Dogs With Floppy Ears - Floppy-Eared Dog Breeds
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Dogs with floppy ears are particularly adorable companion animals. They have their own challenges, especially in terms of aural hygiene, but their cuteness is undeniable. The reason for their floppy glory is due to selective breeding which has encouraged this physical trait. It has resulted in some breeds having ears so long they can droop down to the ground. Some of them can even trip over their droopy ears with their front paws.
At AnimalWised, we share the top 15 dogs with floppy ears. We not only share the names of these floppy-eared dog breeds, but we explain why their ears are so long, provide fun facts about each breed and show photos so you can see their cuteness for yourself.
What are floppy-eared dog breeds?
Dog breed standardization has led to domestic canines being categorized by various criteria. Most of the official categorizations are due to size and their working ability. However, there are many more less formal criteria which can be grouped together. Ear size and shape is an important trait when creating a breed standard. Floppy-eared dog breeds are dogs with long ears that droop down, although some are longer than others.
Selective breeding has led to long and droopy ears being seen as desirable traits in various breeds. This occurred by naturally genetic mutations being encouraged through breeding. A dog with naturally floppy ears was bred with another which had similar long ears. After many generations, we can find these floppy-eared dog breeds, some of which have ears that drag on the ground.
The is even some fascinating research as to why domestic dogs can have floppy ears, but wild canids such as wolves do not. Geneticists have discovered that this physical difference is thanks to neural crest cells, a type of stem cell important for fetal development. By breeding dogs which are less wild and more likely to tolerate domestication, these new dogs had less crest cells and various physical traits were the result, including floppy ears.
Such breeding has resulted in the following top 15 dogs with floppy ears:
- Basset Hound
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- St. Hubert Jura Hound
- English Cocker Spaniel
- Great Dane
- Gordon Setter
- English Springer Spaniel
- Labrador Retriever
- English Bulldog
- Shih Tzu
Keep reading to learn more about each of these beautiful floppy-eared dogs and see photos and videos of each to know what they look like.
1. Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is a French dog breed which is known for its beautiful, but forlorn look. Not only is it a flop`py-eared dog breed, but their entire face is droopy and gives them an adorable ‘hangdog’ appearance. Although a type of French dog breed, they truly gained their popularity once they were imported to England in the 19th century. Despite having long drooping ears and relatively short legs, Basset Hounds are adept at hunting.
A Basset Hound's long ears are known as ‘leathers’, due to their texture and appearance. Although giving them a beautiful look, they do not come without health risks. All dogs need regular ear cleaning, but Basset Hounds especially so. Without regular hygiene, they can easily become infected with bacteria, mites and other pathogens. They are also prone to eye diseases such as cherry eye and skin problems.
Another small scent hound with floppy ears is the Beagle. Although not quite as floppy as their Basset Hound cousin, these dogs share many similarities. One of the most important for potential guardians is their temperament. Both Beagles and Basset Hounds have a very gentle demeanor and are amazing dogs for children. However, they can be very stubborn. They crave obedience and training, so you will need to provide plenty of interaction if you want a peaceful coexistence.
You can learn how to differentiate between these two similar dogs with floppy ears by checking out our comparison video below:
As they are noted for their particular wooly coat, it can be easy to forget that Poodles are also one of the most popular dogs with floppy ears. While there are different types of Poodle according to size, they all have proportionately long and floppy ears. All combined, this gives them a particularly elegant stature. However, we must not forget they are also one of the most intelligent dog breeds and need proper cognitive stimulation to be happy.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
We continue our list of dogs with droopy ears with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It is no coincidence many of these dogs with floppy ears are tied to the United Kingdom. It appears as if floppy ears are a trait which has been greatly appreciated and encouraged by many British breeders. This includes King Charles II. He had a beloved Spaniel breed on which these modern dogs are based.
These dogs are particularly loving and considered a lapdog. They do not make good working dogs, but they can be very loving companions. They do need proper socialization to avoid behavioral problems which can be related to insecurity. Learn more with our guide to socializing puppies and adult dogs.
5. St. Hubert Jura Hound
As you can see in the photo below, the St. Hubert Jura Hound is a large dog with floppy ears, much larger than most. They can weigh over 110 lb (50 kg), but they are no brute. They are wonderfully kind and affectionate dogs with a gentle and patient character. Originating in Belgium, their long ears cover their face to give a similar appearance to the Basset Hound with which they share similar origins.
6. English Cocker Spaniel
Another English dog with floppy ears, the English Cocker Spaniel is one of the cutest and most adorable droopy dogs. They can present in coats with various colors, but their fur is silky smooth. This makes their ears especially pleasant to pet, as long as the dog is comfortable and you have a good bond.
Fortunately, the Cocker Spaniel lives for their guardians and wants to please them. This is to such an extent that they hate to be alone and can be a dog breed prone to separation anxiety. We can avoid this by providing plenty of attention when we are around and ensuring they have a properly enrich environment when we are not.
7. Great Dane
The largest breed of dog with floppy ears is also the largest of all dog breeds. The Great Dane is an imposing dog in physical stature, but one of the goofiest, loving and calmest in terms of personality. Although we will need plenty of space to accommodate their large size, they are very calm when the are indoors. They will plenty of opportunity to go outside, but they are very affectionate and kind animals.
Unfortunately, their large size means they are prone to various ailments. These are especially related to their musculoskeletal system, so they have to be exercised regularly and wisely.
8. Gordon Setter
Sticking the British Isles, but making our way up to Scotland, we have thew Gordon Setter. This beautiful floppy-eared dog breed is black and tan with a silky coat similar in texture to the English Cocker Spaniel. They were typically used a s a gundog in the UK, but have since become very popular as a companion animal. They are alert and confident, but require plenty of stimulation to avoid behavioral problems. They can be naturally wary of strangers, but fiercely loyal to their guardians.
Although these dogs have naturally floppy ears, there are health problems which can cause a dog ear to droop. Learn more with our article on why my dog has one floppy ear.
9. English Springer Spaniel
Another breed of English dog, the English Springer Spaniel is known for their loyalty and great working ability. As with many of these dogs with floppy ears, they need plenty of physical and mental attention. As you can see in the photo below, their ears are large and need to be well maintained, especially since they should spend a lot of time outside exercising. We need to be particularly careful with ticks and other parasites if they spend time in long grass.
Learn this hygiene maintenance with our step-by-step guide to cleaning your dog's ears.
One of the smallest floppy-eared dog breeds, the Dachshund is commonly known as the sausage dog thanks to its long body like a sausage link. They also have little legs which means their droopy ears are even closer to the ground than some of these breeds.
Although small, Dachshunds have big personalities. They are incredibly lovely when properly socialized and always ant to play. They can be happy to spend some time on their own, but they will bond strongly with their guardians, so they need to be well stimulated. Learn more with our guide to the most popular German dog breeds, as well as the video we share below.
11. Labrador Retriever
Originating in Canada, this dog with floppy ears is also one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. A real dog's dog. They are intelligent, active and calm in temperament, meaning they can fit into almost any type of family. This doesn't mean they don't need attention or care like any other dog. It just means they will respond to the love they get by returning it with dividends.
A medium-sized and robust dog, the Labrador Retriever is very strong. Their double coat means they can brave colder weather, but they can be happy in almost any climate. Their ears need general maintenance and we need to be particularly observant for the diseases most common to Labrador Retrievers.
12. English Bulldog
As their name suggests, the English Bulldog comes from the United Kingdom. They have a gentle and calm demeanor, but they are most often noted for their particular body shape. This includes a squat body, shortened snout and stumpy legs. It also includes floppy ears which frame their pugnacious face, as you can see in the photo below. This distinct facial look is due to the fact they are one of the most common brachycephalic dog breeds.
In terms of temperament, this lop-eared dog is determined and sometimes territorial. This is related to their past history of use in dog fighting, a practice which is thankfully illegal in the UK. However, since this time, they have developed into a very sweet-natured animal, as long as they are well socialized and given the right levels of attention and exercise.
13. Shar Pei
We continue with our top 15 dogs with floppy ears by including a dog known more for its skin folds than its floppy ears. Not as long as some of the lop-eared dog breeds on our list, the wrinkliest of all dogs does have floppy ears. Originating in China, this dog was bred for various skills, being used as hunting dogs, guard dogs and herding dogs in their time. Despite such versatility as a working dog, the Shar Pei truly gained its popularity as a companion animal, especially after being introduced to the United States during the mid-20th century.
Although the Shar Pei's beautiful skin folds are a characteristic trait which is encouraged by breeding, it is also a source of concern over their health. Bacteria, fungi and other pathogens can ensconce themselves in these folds and proliferate infections. This can be exacerbated by the copious amounts of sebum this breed tends to produce. For this reason, it is not only the ears of the Shar Pei we need to clean thoroughly, we need to ensure all of their coat is properly maintained.
The origins of the Dalmatian remain obscure and are almost completely unknown to us. There are of course various hypotheses, supported by depictions in Croatian frescoes dating from the 17th century It was during this time that the breed gained popularity through their employment as a coachman's dog. The automobile replacing horse-drawn carriages, and consequently leading to the disappearance of coachmen. The popularity of the Dalmatian followed suit.
Fortunately, their beautiful appearance and kind temperament meant they found greater popularity as a companion animal. This popularity skyrocketed thanks to Disney's film 101 Dalmatians, a classic animation which remains popular today. This spotted dog breed you can see in the photo below has a lot of energy, so they need to be adopted by an equally active family for them to have a harmonious home life.
Dalmatians are often the most recognizable dog breed with spots, but they are not the only one. Learn more with our guide to the 17 best spotted dogs breeds.
15. Shih Tzu
To complete our list of the top 15 dogs with floppy ears we have one of the smallest, the Shih Tzu. Although they originate in Tibet, they have become widely popular all across the world. They are particularly adored by the French, but their popularity has grown considerably in the United States. They are a very intelligent and affectionate animal which will make the best playmate for almost any type of family.
Like the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu is considered a scared dog in Tibetan culture. One of the oldest dog breeds in the world, they have long been found in Buddhist monasteries and temples, although they were also a fond member of many royal families. They are particularly predisposed to human company, so it is very important we spend a lot of time with time and provide as much affection as possible.
In addition to caring for their long floppy ears, we also need to tend to their beautiful shiny hair. This means lots of regular brushing to avoid tangles and ensuring we wipe tear stains and other areas which can get dirty easily.
If you want to read similar articles to Dogs With Floppy Ears - Floppy-Eared Dog Breeds, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
1. Wilkins, A. S., Wrangham, R. W., & Fitch, W. T. (2014). The "domestication syndrome" in mammals: a unified explanation based on neural crest cell behavior and genetics. Genetics, 197(3), 795–808. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.114.165423