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Yorkie Ears

What Every Owner Needs to Know

There is a lot to an ear...Especially for this toy breed. So, in regard to Yorkie ear issues, let's discuss:
  • Floppy Ears - the age at which the Yorkshire Terrier's ears stand up
  • Taping - Does this method work to make the Yorkie's ears stand erect, and if so, what is the proper method of how to tape
  • Proper Ear Care - Learn which Yorkie ear problems can occur without correct ear grooming
  • Ear Health Issues - Ear infections, with the Yorkshire Terrier, symptoms and treatments
Yorkshire Terrier floppy ears
Obi, 5 months old
Photo courtesy of Lynndee
Floppy Ears

Yorkie puppies are born with floppy ears. They do not have the proper muscle strength at the base of the ear in order to hold them erect. These muscles will grow and become stronger with time (in most cases).

Usually between the age of 3 months to 6 months, the ears will gradually raise up and the stand on their own. One may stand up before the other...typically the other is not far behind and both will match up soon. Some Yorkie puppies are "late bloomers" and the ears may not stand up until much later that one expects... We've seen some take as long as 9 months.

In some instances, the ears may not stand up at all. Those with ears who do not stand erect, as referred to as having Floppy Ears. The only time that this would matter, is in dog show conformance events, such as the AKC events, in which judges are looking for ears that are balanced, V-shaped and standing straight up. Therefore, while it will be a huge fault in show, pet owners should not be too it is just something that does happen now and does not affect health...And it can be looked at by many to be an endearing feature that makes the Yorkie look younger than they are.

What Can I do to Make a Yorkie's Ears Stand Up?In some instances, the ears will simply not stand up on their own, due to a lack of muscle tissue. There are some methods that may work to help improve the dog's ability to strengthen the muscles at the base of the ear. This includes:
  • Taping
  • Massaging the base
  • Shaving the hair. The top 1/3 of upper ear is shaved to minimize the weight on the ears. This method involves shaving both the inside and outside of the dog's ear; usually done with a clipping machine which should not cut the dog's skin.
What is Yorkie Ear Taping & Does it Work?This method is not 100% guaranteed to work; however it does work in some cases. One should stop using this method if it becomes obvious that is is causing discomfort..itching, etc.
  • Begin by shaving the ears, as mentioned above.
  • Clean the ears, using a canine cleaning solution and a Q-Tip. Be sure to not enter too deeply into the canal, as doing so could cause damage.
  • Gently fold the ear, as if you were closing it up vertically (up and down). When folded, the ear will be standing straight up with a point at the very top.
  • Wrap gauze around the base and then secure that with bandage tape or scotch tape. Once both are done, use tape to hold both in alignment with each other. You may need to experiment to find the perfect degree of tightness. Too tight and circulation will be cut off. Too loose and the wrapping will fall right off.
When done correctly, the ears may very well be standing straight on the Yorkie and not flopping to the side of the head.
You will want to leave the taping on for 3 days at a time and then allow the ear to relax and receive fresh air. Be sure to groom and clean the ears in between tapings. Allowing this small break time will not interfere with the overall process. 

Some respond to this within the 3 days, others may take 3 weeks. Ultimately, it will be genetics that are the deciding feature...You can help to push them along, but Mother Nature has the last say.  You may find that this seems to give temporary results. If so, only re-tape if an ear or both ears begins to flop down.

If you do not see results within a month, it is recommended to accept that your Yorkie is either a late bloomer or will have floppy ears. If the ears are not standing up by the age of 7 months, it is most likely not going to happen. Most muscle development is done by this time. There are plenty of adorable purebred Yorkshire Terriers that do not have erect ears...Even though conformation desires this, it is just fine and nothing to worry about if you are not planning on showing your dog. 

These nasty little creatures can not only live in a dog's ears, but can travel to other parts of a dog's body. These are extremely contagious. Treatment is very important, as having ear mites is very uncomfortable and disturbing to a Yorkie. Learn about Ear Mites
Infections and Health Concerns

When you are taking good care of your Yorkie with proper grooming and other elements, it can be frustrating when infections seem to come out of no where.

What Causes this?- Dog ear infections can be triggered by several different elements. Ears that remain wet after bathing or swimming can serve as a host for bacteria. An excess of wax build up may plug the ear and cause infection, foreign objects caught inside of the dog's ear, untreated ear mites or cleaning too deeply can all be causes.

What are the Symptoms?You will know to take your Yorkie to the veterinarian if you notice:
  • A very bad odor is being emitted
  • There is a discharge of liquid or puss
  • The Yorkie is constantly trying to scratch their ears, or rubbing them against objects
  • Touching the ear causes the dog to react with signs of pain, such as a yelping noise.
  • When an infection is left untreated, it can cause the dog to become dizzy, unbalanced and even vomit
Yorkshire Terrier with erect ears
Oliver Wellington, 4 years old
Photo courtesy of Lex & Rick
Treatment - The dog must be examined by the veterinarian. Tests will be performed, including looking into the canals. The ear may be flushed to clean out debris, excess wax or any other elements.

The veterinarian will perform a professional cleaning and then medication will be given to you, to bring home to treat your Yorkie. Most infections clear up in a week or so, if medication is given properly and ears are kept clean.
Reoccurring Problems

Some dogs have chronic ear problems, that keep coming back as soon as the medication is gone and with some dogs, medication never fully fixes the infection. At this point, extensive testing must be done to find the cause of the reoccurring issue.

With this type of issue, it is important to find the cause. Why? Because a lot of ear infections can cause scarring inside the dog's ear and lead to even more serious health concerns. As long as the dog keeps getting hit by infections, scarring will increase and lead to even bigger health issues. Several steps should be performed:

1. A sample of the ear discharge should be examined to identify the exact type of bacteria. or virus.

2. Owners must regularly perform ear washings at home

3. Testing may show that the infections are being caused by allergies. This is the #1 reason for reoccurring infections. Once the cause of the allergy is determined, ...prognosis is good.
beautiful Yorkshire Terrier
Jack, 14 months old
Photo courtesy of Laurie Hoffman (Grandma of Jack)
Pseudomonas Infections - Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a type of bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotic medication. When a dog with reoccurring infections is given many different types of antibiotics, most of the bacteria is killed but not all. What lingers is a strain that is severely strong and resistant.

When the culture of the ear discharge is done, this will show if it is indeed Pseudomonas. This will also show if this strain can be eliminated by the very strong antibiotics of Enrofloxacin or Orbifloxacin. A topical treatment will be given as well to use at home.

Last Resort - If the cause of the reoccurring infections cannot be determined and medication is not working at all, the final step that can be taken is surgery. A specialist will surgically open the vertical canal. The ear is then easily and completely cleaned out and treated.

Chronic ear infections can cause the canal to become very scarred. This scarring can become so immense that the canal becomes almost closed. If so, Ablation is the final option and only done is the most severe cases with dogs n which no cause can be determined and medication just does not help. 
The entire ear canal of the dog is removed. Healthy tissue then regrows in its place. A specialist will do this and this is usually expensive. Most dogs do very well after this surgery and most will never experience infections again.
Prevention and Proper Home Care

Proper grooming is very important. Dogs with a medical history of ear problems do much better with correct home care done on a regular basis. 

* Remove excess hair - Hair blocks the natural flow of air into the dog’s ear canal. Extra hair should be plucked out with tweezers. Powder may be used, this is a powder that makes plucking easier.

* Flushing - Once any excess hair is removed, the ears should be flushed and cleaned. This can be done with an appropriate solution given to you by your dog’s veterinarian, found over the counter at pet supply stores or online. You can look to Grooming' in the Yorkie Specialty Shoppe for recommendations on quality ear care solutions. Once done, gently massage the base where they touch the top of the skull. This helps to move the solution in and around the folds inside. This solution will not only clean, but will dry the canal and help keep the pH balanced. This is done 1 time per week and any time after a bath.
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