When do Westie ears stand up? Many owners of Westie puppies want to know when their Westie will start to get their trademark look with pointy ears that seem to stand up in defiance of gravity.
Does your Westie have floppy ears? Did they start to stand up and then go floppy again? You might wonder if your Westie’s ears will ever stand up. Or are they destined to remain floppy forever?
The good news is, in most cases, a Westie’s ears should stand up naturally as they mature. Westie puppies are born with floppy ears, and as they grow and their cartilage strengthens, their ears typically begin to stand up on their own. This process usually occurs between the ages of 3 to 6 months, although it can vary from dog to dog.
While most Westies’ ears stand up naturally, there can be exceptions. Some Westies might have one ear standing before the other, or their ears might not stand up completely due to genetic factors, injury or illness.
In this guide, we will run through the how and when of Westie ears standing up, plus how to care for your Westie’s ears. We’ll run through how to clean your Westie’s ear, signs of an ear infection and answer some common Westie ear questions.
When Do Westie Ears Stand Up?
It can be difficult to predict exactly when your West Highland Terriers’ ears will begin to stand more upright. But generally speaking, your Westie’s ears should start to stand up between 8 and 12 weeks old. However, it could take 6 months for some Westies to finally straighten their ears.
Westie owners can be thrilled to notice their puppy’s ears perking up but puzzled when they notice them dropping back down just after a few weeks. This is entirely typical. They can regress for a few weeks while cartilage is still growing.
Teething can also affect the age your Westie’s ears start standing up. Puppy teething is merely a normal stage of maturing, and their bodies naturally require calcium during the teething process. Because calcium is being used to grow strong teeth, it is not available to strengthen the internal structure of your Westie’s ears. As a consequence, the previously upright ears may start to droop again. However, once teething is complete, your Westie Terrier’s ears should stand straight up again.
What Age Do Westie Terrier Ears Go Up?
When your Westie is around six weeks old, its ear cartilage should start to form and stiffen. However, your Westie’s ears may not be robust enough to stand permanently until your Westie is 6 – 8 months old.
You may see your Westie puppy’s ears stand up at a younger age, but as teething begins, they usually sag back down until teething has finished.
Do All Westies Ears Stand Up
In general, all Westies ears stand up. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and there are some Westies who have floppy ears into adulthood and for their entire life.
Factors such as genetics, cartilage structure, and individual variation can play a role in whether a Westie’s ears stand up completely or not. Some Westies might have one ear standing before the other, or their ears might not stand up fully.
Why Do Some Westies Have Floppy Ears?
Once teething is over and your Westie is over the age of 9 months, his ears should be standing up naturally. However, some Westies still have floppy ears at this stage.
Here are a few reasons why some Westies have floppy ears:
- Genetics: Ear shape is influenced by genetics. If a Westie inherits certain genes that affect cartilage development or ear structure, it might result in floppy ears.
- Cartilage Development: The development of cartilage in the ears plays a significant role in determining whether your Wesie’s ears will stand up or remain floppy. If the cartilage doesn’t develop or strengthen properly (for whatever reason), the ears may not stand up.
- Environmental Factors: Factors such as diet, nutrition, and overall health during a puppy’s growth period can influence the development of ear cartilage and affect whether the ears stand up or remain floppy.
- Crossbreeding: If a Westie is bred with another breed that has floppy ears, there’s a chance that some puppies might inherit the ear shape of the other breed.
- Illness: Floppy ears in a Westie can also indicate various ailments, such as allergies, hematomas, and bacterial or yeast infections.
If you are worried about your Westie’s ears, consult your vet, who can check your Westie and provide specific expert guidance. If you have ruled out any specific concerns with your vet, long-term floppy ears in a Westie does not typically have any negative impact on their well-being.
Always consult a vet if your Westie’s ears suddenly become floppy, as this may indicate an illness or other health concern.
Why Do Some Westies Have Big Ears?
The size of a Westie’s ears can vary, just like humans have ears of different shapes and sizes. In some cases, they may just appear larger because of the angle at which they’ve grown. (We’ve all known a friend who’s been teased for ears that stick out!).
Here are some reasons why a Westie may appear to have larger ears than a typical Westie:
- Genetics: The size and shape of a dog’s ears are influenced by genetics. If a Westie inherits genes from its parents that contribute to larger ears, it may have bigger ears as a result.
- Face Shape: Some Westies have smaller, narrower faces and their ears may appear larger relative to the rest of their features.
- Individual Variation: Just like with people, dogs can have individual variations in physical traits. Some Westies may naturally have larger ears.
- Puppy Growth: Puppies go through growth spurts, and their body parts, including ears, might appear larger in proportion to their body during certain stages of development. As the puppy matures, the body proportions may even out.
- Ear Angle: How a dog carries its ears can also create the illusion of larger ears. If a Westie’s ears are angled in a certain way, they might appear bigger than they actually are.
Do Westies Have Pointy Ears
West Highland White Terriers do typically have pointy or erect ears. Their ears are usually triangular in shape with a point at the top.
The breed standard for Westies describes their ears as being small, erect, and carried tightly on top of the head. The pointy ear shape is one of the distinctive characteristics of the breed.
Why Does My Westie Have Black Ears?
Black ears in a Westie usually refers to the skin on the inside of the ear and not the fur color on the outside of the ear. It is quite common for Westies to have black or brown pigmentation on the skin inside their ears. Provided it is not accompanied by any other signs of illness or ear infection, this is perfectly normal.
Westie Ear Cropping
Ear cropping is a practice where a dog’s ears are reshaped surgically for aesthetic or cultural reasons. The procedure is typically performed when the dog is a few months old
It is controversial and illegal or highly regulated in many countries due to animal welfare concerns. It can be considered unnecessary and potentially harmful and does not provide any medical or health benefits to the dog.
Ear cropping is not something we recommend at all, but if you are considering it, please, please have a detailed and thorough consultation with a veterinarian who has experience in the procedure and only allow an experienced vet to carry out the surgery.
How Do You Clean a Westie’s Ears
Cleaning your Westie’s ears is an important part of a regular grooming routine. Proper ear cleaning helps prevent ear infections and keeps your dog’s ears healthy.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a Westie’s ears:
1. Gather Supplies
- Dog-specific ear cleaner
- Cotton balls or gauze pads. Never use cotton swabs (Q-tips) as they go too far into the ear canal, pushing wax or dirt deeper into the ear (which you don’t want)
- Treats for rewarding your Westie
- Towels – to dry your Westie and extras to protect your surroundings from potential mess
2. Prepare Your Westie
Choose a quiet and calm environment and make sure your Westie is relaxed and comfortable.
3. Inspect The Ears
Gently look inside the ear canal for signs of redness, irritation, discharge, or foul odor. If you notice any of these signs or if your dog appears to be in discomfort, stop the cleaning process and consult a veterinarian.
4. Apply Ear Cleaner
Use an appropriate Westie-specific ear cleaner to flush out dirt and wax from the ear canal. Follow the instructions on the ear cleaner product you’re using. While holding the ear flap open, gently squirt the solution into the ear canal, making sure not to go too deep. Allow the liquid to remain in the ear for a few seconds before massaging it softly at the base of your Westie’s ear for a few more seconds. The massage helps the ear cleaner to reach deeper into the ear canal and helps loosen any debris.
5. Gently Wipe Away Debris
Take a cotton ball or gauze pad and gently wipe away any visible dirt, wax, or debris from the inside of the ear flap and the visible part of the ear canal. Do not insert anything deep into the ear canal, as this can cause injury.
6. Dry Thoroughly
Finish by drying any remaining wetness off your Westie’s ears with a dry clean cloth or towel.
7. Reward Your Westie
Praise and reward your Westie with treats and affection for cooperating.
8. Repeat for the Other Ear
Provided your Westie is not showing any signs of distress, seize the moment and repeat the process with the other ear. If your dog is restless and becoming uncooperative, wait until a little while before cleaning the other ear.
The frequency of ear cleaning can vary. Some Westies naturally produce more wax and may need ear cleaning more frequently than others. It’s important to clean your Westie’s ears frequently enough to prevent infections but not too frequently that the ear canal becomes irritated and inflamed, which can lead to infections and other issues.
If you notice any signs of ear infection or discomfort, consult with your veterinarian.
Signs Of A Westie Ear Infection
Westie are less susceptible to ear infections than dog breeds with long, floppy ears. However, it’s still important to know the signs of an ear infection in your Westie.
Here are some signs your Westie may display if he has an ear infection. Please note that not all these signs have to be present.
- Ear Scratching: Excessive scratching or pawing at the ears is a common sign of discomfort or irritation.
- Head Shaking: If your Westie is shaking its head frequently or vigorously, it may be trying to relieve discomfort or remove debris from the ears.
- Ear Odor: A strong, unpleasant odor coming from the ears can be indicative of an infection.
- Redness and Swelling: Inflamed or red skin inside the ear flap or visible swelling can suggest an infection.
- Discharge: If you notice any abnormal discharge from the ears, such as pus or a brown, waxy substance, it may be a sign of infection.
- Pain or Sensitivity: Your Westie may show signs of pain when you touch or handle its ears. It may pull away, yelp, or exhibit signs of discomfort.
- Tilting Head: If your dog is tilting its head to one side consistently, it might be a sign of an inner ear infection affecting balance.
- Loss of Balance: Severe ear infections can affect your Westie’s balance, leading to stumbling, falling, or walking in circles.
- Behavioral Changes: Dogs in discomfort or pain may exhibit changes in behavior, such as increased irritability or decreased appetite.
- Unusual Eye Movement: Rapid or jerky eye movements (nystagmus) can sometimes be associated with inner ear infections.
It’s easier to treat a condition if you catch it quickly, so if you suspect that there may be something wrong with your dog’s ears, don’t delay in talking to a vet, who can treat the infection and, if necessary, prescribe medications.
Why Does My Westie Get Ear Infections?
Some Westies are more vulnerable to ear infections than others. Some causes are genetic or just an individual disposition, while others are environmental factors.
- Ear Anatomy: Dogs’ ear canals are generally deeper and more vertical than those of humans. This makes it easier for debris, dirt, moisture, and wax to become trapped, creating an environment ripe for bacterial or fungal growth.
- Moisture: Moisture inside the ear can provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. This can be particularly problematic for dogs that love water. Always dry your Westie’s ears well after bathing, cleaning, swimming or any water play.
- Allergies: Dogs can develop allergies to various environmental factors, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, and certain foods. Allergies can lead to inflammation in the ear canal, making it more susceptible to infection.
- Poor Ear Cleaning: Over-cleaning or inadequate cleaning of a dog’s ears can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and yeast, increasing the risk of infection.
- Wax Buildup: Excessive wax production or failure to clean the ears properly can lead to wax buildup, creating an environment where bacteria and yeast can thrive.
- Health Issues: Dogs with certain underlying health conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, can be more susceptible to ear infections.
- Trauma or Injury: Scratching or head shaking due to irritation or itching can cause trauma to the ear canal, creating openings for bacteria and yeast to enter and cause infection.
- Immune System Deficiency: Dogs with weakened immune systems may be less able to fight off infections, including those in the ears.
If the ear infection is recurrent, your vet may want to look into any underlying causes that need to be managed to prevent future infections.
What is the Treatment for Westie Ear Infections?
The treatment for a Westie ear infection will naturally depend on the severity of the infection and its cause. It is always important to speak to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
These are some common steps that may be taken to treat a Westie’s ear infection:
- Examination: Your vet will examine your Westie’s ears to determine the extent of the infection and identify any contributing factors.
- Cleaning: If there is debris, wax, or discharge in the ear canal, the veterinarian will clean the ears thoroughly.
- Medication: Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe medication. These could include creams, oral medications or ear drops designed to treat with infection and reduce inflammation. If your Westie is experiencing discomfort or pain, your veterinarian may recommend pain relief medication.
It’s important to follow your vet’s instructions for administering medication and attend any follow-up appointments.
In most cases, a Westie’s ears should stand up naturally as they mature and by around 6-9 months of age, their ears should be naturally erect. There are exceptions, of course, and these are usually due to genetics, injury or illness.
Westie puppies are born with floppy ears. The cartilage in their ears firms as they grow, but the process can be a little stop-start, especially when teething starts, so you may see your Westie puppy’s ears stand up and then flop back down again. This is totally normal, and as your puppy grows, their ears should stand up consistently.
It is essential to take good care of your Westie’s ears with regular cleaning and to know the signs of infections so you can act promptly. Acting quickly helps catch any infection in its early stages when it is much easier to treat.
If you have any concerns about your Westie’s ears or health in general, please consult your veterinarian for expert advice.
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