Did you know there was a scientific reason why there are dogs with floppy ears? No, well, neither did I. But there is, and it took one of the world’s preeminent scientists to work it out for us.
Over 150 years ago, Charles Darwin was the author of a book titled The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. It seems Mr. Darwin was fascinated by contradictions in nature, namely why there are domesticated animals with floppy ears while other animals have upright and erect ears?
He concluded that because people had domesticated the animals, they did not need erect ears because they were seldom alarmed by danger.
This phenomenon now has the name ‘domestication syndrome’ and has something to do with neural crest cells identified from work carried out by a Swiss anatomist Wilhelm His Sr.
A study in 2014 found a connection between neural crest cells and domestication syndrome. By domesticating animals, humans have interfered with the quality and level of animal neural crest cells.
Humans are now aware that neural crest cells are responsible for animals’ features, such as the skeletal and connective tissues, pigmentation, teeth, facial, and adrenal glands. These glands have a direct link to an animal’s flight or fight responses.
The neural crest cells are also directly involved in the regulation of cartilage. As ears are mostly cartilage, you can see why ears might become droopy if the cartilage is not sufficiently healthy enough to support the ears.
You might even say that floppy ears are a deformity. However, continual breeding has now passed floppy ears on, and of course, it’s part and parcel of many breed standards. Other than keeping them clean, the ‘defect’ of floppy ears does not compare to other breeding deformities such as the long backs (causing ruptured spinal discs) of a Dachshund or Brachycephalic Syndrome.
Top 8 Dogs With Floppy Ears
1. Basset Hound
The Basset Hound is running as the 39th most popular dog in the US, with good reason. Instantly recognizable everywhere he goes.
Basset hounds have probably the longest pair of floppy ears in the dog kingdom. Not built for speed, their motto is, get there in the end, because they have high endurance and persistence. The Bassett also has the second-best scenting ability, behind only the Bloodhound.
They are a fiercely loyal family dog, but not demonstrably so.
Not an easy dog to train, especially for the first time owner. But in the right hands and given bags of patience and love, they can be taught.
The Bloodhound ranks number 49 on the AKC (American Kennel Club) popularity list.
Bloodhounds are very relaxed dogs; they are almost totally docile. But give a Bloodhound a scent to follow and watch the dog come alive. They are relentless and can track a scent for miles. Another dog with huge floppy ears.
They do enjoy being around family, and that includes kids. But on walks, they need leashing because they will follow their noses, wherever it takes them, which sometimes gets them in trouble. They need to exercise every day. Going for long walks is what they enjoy.
You must let these dogs sniff when you’re out with them; it’s what makes them happy. A Bloodhound is not an easy dog to train; they need an experienced owner taking care of them.
The Beagle is number 6 on the popularity list from the AKC. The Beagles are hunting dogs and work in packs, so they love the company of other dogs. They make one of the most loving family dogs and are great with kids.
There are two Beagle sizes, one variety a little under 13 inches tall and the second variety up to 15 inches tall. Both types are identical in every way except for the difference in size.
The Beagle’s best assets are his beautiful features and floppy ears. They are incredibly smart with a curiosity to match. They need lots of playtime and exercise.
As with all strong-minded dogs, early socialization is necessary. The Beagle responds best to firm but positive reinforcement training methods. They love a treat, so training should be easy if the owner follows those guidelines.
4. Cocker Spaniel
Ranking number 30 on the AKC list of most popular dog breeds, the Cocker Spaniel is a hugely popular dog worldwide.
The Cocker has a cute look about him. He looks naughty, and with those big floppy ears, no wonder the breed is so widespread and popular. They fall ideally into two camps. Big enough to be an excellent sporty companion for those exercise buffs but small enough to carry them wherever you go.
They take a fair amount of grooming to keep their coats looking in the prime of health, but the reward will be plenty of admiring glances when you’re out with him.
The Cocker is a dog that loves to please. So training him with lots of love is the way to go. If he’s not behaving, just a firm no is enough to make him stop his antics. Do not impose harsh treatment on a Cocker Spaniel.
5. Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is a lofty and distinguished-looking dog and is number 113 on the AKC list of most popular dogs in America.
An Afghan’s dedication and loyalty to their family is second to no other dog and has a delightful and happy personality. The Afghan is an extremely athletic dog, requiring exercise every day, capable of prodigious speeds reaching speeds up to 40 MPH.
The Afghan is relatively easy to train because they love to please their pet parents; basic training commands are easy to convey. However, they can never get the hunting instinct out of their system and will chase smaller prey. An Afghan is difficult to re-home if necessary; they find it hard to readjust to new owners.
To keep an Afghan’s coat in prime condition takes several hours of brushing each week, and the dog will need bathing regularly.
The Havanese is the only dog native to Cuba, rapidly gaining popularity in the US; they are now at number 24 on the AKC list.
Havanese are not big dogs and are growing in popularity with people living in city apartments. Their coat is a gorgeous silky texture and can be long, corded, or the puppy-cut style. The Havanese love their family but tend to bond with one family member, often the human family’s female.
Training is not tricky. The Havanese love to please and enjoy treats enough that they will do what is necessary to get one. They will not respond to harsh treatment and are resentful and stubborn if an owner treats them that way.
Havanese are not a dog to leave alone for hours; they will suffer from separation anxiety.
If you’re thinking about having a Dachshund better, make sure you don’t live in a home with many steps. With the Dachshund’s long back, they can suffer from ruptured discs and can be in a great deal of pain if they have an accident.
Having said that, they are popular worldwide and are number 12 on the AKC list. There are two sizes and three varieties of Dachshund. Standard and miniature sizes with a long, wire, or smooth coat.
They originate from Germany, and their name means badger (dach) dog (hund). Bred for digging out and hunting badgers, today they are still prolific diggers. If you have some flowerbeds you’re proud of, don’t let your Dachshund loose on his own in your garden.
Over the years, they seem to have picked up some not-so-flattering names, such as ‘Sausage Dog’ or hot dogs.’ With long backs, short legs, long muzzle, and big floppy ears, the Dachshund is quickly recognizable.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a member of the Toy group, albeit one of the larger breeds in that group, and is number 18 on the AKC list of the most popular dogs in the US. The breed is also equally as popular worldwide.
They are primarily lap-dogs and will not need an invitation to jump into your lap at every opportunity. The Cavalier is a people pleaser; he is friendly and carefree with a calm, peaceful personality.
The Cavalier is a dog who epitomizes the phrase ‘velcro-dog.’ Wherever you are, you will find your Cavalier one step behind at all times. They cannot be left alone for more than a couple of hours before they begin to get anxious.
Cavaliers are excellent with children, even small children. But a child needs to understand respect for an animal and treat a Cavalier gently. The dog loves to play, though, and can be a little rowdy when they are young. Training a Cavalier isn’t difficult as long as positive reinforcement is the method of training. Cavaliers do not respond to harsh treatment and will only become stubborn.
Dogs with floppy ears are so adorable. Everyone has their opinion, and that’s as it should be. But you have to admit dogs with floppy ears look as though they need a cuddle, don’t they?
Hopefully, this article has also helped to clear up the reason why some dogs have floppy ears. Of course, there are many more dog breeds with floppy ears out there in the world; these dogs on our list is just a concise selection.