How to Make Doberman Ears Stand Up without Cropping

Last Updated on: July 1, 2024

Traditionally, Doberman ear cropping was the standard practice to improve floppy ears. Owners would make their Doberman’s ears stand through a rigorous surgical process. However, doing this to Doberman Pinschers now is inhumane and unnecessary because you can use non-surgical solutions.

Some of the alternative methods require patience as they take time. Nevertheless, they’re better than subjecting your pet to surgery for a natural trait. Therefore, this article will enlighten you on how to make Doberman ears stand up without cropping them.

Ways to Make Doberman Ears Stand Up Without Cropping

Taping and Splinting Your Doberman Ears

Taping and splinting are non-invasive methods that some Doberman owners use to encourage their dogs’ ears to stand up naturally without ear cropping. 

These techniques suit Dobermans with floppy ears or those whose natural ears take longer to stand up. It’s essential to approach this process carefully and patiently, as each dog’s ears may respond differently to these methods. The following is a simple guide:

Gather Materials

  • A soft, breathable medical tape like a surgical cloth or a specialized Doberman ear-taping tape.
  • Soft foam or cushioning material to support your Doberman ears. It also maintains the desired shape.

Assess Your Dog’s Ear

Evaluate your Doberman’s ear shape, size, and current condition. Make sure the ears are clean and free from any infection or irritation.

Prepare the Materials

Cut the tape into manageable strips, and prepare the foam inserts by cutting them into the desired shape. The foam inserts should be long enough to cover the ear from the base to the tip and wide enough to provide gentle support without causing discomfort.

Gently Massage the Doberman Ears

To soften the cartilage and prepare it for shaping, gently massage your pet’s ears at the base for a few minutes.

Attach the Foam Inserts

Place the foam inserts inside the ears to support the ear’s natural standing position. Make sure they are inserted gently and don’t cause any discomfort.

Tape the Doberman Ears

Wrap the tape from the base of the ear, around the ear, and the foam insert. Wrap it lightly but securely to avoid cutting off circulation or causing irritation.

Shape the Ear

Shape the ear by gently folding it upward into its desired position as you wrap the tape. Be cautious and gentle to avoid any discomfort for your Doberman. Leave small gaps between the tape to allow for ventilation and avoid trapping moisture, which could lead to infection.

Monitor and Adjust

Check your Doberman’s ears regularly, at least once a week, to ensure they aren’t irritated or experiencing any issues. Remove the taping immediately if you notice discomfort, redness, or irritation. Be patient and consistent, as each dog’s ears develop at their own pace, so taping and splinting the ears can take several months to show noticeable results.

As the Doberman ears stand, gradually reduce the tape and support used and ensure the ears maintain their desired position.

Exercises and Games

Making a Doberman’s ears stand up through this method doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the desirable results because genetics is the primary factor influencing ear carriage. However, some activities and exercises may promote healthy ear development and encourage them to stand up naturally pain-free, unlike cropped ears. 

Here are some exercises and games that may contribute to stronger ear muscles and cartilage:


This fun game can strengthen the muscles around your Doberman’s ears. Use a strong, durable tug toy to engage your dog in a friendly tug-of-war match.

Obedience Training

Incorporating obedience training into your Doberman’s routine can help stimulate their mental and physical faculties. Commands like sit and down can encourage your dog to use and move their ears more, which may contribute to ear development. Such training is beneficial in two ways: it prevents the pain of cropped ears and shows your pet desirable habits.

Ear Massage

Massaging the base of your Doberman’s ears can stimulate blood flow and strengthen the cartilage. As such, use a gentle, circular motion to promote circulation and keep the cartilage healthy.

Tactile Games

Games that involve touching your dog’s ears can be beneficial. For instance, you can play a game where you gently touch or hold your dog’s ears for short periods, gradually increasing the time as your dog becomes more comfortable. Such games can help familiarize your dog with ear manipulation, which may assist in ear training.

Expose Your Pet to New Sounds

Introduce your pet to many noises like doorbells, car horns, or even your voice calling its name enthusiastically. Such creativity can encourage it to raise its ears and become more alert.

Fetch and Retrieve

Games of fetch can engage your Doberman’s whole body, including its ears. The excitement of chasing after a toy and bringing it to you may naturally encourage it to raise its ears in anticipation.

Allowing your Doberman to socialize with other pets in a safe and controlled environment can be an excellent way to keep them active and engaged. Interactions with other dogs are mentally and physically stimulating, and they may react by raising their ears when playing or communicating with other dogs.

Dietary Supplements

Proper nutrition supports cartilage development and overall health, which can indirectly impact the ears. For instance, maintaining an appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorus in your Doberman’s diet is crucial for healthy bone and cartilage development. An imbalance of these minerals can negatively affect the strength and structure of the pet’s cartilage.

Speak with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s diet includes the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus. Remember, your pet needs sufficient vitamin D for its body to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Further, adequate vitamin D levels are crucial for overall bone health, which indirectly affects the development of your Doberman’s ears.

You find these in fish oil and plant-based sources. They provide anti-inflammatory properties and support joint and cartilage health. Some dog owners use collagen supplements to support cartilage development. However, there’s limited scientific evidence for its effectiveness.

Biotin, a B vitamin, may improve skin and coat health in dogs. While it may not directly affect ear cartilage, it can help maintain overall skin health. Healthy skin can indirectly contribute to better ear health, as irritated or infected ears may affect cartilage development.

Why Should Your Doberman Have Upright Ears?

One of the reasons for upright Doberman ears is to enhance their alert appearance, which aligns with their role as guard dogs and protectors. Further, some perceive that standing ears make a Doberman appear more intimidating, which can deter potential intruders.

On top of that, upright ears are less prone to injury, especially in working and active dogs like Dobermans. Unflopped ears are less likely to get snagged on objects or bitten during confrontations with other animals.

To make the floppy ears of a Doberman puppy stand up, some owners go for surgical ear cropping on Doberman puppies between 7 and 12 weeks old. A veterinarian trims and reshapes the floppy portion of the puppy’s ears, leaving a portion of the ear standing erect to form cropped ears.

Some breeders and owners crop Doberman ears to meet the standards in their regions or kennel clubs. Proponents of ear cropping also argue that it can reduce the risk of ear infections and related health issues. They claim that removing the floppy part through ear cropping ensures better air circulation, which could reduce the likelihood of moisture and debris.

Nonetheless, ear cropping is the subject of debate and controversy, as it involves the removal of healthy tissue and can be painful to puppies. 

Some regions even ban or regulate ear cropping. The healing process after ear cropping is also not the best experience for puppies, and Doberman owners don’t want to see their pets in such pain. Hence, it’s better to use alternative methods to make Doberman ears stand or leave them in their natural floppy shape.


Traditional ear cropping is inhumane and painful to puppies. Therefore, use alternative safe methods to make Doberman ears stand. One of the popular alternatives is taping and splinting. It allows the ears to grow upright naturally. 

You can also use supplements to encourage healthy ear development. However, remember that not all Dobermans will have perfectly erect ears and genetic factors play a significant role in ear development. Hence, the most crucial aspects are proper nutrition, calcium-phosphorus balance, massage, and patience.


Does nutrition play a role in ear standing in Dobermans?

Yes, it does because a well-balanced diet with proper nutrients ensures strong ear cartilage and potentially aids in natural ear standing.

At what age should I expect my Doberman’s ears to stand up naturally, if possible?

Ears can change as the puppy grows. In some cases, natural ear standing might be evident by 5-6 months, but it can take up to a year.

Is ear taping guaranteed to make a Doberman’s ears stand up?

No, there are no guarantees with your dog’s ear taping. The success of this method varies from dog to dog.

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