Can Dogs with Floppy Ears Hear as Well?


Prick-eared or drop-eared dogs: Do you have a favorite? When you think of a prick-eared dog, you may picture their expressive ears that resemble a radar dish. These ears, like a natural ear trumpet, collect sound waves and direct them into the ear canal for processing. It’s no surprise that prick-eared dogs, such as the French bulldog, have excellent hearing capabilities. On the other hand, drop-eared dogs like the Beagle or Bassett Hound may not hear as well, but they have their own advantages, especially when it comes to following scents.

Signs of a Floppy-eared Dog’s Hearing

Both prick-eared and drop-eared dogs have 18 muscles that control the position of their ears. While drop-eared dogs can’t scan the horizon like a radar dish, their ears still have a range of motion. The size and weight of a drop-ear influence how it can be positioned. For example, a pug’s small triangular flap ear can be held back, pricked up, or flopped down. However, breeds like the Cocker Spaniel or Bloodhound have heavy, dangly ears that they cannot lift. Despite their muffling effect on sound, dogs’ ears are more sensitive than human ears and can detect quieter noises from a greater distance.

Body Language

Even drop-eared dogs have mobile ears that can convey different messages through their positions. Look out for signs such as alertness, head tilting, listening, ears dropping or going back, and ears standing up. These behaviors indicate how a dog is responding to sounds and stimuli in their environment.

History of Dogs with Floppy Ears

Interestingly, wild animals with naturally floppy ears are rare, with the elephant being the only known example. Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, have prick-ears. The development of floppy ears in dogs is not fully understood, but one theory suggests that it may be linked to the domestication process. It is believed that the more friendly wolves, who had smaller adrenal glands, were the first to form a bond with early humans. These smaller glands may have influenced the development of drop ears since they are derived from the same group of cells that supply parts of the ear. However, this is just a theory. What is certain is that selective breeding for specific physical traits led to the creation of different dog breeds, each with their own heightened senses or skills.

The Science of Floppy-Eared Dogs

When it comes to scent hounds like the Bloodhound, their floppy ears serve a purpose. As they track scents on the ground, the ears create micro-air currents that help direct scents towards the nose. Additionally, scent molecules can adhere to the ears, making them more accessible to the nose. This unexpected function of floppy ears aids in their scent-tracking abilities.

Training a Floppy-Eared Dog to Hear Well

While floppy-eared dogs may excel in other skills such as scenting, their hearing can still be maximized. Taking care of the ear canal and flap is crucial. For dogs with heavy, fur-covered ears like Cocker Spaniels, trimming the hair from the underside of the flap can help improve sound transmission. Checking for hairy ear canals and considering plucking, if necessary, can also enhance hearing. Regular ear cleaning is essential for dogs with waxy ears to maintain open ear canals and prevent hearing impairment.

By understanding the unique characteristics and needs of floppy-eared dogs, we can better appreciate and care for these lovable canines.

“Whether prick-eared or drop-eared, a dog’s ears are their gateway to the world.”

Tips & Things to Know

1️⃣ Prick-eared dogs have better hearing than drop-eared dogs: Prick-eared dogs, such as the French bulldog, have ears that act like natural ear trumpets, allowing them to focus sound waves and hear more clearly. Drop-eared dogs, like the Beagle or Bassett Hound, may not hear as well due to the weight of their ears.

2️⃣ Floppy-eared dogs still have sensitive hearing: While drop-ears may act as a muffler to sound, dogs’ ears are still much more sensitive than human ears. They can hear quieter noises, detect a wider range of sounds, and hear them from a greater distance.

3️⃣ Take care of your floppy-eared dog’s ears: To help your dog hear well, it’s important to maintain the health of their ear canal and ear flap. This can include trimming hair from the underside of the flap to prevent sound obstruction and regularly cleaning the ears to prevent inflammation or wax buildup.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answered ✅

1. Which type of dog ears are better for hearing, prick-eared or drop-eared?
– Prick-eared dogs have better hearing capabilities compared to drop-eared dogs.

2. Can drop-eared dogs still exhibit different ear positions and movements?
– Yes, drop-eared dogs can still exhibit different ear positions and movements, but the weight of their ears limits their mobility.

3. Do dogs with floppy ears have better hearing than humans?
– Yes, dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans and can detect quieter noises and a wider range of sounds from a greater distance.

4. Why do dogs have floppy ears?
– The exact reason for the development of floppy ears in dogs is uncertain, but one theory suggests that it may be related to the domestication process and genetic changes in friendly wolves.

5. How can owners help improve the hearing of their floppy-eared dogs?
– Owners can take care of the ear canal and flap, remove excess hair that may muffle sound, and regularly clean the ears to ensure optimal hearing.

Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy is a seasoned writer and an enthusiast of dog breed expertise. Having dedicated over 5 years to studying the intricacies of different dog breeds and their unique characteristics. His profound insights and love for our four-legged friends have made him an invaluable part of our team.

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