4 min read


Why Do Dogs Flap Their Ears



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Flap Their Ears




People get delighted when dogs flap their ears. This kind of doggie action is deemed cute and beloved canines are even encouraged and rewarded for doing it. Just imagine how adorable your dog will look on the video flapping its ears with a nice background music specially chosen by you, but what does ear flapping really mean? Is it only something really pleasant to see or could it be something more? Ear problems are some of the most common reasons why dogs flap their ears excessively and also one of the most common reasons dogs visit the veterinarian. Numerous dogs suffer unpleasant and painful ear conditions for years on end. Ear problems often go hand in hand with allergies and sensitivities, however it can also be indicative of some other internal issues going deep within the dog’s body.

The Root of the Behavior

Just like with their humans, food is the most common cause of allergies in dogs, as well as inhaling or touching something which is considered dangerous by their immune system. Allergies not only lead to ear flapping but also to hair loss, chewing on foot, as well as chronic ear infections. Also, in severe conditions, mutilated skin from excessive scratching and chewing. Ear vasculitis is the inflammation of the blood vessels of ear flaps. There are certain breeds such as Collies, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dachshunds which are more prone to developing this condition. Ear vasculitis can be caused by a variety of things, among them vaccine interaction, fly bites, frostbite, immune disease, tick-borne illnesses, and other environmental factors. Ear vasculitis warrants a quick consultation with the veterinarian. The most common treatment for ear vasculitis that is caused by bacterial infection are antibiotics. However, lifestyle changes, and other medication might also be recommended by the vet. It is not unusual for a foreign body to get stuck in your dog’s ears. Grass awns have been known to burrow into the skin and damage dogs’ ears. Insects such as flies may also bite at your doggie’s ears and may make them sore and cause wounds at the same time. There are many things that can damage or block your dog’s ears so it is necessary to examine them if you notice excessive head shaking or ear flapping. Some of the things to look out for are foreign bodies, blockages, and sores. Consult your veterinarian right away if you notice anything out of the ordinary. A simple ear flush might be able to help alleviate your dog’s condition if there are no blockages to be found. When your beloved pet runs through wooded areas, tall grass or even ponds, there is a big chance that he can pick up foreign matter or debris. This debris can include dirt, small shard of twigs, and bits of leaves. The debris can find its way into your dog’s ear canals and can become an ear infection over time. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

It is important to check your dog’s ears after it has spent some time rolling or playing outside. Ear infections are very common among canines and is most likely caused by moisture trapped in the ear canal from the result of grooming, bathing, and swimming. Microorganisms will start growing in the form of bacteria or yeast and will soon have your beloved dog shaking its head and flapping its ears excessively. Other symptoms of infection are tenderness, redness, swelling, abnormal odor, and heat. Ear flapping is not something that should cause you and your canine a ruff day. As a matter of fact, a lot of people find it very cute when their dogs flap their ears. Usually, it is not something serious for owners to be concerned about. So, don’t go running around like mad dog over a behavior as innocent as flapping ears. Do remember to not miss your dog’s ears when taking care of your beloved pooch. Just like humans, your dog’s eyes and ears are very sensitive and they require regular care. Breeds which have straight and upright ears are less prone to infections but this does not mean that they need less care. Sunlight is also another important thing as it keeps the dog’s skin healthy. It keeps the skin free from moisture, bacterial and yeast formation, as well as fungus. Learn the basic anatomy of your dog’s ears, as well as the basics of ear cleaning and both you and your dog will be so much the better for it. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Keep in mind, however, that excessive ear flapping can be indicative of much more serious conditions such as ear infections, ear vasculitis, allergies, or ear blockage, especially when you see other symptoms such as swelling and redness. Keeping your dog’s ears clean is one of the first steps in ensuring a healthy dog without any infections and problems. There are various types of ear cleaners but the important thing is you use one that has high quality. Avoid putting vinegar, olive oil, shampoo, or other substances in your dog’s ears. Do not use cotton swabs to poke around because it could push any wax or debris further in and damage your pooch’s eardrums.


Dogs will always be exhibiting different behaviors and you will find most of them delightful such as ear flapping, head tilting, and tail wagging. All these might make your heart melt and you might even be asking your dog to do more. You should enjoy spending time with your dog, however, you should also be mindful of your dog’s behavior in order to ensure that it is not a result or a cause for concern. 

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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