Border Collies are a breed with ears that are so easily identifiable. They can tell you a lot about the dog’s mood and what he or she is thinking and ears standing up is an indication that the dog is paying attention. But at what age do Border Collie’s ears start to stand up? What triggers their ears to go from floppy to erect? And what role do genetics play? Let’s take a look at these interesting questions and a rough timeline!
When do Border Collie ears stand up? Border Collie ears usually start to stand up by the time the puppy is 8 to 10 weeks old. Many puppies will take longer, from 6 to even 12 months to become fully pricked. If your Border Collie’s ears remain floppy after this age, there is no cause for concern. Some Border collies have naturally erect ears, while others have floppy or semi-erect ears. Some have a degree of ear asymmetry for a period as they develop or in the longer term, but this only adds to their character.
It is a source of great amusement and joy watching your collies’ ears develop from puppy to adult – they seem to take on a life of their own as they change from soft floppy puppy ears to alert tall ears standing to attention. And their ear development can vary dramatically from pup to pup. This article explores the ages of ear development, why they stand up, how to tell if they will stand up – and whether or not to ‘set’ their ears (in short… a resounding NO!).
What Age Do Border Collie Ears Set?
Good question. We will try our best to answer. Puppy ears are adorable but eventually, those hound dog floppy ears tend to naturally set into an upright position. Most websites will tell you that Border Collie puppy’s ears set at 6-8 weeks. HOWEVER, from personal experience – and from asking several other collie owners – this is a rather misleading timescale. A collie’s ear development is highly variable so it is difficult to give a fixed timescale as this will vary from puppy to puppy.
Ear cartilage is soft and pliable in puppies. As the puppy grows, the ear cartilage begins to stiffen and form the shape of the adult ear. This process starts around 6-8 weeks of age. So, what if your dog is 6 months of age with floppy ears? Don’t worry, we have found this process can take from 6 to 12 months in some older pups! For others, they may even retain one or both soft floppy or semi-erect ears into adulthood, or only be erect when they are extremely excited! (Yes, we are still talking about ears!!)
Teething can also affect the ear development process, and upright ears can suddenly turn floppy again for a period of time. However, it is important to remember that there is no difference in intelligence or temperament between Border Collies with erect or floppy ears. So, whichever type of ear your Border Collie has, you can be sure that you have a smart and enthusiastic companion!
If you are concerned about the development of your collie’s ears then be sure to consult a veterinarian.
How Do You Tell If A Border Collies’ Ears Will Stand Up?
It’s not surprising that Border Collies’ ears are so distinctive as they have been bred to be able to listen carefully and obey commands in order to herd sheep. Like other herding breeds such as German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds as well as a Siberian Husky, those prick-eared ‘bat ears’ are unmistakable. As mentioned above, the development of their ears from floppy to erect during their first year of life is highly variable. But are there any indicators?
How do you tell if Border Collie puppy’s ears will stand up? There is no definitive way to tell whether or not a Border Collie puppy’s ears will stand up although within 6-7 months you should have a good idea. There are, however, some early indicators such as if their ears become semi-erect to sound stimuli in their first 2-3 months. This trait is mostly dependent on their genetics which helps determine the way their ear cartilage hardens. The best indicator therefore may be to meet their parents.
Remember, ear cartilage can take longer to harden in cold environments and other environmental conditions may play a factor. The majority of Border Collie’s ears will begin to stand up within their first 6 months, with early indicators including pricking their ears to certain stimuli, and one or both ears becoming more frequently semi or fully erect.
As stated, their genetics play a key part and if you are able to meet their parents you will have a better idea (see more on this below!). However, you could get floppy ears from stand-up-eared parents – or vice versa. As with human traits, this is not an exact science!
Border Collie Ear Genetics and Shape
Most dogs’ ears just flap around in the wind, but most Border Collie’s ears are stood up and constantly moving, scanning their surroundings for any sign of something happening. But Border what role does genetics play in ear development? Collies are known for their natural ear shape which is often semi-erect or fully pricked. Superficial breed standards call for this type of ear, but there is some variance among mixed breed and purebred dogs, and genetics is thought to play the leading role.
Border Collie ear genetics and shape: Like human ears and other features, Border Collie ear shape and state (erect or floppy) is determined largely by genetics. It is thought that pricked ears is a dominant gene compared to the recessive gene for floppy ears. However, this is not likely to be a simple Mendelian trait and is likely polygenetic involving many linked genes for example those regulating ear cartilage. This may explain the variability in collie ears with states from standing to floppy and shapes from tulip, airplane, button to long rabbit ears.
Ears play an important role in a border collie’s overall appearance and this does seem mainly to be an inherited trait. They add to their characteristic look and are also used for communication. Ears that are held semi-erect or fully upright allow the dog to better hear potential predators or prey. This is important for a breed traditionally used and exploited by the shepherd for herding farmed animals.
Why Do A Border Collie’s Ears Stand Up?
Do you know when a Border Collie’s ears stand up? Some people believe that it means the dog is excited or happy, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are a few different reasons why a Border Collie’s ears might go up. Even those collies with the longest and most pricked ears will let them hang loose and floppy when they are tired or are crawling out of bed!
If you are a fan of Border Collies, you know that their large, floppy ears are one of the breed’s most distinguishing characteristics. In addition to their herding abilities, Border Collies are also known for being very athletic and agile. They can jump high and run fast, and they love to play games like Frisbee or catch.
Their ears play a role in this too – by constantly moving around, they help the dog stay alert and aware of everything that’s going on around them. This allows them to react quickly to any changes or challenges that come up. But did you know that those ears have a specific purpose? Let’s take a closer look at the function.
Five Important Functions Of The Border Collies’ Ears:
1. To help the dog regulate its body temperature – by flapping its ears, border collies can release heat quickly.
2. To help the dog hear better – the large surface area of the ear collects more sound waves, which helps the dog hear better.
3. To help the dog communicate with other dogs – it is in their nature for dogs use their ears to express a variety of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, fear, and aggression.
4. To protect the dog’s ears from debris and insects – the long fur/hairs on the inside of the ear help keep out dirt and bugs.
5. To act as a signal for when the dog is ready to hunt – when a border collie raises his or her ears up high, it’s signaling to the other dogs that it’s time to start hunting (or playing!)
Should I Set My Border Collie’s Ears?
Within the dog show and breeding circles, Border Collies with erect ears are often considered to be more desirable than those with floppy ears. The ear style – from drop ear to standing up malamutes ears (or airplane ears!) – is sometimes given special points or significance. However, this is completely superficial and Border Collie ear shape has no bearing on their health. How strange, that these individuals may be ‘marked down’ for a perfectly natural healthy trait and cosmetic reasons, judged only by certain human eyes.
Should I set my Border Collie’s ears? Setting a Border Collie’s ears is very uncomfortable and often distressing for a puppy, and it is not recommended that their natural ear development is interfered with. Border Collie ear style – and whether they are standing or floppy – has no bearing on the dog’s health. Some of the healthiest, fittest and happiest Border Collies have floppy or asymmetrical ears. Interference with a puppy’s ear development using DIY methods could also make behavioral issues such as destructive behavior more likely.
So, ear setting or any other kind of modifications or even surgery which is purely for aesthetic (or selfish human) reasons will never be encouraged on this site. The methods used are often archaic for example using glue and sticks to prop up their puppy’s ears. This has mixed results – and like all modifications and ‘enhancements’ can actually have the opposite effect. It is also uncomfortable and completely unnecessary, so let’s leave those puppy ears alone! All Border Collies are intelligent, trainable and lovable regardless of ear type.
Border Collies are generally a healthy breed of dog, known for their double coats (including rough coat and smooth coat collies), their characteristic black and white coloration, a high activity level, love of physical exercise and nature – and of course those bat-like standing ears! In the past, their ears came in handy in listening for commands and herding a flock of sheep coming from the Scottish border region where their herding instinct played a significant role in their breeding and development.
But these days where, thankfully, most collies are loving companions rather than made to work they still retain their traits as an agile and goal-oriented breed and energetic breed – and their characteristic ears which often seem to have a life of their own… honing into any sounds or action they can pick up on! So next time you see a Border Collie, take a moment to appreciate those amazing ears!
The most important factor in terms of ear health is not whether they are standing tall or completely floppy – it is that you visit your veterinarian regularly, especially during the first year (and later years). This, in combination with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet with lots of plant-based food intake and regular diet high in nutrients and being mindful of any food allergies, will keep your pup – and their ears – in top condition!