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Why Do Dogs Flip Their Ears Inside Out? – What To Do

Canines possess remarkable ears that can move in various directions and show their feelings. At times, you may observe that your pooch’s ears are flipped inside out, uncovering the pink internal ear.

Why Do Dogs Flip Their Ears Inside Out? Is it an indication of uneasiness, interest, or something else? In this article, we will investigate the potential reasons for this conduct and how to help your canine if they experience difficulty flipping their ears back to ordinary. We will likewise take a gander at the structure and capacity of the canine’s ear and how it contrasts with people.

Why Do Dogs Flip Their Ears Inside Out? – (Typical Reasons)

The most frequent motivations for ear flipping include:

Discomfort – Scratching irritation from allergies or ear infections. Folding ears exposes the inner canal.

Head shaking – Vigorous wet head shakes after baths or swimming rotates ears.

Playing – Puppies especially will nibble and tug playfully on siblings’ ears.

Sleeping – The weight of the relaxed ear against the bedding twists it inward.

Stretching – Contorting head during full-body stretches bends ears reversibly.

Submission – Some dogs flip their ears back in appeasement.

Attention-seeking – Owners’ reactions to the silly ears encourage the behavior.

So in most cases, inside-out ears are just everyday movements resulting in temporary silly positioning. Next, let’s cover some tips on how to re-erect flopped ears.

How to Fix Flipped Dog Ears

To reposition ears gently:

  • Grasp the base lightly with the thumb inside, and fingers outside
  • Roll ear outward between fingers in a “pinching” motion
  • Stroke outward to unflop the inner flap first
  • Rub base to encourage blood flow if ear tips seem sluggish

Never forcefully yank soft ear leather. Use saline drops if the inner skin seems irritated after prolonged inversions. Monitor for frequent head shakes indicating discomfort.

When Should Flip Ears Concern You?

See your vet if:

  • Ears seem painful, inflamed, or swollen
  • Flipping lasts over 10-15 minutes
  • Happens frequently throughout the day
  • Dog can’t self-correct even with head shakes
  • Inner skin appears raw or infected
  • Both ears invert simultaneously
  • Discharge, odor, or crusting accompanies chronic flipping

Let’s explore some medical issues that may underlie painful, persistent ear inversions.

Medical Reasons for Frequent Ear-Flipping in Dogs

Otitis Externa (Ear Infections)

Inflammation swells ear canals, causing painful inversions. Requires cleaning, medicated drops, and sometimes oral antibiotics to resolve the infection.

Food or Environmental Allergies

Itchy skin, wax, and head shaking from allergies lead to recurring ear irritation and flipping. Elimination diet trials and allergy treatments can provide relief.

Foreign Bodies

Grass seeds, foam, ticks, or other lodged objects cause discomfort and ear flapping as dogs paw to remove them.


Vigorous head shaking ruptures blood vessels in the ear flap, causing fluid pockets. Surgery drains the hematoma to reduce flipping.

Neurological Disorder

Dogs with epilepsy or other neurological conditions may have seizures or spasms causing ear folds.

Congenital Defect

Lop, prick and mixed ear types have cartilage prone to weak spots and reversals.

So while brief inside-out ears are usually benign, recurrent or painful inversions should prompt an exam. Veterinary treatment tailored to the underlying cause can help resolve distressing ear issues.

Why Do Puppy Ears Flip Frequently? Is This Normal?

During teething between 12-20 weeks old, soft puppy ear cartilage is still developing shape memory. Floppy ears get inverted easily. Pups may also playfully nibble littermates’ ears.

Monitor for signs of otitis, but otherwise enjoy the amusing antics while they last. Those cute Roly Poly puppy ears strengthen quickly. Frequent flipping subsides around 5-6 months old for most breeds.

When Do Puppies Ears Normally Stand Erect?

Average ear strength milestones:

8 weeks – Ears just starting to lift away from the head.

3 months – Ear cartilage firms sufficiently to maintain upright.

5 months – Full ear carriage ability develops.

6-7 months – Most breeds achieve permanent ear pose.

Some giant breeds like Danes and Bloodhounds take even longer, up to a year. Be patient! Temporary flipping is normal while ears gradually strengthen.

Why Does My Dog Tilt His Head When One Ear Flips Inside Out?

The head tilt response helps dogs reorient their sense of balance after one ear inverts. With sound and spatial perception thrown off by one collapsed ear, cocking their head prompts the inverted ear to re-erect into the proper position.

Dogs with chronic ear infections may habitually carry their heads tilted to favor the problematic ear. See your vet if head tilting persists when both ears appear normal.

Why Do Some Breeds Have Floppy Ears Prone to Flipping?

Selective breeding influences ear types. Floppy ears develop from:

  • Lack of cartilage to hold ear erect
  • Weight of heavy ear leather
  • Loose skin coverage

Breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Bassets, and Bloodhounds have lengthy, pendulous ear flaps that collapse frequently. Though normal for the breed, excessive rubbing or shaking still warrants examination for potential issues.

Is It Bad for Dogs’ Ears to be Flipped Inside Out for Long Periods?

Leaving ears inverted too long can harm vascular health. Prolonged inversions cause:

  • Fluid drainage impairment
  • Decreased blood circulation
  • Increased temperature and moisture – perfect bacterial breeding ground!

Check ears frequently and re-erect any chronically flopped sections promptly to prevent irritation and infection.

Should I Tape My Puppy’s Ears to Help Them Stand Up?

Veterinary guidance on ear taping varies. Some advise taping floppy puppy ears loosely into a natural upright position to “train” the cartilage as it strengthens.

However, many experts argue this risks damaging developing cartilage and impairing circulation. Taping also tends to irritate the skin.

Most puppies’ ears achieve full upright carriage on their own by 6-8 months old without intervention. Be patient! Only tape under veterinary supervision.

When Should Dogs Wear Ear Wraps for Protection?

Ear wraps protect vulnerable breeds during activities where their long-hanging ears could get damaged or collect debris.

Apply vet wrap or gauze to shield ears when:

  • Swimming
  • Halloween costumes
  • Playing rough with other dogs
  • Running through overgrown brush or woods
  • Molting season to reduce fur buildup
  • Mealtimes to avoid infection from food particles

Remove ear wraps promptly afterward and ensure the insides remain dry.


While amusing when it happens, keep tabs on ear flipping frequency in your dog. Temporary flips are harmless, but chronic irritations signify health issues needing treatment. Know what’s normal for your breed. Alert owners and vets to resolve problems early before discomfort or damage occurs. With attentive care, those fabulous ears bring years of endearing expression and communication with your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog only flip one ear at a time?

Usually, only one ear flips because the action comes from head shaking or unilateral scratching. Both ears folding simultaneously can indicate neurological issues. As long as your dog can self-correct single ear flips, consistency is nothing to worry about. Monitor to ensure irritation is not causing one ear to flip chronically.

My dog’s ears make loud cracking sounds when she flips them – is this normal?

Yes, loud ear pops or cracks when flipping are common and not concerning. This comes from air releasing rapidly as the ear canal opens. The eardrum remains safe despite the dramatic sound. Only worry if cracking accompanies head shaking or apparent pain. Otherwise, view the pop as confirmation your dog opened her ear back up!

Why does my dog rub his head on the floor after his ears flip inside out?

Itchy ears from allergies or infections cause dogs to rub their ears against surfaces trying to scratch them. Unfortunately this often just results in more irritation and inversion. Identify and address the root cause of the itchiness to break the cycle. Also, discourage vigorous head rubbing.

Why does my dog suddenly nip at her own tail when her ears are flipped?

When struggling to right inverted ears, dogs instinctively nibble their flank and tail area trying to “catch” the tip of the affected ear in their mouth to unflop it. Pay attention to ensure obsessive tail chasing isn’t causing injury. If ear carriage issues persist, seek veterinary guidance.

I can’t get my dog’s ear to flip back – it is stuck inverted. What should I do?

See your veterinarian promptly if a flipped ear remains rigidly adhered in the inside-out position. This indicates an anatomical abnormality, inflammation, or a foreign object lodged deep in the canal impairing normal movement. Never forcefully try to reposition a truly stuck ear. Medications, flushing, or surgery may be required for permanent inverted ears.

Why does my puppy grunt and whine when I flip his ears back to normal?

Puppies will vocalize if ear flipping is painful. Persistent whimpering when you reposition their ears suggests potential infection or irritation. Schedule a veterinary visit to examine for signs of otitis externa. Providing relief for inflamed ear canals will make your puppy much more comfortable.

I think my dog has an ear infection – can I just flip the ears to medicate inside?

Do not attempt to self-treat suspected ear infections by flipping ears. Bring your dog to the veterinarian for a full exam first. Fluid and discharge in the canal indicate possible otitis. Your vet will collect samples, determine the type of infection, and provide the proper topical or oral medication to clear it up. Never put anything in your dog’s ears without veterinary guidance.

Why does my dog rub her ears on the carpet after baths?

Wet ear canals are very itchy and irritating to dogs. Rubbing on the carpet provides friction trying to scratch, dry, and reposition heavily saturated ears. Use a towel immediately after bathing to gently dry ears inside and out. Also, consider an ear drying solution recommended by your groomer. Never use cotton swabs which can damage ears.

Why does my dog flip his ears when I talk to him?

When focused intently, dogs will alter their ear position to best funnel sound waves toward what they are concentrating on hearing. Flipping forward aims the canals toward sound sources like an owner’s voice during training. It also exposes more ear surface area to pick up sound frequencies and aid hearing.

My dog’s ears make a loud crinkling sound when she moves them. Is this normal?

Yes, crinkling or crackling sounds are normal for very erect, stiff, or thick ears as the cartilage rubs together. As long as your dog isn’t showing signs of pain or irritation, view the crinkling as confirmation they are actively using their ears expressively without issue. It’s similar to knuckle cracking in humans.

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