The ears of a dog are often described as a canine's greatest tool. With such receptor organs, dogs can hear vastly better than humans. Their ears also help them to maintain balance. Some canine breeds have ears that are short and stand straight up, while other dogs have long, floppy ears. It is also possible to manipulate a dog's ears to create a vertical appearance.
The Pembroke Welsh corgi - a favorite of the Queen of England - is known for having ears that point to the sky. This small, sturdy herding breed is described by the American Kennel Club as possessing ears that stand erect and are pointed at the tip. A cousin of the Pembroke is that of the Cardigan Welsh corgi, a breed that is generally differentiated from the Pembroke by its long tail. The Pembroke's tail is short and/or is docked by its owners. While Cardigan corgis' also have vertical standing ears, their pinnae is more rounded than that of the Pembroke.
As puppies, Chihuahuas are born with floppy ears that fold over. But by the time they are adults, Chihuahuas' ears become pointy and radar dish shaped. This erect shape helps Chihuahuas get rid of excessive body heat and aids them in identifying predators. Chihuahuas generally don't develop severe ear infections thanks to the design of their ears. However, their ear shape makes Chihuahuas more at risk for attracting foreign bodies.
The West Highland white terrier, also called a "Westie," is a small breed with ears that stand up naturally. Like the corgi, Westies are compact, sturdy dogs who love people. Adults males measure about 11 inches in height and females stand about 10 inches. The breed was developed for the rigorous work of getting rid of vermin. While West Highland white terriers may seem like cuddly lap dogs, most do not have the patience to be held for long periods of time. They also are not a good breed for gardeners because of their propensity to dig.
Some breeds known for having pointy, erect ears, do not derive the appearance naturally. Boxers, Great Danes and Boston terriers are all breeds who regularly have their ears cropped by their owners. Cropping refers to the surgical altering of a dog's ears to achieve a distinctive vertical appearance. Some animal activists argue that the cropping a dog's ears is akin to animal cruelty, while other dog lovers say a cropped ear prevents certain canal infections. Animal experts say dog owners should consider carefully whether to crop or not.
- "Structure and Function of the Ear in Dogs," Petplace.com
- "Pembroke Welsh Corgi," American Kennel Club
- "Dogs 101: Pembroke Welst Corgi," Animal Planet
- "Dogs 101: Chihuahua," Animal Planet
- "The Everything Chihuahua Book," Joan Hustace Walker, 2006
- West Highland White Terrier Club of America
- "Ear Cropping: is it right for your dog?" PetMD.com
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images