If you are a dog owner or dog lover, you are likely to be fascinated by their behaviors and characteristics.
Dogs are unique and fascinating creatures, especially if you are lucky enough to live with one (or more).
Domestic dogs evolved from an ancient and now-extinct wolf species and were then bred into a wide range of breeds, shapes, and sizes.
So, there is a lot to be curious about.
In this post, we will answer the question – why do dogs have floppy ears?
And then, we will tell you what breed has the floppiest ears of all the different dog breeds (and why they are so floppy).
Before we answer this question, you might be interested to know that the famous English scientist Charles Darwin in the 1800s was also fascinated by this question.
Darwin put it in more scientific terms than ” floppy ears ” in his less well-known work “The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication,” published in 1968.
“The incapacity to erect the ears is certainly in some manner the result of domestication.”
What he meant in this quote is that because only domesticated animals have floppy ears, it clearly has some relation to domestication.
So you are not alone in wondering about floppy ears.
The greatest biologist of all time also asked the same sort of questions, so you are in excellent intellectual company!
Why Do Some Dogs Have Floppy Ears?
Dogs have floppy ears due to thousands of years of domestication and selective breeding by humans.
Some of this will be accidental and simply a by-product of breeding for other traits and characteristics.
Some of it would be deliberate for aesthetic reasons, which became more important to breeders in recent times.
There may also be a more practical reason, as dogs became more domesticated, they didn’t need to be as sharp of hearing (pointy ears are better for hearing).
As they got used to living with humans, they were safer than their wolf ancestors, so they didn’t need pointy ears to listen out as sharply for any predators or signs of danger.
Note – This short but really awesome animated YouTube video also answers your question about floppy canine ears.
Feel free to check it out.
Just click the image to start playing:
NOTE – You might also find this post interesting about dogs licking each other’s ears.
What About a Pointy-Eared Dog With One Floppy Ear?
If you own a pointy-eared breed of dog and one or both of its ears are floppy, you might be worried there is something wrong with them.
If your dog is still a puppy, you need to be patient, and at some point, its ears will start to stand up straight without any issues.
However, if you have an adult dog that should have pointy ears but one or both is floppy, it could be due to a medical issue such as tissue damage or an ear infection.
If you are worried, this might be the case with your dog. Please take them to the vet for a check-up.
It’s always better to be careful with your dog’s health and well-being.
NOTE – If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this website has helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, thankfully, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners who are in difficulty).
Which Dog Breed Has the Floppiest Ears?
The prize for the breed with the floppiest ears has to go to the Basset Hound.
Their ears are so floppy they often trail on the floor when they walk!
And in case your next question is, why do Bassett Hounds have such floppy ears? We can answer that question as well.
Basset Hounds are scent hounds. This means they are bred to track prey scents with their noses.
Their floppy ears help direct scents from the ground to their noses… Yes, you read that right!
Basset Hound’s ears are scent-collecting devices! How cool is that?
NOTE – You might be interested to read this post looking at why dogs pull their ears back.
Final Notes On Why Some Dogs Have Floppy Ears
Dogs either have floppy ears because humans have bred them that way for thousands of years or as a result of domestication.
In most cases, this is perfectly natural, but if you have an adult dog of a pointy-eared breed with a floppy ear, it might be due to a health issue, so the best thing to do is to take a trip to the vet for a check-up.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!