Why Some Chihuahuas Have Floppy Ears

The Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world and makes a fearless, devoted companion. While they originated in Mexico, they are well-loved around the world for their affectionate and terrier-like temperament. Although the Chihuahua’s large, soulful eyes are certainly a striking feature, their upright ears garner more attention. When adopting a Chihuahua, many people hope for the characteristic large, upright ears, yet some Chihuahuas grow up with floppy ears. Although these floppy-eared Chihuahuas are undoubtedly just as adorable, you probably wonder why some of them have upright ears while others don’t.

There are many reasons your Chihuahua could have floppy ears, such as diet and genetics. Keep reading to learn more.

Reasons For Floppy Ears

It may come as a surprise to you, but all Chihuahuas have floppy ears during their developmental years. As these puppies grow up and mature, their ears gradually become upright, but some Chihuahuas may still have floppy ears. Some of these factors are not within your control, and you cannot ensure your Chihuahua’s ears will become upright with age. Some reasons why your Chihuahua has floppy ears could be:


Most puppies are born with floppy ears, and the muscles responsible for upright ears develop gradually. Newborn Chihuahuas need time for their muscles to fully mature and develop. As your puppy grows up, growth in other parts of the body is rapid, which is why 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, it is likely that 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. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. For most Chihuahua puppies, their ears gain an upright appearance around ten weeks of age.

Regardless of where you adopt your Chihuahua puppy from, their ears will still be curled at the end or only slightly straight if they are below 10 weeks of age. In this case, it is best not to worry since the ears will stand straighter with age.


If your Chihuahua is less than six months of age, they could be going through the teething process. This is when a Chihuahua loses its baby teeth and develops stronger adult teeth. Similar to human babies, this process can be uncomfortable for your Chihuahua. They will try to relieve the discomfort and itching by chewing on objects around the house. It is best that you always keep teething toys for your puppy to chew on.

There are two main reasons your Chihuahua’s ears become floppy during the teething process. Firstly, your Chihuahua is overworking his jaw muscles, causing the muscles to relax. Since the jaw muscles are connected to the ears, the ears muscles can also relax, causing the ears to flop down. As your puppy regrows her teeth and stops overworking her 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 due to the lack of calcium. Despite this, it is not recommended you give your puppy calcium supplements. 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 important for many reasons, including the development of your puppy’s ears. The ears include muscles and cartilage, which require ample protein to develop fully. Commercial dog foods generally lack a good balance of the 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 who are in their developmental years. Stressors can be external or internal, meaning some dogs have a predisposition to feel stressed/anxious more often. From what we know, floppy ears are an indication of fear, stress, and anxiety in pets.Due to their small size, Chihuahuas can easily become scared of larger dogs.

Chihuahuas also have an alert and active nature, which makes them great watchdogs. These tendencies can make dogs prone to stress and anxiety. Keep an eye on your Chihuaua and observe carefully if she 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

Another reason your Chihuahua could have floppy ears is because he might be struggling with an illness. Ear tumors, fungal infections, ear polyps, and dermatitis of the ear are all illnesses that can cause your Chihuahuas ears to droop. When adopting or buying a Chihuahua puppy, inquire about any hereditary issues or illnesses.

If your Chihuahua is an adult but her ears are still floppy, consult your veterinarian. In case your pet’s ears are generally upright but they flop suddenly, have her ears checked by the vet.


There is a general misconception that purebred Chihuahuas always have upright ears. However, this is not the case and many purebred Chihuahuas also grow up with floppy ears. Some people think that Chihuahuas with floppy ears are actually crossbreeds. This is not true since there are various Chihuahua crossbreeds with upright ears. It is also a possibility 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. In any case, the uprightness of your Chihuahua’s ears doesn’t play any part in her role as a companion.


Recent studies show that dogs descended from the gray wolf and were domesticated about 130,000 years ago. While wolves have erect ears, modern day dogs do not share many characteristics with them. This is due to years of selective breeding which led dogs to develop their unique characteristics. Many modern ay dogs, such as poodles and Great Danes, have little in common with their wolf ancestors. This also applies to the shape of the ears.

Wolves are hunters by nature and need their large, upright ears to effectively hunt their prey. 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 have the need to hunt, they don’t have as many neural crest cells.

Individual Differences

Just like us, all dogs are unique and have their own characteristics. There are many purebred Chihuahuas with one or two floppy ears. If you are concerned about your pup’s health, this is nothing to worry about. Regardless of breeder guarantees and perfect pedigree, your puppy can still have floppy ears. Breed standards only serve to 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

In case 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 upright ears so keep 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 right nutrients for your growing puppy.

If you would like to feed your puppy kibble, opt for a high-quality formula that contains natural ingredients and an abundance of 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 tape down the ears in an upright position. Many believe that this can “train” the ear muscles to stay in an upright position. The process lasts a week, by the end of which a Chihuahua’s ears should up straight.

There is no evidence that taping a Chihuahua’s ears actually works. Some Chihuahuas will not tolerate the process and try to scratch it off. They could even injury themselves in the process. 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 an adult to be on the safe side.

Reduce Stress

Due to their breed’s psychology and alert nature, Chihuahuas are prone to experiencing stress. While you cannot completely 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, floppy ears can increase the risk of ear infections so clean your pet’s ears regularly. If your Chihuahua loves swimming, ensure you clean and dry the ears. Floppy ears can block air flow, 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 completely normal for Chihuahuas to have floppy ears despite the popular belief that all purebred Chihuahuas have floppy ears. At the end of the day, nothing matters more than the bond you share with your four-legged companion.

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