When Do Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up? What If They Don’t?

Recently I was asked on my YouTube channel, when does my Boston’s ears stand up? Emily and I recall Bella’s ears taking almost six months, and we did nothing to correct her issue. So if it is taking a while don’t worry, but it would be a good idea to consult your breeder or veterinarian. Here is what I found out on Boston Terrier ears. 

Part of what gives our Boston Terriers their signature look is their ears that stand up. It makes them look alert, sharp, and uplifting. That’s not to say that floppy ears aren’t adorable, because they definitely are. 

When Do Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up?  What If They Don’t? Boston Terrier Society.
Bella with her floppy ears as a puppy!

However, your Boston won’t reach the center ring of the next dog show with floppy ears, and it can also contribute to some health issues. Let’s look at when those ears should be erect as well as ways you can help them along if they don’t.

When Should A Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up?

Boston Terriers’ ears should stand up by the time the puppy reaches four months old. A Boston could see their ears stand in as little as six weeks. 

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Boston Terrier
Bella as a baby.

What Makes Ears Floppy or Erect?

The main area of interest when talking about ears being floppy or straight is what’s called the pinna. The pinna is a piece of cartilage covered in skin that is attached to the head with several muscles. It can vary in size in Boston Terriers but should typically be about the same shape. 

All breeds of puppies are born with floppy ears that, depending on the breed, will either stay floppy or stand up. Boston Terriers are one of those breeds with naturally erect ears, but that’s not to say that everyone will be perfectly straight up. Some may turn down at the very tip, and some may flop over at the breaking point, which is about midway up the ear.  

Possible Scenarios For Floppy Ears

Ears may be floppy due to the size and weight of the pinna or following a trauma in which the cartilage or muscles holding it becomes injured. Ear trauma is a common issue when around puppies that like to chew! 

There has also been speculation that consistently petting the ears backward can lead to a floppy effect. 

And ears that were upright can fold down during the teething phase. Once teething is over, the ears will return to their usual, straight selves.

The Natural Timeline

Since cute little Boston pups have small floppy ears, they will have to eventually naturally turn upright. Look for those ears to take a stand as early as six weeks and as old as four months. Some pups’ ears will still straighten out after four months, but it tends to get less likely with age. You may also notice that one ear straightens out sooner than the other one leading to a cute but lopsided look that will eventually even out.  

Again, a Boston Terrier puppy’s ears are supposed to stand up as she ages naturally, but sometimes it’s not all that simple. As we touched on above, some things can lead to a floppy-eared Boston that can be fixed if caught soon enough.  

Since the general rule of thumb is that ears should be up by four months, you should be ready to jump in at that time. Or you may choose to start working with those ears a bit sooner if you suspect they aren’t going to straighten on their own. Pups with large, massive ears or those who have suffered an injury can lead to downturned ears can be started on the path to correction as soon as a problem is suspected. 

What Can I Do If My Boston’s Ears Don’t Stand Up?

Getting ears to stand up can be compared to training an athlete. The muscles and cartilage need to be strengthened to hold the shape of an erect ear. Unlike an athlete in training, your Boston Terrier’s ears aren’t going to be pumping iron. Instead, you’ll want to offer them some support while their body takes care of the rest.  

There are many ways of adding support for those ears, and each breeder and vet will have their favorite. It is essential to get some expert advice on this before starting any ear straightening protocol so that you don’t cause your Boston pup’s ears any harm.

With any of the procedures, you’ll want to avoid further damage to the ears. This means try not to handle the ears too much, which can be challenging given how soft and irresistible they are. You should also remove them from other dogs that want to chew or lick at your Boston’s ears. Keep in mind that any of the following interventions that you do may only increase another dog’s desire to bite or chew the ears so separation may be necessary. 

Are You Worried About Your Boston’s Veterinarian Bills?

Emily and I recently purchased Pet Assure for Bella. It is not like traditional insurance.

We simply paid $100 and you then get 25% off on all vet visits and procedures. As long as you spend more than $400 on vet visits throughout the year you will save money.

Pet Assure covers procedure, teeth cleaning, normal visit so the costs can easily add up to $400.

Get your Pet Assure plan for your Boston Terrier here, Pet Assure.

Or watch this YouTube video where I talk about the plan we purchased.

Donnie explaining how he has saved $100’s by getting Pet Assure for his Boston Terrier, Bella.

Taping Your Boston’s Ears

The most popular method for getting Boston Terrier’s ears to stand erect is taping.  Taping ears can start as young as five weeks if there is a suspicion that an ear will be trouble, but let’s remember that it could take up to four months for the ears to stand up naturally. So you also don’t want to jump on the taping wagon too early.  

However, the earlier that you can intervene the better chance you have of being successful and the less time it will take. Sorry for the confusion, just be sure to consult with your veterinarian or breeder to determine when ears should be taped if at all.  

Taping can occur in a couple of different ways.  It all depends on personal preference.

Vertical Taping Method 

Ear cropping vertical taping method.When Do Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up?  What If They Don’t? Boston Terrier Society.

Some breeders and veterinarians like to use the tape inside the ears only and make a vertical brace that keeps the ear from flopping over at the breaking point. It’s sort of like attaching a splint to a sprained wrist.  

The tape provides some support to hold the ear upright. Taping on the inside of the ear you are less likely to pull out hair and leave a sticky residue that other dogs would love to chew off. 

Zonas Tape
Cloth Tape

The type of tape also varies with preference while some people like the Zonas sports tape and others prefer a softer cloth tape. The Zonas tape tends to be stickier and can, therefore, pulling at the skin and hair more, but the cloth tape might not be supportive enough and will have to be used in layers.

For additional information and pricing on Zonas tape, check out Amazon by clicking here, Zonas Tape.

For additional information and pricing on Cloth tape, check out Amazon by clicking here, Cloth Tape.

Prepping The Ear

The inside of the ear will need to be clipped or trimmed to remove as much hair as possible and then wiped with alcohol to remove dirt and oils. Allow the ear to dry thoroughly. Next, apply the tape splints from the base of the ear up to the tip of the pinna.  

You may want to trim the tape at the top to follow the shape of the ear, and this will help other dogs from wanting to chew on it. You may have to use two or three layers of tape to provide the necessary support depending on the weight of the ear.

How Long Do I keep The Tape On?

The tape will need to be reapplied every couple of days as the skin will secrete natural oils that will cause the tape to lose its stickiness. The duration of this taping procedure will vary from a couple of weeks to even a couple of months.

Horizontal taping method

Ear cropping horizontal taping method.When Do Boston Terriers Ears Stand Up?  What If They Don’t? Boston Terrier Society.

This way of taping ears involves wrapping 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, more massive ears. With this method, you will again want to clip or trim the hair from the inside of the ear. Then be sure to clean the ear with alcohol and let dry.  

You’ll then use Zonas tape or something with a similar stick and structure to encircle the ear front to back. You will do this with one or two wraps of tape. The tape will be allowed to stick to the hair on the back of the ear to hold it in place. 

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

How Long Do I keep The Tape On?

This method also will take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to work. The tape will have to be replaced as needed, especially since it may cause irritation on the back of the ears and your pup will want to scratch it off.

Calcium Supplements For Stronger Ears

Some people also believe that calcium supplements will help to strengthen the cartilage and muscles. The strengthening of the cartilage is assumed to get the ears to stand on their own. While a little calcium never hurts, more significant amounts can be detrimental in the long run. Again, consult with your vet first

Ear Cropping- Is It Right For Your Boston Terrier?

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure used in many dog breeds such as Dobermans and Great Danes to get ears to stand erect. However, in Boston Terriers the procedure is done to give the ear a distinct shape and should not be done unless the ear is already standing on its own. It can be used to trim down ears that are too long or too wide.  For Boston Terriers it’s best to wait until your pup is fully grown, somewhere between eight and 12 months.  

Having a Boston Terrier’s ears cropped is purely a cosmetic procedure and mainly used for pups that will be in the show ring. Ear cropping is also an art in itself, so not every veterinarian is comfortable doing it. Dogs have to be put under general anesthesia, and exact and symmetrical cuts need to be made.  It also helps to use specialized cautery equipment to cause less bleeding and quicker healing time. Ear cropping can be very painful and take a long time to heal if done without cautery equipment. There may also be bandaging involved and the risk of infection.

Ear Cropping Is Not A Procedure To Fix Non-Erect Ears

Again, ear cropping isn’t used in Boston Terriers as a way to get ears to stand up on their own unless it’s to remove any excess length that may be weighing it down. It is more commonly used for those show caliber dogs to achieve the desired ear shape. If you choose to have, your Boston Terrier’s ears cropped be sure to discuss it thoroughly with your veterinarian. 

When finding someone to crop your Boston’s ears, be sure to find someone that is not only comfortable doing it, but that also comes with some excellent references. You don’t want to cause your pup any unnecessary pain or discomfort for a purely cosmetic procedure.

What Happens If My Boston Terrier’s Ears Stay Floppy?

Even if you take the greatest precautions and have the best treatments, a few Boston’s may not have ears that stand up on their own. Don’t despair, if your pup is never planning on entering the show ring. It’s really no big deal. However, some health concerns can plague floppy-eared dogs. 

Ears that stand up not only make Boston Terriers look alert and attentive, it also helps let air circulate in those ear canals. Warm, moist areas are favorites for bacterial and yeast, the two main culprits behind most of our doggy ear infections.  

Avoid Infection

Air circulation is vital to keep the ear canals dry and decrease the risk for ear infections. If your pup has floppy ears, they tend to collect moisture more than if the ears stand up, leading to more ear infections.  

If your Boston’s ears choose to flop down, that doesn’t mean you’ll be battling ear infection after ear infection. You can try to prevent them with a cleaning regime. There are many, many dog ear cleaners on the market or you can make one of your own.  

Ear Cleaning Solutions

The gist behind ear cleaners is that they are acidic and produce a drying effect on the ear canal. Many pet parents have luck with a water and vinegar solution to clean ears periodically to keep ear infections at bay.  

Please, always consult with your veterinarian before cleaning your dog’s ears. It’s very different than how you would clean your own, and a demonstration can help prevent unwanted injuries.  

Most Boston’s do well with bi-monthly or weekly ear cleanings.  It’s especially important to clean your pup’s ears after swimming or a bath to get that excess moisture out of there.  Some dogs will also allow you to clothespin their ears together at the top to allow air in to dry out damp ears.

If you want to learn how to clean your Boston’s ears, check out my article on how to do just that, Guide: How To Properly Clean Your Boston’s Ears.

Final thoughts…

Boston Terrier’s erect ears are a distinct feature of the breed. Erect ears help display their personality and give them a regal look. Most Boston’s ears will naturally stand up on their own as they grow, but there are some cases when they may need a little assistance.  Be sure to consult your vet or breeder if you have any concerns about your pup’s ear appearance.

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Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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