Why Do Golden Retrievers Have Floppy Ears?

Have you ever wondered why golden retrievers have floppy ears? Of course you did, that is why you are here, so let’s learn why their ears are this way.

So, Why do golden retrievers have floppy ears? Golden Retrievers have floppy ears as a result of cross-breeding with hounds in their early breeding years. Their long floppy ears make them more prone to ear infections as they trap moisture and dirt more easily.

Floppy ear dogs such as golden retrievers are the opposite of wild animals like wolves.

To learn more about the origin of their floppy ears and do they have a hearing issue? Or can they as well as any other dog? Just keep on reading.

The Origin of Your Golden Retriever’s Floppy Ears 

Golden retriever running to illustrate why do golden retrievers have floppy ears

Golden retriever’s floppy ears are because of the simple fact that they were selectively bred to be that way.

Over the years, humans have selectively bred dogs to be so small that they can fit into bags (and even tea cups) and so large that you might mistake them for lions or even horses, so floppy ears are just one other trait that has been passed down from one generation to another.

But that is not the whole story, let me take you back to at least 19,000 years ago when humans and dogs just started to be friends.

A long time ago in western Russia, dogs were utilized to carry out a vast array of highly specialized tasks.

It started with shaping them in a way to help us survive, and it depended on the needs of that era.

Goldens were not bred to hunt, but they were bred to retrieve the game shot down by their owners.

The breed was developed by crossing a retriever with a water spaniel, then crossing their offspring with bloodhounds (from which they got their ears), Irish setters, and then they had the first golden retriever that was first shown in 1908 at the U.K’s crystal palace. 

Can dogs with floppy ears hear as well?

Yes, dogs with floppy ears can hear as well as any pricked ears dog. Both ear types in dogs have 18 separate muscles that control the position of the ear, both can hear much quieter noises, they can also hear a wider range of sounds, and they can detect them from a greater distance than we can.

17 Other Dog Breeds with Floppy Ears 

Here are 17 other dog breeds that also have floppy ears (other than golden retrievers):

  1. Beagle 
  2. Poodle 
  3. Basset hound 
  4. Bloodhound
  5. Coonhound 
  6. Afghan hound
  7. Setter 
  8. English cocker spaniel 
  9. Cavalier 
  10. Japanese chin 
  11. Cocker spaniel 
  12. Havanese 
  13. Dachshund 
  14. Gordon setter 
  15. Irish setter 
  16. Labrador retriever 
  17. Saint bernard  

How floppy Ears Affect a Dog’s Ear Cartilage

The Auricular Cartilage in the dog’s ear

Dogs with floppy ears are just like dogs with pricked ears in almost everything but they are actually a result of malformed ear cartilage.

Some people think that floppy ears, white fur, small jaws, and juvenile faces are tied to domestication syndrome which does not apply only to dogs but also foxes, horses, pigs, rabbits, and sheep.

While this is quite unlikely to be the case with you, however, it is definitely worth learning about the symptoms.

Here are the symptoms and other signs that your dog has domestication syndrome.

The symptoms of Domestication Syndrome

  • Tameness 
  • Increased docility 
  • Reductions in tooth size 
  • Coat color changes 
  • Changes in craniofacial morphology 
  • Alterations in tail form
  • Alterations in-ear form (floppy ears)

Will my puppy’s ears stay floppy?

Your puppy’s ears will stay floppy if they get older than 7 months and still have their floppy ears as dogs develop their prick ears during the ages of 4 and 7 months. All puppies are born with floppy ears that may stick up in 4-7 months but it can also take up to a year for their ears to stand up.

However, there are some puppies’ ears that stay floppy forever, there are some ways you can make it more likely for their ears to stand up.

Are floppy ears dominant or recessive in dogs?

Floppy ears can be caused by dominant or recessive genes depending on the dog’s parents and their gene pool.

Dominant traits require a specific gene for the trait to be expressed in a dog, it is important to either the father or the mother pass on a dominant trait such as the floppy ears. Recessive traits require two copies, one from each parent.

Are all dogs born with floppy ears?

All puppies are born with soft and floppy ears because they lack tough cartilage and strong ear muscles, it takes several months for their ears to stand up fully.

Do puppies get more traits from mom or dad?

Puppies will get their genes from both parents, so they may not necessarily look like one parent more than the other unless one of those parents have more dominant genes that control their looks, in which case the dog is about 75% more likely to look like the parent with the dominant genes.

Are floppy ears bad for dogs?

Floppy ears are bad for dogs, but not terrible, and you shouldn’t do anything about it. That’s because floppy ears are actually the result of malformed ear cartilage and they can not hear that well from having the ear flopped down alongside the face.

Can you tell how big a puppy will get by their paws?

Yes, you can tell how big a puppy will get by their paws.

It is important to note that most puppies’ paws become pretty proportionate to their overall size around three months old, you can usually tell by this age, how much a puppy has to grow. Once they are around six months old, they are about 75% grown.

But you can’t always tell the color they are going to end up in as goldens can change colors as they grow. You can learn why golden retrievers fur gets darker here and find out how and when you can know the color of your golden retriever when they become mature.

Why do puppies look different from their mom and dad?

The reason why puppies look different from their moms and dads is that they inherit genes at random, so they may not necessarily look like their parents.

Their parent’s genetics will mostly appear in size, behavior, and appearance. 

Do big paws mean a big dog?

A puppy’s paw can tell of their adult size. It is the best indicator, especially if they are usually small or usually big, so larger paws correlate with higher height and weight as an adult dog.

If you think about it, it makes sense why a larger breed like the golden retriever needs bigger paws to support a heavier build and taller height. 

Related Questions 

Do Poodles Have Floppy Ears?

Yes, poodles do have floppy ears, besides their unique looks, woolly coats that do not shed much at all, and long muzzles, poodles have floppy ears, and they can not hear as well as the dogs with their ears standing up such as german shepherds or chihuahuas. 

Do dogs with big ears hear better?

Dogs with upright ears do hear better, such as german pinschers, german shepherd, and chihuahua. Because of the placement and size of their ears. Especially when they hear a sound, and they can move their ears up and down and from side to side to help them hear better.

Are floppy-eared dogs friendlier?

Yes, floppy-eared dogs are often friendlier, the T.S.A made it obvious that it has a preference and some jobs require floppy-eared dogs appear friendlier and less aggressive because the jobs are about interacting with traveling passengers.


The origins of Golden Retrievers


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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