My wife and I recently purchased our fourth German Shepherd. Two have passed, and we have one who is 11-years-old. Our previous puppies’ ears stood up at about two to three months, but our new addition turns four months tomorrow, and her ears still droop. We feed her a brand of puppy chow, she has had all her shots, and is otherwise healthy. Is this a normal progression, or do some dogs take longer to develop?
— Bruce, Las Vegas, Nevada
A German Shepherd puppy’s ears’ can take up to six months to stand erect, and generally occurs sometime after teething. You are still well within that time frame for it to happen naturally. Her ears may be a little further apart on her head compared to your other dogs, which may contribute to the slower progression. Too much play with other dogs and too much head petting by you and your family can also break down the cartilage some and keep the ears from standing erect.
For now, I wouldn’t worry too much, but I suggest visiting your veterinarian between her fifth and sixth month to discuss options. Your veterinarian may recommend taping her ears at this point to help things along. You can also add a teaspoon of cottage cheese or plain yogurt to her food daily to provide a little extra calcium, which helps in the formation of cartilage.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal