Breed Facts

When Do Border Collie Ears Stand Up & Why?

If there is one distinctive feature of a Border Collie, it is none other than their ears. The ears of the Border Collie can speak volumes about their thoughts and attitude. An erect ears of the dog is actually an indication that they are actively listening.

The question is when do Border Collie ears start to stand up? What are the factors affecting their floppy ears to stand erect?

Do Border Collies’ Ears Stand Up?

Standing ears for Border Collies may not be observed on all of them most of the time. Floppy ears can be seen on some BC’s, while standing or upright are prominent on others. There are instances of ear combination on a few Border Collies.

Furthermore, ear positioning is not an indication of a purebred BCs from crossbreed ones. The movement of the Border Collie’s ears on an up and down motion is basically natural especially during the first few stages of their life.

When Do Border Collie Ears Stand Up?

At the age of 6 to 8 weeks, the ear cartilage of the puppy, which is usually supple and malleable, starts to thicken. During this time, the cartilage in the puppy’s ears form in the shape of an adult ear as it ages. This phenomenal process in dog’s anatomy normally takes place from 6 to 12 months!

So, this means that you can still see some BC having soft and floppy ears either on one or both sides. There are also a few Border Collies that can still have semi-erect ears into maturity or it may stand up once they are highly enthusiastic!

Why Do Border Collie Ears Stand Up?

Border Collie staring in front

If you are asking why Border Collies’ ears stand up, then one big contributing factor that determines the sort of ear a Border Collie has is its genetics. While not every Border Collies have them, some do.

Border Collies stand up ears are more likely due to the inheritance from both parents who also had erected ears. However, the Border Collie pup may still have stand up ears even if just one of its parents does. Even though it is less likely to happen.

Another thing that has some connection to the ear development of the puppy is its diet. Teething may cause drooping of erect ears in Border Collies. In order to prevent this, adding calcium to their diet is helpful.

Once the BC pups enter the teething stage, check the vet if calcium can be incorporated in their diet.

However, never go on in giving calcium supplements to the Border Collie unless specifically advised by a veterinarian. Vitamin C, glucosamine, and gelatin are some supplements that are good for cartilage as well. Giving these to the BC might support the ear flap.

Why Don’t Border Collie Ears Stand Up?

Normally, as a puppy grows, we can infer that their floppy ears gradually start to stand up. Some pet owners confessed that they are already surrendering on their BCs ears, without expecting that when the puppy is about a year old, their ears suddenly appear erect! Border Collie ear development upright after a year is highly uncommon.

Sometimes, the dog’s ears may stand up before falling back downwards. There are also instances in which one ear could be up and another down. Some dogs may also walk with upright ears that usually fall when they get tired.

However, what thus delays the erect growth of Border Collie’s ears? There are various factors contributing to the prolonged erection of the ears of a BC. Here are some of them:

  • Bouncy or floppy ears from either the base, tip or middle portion
  • Spacious area between the ears
  • Constant stroking and manipulation of the ears in a harsh way
  • Trying to touch the back of the ears repeatedly
  • Exposure to other canines who bite their ears
  • Peaks in growth
  • Infantile stage

What Determines the Kind of Ears My Border Collie Will Have?

Border collie in focus and listening attentively

In terms of the Border Collie breed, predicting the type of ear that they will have is generally impossible. The BC can have different-looking ears even if the pups came from the same litter. Determining the kinds of ears of the BC involves many variables.

The first one is the breed which is said to be the best indicator of whether a dog’s ears will stand up or not. Some BC have semi-erect ears that only fold at the tip and meet in the middle.

Aside from the breed, signs are also present showing stand up puppy ears. One of it is trying to call your dog or create a noise. Doing this may have a possibility for their ears to stand up.

Another important signal is the location of ears on the dog’s head. A wolf-like ear appearance having close spaces that are higher-set are more likely inclined to stand.

What Shape Will They Have?

The Border Collies display their ears in either up, down, or in a middle position. Keep in mind that their ear direction at birth does not always go the same way. Although genetics plays a significant role in the dog’s physical appearance, it is not an assurance that you can frequently look to their parents to have an idea of what it will look like.

What Shape Are They Supposed To Have?

brown white Border Collie with semi-erect ears

The upright, standing ears that are triangular in shape turns out to be the most common ear appearance that a BC have. Perhaps, the Border Collie ears have different shapes and forms and it actually varies. With that, there is no set shape that BC ears are supposed to have. 

Aside from the most common two upright, triangle-shaped ears, it’s very usual to see one with semi-erect, floppy, or even one standing while the other is floppy ears! Having that said, erect ears, semi-erect, and floppy ears are the examples of BC ears in terms of form, size, and placement.

Key Things Influencing Ear Placement

Below are some of the most crucial ear location factors that may affect the Border Collie’s appearance.

Of course, genetics has the biggest role in ear placement. Ear positioning and form are greatly influenced by the DNA of the puppy. Generally, when it comes to physical attributes, the pups may inherit both of the ears of his parents.

Teething can also have a big impact on the ear development of the Border Collie. However, the effects are relatively transient. Continual eating may eventually stimulate the ears since the jaw and neck muscles are connected to it. According to some vets, they presume that excessive chewing and strong jaw muscles may contribute to enlargement of the dog’s ears occasionally.

There are also instances that excessive ear-fondling affects the ear development of the Border Collie. Touching or fondling the ear cartilage while still on its development stage may alter the shape of the dog’s ears.

Can You Force Border Collie Ears To Stand Up?

Quietly sitting black and white coated Border Collie

It is actually possible to correct the dog ears. But, it will not increase the possibility that your BC will have offspring with perfectly erect ears. Once the ears of the Border Collie seem to be floppy, numbers of BC owners are trying to adjust it. However, the most crucial thing to think about is whether ear repair for the dog is necessary or not.

Bracing or taping the dog’s obstinate ears during adulthood is already a practice of most breeders nowadays. This is despite the AKC rules banning the intentional modification of a dog’s appearance.

Taping The Ears

Ear taping for dogs is a painless, non-invasive procedure to have the desired shape for their ears. The strength of the dog’s ear muscles can support their ears in the desired posture.

Few pet owners are still doing this to their dog up until adulthood. Start doing this process before your pooch reaches 7 months and once they are, stop. If you do this during puppyhood, the ears will shape up as they develop, making them stand up straight. Though this does not have any health advantage.

As you decide to tape the ears of the Border Collie, you can choose from two available options. The first one is wrapping. In this method, you need to have masking tape or anything similar that will serve the purpose of wrapping the tape around their ears. Fold over the tip of the individual ear and wrap it in an upright position.

Keep in mind not to roll or crease the ear vertically. Simultaneously tape the dog’s ears into the front of the head so that it will remain in place giving off a more stand up look.

Cutting is the second option of taping the Border Collie’s ears. From the moleskin of the dog, cut out two similar shaped oval supports. You can also use another material that is stiff enough. At the inner portion of the ears, put the template into a flat surface. Afterward, fold over the ear tips.

In case the tape falls during your play or sleep time, it is best to reapply it. Once you do, wipe the inner ear of the dog in a gentle motion prior and after application. That way, you will assure that there are no gummy residues left on the skin surrounding the ears.

Health of Border Collie Ears

In general, purebred dogs, including the Border Collie, usually experience ear and health problems more often. One of the health issues among this dog breed is hearing loss. In the midst of 1 to 8 years, the Border Collies may suffer from adult-onset deafness (AOD) right after the early-onset deafness (EOD).

Aside from that, nerve damage, ear infection, or a genetic condition may be observed from BC having an unusual shape of the ears. The breed also has sensitivity to loud noises and is more susceptible to deafness. This is due to the insufficiency of pigmentation of their inner ears. But, it is more likely to happen to all-white colored or largely white dogs.

Taking Care of Border Collies’ Ears

In order to completely groom the Border Collie, you should not ignore taking care of its ears. Regular checking of their ears especially for the presence of ticks and mites is a must. Although the Border Collie is not as violent as any other dog breed, they may still develop cuts and abrasions on their ear area. With that, it is also crucial to check for any ear damage as well.

Border Collie with piece of wood on mouth while playing outside

Cleaning the external portion of the BC’s ears and ear canal is a part of their regular grooming. Clean the inside portion of the external ear. Make sure to clean off nooks and crannies of the black debris that will surely accumulate on its ears. Moreover, it is good to consult the veterinarian and let your dog’s ear be examined. 

How to Clean Border Collie’s Ears

In cleaning the ears of the Border Collie, using a cotton swab should be avoided. Even though it is the well-known practice of many, this method is not the best way of cleaning it. Doing so may lead to the difficulty of removing the wax and debris as they will push deeper inside the dog’s ear. The worse, it will then result in infection.

To clean the Border Collie’s ears, just simply wipe the wax or debris using a moist cloth. A piece of gauze is also a good alternative.

Afterward, massage the base of the BC’s ears. That way, you can assist in removing any wax or lodged particles into its ears. The use of a cleaning solution by filling it inside the ears is generally helpful.


The ears of the Border Collies are one of the distinctive features of this dog breed. You may see one BC having a floppy ear or another one with an upright ear. Ear development of dogs in an upright position entails different variables why some BC may have it in a later stage. Having that said, many fur parents are forcing the ears of their BC to stand up by taping it.

Though taping the ears of the Border Collie is a painless procedure, doing so does not guarantee any health benefits for your dog. Still, the best thing to do is to take good care of your furry buddy. Consulting the vet and having them examined may provide the Border Collie the best of health that they deserve.

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