There are several ways to brace dogs’ ears. Please, speak to your breeder before you start working with them, as they may prefer a certain method of bracing them, or that you don’t brace them at all.

Please be aware, if you brace the ears the wrong way, you may damage the ear, instead of helping it to stand up. Be very careful when applying anything to the ear, that the ear is clean, and that you’re not creating wrinkles or creases in the ear. Also, if the puppy has been putting his ears up himself, leave them alone! They come up and fall down when they’re teething!  If you feel the puppy’s ears need help, first, I would try shaving the ears, especially in plush puppies with lots of fur. I would also try massaging the ears. On puppies whose ears are very low stationed, I would brace right away. I would also brace ears on puppies who haven’t even attempted to put the ears up by the time they’re 4 months old. But, that’s my recommendation, talk to your breeder! 

To massage the ears, have puppy facing you, take your thumbs, right thumb to puppy’s left ear, and left thumb to puppy’s right ear. Run your thumb inside the ear, starting at the bottom and running your thumb towards the tip of the ear. Don’t do it hard! You don’t want to cause a lot of friction. Don’t pull! It hurts! LOL You’re basically gently ironing the creases and wrinkles out of your puppy’s ears with your thumbs. Softly repeat this process. The idea is to encourage circulation to the ears, and hopefully, get them to stand by themselves!

When a puppy is very young, and has ears that are low stationed, you have two ways of bracing them.

One way is to glue the ears together. Tear Mender or Skin Bond can be used for this method. You are basically gluing each ear together, over the dog’s head. Once glued, the dog will look like he’s wearing a cone over his head. In this method, you don’t shave the ears. Apply the glue to the outside borders of each ear, and bring each border together, holding the ears until the glue has dried. You’ll probably need someone else to help you hold the dog still. You must be very careful that there are no creases in the ears when gluing them together! Also, that each ear is in the proper position! I don’t like this method as much as using braces, because I feel the chance of bending the ears the wrong way, or creating creases is greater.

You can buy Tear Mender at fabric stores. You can buy Skin Bond at drug stores, it’s the same product people use for their ostomy bags, or order it from dog catalogs such as JB Wholesale.

My preferred way of bracing ears is by using moleskin, glued to the inside of the ears by applying it with Skin Bond.

First, you must make sure the inside of the ears is clean. Use any product that is safe for the dog, but that doesn’t leave an oily residue. If there are no skin abrasions, I use alcohol, as it dries quickly. But, there are other products, such as witch hazel you can use. Then, you must shave or trim the hair inside the ears, as it will get in the way of applying the moleskin to the ear. Again, it would be safer if you had someone assisting you in this process. 

Moleskin can be bought at grocery or drug stores. It’s found in the foot section of the stores, and each package includes two sheets of the moleskin. Don’t confuse it with molefoam, which is much thicker, and will bend the ear if used. I will talk about the uses of molefoam later on.

Using the moleskin with tabs- I use tabs when the dog’s ears are low stationed. It helps bring the ears up, into proper position. I take a sheet of the moleskin and cut an oval shape leaving a tab on the inside of the oval. I cut this all in one piece. I then reverse this oval with tab onto another sheet and use it as a mold to cut the second piece. If it will help you visualize it, each tab will eventually be tied together, forming an H, with the moleskin oval forming the l and the tab the -- part. The oval size will depend on the size of the dog’s ear. You don’t want to cover the whole inside of the ear with the oval, but leave at least ½ inch margins around the oval to the edge of each ear so the ear can breathe. Then, you make a hole near the end of each tab. You put a piece of string through each hole. I used yarn for this. You then peel the backing of just the oval part of the moleskin and apply Skin Bond. Leave the backing on the tab part or it will get the dog’s hair stuck to it and it will pull on the hair. I then place the oval inside the dog’s ear. Look inside your dog’s ears, there’s a smooth area from the tip, going into the inside of the ear. As it goes into the inside of the ear, the ear starts creating folds of skin I call nooks and crannies. You don’t want to cover these, but apply the oval piece right above these folds, centering the oval inside the ear. If the dog moves, and you apply the moleskin crooked, move it, you still have time! Hold it in place for a few seconds until the glue dries. Then, you repeat the process for the other ear. Give it some minutes for the glue to dry on both ears. Then, take the strings that are going through the holes in the tabs and tie them together, to bring the ears into an upright position.

Sometimes one of the dog’s ears is stronger than the other, and it will pull one ear either towards the outside or towards the middle. You can adjust how tight you tie the strings to compensate for this. If the string stretches, you can also take both tabs and staple them together. If neither of these help, you can also take a piece of molefoam, cut it about ½ inch in width and the length of the oval, remove the backing of the piece you cut, apply Skin Bond to it, and glue it on top of the moleskin. You can glue it to the outside part of the moleskin, if that’s where the ear is bending, or center it over the moleskin piece.

Using the moleskin without tabs- I use the moleskin without the tabs when the dog’s ear bases are in the right place, or when only one ear is bending and won’t stand straight. However, if only one ear is bending, but the base is not where it should be, use the tab method!

I cut an oval piece of moleskin, without a tab. I then repeat the process above, of peeling the backing, applying the glue, and applying the piece to the ear. Usually, moleskin alone is not strong enough to hold the ear up. So, I then take a piece of molefoam, cut it ½ inch wide, and the length of the moleskin, remove the backing, apply the glue, and glue it centered in the middle, over the moleskin. This helps the ear stand straight up, but isn’t too heavy to make it fold forward.

A word of warning. Some people like to use tampons or the left over cardboard roll of toilet paper or of paper towels, cut to size, and glue it inside the dog’s ears. These can slide up, and weigh the ear down, eventually breaking the cartilage of the ear. Once broken, the cartilage will not heal back, and your dog will have a permanent broken ear that can only be repaired by surgery, if at all.

I started by gluing Orion’s ears together. I then moved to the moleskin with tabs method. Eventually, one ear started pulling the other. So, I started using the moleskin without tabs, using the piece of molefoam to help brace the ear up. This has worked the best for me so far! However, Orion’s cartilage is very weak, and I don’t know if he’ll ever have erect ears! But, I keep trying!

Good luck!

Olga Twombly | Leesburg VA | Licensed Breeder | #OTW050205-P



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