Chihuahuas with Floppy Ears: What To Know

Chihuahuas with Floppy Ears. Photo of a Chihuahua puppy seen from top with floppy ears.

Have you ever seen Chihuahuas with floppy ears? It’s much more common than you might think! Here’s everything you need to know about what it means, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

When they are puppies and still developing, Chihuahuas will be prone to have floppy ears. When they grow up, their ears will usually perk up into the triangles you’re used to seeing. Sometimes you will have a Chihuahua with floppy ears into the adult years, though. Reasons for floppy ears in Chihuahuas include genetics, diet, or stress. Some believe it’s a symptom of domestic syndrome.

Curious to understand what that all means for your puppy? Read on!

Reasons for a Chihuahua’s floppy ears

There are several suspected reasons for a Chihuahua’s floppy ears. It could be one of these or a combination of all of them. Your vet and breeder can often help you get a better sense of what is going on, too. As introduced, the main causes include:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Selective breeding
  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Domestic Syndrome

Age

Puppies will always have floppy ears at birth and throughout their first growing stages. Breeders and other puppy experts will be alarmed if a puppy was born with stand-up ears! As they mature, this floppy ear will disappear. It’s actually a sign of maturity in most puppies as they age and grow. 

Genetics

Just like any other feature of your Chihuahua, including color, floppy ears can be an inherited trait! Breeders will often suggest or recommend on their ears based on what they see in their parents’ ears. This is something to think about when selecting your puppy if it’s something that worries you.

Selective breeding

Similarly, some breeders will actually breed Chihuahuas specifically for their floppy ears. Like specific coat patterns and other traits, this is a lucrative kind of breeding that is popular with those shopping for just the right Chihuahua in their look and feel.

Chihuahuas with floppy ears are just as healthy as those with stand-up ears, in most cases, so that you can shop freely based on your preference! Remember that breeding isn’t an exact science, either, so you’ll have no way to guarantee that your Chihuahua will have floppy ears.

Diet

Your dog’s diet determines their health. Health can determine a Chihuahua’s tendency to have stand-up ears or floppy ears. A dog’s ears are controlled by muscles that hold them up and move them around as needed.

If your dog isn’t getting a proper diet of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help form and develop muscles. In that case, they won’t have the strength, physically, to develop the muscles responsible for holding up their ears.

Once they start on a balanced diet, you’ll notice that they will literally perk up quickly. This is also why you’ll notice that sick dogs don’t always hold their ears up. They might be partially up, have one up and one down, etc.

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Stress

Stressed animals are reserving their energy for their primal functions. This is why scared and stressed animals will have lowered ears. If a dog is stressed a lot, it may even lead to them keeping their ears down just by habit.

When they are in a happy and healthy spot, mentally, their ears should start to perk up again. Not always, but it’s most common. You can also talk to your vet about this if you’re concerned. 

Domestic Syndrome

Experts have built on this Darwin theory that domesticated animals take on floppy ears as a trait instead of stand-up ones as a direct cause of their domestication. As you can imagine, this one is taken seriously by some and totally ignored by others. 

The theory is that domesticated dogs don’t need stand-up ears since their needs are unique from wild dogs. Domesticated dogs with floppy ears are thought to come from a line of dogs that were domesticated earlier than other types. The exact time to that is still largely a mystery.

Are a Chihuahua’s ears always up?

In most cases, a Chihuahua will keep their ears up and shaped like the triangles you’re used to seeing. They developed this biological behavior to help constantly listen for threats. However, when they sleep, you may notice your dog’s ears folded back or down. You’ll also notice them rotating around when they are trying to determine the location of a new sound! 

Ears are a core part of their sensory-based life, and while classic Chihuahuas will have naturally stand-up ears most of the time, they can change form as needed.

Do all Chihuahuas have floppy ears?

It’s considered normal for a Chihuahua to have stand-up ears instead of floppy ears. However, you may notice that certain breeders only have those with floppy ears. This goes back to the causes above and determining which is the most relevant!

It’s important to note that a Chihuahua with floppy ears isn’t “dysfunctional” or a red flag — it’s just something you’ll want outlook at to make sure it’s a normal thing as opposed to something diet-based.

Are Chihuahuas born with floppy ears?

Most Chihuahuas are born with floppy ears. This is the same that goes for all puppies that naturally have stand-up ears as adults! As they grow and develop, their ears will stand up on their own. Since many of us don’t see newborn puppies, it’s sort of an unofficial secret.

Do chihuahua ears stay floppy?

Typically, when bred to be the standard Chihuahua, no. A Chihuahua will have the classic stand-up ears you are used to seeing. This is especially so if both parents have stand-up ears. 

A puppy with floppy ears that keeps those floppy ears is considered rare — but it can happen. It’s a good idea to ask your breeder and vet if you are particularly worried about this.

When do Chihuahua ears stand up

Most breeders agree that a Chihuahua’s ears will start to perk up during their first year. As they grow and develop, the muscles to hold their ears will strengthen, and they’ll pop up on their own. It is often sudden, though attentive pet parents can see them hold their ears up for a short time before it happens.

How do you get a Chihuahuas ears to stand up?

Some just don’t like the look and feel of the floppy ears in their Chihuahua. It’s okay if this is the case. If you want to have their ears stand up, the best thing you can do is make sure that they are as healthy as possible in their diet and emotional needs. Their biology will do the rest!

Some will look at the idea of taping or gluing their dog’s ears up to “train” them, but most professionals won’t recommend it. Taping ears up can cause the opposite effect since their muscles won’t get the training to stand up independently.

Conclusion

In most cases, Chihuahuas with floppy ears will grow out of this trait as they mature and develop. Even in cases where their ears are permanently floppy, it’s not something that you necessarily have to see as a bad thing! It’s just part of their charm.

Just like all newborn puppies, Chihuahuas are born with floppy ears. They will often pop up into their stand-up form as they grow and mature. In rare cases, genetics and health can cause them to remain floppy even as adults.

Understanding when to see it as a good or potentially bad thing is important when shopping for a puppy and watching your Chihuahua grow up and hit all the proper milestones!

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