clear of any dirt that might build up.
Taping Yorkie Ears
The most common method of correcting floppy ears is to tape them. There’s no guarantee that taping a Yorkie’s ears will get them to stand upright, but it’s worth a shot if your dog has the temperament to tolerate tape on their ears. But it worked for my puppy, so I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot.
- Shave the top ⅓ of your dog’s ears (inside and out) very carefully. It might look a bit odd, but removing hair from the top will make the ear bottom-heavy. This will decrease the amount of weight their muscles need to hold up.
- Clean the entire ear. You’ll want to use a cleaning solution approved for use in a dog’s ears and take care not to enter the ear canal while cleaning. A cotton ball should be all you need to get the job done.
- Fold the ear closed vertically so it’s standing in a cone shape. It should have a point at the top with no overlap.
- Wrap each ear in gauze and secure it with tape at the bottom. You can use medical tape or regular Scotch tape. Then, use more tape to align the ears with each other.
- Leave the tape on for 3 days before checking to see if there’s any change. If you don’t notice a difference, allow the ear to relax for a day or two before re-taping, taking care to groom and clean in between tapings.
Don’t be concerned if you don’t see immediate results. Although some pups take to this process within one round, you might have to do it for a few weeks. We went through two rounds before seeing success.
Unfortunately, if you tape and re-tape for a month with little or no results, it might be time to accept your puppy’s floppy-eared future.
Another pain-free method you can try is to massage your puppy’s ears. Specifically, you’ll want to focus your massage on the base of the ears where the muscles are developing.
The goal is to help strengthen the muscles that cause the ears to stand up. It’s a simple process, and your pup will love it.
To give a proper ear massage, all you have to do is gently and firmly knead the muscles around the ear. You don’t need to push too hard, but just enough that you’re putting a bit of pressure on.
Then, wrap your hand around each ear and gently roll the ear around, almost like you’re moving a joystick. Yes, that might be an odd comparison, but it’s apt.
Repeat this process a few times. Don’t overdo it, though, because you don’t want to hurt your dog. If they show any signs of distress or discomfort, you should stop the massage. However, if you do the massage properly, your dog should relax and maybe even take a snooze in your lap.
Yorkshire Terrier hair can get very long. Even though they’re small dogs, that hair can add enough weight to their ears that they’ll struggle to stay upright. So, another trick you can try is simply keeping the hair trimmed short.
The areas you’ll want to focus on the most are the back and base of the ears. Removing that weight can help the muscles and cartilage hold the ear up. This is especially true if your Yorkie has very long hair.
Trimming your Yorkie’s ears isn’t complicated, and if you’re gentle, it shouldn’t bother them at all.
1. Using a #40 blade, shave off the hair inside your dog’s ears.
2. Get a fine-tooth comb and draw the hair on the back of the ear out as long as it can go.
3. Trim the hair to your desired length. Trim as short as possible for the best chance of helping the ears stand up.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that trimming your puppy’s ear hair will also help keep them healthy. Floppy ears can make it easier for dogs to develop mites or ear infections.
Keeping them free of hair removes a lot of areas where mites or bacteria can hide. In addition, it’ll make cleaning your Yorkie’s ears a breeze.
Cleaning Your Yorkie’s Ears
As mentioned earlier, cleaning your Yorkie’s ears, especially if they’re floppy, can help prevent certain infections and infestations from taking root. However, ears are delicate areas, both inside and out, so you should be careful when cleaning them.
All you’ll need to clean your puppy’s ears are cotton balls and a canine ear cleaning solution, which you can purchase at any pet shop. Having a handful of dry food or a few dog treats nearby can help keep your dog calm throughout the process.
Important: Do not use a cotton swab or Q-tip to clean your dog’s ears. Even if you have a steady hand, all it takes is one ill-timed head shake to accidentally cause an injury.
Once your dog is settled in your lap, gently pull back one ear and put a few drops of solution inside. The drops will go into the ear canal and soak into any wax or dirt that’s built up. If there are any other areas that look infected or injured, massage a bit of solution onto those areas, too.
(This is a good time for a treat since dogs generally don’t like drops in their ears)
Spread the solution throughout the ear using your thumb to massage it around. It’ll loosen any buildup, making it easier to clean out. Dab up any excess solution with a washcloth before proceeding.
Once you’ve spread the solution around, use a cotton ball to clean up the ear. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal. Instead, just swab gently around it.
Should Yorkies’ Ears Be Cropped?
Through my research, I’ve come across some people who’ve resorted to cropping their Yorkie’s ears to get that desired, pointy-eared look.
Don’t do this.
It’s unnecessary to crop your Yorkie’s ears simply because they won’t stand up. There are three very specific reasons for this.
- You can risk infection at the incision sites, complications from the anesthesia, and, more importantly, unnecessary pain.
- There are no health benefits to cropping the ears that can’t be easily found through other pain-free methods.
- It won’t help you in terms of showing your dog at shows.
If your primary concern is ear infections or dirty ears, you can simply make ear-cleaning part of your weekly routine. Treat the ears just as you would any other part of the dog’s body–an area that needs to be maintained but not changed.
I’ve gathered the most commonly asked questions about this topic. See the answers below.
Do all purebred Yorkies’ ears stand up?
Unfortunately, all purebred Yorkies’ ears don’t stand up on their own. Although it’s an AKC standard for the breed, it simply doesn’t happen in some cases.
How do you tell if a Yorkie is purebred?
Color is the key identifier for a purebred Yorkshire Terrier. Purebred Yorkies are born with a mix of black and tan fur. Specifically, a Yorkie’s eyebrows, mustache, ears, and the front of their legs will be brown. However, the black will shift toward a blue-black as they get older. Short of that, you’ll need to have your pup genetically tested.
How can you tell if a puppy’s ears will stand up?
The best way to find out how your dog’s ears will look is to call their name. If their ears perk up, they’ll likely stand up over time. Of course, this method isn’t foolproof, but it’s a good indicator.
Although one of a Yorkie’s most endearing characteristics is its ears, sometimes you won’t get that adorable pointy-eared look you want.
You can try the methods listed here to get the ears to stand up, but if they don’t work, you may have to accept that your Yorkie will have those cute floppy ears forever.