Have you ever wondered why basset hounds, spaniels, and bloodhounds have long, droopy ears? Or why the pit bull, cane corso, and Doberman pinscher have cropped ears? The answers might surprise you as there are several types of dog ears that all serve different purposes. Humans have experimented with crossbreeding dog breeds for years to create the perfect hunting dog, guard dog, companion, herding dog, and more! These experiments have resulted in varied species with different coat colors, body sizes, traits, and even ear shapes.
So, if you want to know why your dog has button, prick, rose, or V-shaped ears, continue reading about the 10 types of dog ears and why they are important.
1. Prick Ears
Pricked ears usually stand at attention, pointing upwards. These erect types of dog ears are generally seen on wolf-like dogs such as Siberian huskies, German shepherds, Alaskan malamutes, Samoyeds, and Belgian Malinios. However, smaller dog breeds like the Norwich terrier, Yorkshire terrier, and West Highland white terrier also have pricked ears.
Upright, pointed ears tend to give these breeds an alert and intelligent look, which is why people are so attracted to dogs with prick ears. However, not all of these erect ears are natural; some owners have their dog’s ears cropped through cosmetic surgery in breeds such as Great Danes, Doberman pinschers, and Stafford terriers, which have natural floppy or semi-erect ears.
2. Blunt-Tip Ears
Blunt-tip dog ears were bred from the prick shape, and several dogs have them, like chow chows and French bulldogs. Therefore, this ear shape is very similar to prick ears, with one main difference; instead of the tops being pointed, they have a smooth curve.
3. Button Ears
Button dog ears might sound small and round, but they are very similar to semi-pricked ears. However, instead of their ears bending at the tip, the fold is elongated and covers a larger portion of the ear. So, why is their name so misleading? Well, these ears were named after the shape of button folds on pocket shirts.
You can find these ears on multiple dog breeds including fox terriers, pugs and Parson Russell terriers. However, pugs have two types of ears, button and rose ears. Terriers were specifically bred to have button ears because they are hunting dogs, and the shape helps protect their ears when digging through tunnels to find their prey.
4. Rose Ears
Rose ears are technically erect, but they are distinguished by the skin folding backward, which results in the end of the pinna falling to the side. Therefore, the name of these ears was derived from the folds resembling rose petals. There are numerous dog breeds with this ear shape, but they are primarily associated with several sighthounds. These dogs are also called gazehounds; they hunt by sight and speed instead of using endurance and scent, and they include greyhounds, whippets, and Italian greyhounds.
5. V-Shaped Ears
V-shaped dog ears are generally the ears that kids would draw when trying to recreate a picture of a dog. The pinnas of these ears are flat, and the folds bend forward into a triangular shape with soft edges. Therefore, the best examples of breeds with V-shaped ears are vizslas, Labrador retrievers, and Dalmatians.
V-shaped ears are very similar to folded ears. However, slight differences in the shape and the tip of the ears distinguish the two.
6. Bat Ears
The name bat ears is pretty self-explanatory, meaning the breed has ears that resemble bat ears. Therefore, they are large and erect and appear disproportionate to the dog’s head. Additionally, the bottom of these ears are broad; they are elongated and end with a rounded tip. Breeds with bat ears are the Australian cattle dog, Chihuahua, and corgi.
7. Cocked Ears
Cocked dog ears, also known as semi-erect ears, are neither erect nor pendant. Instead, they are upright with a slight kink at the top of the pinna. These appendages expose the ear canals, unlike other ears covering everything up, such as button ears.
One example of a breed with cocked ears is the border collie. However, other species include pit bulls, border collie mixes, and Shetland sheepdogs. The purpose of these ears is to remain alert and pick up on even the quietest sounds.
8. Drop Ears
Drop ears are shaped like a pendulum and hang down against the dog’s face. Surprisingly, breeders believe that these ears are associated with domestication. Interestingly, they evolved because domestic pets living in a secure home don’t need to be alert for self-protection. So these breeds slowly began to lose the tension in their ears, and they started to sag and eventually dropped altogether.
In fact, this theory was proven accurate during a “farm fox experiment” where foxes were bred based on calm temperaments, and their upright ears began to drop and became floppy. Additionally, the colors of their coats changed, as the foxes had no need to camouflage anymore. However, having drop ears only partially affects their hearing, and they can still hear most sounds humans can’t. Furthermore, these dogs were bred explicitly with drop ears because they are water dogs, and their ears prevent liquid from entering their ear canals.
Drop ears are attractive to most dog lovers as they make the breed appear puppy-like. Dogs with drop ears include Chesapeake Bay retrievers, beagles, and golden retrievers.
9. Folded Ears
Folded dog ears are similar to curtains, composed at the top, then dropping down to hang gracefully beside their faces. Therefore, they are similar to drop ears but not as flat as the basset hound’s ears. Breeds with folded ears include the bloodhound and field spaniel, which extend away from the face before folding down.
10. Candle Flame Ears
There is only one breed with these ears: the English toy terrier. While candle flame ears are similar to prick ears, they gently curve inward at the base and have small indents on the edges of the ear, making them appear flame-like. Additionally, these ears are named after their color, as they have light-colored hairs on the inside, very similar to a flame.
Why Do Dogs Get their Ears Clipped?
Ear cropping, also referred to as cosmetic otoplasty, is the procedure involving removing part of the dog’s pinna through surgery. Additionally, vets will brace or tape the remaining portion of the ear to preserve its cartilage and to keep it erect.
However, this procedure is only legal in certain states and is performed on puppies from the age of seven to 12 weeks. Doberman pinschers, cane corso, and American pit bull terriers are the most common breeds with cropped ears.
The reason ear cropping started was that people believed it would decrease than changes of ear infections. However, this theory was debunked as there is no clinical evidence to prove it works. Therefore this archaic procedure is purely cosmetic, and many vets, breeders, and owners are against ear cropping.
Summary of 10 Types of Dogs Ears
Here’s a recap of the 10 dog ear variations that we took a look at.
|Dogs With This Ear Type
|Siberian huskies, German shepherds, Alaskan malamutes, samoyeds, Belgian malinios, Norwich terriers, Yorkshire terriers, West Highland white terriers
|Chow chows, French bulldogs
|Fox terriers, Parson Russell terriers
|Greyhounds, Italian greyhounds, whippets
|Vizslas, Labrador retrievers, dalmatians
|Australian cattle dogs, corgis, Chihuahuas
|Border collies, border collie mixes, pit bulls, Shetland sheepdogs
|Chesapeake Bay retrievers, beagles, golden retrievers
|Bloodhounds, field spaniels
|Candle flame ears
|English toy terriers
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Juan Carlos Soto Pendas/Shutterstock.com
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How many types of dog ears are there?
There are ten types of dog ears, but they usually fall into three categories, sticky uppy, floppy, and half floppy.
What are Rosebud ears?
Rose ears are technically erect, but they are distinguished by the skin folding backward, which results in the end of the pinna falling to the side. Therefore, the name of these ears was derived from the folds resembling rose petals. There are numerous dog breeds with this ear shape, but they are primarily associated with several sighthounds. These dogs are also called gazehounds; they hunt by sight and speed instead of using endurance and scent, and they include the greyhound, whippets, and Italian greyhounds.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Dog Discoveries, Available here: https://dogdiscoveries.com/uncategorized/dog-ear-shapes-and-types
- K9ofmine, Available here: https://www.k9ofmine.com/types-of-dog-ears/
- Merck Manual, Available here: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/ear-disorders-of-dogs/ear-structure-and-function-in-dogs#:~:text=The%20outer%20ear%20includes%20the,move%20independently%20of%20each%20other.