Helping puppy ears stand (taping corgi puppy ears, cardigan puppy ears)

I’ve seen some people struggling with getting puppy ears up. If you can stand some advice on ears, I learned on Dane ears (which are the hardest of all) so I know a lot of tricks.

In Danes, we don’t “bridge” the ears unless the bases are completely floppy. Bridging the ears takes the work away from the muscles around the ears. You want them to be using those muscles to keep the ears up and to move them around. I also worry that bridging Cardi ears will teach them to carry them too high, or will crease the corner of the ear that’s closest to the top of the head.

So once the bases are strong and the ear just needs some support around the middle (when the ears are falling to the side or are creasing, not flat down against the head like Lab ears), let the puppy have two independent ears.

The second rule is this: Never let the ears flop. Take the tape off, clean the ears well, and watch the puppy very carefully. If you see one or two ears even BEGIN to break, get the tape back on. Every time it flops around it breaks the cartilage down and you’re right back at square one. And after a certain point it’s just useless; the cartilage is too soft and broken to stiffen up properly even with optimal support. So don’t tolerate any flopping.

My preference for a typical Cardi ear would be stiff masking tape wound around the ear; as little as a single round can work. It’s light and it lets the dog feel its ears. You can put a breathe-rite strip or two right across the part where it wants to break and then the round of masking tape over that.

If the puppy won’t tolerate masking tape or can get it off, or masking tape isn’t strong enough to keep the ear from flopping, I guarantee you that Elastikon and ostomy glue (Skin-Bond, Osto-Bond, Torbot Cement–ask at a good pharmacy) will work reams better than duct tape. NOBODY can get that stuff off. The HUGE advantage to using the medical products is that both are designed to dissolve if you use Uni-Solve or another medical solvent. So no hair gets pulled off and the dog isn’t in pain and doesn’t hate getting the tape on.

If the ear is really bad, just totally floppy, you’ll need to support the entire ear with an “appliance”–plastic tampon tubes are OK but I personally had the best luck with zip ties. Cut the zip tie to length, wrap it well in elastikon, paint a strip of skin-bond up the ear, set the wrapped post against it (making sure that the post is deep enough in the ear to hold the ear upright), then tape with more elastikon.

Middling ears, or the second round of the bad ears, can be set with a tightly rolled paper towel or a strip of moleskin. Really good ears or “almost done” ears that just need a tiny bit of support work well with breathe-rite strips or child’s craft foam or any tiny stiff thing; you can often skip the tape entirely and just glue the stiffener to the inside of the ear. Don’t use elastikon alone, though; you always have to use SOMETHING when you use elastikon, since it has no integral stiffness. It’s not like masking tape.

I taped my Dane boy from eight weeks to fifteen months old, never even a day untaped, all the way from the full appliance to just a couple of nasal strips at the very tips to train them. I hated it, but I got those ears up. It CAN be done, with almost any ear; you just can’t give up until the job is totally done.


7 thoughts on “Helping puppy ears stand (taping corgi puppy ears, cardigan puppy ears)

  1. It’s funny- I never had to tape an ear on a Cardi and was always so happy about it. In collies, though, we use almost all that same stuff trying to convince the ears NOT to stand (all the way!)

  2. Thank you for ALL the wonderful information you freely share! I posted on my blog today that you’re in my top 10 favorite blogs! 🙂

  3. You all are so nice!

    And yes, I agree that it’s ironic to have half of us dog nuts struggling to get ears UP and the other half struggling to get ears DOWN.

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