I got my teacup Chihuahua as a newborn almost immediately after her mother gave birth to her litter. She was so small and cute and I was excited to get her home as soon as possible. After some time, I noticed her little Chihuahua ears were flopping down and not standing up as I had expected.
I began to wonder why this was and started my research journey to find out if I should be worried or not about my pup’s floppy ears. In between preventing her from chewing and biting my new shoes, I found information that put my mind at ease and hopefully yours as well. Let’s take a look below at all the reasons why some Chihuahuas have floppy ears.
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Why do Chihuahuas have floppy ears?
Luckily for me, this was not an issue and her ears stood straight up as she aged. Surprisingly, most Chihuahuas will have floppy ears during their developmental years. While there are a variety of reasons for a Chihuahua’s ears to be floppy, very few of them are within your control. Factors like the breeding of the Chihuahua and their age, diet, and anxiety levels could all cause floppy ears. There are just so many factors.
Your Chihuahua is a newborn
Like all vulnerable newborn puppies, Chihuahuas still have a ton of growing and maturing before they reach their active puppy phases.
Chihuahua newborns still need time to fully develop their muscles and really get their bearings. It’s very likely that the muscles which allow the ears to stand straight up have not fully developed yet.
The underdeveloped muscles around the ears cause them to flop down instead of perk up. Chihuahuas’ ears will normally and naturally perk up later in life as they grow up.
If you have a newborn Chihuahua, regardless of the breeding, you may need to wait for them to reach proper puppyhood before their ears perk up and stand straight up.
Your Chihuahua is still a puppy
After the newborn phase, your Chihuahua puppy will be active and running around. They will be full of energy. You may be concerned that your Chihuahua’s ears are still not perking up as you had expected.
Even when your pooch is well into puppyhood, their ears and the muscles around them may be still developing. It’s common to see their ears perk up and sag back down randomly.
During development, the muscles around the ears may spasm and make it seem like your Chihuahua doesn’t have control over their ears. This is also normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
We all know or are aware that Chihuahuas, in particular, should have those pointy ears that act like radars for anything and everything that’s going on around them. Typically by around 10 weeks of age, your Chihuahua’s ears should start becoming erect and perking up.
Depending on when you got your puppy Chihuahua, their ears may already be erect and fully developed. In most cases, their ears are still developing and may appear curled at the ends or only slightly standing up.
There’s no need to worry. If their ears are perked up even slightly, there is a good chance that they will have straight and erect ears as they grow, even if they flop during the teething phase.
The effect of teething on Chihuahua ears
If your Chihuahua puppies are still less than half a year old, they might be going through the teething phase. During this process, a baby Chihuahua loses its puppy teeth and begins growing a new set of adult teeth.
Just like in humans and other animals, the teething process can be very uncomfortable. It typically causes itching, tenderness, and sometimes whimpering and crying from your Chihuahua. It’s not uncommon for your pup to gnaw and chew on soft objects around the house.
This chewing action is what can cause your Chihuahua’s ears to flop down and droop. The reason for this is simple, the muscles around the jaw are connected to the ear muscles.
As your puppy chews and tires out his or her jaw muscles by overworking, the muscles begin to relax naturally. This relaxation of the connected muscles leads to a domino effect causing their ears to droop.
Calcium is also another important factor to consider. As your Chihuahua grows their new set of adult teeth, large amounts of calcium get directed towards their teeth and away from the muscles. The lack of calcium can cause muscles to spasm and become weak. Your Chihuahua’s ears may droop and flop until their calcium levels are returned to normal.
TIP: Even though your Chihuahua is using up large amounts of calcium, avoid giving them dairy-based products. Instead, look for high calcium alternatives like yogurt which your dog’s stomach can tolerate better.
Luckily for us, this is typically a temporary issue. Your Chihuahua’s ears will be back to their perky selves once the teething phase is over with.
It is common for your Chihuahua’s ears to go from droopy one day to being normal and standing straight up the next, this isn’t a cause for concern. Just be aware that depending on your Chihuahua’s breed, their ears may take longer to stand straight up.
Chihuahua breeding and genetics
Most Chihuahua owners want those iconic perky ears that stand up at the slightest sound. Unfortunately, genetics plays a major role in deciding the type of ears your Chihuahua will ultimately have.
I was lucky enough to find a local Chihuahua breeder who really had a passion for her work. She helped me find my perfect Teacup Chihuahua who came from a great set of purebred Chihuahua parents.
If you are dead set on getting a Chihuahua with ears that will stand up, your best bet is to purchase one born of purebred stock. A good breeder will let you know if their ears will stand, and the best breeders will give you a guarantee in regards to their ears.
While being purebred typically makes for perky iconic ears that stand straight up, there are cases where even a purebred Chihuahua produces a baby with floppy ears. There just aren’t any guarantees. The best thing you can do is stack the odds in your favor and get guarantees from the Chihuahua breeders.
Unfortunately, due to most people wanting straight-eared Chihuahuas, breeders will typically not even breed a drop-eared Chihuahua. Since a droopy-eared Chihuahua is considered genetically impure, they will not be able to participate in certain dog shows.
You just got unlucky
Every Chihuahua is different. Sometimes you just happen to get a Chihuahua that has floppy ears despite having all the right factors working in his or her favor.
While not common, some Chihuahuas have both ears or even one ear that flops down even after they have grown up. Roughly 10% of purebred Chihuahuas have floppy ears despite having perfect pedigree.
The most important thing is that you love your four-legged friends and they love you back. Don’t let your desire for an ideal Chihuahua sour your love for your pooch, you may be dismissing an awesome furry companion.
How to make a Chihuahua’s ears stand up?
Just a quick note here and sort of a disclaimer, most of these techniques may or may not work. In most cases, floppy ears will flop regardless of what you do, and the same can be said for straight standing ears.
If your furry friend is genetically bred to have straight ears and are born with them, then eventually their ears will most likely start to perk up on their own regardless of what you do!
Here are some pointers and techniques I found on various Chihuahua discussion boards and communities.
Taping Chihuahuas ears
Taping the Chihuahua’s ears is typically done by breeders when the Chihuahua is about half a year old. Basically, the idea is to tape the ears(in their upright position) down. This helps to build a support structure around the ears. The tape will hopefully train the ear muscles to be in the upright position.
The taping process usually lasts about a week. During this time, Chihuahua breeders will wrap the base of your Chihuahua’s ears with medical grade tape and connect the ear with a piece of tape to keep them straight and supported.
The connection between the two ears will help hold the ears upright for the duration of the taping process. The idea is that at the end your Chihuahuas ears will be straight and perky.
Here is the step by step if you’re interested:
- Using a white medical grade tape, rip off 3.8cm or 1.5inch piece.
- Take your Chihuahua’s right ear and place it in an upright position with the end of the ear flap at the top of the head.
- Tape around the base of the ear. Make sure it’s not too tight or too loose.
- Do the same with the left ear.
- With both ears in the upright position and the ends of the ears on top of your Chihuahua’s head, you’ll want to rip off a 2-inch piece of tape and tape both ears together. The tape should look like a bridge across the top of your Chihuahua’s head.
- Leave the tape on for about 4 days and remove gently.
Taping is a bit of a hit or miss. Sometimes it’s just not possible to make your Chihuahua’s ears stand up straight. If your Chihuahua’s ears are not in the right position or the breeder waited too long to tape the ears — they may just remain floppy.
Some Chihuahuas just don’t like the tape and will not tolerate the taping process at all. If this is the case, you should remove the tape immediately. It’s not uncommon for baby Chihuahuas to battle with their tape and try to scratch it off. Sometimes they may even injure themselves while trying to remove the tape.
This is something your breeder should be doing. This is why it’s important for you to come to an agreement with your breeder before getting your Chihuahua puppy. Make sure you get their guarantee that they will do everything they can to get the Chihuahuas ears the way you like them.
Some owners choose to give their Chihuahuas puppies additional calcium supplements on top of their normal diet. Ensuring your dog gets adequate nutrients in their younger years can help them develop properly in general.
The idea is that this additional boost of calcium will help the cartilage around the ears develop further and stronger. This stronger cartilage in theory will help support your Chihuahua ears and get them to stand up straighter.
While this may seem like a good idea, the science to back this up is lackluster at best and dangerous at worst. Adding too much calcium to your Chihuahua puppies’ diet can increase their risk for diseases like Hip Dysplasia which has been shown in a few studies.
I would recommend talking to your vet about this one. There doesn’t seem to be much science to back this up, but that hasn’t stopped most dog owners and breeders from trying it.
Fresh Organic Diet
You’ve probably heard of the saying, we are what we eat. This saying is as true for us as it is for our beloved Chihuahuas. It should be no surprise then that proper development hinges on what you feed your Chihuahua.
A high-quality diet based on fresh natural ingredients can help your canine friends get the nutrients they need to properly develop their bodies. Hopefully, with enough support and some good breeding, your Chihuahua’s ears will stand straight up and not flop.
Focus on high protein meats and meat products like cartilage and marrows which are loaded with fortifying nutrients. Plan out your dog’s diet and save money by preparing their meals for the week.
Oftentimes the wet dog foods found in supermarkets are more expensive than just making the food at home and storing it in the freezer.
Massaging your Chihuahuas ears
This is a controversial technique used to make your Chihuahua’s ears stand up straight. The idea is that by massaging the bases of your Chihuahua’s ears, you are stimulating blood flow and helping the cartilage develop.
Although it seems to make sense, some veterinarians caution against this believing it actually has the opposite effect. According to some veterinarians, massaging the ears actually weakens and breaks down the supportive cartilage.
My Chihuahua loves all types of massages, and I would be willing to bet that your Chihuahua would love getting his or her ears massaged as well. Just be aware that you may be causing their ears to flop. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever massage your Chihuahua’s ears. Just save the message until they are fully grown.
Reducing stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are both nasty and have a whole slew of unwanted effects on the Chihuahua’s body. Just like with most animals, stressors be it from the environment or internal issues can have a major impact on development especially during your dog’s puppy years.
Chihuahuas, in particular, are prone to bouts of anxiety and stress. You can often find them shaking or panting when they are in an uncomfortable situation.
While it may be difficult to totally eliminate stress in your Chihuahua’s life due to their breed psychology, there are some things you can do to improve their quality of life.
Try to keep a steady feeding and walking or outdoor routine. A constant routine can help put your Chihuahua’s minds at ease. Depending on your individual dog’s temperament, try to avoid bringing too many new people or visitors to the house. New faces tend to stress our Chihuahuas out as they are a fiercely protective breed.
Avoid harmful foods
It goes without saying that feeding your Chihuahuas any sort of human food can have negative side effects. This is even more true with smaller breeds that can’t eat as much human food due to their size.
Avoid giving your young Chihuahua puppy human snacks or foods as this can cause illness or other unwanted side effects.
There are some general rules of thumb to follow as a dog owner. Avoid common dairy products since most dogs can’t digest lactose properly. Steer clear of high sugar and high sodium foods like processed chips and sodas. Never give your dog any seasoned spicy foods with sriracha on it. Lastly, onion or garlic powders are toxic to dogs and they are definitely a no-no.
My Chihuahua’s ears never stood up and are still floppy!
Sometimes there are too many factors working against you and your Chihuahua will never have straight ears. The important thing to remember is that superficial things like floppy or straight ears don’t define your Chihuahua’s character. Regardless of its pedigree, your dog can be a loving and loyal companion.
If you have your heart set on having a Chihuahua with straight iconic ears, make sure to get a guarantee from your breeder. In most cases, Chihuahua breeders will go the extra mile to make sure their Chihuahuas are bred to AKC standards. Just make sure to get everything in writing!
With over five years of specialized experience as an animal writer, my expertise lies in dog nutrition, health, behavior, grooming, and training. I am dedicated to delivering helpful and informative content that caters to the well-being of our furry friends. My primary goal is to empower pet owners with knowledge and ensure our canine companions thrive in health and happiness. In my free time, I love volunteering at local dog rescue centers.