Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies) are known for their tiny bodies, bright personalities, beautiful coats of hair, and in the world of competitive showing, perky ears.
Many people expect their Yorkie to come equipped with perky ears from the start, but those muscles take time to develop. If your Yorkie has or is showing signs of floppy ears, it is no cause for alarm; your dog may still be a happy and healthy purebred Yorkie puppy.
Understanding the standard Yorkie ear traits can help you determine what type of ears your dog might develop as it grows.
It is important to remember that the ears are also a great indicator of temperament and nonverbal cues for a dog’s feeling, so understanding when a trait is cosmetic or an indicator of health is essential for any owner.
Standard Yorkie Ear Traits
Yorkies have ears that fall into the category of v-shaped. A distinct triangle shape characterizes this to the ear with a fold that falls forward. Other dogs in this ear category may have perky or floppy ears, similar to the Yorkie.
Yorkies themselves have three distinct subcategories of ears: ears that stand up on their own, ears that are perky with intervention, and ears that remain floppy, regardless of intervention. There is no exact science on predicting what type of ear a Yorkie has directly following birth.
Yorkie Ear Development
According to the American Kennel Club, all Yorkie puppies are born with floppy ears. There are muscles in the Yorkie ear that take time to develop, and in some cases, they remain in a relaxed position their entire life.
Around the age range of three to six months, an owner will notice their Yorkie’s ears begin to raise and eventually support themselves. The exact time depends on your dog’s individual development, behavioral patterns, and any type of intervention you choose to do. Intervention ranges from grooming to taping the ears.
The perkiness of a Yorkie’s ears is also affected by the hair on their ears during their early developmental stages (before six months of age).
Since Yorkies are known for their long, luxurious coats that resemble human hair, ear hair can add weight to the ears and train them forward or floppy. Groomed hair at the top of the ears will give the fight the ears have against the weight.
Humans have bred specific traits into different dog breeds. In some situations, a floppy ear shape may be related to the human domestication of dogs as we have historically chosen dogs that appear calmer and more approachable as pets, which a floppy ear can indicate.
Dogs can move their ears independently, often tracking sounds beyond the human ear’s abilities, such as mice in the walls. Yorkies were initially bred as working-class dogs, utilizing the muscles in their ears for hunting mice around mills and mines where their small stature was an advantage during the hunt. These days Yorkies are an expensive in-demand dog breed.
Ear Hair Grooming
Expecting a Yorkie to manage their hair and coat on their own may leave you with undesirable results. Regular grooming must occur for a Yorkie to maintain a healthy life, but grooming habits can also alter the perkiness of a dog’s ear.
During early puppy development, keeping a Yorkie’s hair may weigh the ear down and train the muscles into a floppy shape. Shaving or trimming the hair does not hurt the dog, but if your goal is to show your Yorkie, keeping the hair shaved on the ear during youth will increase the chances of a perky ear.
Some people get a Yorkie and keep their hairstyle long with two tall pigtails on the top of their heads, increasing the sense of perkiness the ears often make. Other people choose to keep their hair short and manageable. Either way, be prepared to invest some time or money into grooming a Yorkie.
Clean Yorkie ears regularly to prevent build-up, mites, and potential infection. Heavy build-up or an ear infection may result in a floppy-looking ear that cleaning would prevent.
Regular ear cleanings will keep the cleaning time low, and regular checks can prevent a minor problem from turning into an emergency room trip. Itching ears and a shaking head may be indications of earwax build-up. Seek a veterinarian’s advice for instructions specific to your pet’s needs.
Getting a puppy used to regular cleanings will help ensure that their adult version knows the drill. Delaying cleanings may also lead to other medical complications.
If you show your Yorkie competitively or prefer the look of a perky ear, it is possible to train your dog’s ears if you step in at an early enough age. Perky ears are a characteristic that is a judging point for the Yorkie breed in competition, and many champion owners have instructions online for their recommended method.
It is essential to be gentle and cautious when training the ears of a Yorkie as their ears are sensitive. Prioritize the dog’s well-being above cosmetic standards of canine beauty and the desire to win shows.
Respecting a dog’s boundaries can lead to a better relationship and an increased eagerness to please the owner. Some Yorkie ears will never be perky, but that doesn’t make them less worthy of love, just maybe not best-in-show.
There are a variety of recommended methods for training ears. Do your research and respect the dog’s boundaries as much as possible to reduce any anxiety or accidents.
Training ears does typically require shaving or grooming the upper ear along with taping their ears in place. It can be a stressful ordeal for both humans and Yorkie alike, so be prepared for a lot of effort and patience.
When To Be Concerned
A dog’s ears tells you a lot about how they are feeling, and if their ears appear unusual or more droopy than expected, it may mean something is wrong.
Dogs’ ears will droop if they feel sad, have an ear infection, or aren’t feeling well. Learn your dog’s personality and habits so that you can report anything out of the ordinary to your veterinarian.
Infection or Veterinary Issue
Since dogs have an inner, middle, and outer ear, the symptoms for an infection of each section may vary. Remember that drooping ears, color changes (like redness), itching or fixation on the ears, unusual or foul smells, or any color discharge mean it is time to take your pet to the vet.
Dog ears move independently from one another, so if you notice that one ear is floppy or acting unusual, get it checked out as soon as possible. Anything from hearing loss, genetic variations, mites to physical ailments can present in your dog’s ears.
Dietary allergies or food reactions may also present themselves in the ears or as issues like anxiety. If your dog develops floppy or droopy ears after a change in food, consult a veterinarian for dietary advice.
Emotions and Feelings
If your dog has drooping ears due to how they feel, you may need to make some extra effort to make your dog feel better. Understanding your dog’s unique ears can help you determine when they are anxious, feeling aggressive, fearful, playful, or happy. If a dog does not feel safe, you may also see it in the ears.
Yorkies are typically full of energy which requires a lot of walks and playtime, so make sure you are giving them the attention they need to be happy and healthy companions. Feeling safe, loved, and comfortable can keep your puppy’s ears in an upright position, training the muscles to perk.
Veterinarians can also assist you in assessing things related to your dog’s mood or temperament; seek a professional’s advice if there is any concern with your pet. A healthy Yorkie can ensure many lovable years, whether they are perky or floppy in the ears.