Puppy Ears

There is much debate on whether to try and set puppy ears or leave them to do as they will.  I, personally, don't like to leave the ears to chance so I set my puppies' ears.  Since I have been asked on many occasions over the years what "method" I use, I have decided to add this page to my website.  After many years of trial and error, and hundreds of puppies later (all my doggie friends come to me to set ears ;c)  ), this is the easiest method I have come up with.  I have found this method still leaves the ears mobile and, after the first few minutes, is more readily accepted and forgotten about by the puppies.

On young puppies (starting around 8 - 10 weeks), I start with step 1.  On older puppies (5 - 6 months and older) I skip steps 1 - 3 and go directly to step 4 since the base is usually set on the head by then.  I have, on rare occasions where the ears were very low, started older puppies with step 1 and achieved varied degrees of success.

First, you will need glue, 2 pieces of yarn approx. 10" in length, a tapestry needle (preferably plastic but metal is also okay) and an extra pair of hands to help hold the puppy still. Sometimes I find it easier to have the helper hold the puppy in their arms instead of trying to hold the puppy still on a table, but either way works fine.

Not all glue is created equal. I've tried several different kinds of glue, but the best I've found is called Tear Mender Fabric/Leather Cement made by Val-A.

Step 1:

Put a small amount of glue on the hair at the base of both ears and press the hair to the edges of the ears until the glue is fairly dry. This takes about 10 - 15 seconds. (Try not to let you fingers get stuck to the ears.) See Figure 1.

Step 2:

Thread one piece of yarn into the tapestry needle and push needle through between glued hair and ear pulling yarn through. (Make sure to go through the HAIR not the ear.  We are NOT piercing the puppy's ears. ;c) ) Repeat on other ear. See Figures 2 and 3.

Step 3:

Tie the yarn together pulling as tight as desired to get the ear set you prefer. Put a spot of glue on the knot to keep the yarn from coming untied later. (It helps to put your finger between the knot and the puppy's head to keep from gluing the knot to the puppy.) Clip off excess yarn. See Figure 4.

Step 4:

Put a spot of glue on the tip of the ear, fold where you want the ear to tip and "mark" a spot on the INSIDE edge of the ear with the glue from the tip. Put a bit more glue on both spots, fold and press together. Repeat on other ear. See Figures 5 and 6.

By gluing the tips to the inside edges, you create a natural tripod of the ear making it self-supporting while allowing the ear to remain mobile.

Leave the glue in the ears until they come loose on their own. I usually only do Steps 1 - 3 once or, on rare occasions, twice. When the yarn comes loose, the ears are usually set on top of the head the way I like.

However, I do continue to do Step 4 until I feel comfortable that the ears are going to tip the way I like them. (You can leave them unglued unless you see them start to sag ever so slightly.) When the ears come loose, do NOT allow them to fall. Re-glue the tips immediately unless they are how you want them. Every time the ears fall it 're-breaks' the cartilage and you basically are starting all over again setting the ear tips.

Some ears may be completely set by the time the puppy is 6 months old.  Others may not be completely set until the puppy is 2 years old!  It all depends on the individual puppy and whether you're willing to keep trying.

The following are two pictures of puppies with their ears glued and one picture of an adult who had his ears glued as a puppy.

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