Despite being the smallest dog in the world, the Chihuahua makes a fearless and devoted companion. Their origins are in Mexico, but they are well-loved worldwide for their affectionate and terrier-like temperament. The Chihuahua’s large, soulful eyes are a striking feature, but their upright ears capture the imagination. When people consider bringing a Chihuahua into their home, many want one with those large, erect ears; yet some Chihuahuas grow up with floppy ears. Although these floppy-eared Chihuahuas are undoubtedly just as adorable, why do some Chihuahuas have upright ears while others don’t?
There are many reasons your Chihuahua could have floppy ears — diet and genetics, to name a couple; if you want to learn more about why some Chihuahuas have floppy ears and others don’t keep reading.
Reasons For Floppy Ears
It may surprise you, but all Chihuahuas have floppy ears when born. As these puppies grow and mature, their ears gradually become upright, but not for all of them. Some factors are not within your control, and there is no way to ensure that your Chihuahua’s ears will become upright with age. Following are some reasons why this may happen:
Most puppies are born with floppy ears, and the muscles responsible for upright ears develop gradually. Newborn Chihuahuas need time for their muscles and cartilage to mature and develop. As your puppy grows up, growth in other body parts is rapid, while it takes time for the facial muscles to develop fully. If you have a puppy, you are probably aware that they need smaller, softer kibble for the same reason. Since the muscles in their jaw and face are not strong enough yet, likely, the ear’s muscles are still under development.
Even if your Chihuahua is in his puppy years, his ears might still be floppy. It is also common for the ears to perk up and flop back down frequently. During the developmental years, the muscles around the ears may also spasm, which is perfectly normal. The ears of most Chihuahua puppies start to become upright around ten weeks of age.
Regardless of their origin, your puppy’s ears will still be curled at the end or only slightly straight before ten weeks old. In this case, it is best not to worry since the ears will straighten with age.
Chihuahuas less than six could be teething. Teething can be very uncomfortable, and your Chihuahua puppy will become an obsessive chewer to relieve the discomfort. If you have a teething puppy, it is always advisable to have lots of chew tows around for them.
Two main reasons your Chihuahua’s ears become floppy while teething. Firstly, your Chihuahuais overworking his jaw muscles, causing them to relax. Jaw muscles connect to the ears, so the ears relax as well. As your puppy regrows her teeth and stops overworking its jaw, the ears will start to perk up again.
Secondly, most of your puppy’s calcium reserves get directed to their teeth during the teething process. As a result, the ear muscles can become weak and floppy from the lack of calcium. Don’t give your puppy Calcium supplements during this time. As your puppy finishes teething, calcium levels will return to normal naturally. Giving your puppy Calcium supplements can cause health issues such as hip dysplasia.
A well-balanced diet is essential for many reasons, including ear development in your pup. The ears include muscles and cartilage, which require ample protein to develop fully. Commercial adult dog foods generally lack the balance of nutrients your puppy needs.
It is best to do your research and learn more about the best diet for your puppy. Generally speaking, puppies require a high amount of protein and healthy fats, such as Omega-3 and 6 Fatty acids, in their diet. The proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus is also essential for the healthy development of bones and muscles.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can cause many physical changes in dogs, especially for vulnerable puppies in their developmental years. Some dogs are predisposed to feel stressed/anxious more than others. From what we know, floppy ears indicate fear, stress, and anxiety in pets. Due to their small size, Chihuahuas are easily scared by larger dogs.
Chihuahuas also have an alert and active nature, making them excellent watchdogs. These tendencies can make dogs prone to stress and anxiety. Keep an eye on your Chihuahua to see if it shows signs like flopping of ears and licking her lips. These can indicate if your puppy is feeling anxious or stressed.
Diseases of The Ears
Struggling with illness is another reason your Chihuahua could have floppy ears. Ear tumors, fungal infections, ear polyps, and dermatitis of the ear are all illnesses that can cause your Chihuahua’s ears to droop. When adopting or buying a Chihuahua puppy, inquire about hereditary issues or diseases.
Consult your veterinarian if your adult Chihuahua has floppy ears. If your pet’s ears are generally upright but flop suddenly, have its ears checked by the vet.
There is a general misconception that purebred Chihuahuas always have upright ears, but this is not the case. Many purebred Chihuahuas also grow up with floppy ears. Some people think that Chihuahuas with floppy ears are crossbreeds. However, there are various Chihuahua crossbreeds with upright ears. It is also possible that your Chihuahua could come from a long line of floppy-eared ancestors.
If your Chihuahua’s upright ears are a priority to you, it is best to get a breeder guarantee. Remember that the uprightness of your Chihuahua’s ears plays no part in her role as a companion.
Recent studies show that dogs descended from the gray wolf and became domesticated about 130,000 years ago. Modern-day dogs do not share as many of the wolve’s characteristics as they once did. Selective breeding has shaped dogs with a unique set of features that we desired. Poodles and Great Danes have little in common with their wolf ancestors, including the shape of their ears.
Wolves are natural hunters and need their large, upright ears to hunt their prey effectively. Neural crest cells are responsible for an animal’s heightened sensory abilities and can dictate the amount of cartilage produced in the ears. Since domesticated dogs don’t need to hunt, they don’t have as many neural crest cells.
Just like us, all dogs have unique characteristics. There are many purebred Chihuahuas with one or two floppy ears. Generally, the erectness of your dog’s ears has nothing to do with its health. Regardless of breeder guarantees and perfect pedigree, your puppy can still have floppy ears. Breed standards only predict a dog’s characteristics and are not set in stone. If anything, your Chihuahua’s floppy ears make her stand out.
How To Fix Floppy Ears
If you want your Chihuahua to have the upright ears characteristic of the breed, you can try out these methods. There is no guarantee that they will give your Chihuahua erect ears, so bear that in mind. Procedures such as cropping are inhumane and unethical. You can opt for the following:
Organic Protein-Rich Diet
A high-quality, balanced diet is the best way to ensure the proper development of your canine companion. Dog food high in protein can aid the appropriate development of muscles and cartilage responsible for a Chihuahua’s upright ears. Avoid commercial dog foods since many are usually full of filler ingredients. A raw diet contains all the proper nutrients for your growing puppy.
If you would like to feed your puppy kibble, opt for a high-quality formula containing natural ingredients and abundant meat-based protein.
Breeders usually use this method to ensure Chihuahua puppies develop upright ears. When Chihuahuas are half a year old, breeders will use tape to cast the ears upright. Many believe that this can “train” the ear muscles to stay in an upright position. The process lasts a week, by which time the Chihuahua’s ears should be up straight.
No evidence proves that taping a Chihuahua’s ears will work. Some Chihuahuas will not tolerate the process and try to scratch it off, injuring themselves. It is best not to use this method and remove the tape immediately if your Chihuahua appears uncomfortable.
Massaging The Ears
Massaging the ears is either a big hit or miss. For some pet parents, it made their Chihuahua’s ears stand up, while it did not work for others. Some even claim that massaging the ears has an opposite effect; it can make your dog’s ears floppy. Some veterinarians even suggest that it can make the ear’s cartilage softer, leading to floppy ears. It is better to massage your Chihuahua’s ears when they have grown into adults to be on the safe side.
Due to their breed’s psychology and nature, Chihuahuas are prone to stress. While you cannot eliminate this factor, try to minimize it as much as possible. Maintain a routine, ensure your Chihuahua puppy gets enough exercise, and avoid bringing too many new people into the house at once. Chihuahua puppies can become scared and overwhelmed by too many new faces.
Taking Care of A Chihuahua With Floppy Ears
Chihuahuas with floppy ears have the same needs as any other breed: exercise, a well-balanced diet, and attention. However, droopy ears can increase the risk of ear infections, so clean your pet’s ears regularly. If your Chihuahua likes to swim, clean and dry the ears thoroughly. Floppy ears don’t get as much air flow as upright ears, increasing the chances of bacterial growth inside your pet’s ears.
A Chihuahua’s floppy ears are not a health concern in any way. It is commonplace for Chihuahuas to have floppy ears. Floppy ears cannot affect your bond with this loving, fierce, and loyal companion.