It goes without saying that across the range of dog breeds you will encounter a wide variety of ear types.
The fact is, the size and shape of your dog’s ears will dictate how well they can be used as a method of communication.
A breed such as the Beagle has dropped ears. The dog has little control over these ears, making any emotional signals difficult to determine.
A German Shepherd meanwhile has pricked ears – the position of such ears can convey a great deal of information to an alert owner.
And of course there are those instances where the dog’s ears have been cropped. Here some or all of the ear flap has been removed, (like a Doberman pinscher’s or Great Dane’s).
It is worth remembering that the ASPCA does not recommend ear cropping, it as seen as unnecessary and the organisation encourages breeders and owners to leave their dogs alone. The natural way is the best way.
The fact that in the majority of cases ear cropping is done for cosmetic purposes, and does indeed lead to undue pain for the poor dog, makes it an operation of little sense.
So how does the position of the ears convey your dog’s emotion? Let’s take a look…
A Relaxed Dog
When your dog is relaxed, his ears will be held in their natural position.
An Alert Dog
When your dog is alert, the ears will be held higher on the head, and will even be directed towards the source of whatever it is that has grabbed your dog’s attention.
An Aggressive Dog
And when your dog is feeling aggressive, or is about to spring into action, the ears will be rigid on top of their head, (assuming they are of a breed that is able to do this.)
A Friendly Dog
If your dog’s ears are pulled back slightly, he will generally be signalling his intention to be friendly and playful.
A Frightened and / or Submissive Dog
If your dog is feeling frightened or submissive, (two emotional states that are very often combined) his ears will be completely flattened or stuck to the sides of his head.
Again, each of these emotional states will be accompanied by other tell tale signals of mouth shape, eyes and overall body posture.
By piecing all of these together, you really will have a greater understanding of exactly what your dog is feeling.