Boston Terriers Ears – When Do They Stand Up?

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by Lily Ferreras

boston-terriers-ears

When you think about Boston Terriers, you think of their tuxedo coat (which earnt them the title of “The American Gentleman”) and their perky ears. But, do Boston Terriers ears always stand up, and also, when do Boston Terriers ear stand up?

Boston Terrier puppies are born with floppy ears that stand up on their own by the age of 4 months. However, their ears will flip backwards whilst teething (3 and 4 ½ months of age), and then straighten up again.

With this illustrative guide, you’ll discover when you can expect those ears to be erect, how their ears look like in the different phases and what you can do to help your dog’s ears stand up if they naturally don’t.

Boston Terriers Ears

According to the American Kennel Club breed standards for Boston Bull Terriers, these dogs have erect ears.

So, do they naturally stand up, and when does this happen?

Do Boston Terriers Ears Naturally Stand Up?

Generally, Boston Terrier puppies are born with floppy ears that eventually stand up on their own.

Standing ears improve air circulation in the ears. Also, it reduces the risk of ear infection.

Although Boston Terriers ears can stand up naturally, this isn’t always the case.

boston-terriers-puppy-floppy-ears
Boston Terrier puppy with floppy ears.

When Do Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up?

A Boston Terrier’s ears will stand up naturally when the puppy is 4 months old. This process can take between 6 weeks to 4 months.

You might notice that one ear straightens out sooner than the other one (like in the image below), but they will eventually even out.  

However, if this process doesn’t happen naturally, you might have to help your pooch to get those ears standing to avoid health problems.

You can always be proactive if you suspect they aren’t going to straighten on their own.

boston-terrier-puppy-with-straight-ears
Boston Terrier puppy with straight ears.

Why Boston Terriers Ears Are Floppy?

Boston Terriers are born with floppy ears and then, their ears will naturally stand up. But not every Boston will have completely straight ears. Some may turn down at the very tip, and some may flop over at the breaking point (midway up the ear).  

The main area that determines if your Boston’s ears are floppy or straight is called “pinna.” The pinna is a part of the outer ear that you can see. It’s made of cartilage and covered by skin and hair. It can vary in size in Boston Terriers but it’s about the same shape. 

Your Boston Terrier’s ears might remain floppy because:

  1. The size and weight of the pinna are heavier than average.
  2. An injury to the cartilage or muscles holding it. Ear trauma is a common issue when around puppies that like to chew! 
  3. Your puppy is teething. During the teething phase, a Boston Terrier puppy’s ears curl backwards (see image below). This can happen between 3 and 4 ½ months of age. Once teething is over, the ears will return to their usual, straight selves.
boston-terriers-puppy-ears-curl-backwards
This Boston Terriers puppy’s ears are curled backwards.

What to Do If Your Dog’s Ears Won’t Stand Up

There are different ways to support your dog’s ears. You should talk to your breeder and vet for their expert advice before starting any protocol.

Once you decide on a method, to avoid any further damage to your pup’s ears, try not to touch the ears too much – even if those soft ears are irresistible!

Also, you should avoid any other dog from chewing or licking your dog’s ears.

Ok, so let’s see what you can do…

boston-terriers-puppy-erect-ears
This Boston Terrier puppy’s ears are not fully erect yet.

Taping Boston Terriers’ Ears

When your Boston Terrier’s ears don’t stand up by themselves because the ear leather becomes too heavy… this weight could be supported by tape to help the ears to stand erect.

If your Bostons ears are not up by 4 months of age, then you should tape them to strengthen the ear. By doing so, they will stand up on their own eventually.

It’s best to consult with your vet for specific advice. Because, if you suspect that your dog’s ears are going to be very large or heavy, you could start taping as early as 5 weeks.

If you start early, it may only take 3-4 weeks for the ears to stand on their own. But if you start late (when your pooch is at 4 months old), it will take longer or it may not happen.

Ear Taping Methods

Placement of the tape is crucial to ensure that you’re providing support at the proper area.

There are two taping methods that you can use:

  • The Vertical Ear Taping Method: You can use tape inside your dog’s ears and place it in a vertical way. Also, you are less likely to pull out hair with vertical taping.
  • The Horizontal Ear Taping Method: You place the tape horizontally around the ear at the natural breaking point. It can be a little more irritating and might not offer enough support for larger ears.
taping-boston-terriers-ears-vertical-method

How Long to Keep the Tape On

Regardless of the method you use…

The tape must be kept on 24 hours a day, every day until the ears are strong enough to stand on their own. Depending on your Boston’s ears, this process could take a few weeks or a few months.

You will have to replace the tape as needed. Usually, every couple of days you will have to reapply the tape. This is because your dog’s skin secretes natural oils that will cause the tape to lose its stickiness.

Also, beware that the tape can cause irritation on the back of the ears and your pup will definitely want to scratch it off.

How to Tape Boston Terriers Ears

Here’s how to the tape their ears:

  1. Trim or clip the hair inside of the ear.
  2. Wipe it with alcohol to remove the dirt and natural oils.
  3. Let the ears dry completely.
  4. Apply the tape splints.
    • Vertical Method: from the base of the ear up to the tip of the pinna.  
    • Horizontal Method: alongside the natural breaking point of the ear.
  5. Trim the tape following the shape of the ear to avoid your dog or any other dog chewing on it.
  6. Apply another layer and trim it. In total, apply two or three layers of tape to provide the necessary support. This depends on the weight of your dog’s ear.

Type of Ear Tapes

There are different types of tapes for your dog’s ears. It’s about personal preference between soft and sports tapes.

In both cases, I would recommend applying two or three layers for proper support.

taping-boston-terriers-ears-horizontal-method

Cropping Boston Terriers’ Ears

Do you need to crop your Boston Terriers’ ears?

Ear cropping is not used as a method to get ears to stand up on their own in Bostons Terriers. Unless a reputable vet advises surgically removing any excess length that may be weighing the ears down. 

Ear cropping in Boston Terriers is done to give the ear a distinct shape. It involves cutting away the outer portion of the ear when ears are too long or too wide.

This procedure is largely cosmetic, i.e., it serves no medical purpose and can be considered animal cruelty practice. Plus, ear cropping might be banned in some countries or states.

Finally, this surgery causes unnecessary pain, discomfort during recovery and a risk of infection.

What If Boston Terriers’ Ears Stay Floppy

Apart from being part of the breed standards, Boston Terriers having erect ears is also beneficial for the dog. This is because:

  • Standing ears improve air circulation in the ears.
  • They reduce the risk of ear infection.

But, what happens when your BTs ears remain floppy? What are the health concerns?

When a Boston Terrier has floppy ears, they are likely to develop ear infections.

When their ears are folded, not much air can flow. As a result, moisture becomes trapped in the ear canal. This becomes a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria, which can lead to infection.

However, it doesn’t mean that your pooch is going to be continuously suffering from one ear infection to another.

The best way to keep your Boston Terrier’s ears healthy is to clean them regularly. There are many dog ear cleaning solutions that you can buy, or you can make one. Check How to Clean Boston Terrier Ears blog post for a step by step guide.

boston-terriers-puppy-ears-half-standing

Whilst Your Boston Terrier’s Ears Stand…

Watching your pup grow and develop is a precious thing. Time can pass by pretty quickly… and before you realize, your Boston is not a puppy anymore!

This is why cherishing each moment with your pooch keeps you connected to what you have. One of the ways I make sure to do this is to have little reminders around or add a doggie decor touch at home (or in the office).

Here are some sweet and stylish ideas for Boston Terrier lovers:

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  1. I don't need additional reminders. My puppy is in the chewing phase, lightening fast and I'm 66 yrs old carrying the battle scars of those sharp teeth on my hands and arms. Everybody get your fingers away from your phone. I've had dogs forever and this is not my first rodeo. I was devastated when my Norwegian Elkhound suddenly passed but after time I was content with watching my kids dogs. I was done raising "children" and enjoyed the freedom of coming and going as I pleased. Did I mention that Boston Terriers are nothing more than a big bag of gas with 4 legs attached,? OMG! Nothing could have prepared me for the regular gas bombs she fires off. No sound
    = no warning. I have to get up once or twice a night to take her out which requires me to unhook cpap, go outside only to be drained of my blood supply by the mosquitoes and put off my own urgent needs to relieve myself. So I take her out, she does her business or so I think and finally it's my turn. While I'm in the bathroom I smell it. There is no mistake. I would rather change diapers again. I go out to bedroom. She has made a deposit on the bed while my wife remains asleep and blissfully unaware of the unfolding drama. I take her off the bed thinking impure thoughts and put her on the floor. I clean up the bed, put puppy back in bed. We're working on cage training but you have to understand this dog is capable of howling with 45 plus minutes being the record before I give up. I know. I know. Just keep your fingers away from the reply button. This is going to take time. Puppy is now back in bed with me hooked to my machine and as I lay there I smell it again. I was hoping it was just one of her farts but I was horribly and terribly wrong. I unhooked and began the search. And there is was. Another deposit in the hallway while I was cleaning the bed. More impure thoughts as I contemplated my next move such as giving dog to grandson. He really wants that dog and I'm prepared to pay his parents large sums of money to take it. My neighbor would like the dog as they are losing one of their 5 dogs to their daughter who just moved away for a new job. Five, it seems, is their lucky number. But alas, none of the above will ever happen. Unfortunately this little pup has adopted me happily hanging from my gym shorts as I walk through the house or as I drag her along, using her as a broom to clean the wood floors. She is smart, follows my every move and loves me unconditionally. You know what the hardest part to owning a dog is? I believe the answer is universal. You know how the story ends every time.

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