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Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: Reader question on dogs and upright ears

Dr. Ryan Llera and puppy patient, Wallace, who is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi like the one our reader is asking about. Photo via Ryan Llera.

This week, I’m answering a reader-submitted question regarding her Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy and his ears not standing upright.

Hello!

My name is Natalie and I have a six-and-a-half-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He was re-homed to us from a lovely family in Kitchener, who made the difficult choice to put the dog first after they realized they didn’t have time for him. When I got him at four months, his ears were both floppy, likely due to the low grade food they had him on. It was about two weeks later one ear was fully standing all of the time.

Now fast forward, we have tried tape training the other ear, providing him with ample chews to grow his jaw muscle, cottage cheese as a snack, and tons of play time and ear massages.

Recently, he’s been neutered so we stopped the ear training while he heals, and he actually has a nasty UTI that he’s being treated for. We noticed shortly after his neuter the other ear has begun falling?! Sometimes he wakes up full beagle-eared. When he came home from his neuter his ears were both erect and stayed like that for hours. I honestly think he’s lazy and is doing it to spite me. Could it still be fixed this late into puppyhood? Why is the other one starting to fall all of a sudden? I’ve begun ear training both of them now, as I don’t want the cartilage that he built up in the one that stays up to weaken. Could it have been the infection that we didn’t know he had? Or the antibiotics? He also as little bumps on the tips of his ears and sometimes little bumps on the inside of the ear and wasn’t sure if that could be related?

His lineage is unclear due to being rehomed. A breeder mentioned that she knew his father and that health testing would’ve been done, but mentioned nothing of the lineage. She did not know his mother. I love him either way, but want to make sure that he’s healthy and this isn’t a sign of something else going on! He’s being fed Boreal red meat currently, as the more ‘high-end’ food (he was on Fromm) made him vomit. He also gets Omega-3s daily.

Thanks so much,

Natalie


Hi Natalie, and thank you for your question,

Corgis are wonderful dogs and certainly unique characters. You are not alone in your questions about the ears and people have had similar questions regarding other breeds with upright ears, such as German Shepherds. In all likelihood, there is no medical problem behind this, and many dogs with upright ears can go through phases even during the course of a day. Some of the basis behind this is due to genetics and, without knowing much about the parents, you might be stuck.

The working theory is that as dogs are teething, there is often some floppiness to the ears as the demand for calcium or other growth factors are being utilized elsewhere. However, I would NOT supplement with additional calcium or other supplements that are not specifically recommended by your veterinarian, as too much of a good thing could be harmful, even toxic. Most puppy foods have everything a growing pup needs without further supplementation. In many cases, after all the adult teeth are in, the ears will be standing upright.

This is also not a result from him being on any medications or from an infection itself. Without seeing the bumps, it’s hard to say what they are or are caused by, but again unlikely to be affecting the ear cartilage.

You mention doing some ear training and it can be quite common for people to use some light tape or mole foam to try and help the ears stand upright for a few days at a time. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as it’s applied properly and does not damage the ear (too tight, too adhesive).  And surely he’s not doing it out of spite, even with those quirky corgi personalities.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the majority of ears will stand upright in these breeds and if they don’t it is very unlikely there is an underlying medical condition, just a cosmetic appearance.


If there’s something you’ve often wondered or questions you have about regarding pets, let us know by email at [email protected].

*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.


Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at www.DRRYANLLERA.com, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.

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