My Chihuahua Has Floppy Ears
Animal file: Chihuahua
Breed standards are created to provide descriptions of an ideal example of a given dog breed. These break down the dog's physical characteristics into various criteria, including their ear size and shape. For the Chihuahua, the generally accepted breed standard (there are some variations) states the ears should be large, wide at the base and should stand erect. They may be allowed to fall to a 45º angle while at rest, but permanently lopsided ears are considered a breed fault. If your Chihuahua has floppy ears, does this mean there is something wrong with them?
At AnimalWised, we look into why my Chihuahua has floppy ears. We look at the causes of this issue and what to do about it if a problem arises.
Are Chihuahuas born with floppy ears?
Not only do Chihuahuas have floppy ears when they are born, but all dogs are born the same way. Since the puppy is still in their early developmental stages, their cartilage and bones need time to grow strong. Not all dogs will have floppy ears as this will be determined by their genetic inheritance.
For the Chihuahua, erect ears are to be expected, except for the reasons we detail below. For their ears to reach their full development, it can take between 5 to 8 months. This means, if your Chihuahua puppy has floppy ears before this time, it may simply mean they haven't stopped growing.
We should also note that the raising of a Chihuahua's ears is a progressive process. If you see your Chihuahua puppy has one floppy ear, you should know both ears don't usually ascend at the same time. If your Chihuahua still has one floppy ear or both ears floppy, then we need to look for other causes.
Chihuahuas are a variable dog breed. They can vary quite significantly in terms of size and appearance. Take a look at our article on the different types of Chihuahua for more information.
Reasons my Chihuahua's ears are floppy
Although the breed standard of Chihuahuas claims ears should be erect, there are many specimens with floppy ears. This doesn't always mean there is a problem. However, we should take the dog to a veterinarian to confirm the reason their ears aren't erect, especially if we see concurrent symptoms of a health problem. If your Chihuahua has floppy ears, it could be due to:
- Genetics: although the breed standard is very strict for canine competitions, there are natural variations in a dog's morphology. If a Chihuahua has parents with floppy ears, it is much more likely their ears will be floppy when they are adult.
- Mixed-breed: it is also possible the Chihuahua has floppy ears because they are a mixed-breed. Although we may think we have a purebred Chihuahua, it is possible they have some genetic inheritance from a non-Chihuahua parent, even if the only noticeable difference is floppy ears. We should note, however, that there are many purebred Chihuahuas with naturally floppy ears.
- Inadequate diet: when a dog doesn't receive the correct nutrients, they will develop various symptoms. Floppy ears could be due to poor nutrition as a puppy, meaning their development will be harmed. This can be life threatening.
- Otitis: if your dog has one floppy ear, but the other is erect, it is possibly due to otitis. This is a general term for inflammation of the ear and external otitis in dogs has various causes, including parasites, bacterial infection or even physical trauma. If both ears becomes floppy, it means the problem has spread to the other ear.
- Otohematoma: a collection of blood under the skin of the ear that can appear when the dog scratches itself intensely or hits different surfaces when shaking its head in an attempt to relieve itself. If left untreated, blood can be reabsorbed and the result will be an ear that will appear shrunken, deformed or bent. This can be irreversible, so it is essential we take them to a veterinarian once we first observe the problem.
- Fighting: although small, Chihuahuas are known for their bravery. If they are attacked by another dog, they will often defend themselves. Since they are the smallest dog breed, they can easily be injured by a larger dog. Injuries sustained in this fight can result in their ears no longer being erect.
- Ear mites: as stated above, parasites can be the reason why your Chihuahua's ear isn't standing up. Ear mites are the most common parasite to affect the ears. They can be due to poor hygiene or being too close to a dog with a mite infestation. It is a common reason why the Chihuahua tilts their head or is scratching their ear more than usual.
As we can see, it can be perfectly natural for your Chihuahua to have floppy ears. However, there is a difference between a Chihuahua always having floppy ears and a Chihuahua's ears suddenly being floppy. In the latter case, it implies there is a problem and they will need to be taken to the veterinarian immediately.
Should I straighten a Chihuahua's floppy ears?
When a Chihuahua has a pathological problem which causes their ears to become floppy, they need to be taken to a veterinarian. They will diagnose the cause and provide the appropriate course of treatment. This will vary according to the cause. For example, if a bacterial infection cause the ears to fall, antibiotic treatment if likely. If ear mites are the problem, the dog will need deworming treatment.
For Chihuahua's with naturally floppy ears, nothing should be done. Although breed standards state they should be erect, such standardization describes an ideal specimen. This does not mean individual Chihuahuas which don't meet this standard have anything wrong with them. In these cases, all we need to do is care for them and love them if we want them to have a happy and healthy life.
Although there is no medical problem with a Chihuahua, some guardians prefer the aesthetics of erect ears. They may even want to involve their dog in competitions, so they will use splints or bandages to force the ear to become erect. Some even look for surgery to straighten them. These processes are often very uncomfortable and used needlessly. It is the opposite of taping a dog's ears down, another often pointless pursuit.
The only time a dog's ears should be bound is if the veterinarian declares it is beneficial to their health. If the problem is merely an aesthetic preference, then the Chihuahua should be left alone. Chihuahuas with floppy ears are just as adorable as their erect-eared counterparts and should be loved for the beautiful dogs they are.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Chihuahua Has Floppy Ears, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.
- Carlson, & Giffin. (2002). Practical manual of canine veterinary medicine. Madrid. Editorial el Drac.
- Miguélez, Elices, Morán, & López. (2007). Corrective Otoplasty in Dogs, Argos, 93, 40-42.