There’s no doubt about it, dogs with pointy ears are super cute. But have you ever stopped to consider why some dog breeds retain their ancestor’s ear shape while other breeds have floppy ears?
It’s not just happening to dogs, though, if you think about pigs and wild boars or what about goats on a farm compared to pointy-eared mountain goats, and that’s only two other examples.
Well, guess who’s to blame? Yes, you got it in one, us pesky humans. We’re responsible for the domestication of animals over dozens of centuries. It all has to do with something called neural crest cells.
These cells form during the embryo’s development and are in nearly every part of the animal. A critical way that neural crest cells affect animals is in how much adrenaline the animal produces. If there are fewer of these cells, then that reduces the amount of adrenaline the animals can make. In turn, because these animals are no longer in the grip of such intense flight or fight responses, they are friendlier, do not recognize danger so readily, and in effect, become domesticated.
Some scientists have even gone further with this hypothesis and suggest that reducing the number of neural crest cells affects other parts of the animals – for example, the ears. For a wild dog, the ears are a vital part of its survival armory. Hearing a predator before seeing them is essential to survival because wild animals cannot rely on their sense of smell. All predators instinctively know they need to be upwind of their prey, so their scent doesn’t give them away.
Centuries of selective breeding have ensured that only the most attractive traits of dogs survive and are encouraged. By the way, the name given to this is “domestication syndrome.”
A Dog’s Ear Shape – The Advantages
Dogs with pointy ears or erect ears can hear better than their floppy ear companions. For example, a German Shepherd has better hearing than a Beagle due to the ear’s positioning on top of the dog’s head. When dogs hear a sound, they can move their ears up or down and even from side to side to establish where the sound is emanating.
This ear positioning is, without doubt, a throwback to their ancestors, when dogs had to know from which direction any threat would be coming from. To accomplish this feat and make such small adjustments, dogs have eighteen independent muscles in their ears.
A Dog’s Hearing Advantage
Dogs are incredible protectors of life and property. One major asset they have is, of course, their hearing. How often have we been sat listening to a movie or reading, and our dog suddenly starts to growl or becomes agitated? We, on the other hand, are oblivious to any different sounds.
We can hear sounds that are up to 20 feet away; if our hearing is fair. On the other hand, a dog can pick up those same sounds from over 80 feet away.
Dogs Have Independent Ears
A dog’s hearing is a fascinating topic. Did you know that a dog’s ears can receive a different message in each ear? Their ears can move in different directions, like separate radio antennas picking up sounds from various sources. This is why a dog seemingly occupied with something will still hear you doing something interesting enough for him to come over to investigate.
Some dog breeds excel at search and rescue, and this is a huge reason why. They can pick up different sounds from separate locations that humans would never have heard. We know dogs have an incredible sense of smell, but their hearing ability is something to behold.
8 Dog Breeds With Pointy Ears
1. Siberian Husky
First on our list of dogs with pointy ears is the Siberian Husky. The Siberian is a friendly and trusting dog that doesn’t show any aggressive tendencies, nor is he overly possessive. He’s not going to be the most successful guard dog on the block, that’s for sure. He’s far more likely to welcome intruders and make them feel at home.
As you would be expecting, from their background as sled dogs, they love the outdoors. A Siberian must have loads of good quality exercise, and by that, I don’t mean a 10-minute walk on the leash. Yes, a Siberian Husky can have that as well, but he requires exercise that exerts him, especially when the weather is cooler. They are working dogs, which gives the Husky a purpose. Remove exercise and the opportunity to work from a Husky completely, and they will become destructive and temperamental.
If you have a large yard and want your Husky to burn off energy, make sure you erect the best possible fence. The Husky is a world-class escape artist and will view any lapse in security as an excuse to escape. Jumping over or digging under, they will try.
Huskies also have a very intense prey drive. The Siberian will chase and kill small pets and if you want a cat in the house, then ensure the Husky grows with the cat from a puppy. Even then, don’t assume all will be well, keep an eye on your Husky.
Because a Husky is an intelligent dog, they can be stubborn, and training is not always easy. Their penchant for doing what they want overrides their need to please their owners, at least most of the time. So positive reinforcement with a firm and patient hand is the best way to train them. The Husky might not be the best breed for the first time dog owner.
2. German Shepherd
Number two on our list of dogs with pointy ears is the noble German Shepherd – a hugely popular dog both in the US and worldwide. If you want to determine and understand a dog’s temperament, it’s best to think about the purpose the owners initially bred the dog for. It’s not an exact science but usually close enough to give you some idea of the dog’s personality.
If you study the German Shepherd’s ancestry, they came from selective breeding of sheep herding dogs. To function in that capacity, they would need individual skills, such as instant obedience to their human master, natural athleticism, and the drive to chase animals.
But the dog is also well-known and sought after as a sentry and security dog. In the second world war, the military used them to carry messages behind enemy lines. They are now successful police dogs. These personality traits would endow them with a wariness of strangers and highly developed instincts for protection.
German Shepherds need socializing from a very young age. The optimum time for this is from six weeks to fourteen weeks. If you leave it longer and the dog will have already been learning bad habits that are exceptionally difficult to change.
If you decide on a German Shepherd, then choose your breeder wisely. Not all German’s are family dogs. Some are bred specifically for police and protection work. For an inexperienced owner, this can be a daunting task to train a dog such as this.
These dogs don’t know what fear is and can be territorial; these traits must be considered when socializing the dog. Know what you want from the German Shepherd before you approach any breeders, then make sure you pick the one that breeds the kind of dog with the personality traits that appeal to you.
3. West Highland Terrier
If someone were to ask you what does the typical terrier look like, what would you say? I think you would probably choose the West Highland White Terrier. Well, I might be wrong, but he is the epitome of most people’s idea of a terrier.
The Westie is a stable, adventurous, and courageous little dog. He needs his daily exercise, walks, and some play activities. He’s a nosey little fellow and enjoys knowing what’s going on around him. Terriers don’t generally have an amiable nature, but not so the Westie; he’s a lot calmer than most. He’s even OK around other family pets. That friendliness doesn’t extend to other forms of creatures that cross his path. Animals such as rabbits will be chased and probably killed if they get too close to a Westie.
Terriers are usually smart little dogs, and the Westie is no exception. They need firm handling, but not in a harsh manner. Westie’s will respond well to training if they get lots of food treats. You will need to socialize him well, and from a young age, they can be territorial and possessive, so this requires coaxing out of the Westie.
A Westie’s pointy ears look like furry triangles on top of their heads. With a broad base and short apex, they have excellent hearing. Too good in some instances because it doesn’t take much to start them off barking.
While it’s difficult to generalize about dog breeds because each dog has its personality, there are some traits that most Chihuahuas share. For example, there is the adorable round head, slightly bulging eyes, and the perky pointy ears.
Other mannerisms they share are funny, energetic, captivating, and worship their owners. They have an off-the-wall, kooky personality that is incomparable to other dog breeds. I’m speaking in general terms, yet, it’s surprising how most Chihuahuas are like this. Chihuahuas vary, of course. Some can be quite nervous or timid, most are pretty courageous, but some can be nervous about their shadows.
These variations come about because some Chihuahua owners don’t socialize their dogs well. In many cases, not at all. This non-socialization may be why the Chihuahua gets a bad rap as an aggressive, ‘ankle-biter’ little dog. Some owners genuinely seem to forget that for all his tiny size, he’s still a dog, with a dog’s instincts. Allowing a Chihuahua to do what he wants is a recipe for disaster. They are smart and know how to take advantage of situations. Laughing and finding bad behavior funny is not the way to bring up any dog. They deserve better from their pet parents.
How is creating a neurotic dog ever going to be suitable for the animal? Like young children, puppies need guidelines to follow and obey, or they grow into horrible adults. For many people, the Chihuahua is the perfect dog. He’s small, easy to handle, easy to clean up after, can be taken almost anywhere. No wonder so many celebrities adore their Chihuahuas.
5. French Bulldog
When we talk about dogs with pointy ears, they don’t come any cuter than the Frenchie. Those ‘bat ears’ as they are affectionately known, make this dog instantly recognizable. A Frenchie doesn’t look like a particularly happy dog, but inside that gruff exterior is a wonderfully amiable and friendly dog.
You wouldn’t think it to look at a French Bulldog, but they have a very sensitive side and do not respond well to harsh discipline or training methods. They can be stubborn and frustrating when trying to train them, but with positive training, lots of patience, and a ready supply of treats, they do very well.
They have plenty of energy, as a puppy, and they might be a little ungainly but they love to run and frolic off-leash. As Frenchies get older, they prefer to spread out in front of the fire or up on the couch, relaxing with their owners.
Owning a Frenchie means learning to love some pretty unpleasant personal habits. Farting, snorting, and snuffling are par for the course with every French Bulldog; it’s just who they are. Because their build Frenchies are terrible swimmers, owners need to be mindful of this if they are near water or they have a swimming pool in their yard.
The Corgi is another on our list of dogs with pointy ears. There are two distinct breeds of Corgi, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. They share different ancestors, but cross-breeding occurred in the 19th century.
If you look at the two dogs together, you will be able to spot the difference. The Pembroke does not have a tail and more pointy ears. Of the two breeds, the Cardigan came along first.
Inducting the Corgi into the Kennel Club in 1925, their classification was as a single breed. Which, of course, had rival breeders gnashing their teeth in despair. The situation deteriorated sufficiently for there to be a reappraisal, and in 1934 the Corgi was officially given the recognition as two separate breeds.
The translation of Corgi from Welsh means Dwarf (Cor) Dog (gi). The Corgi makes a good guard dog but is an incessant barker. However, he’s a very polite dog to visitors and minds his manners. The Corgi learns quickly, but the Pembroke is probably a little easier to train than the Cardigan. Positive reinforcement training works best with a lot of patience. Corgis are brilliant dogs to have around if you live on a farm; they are great around other animals.
7. Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is originally from Japan. It’s thought part of their heritage was from Spitz-type dogs over three hundred years ago. Some of the Akita Inu features bear this out with the small wedge looking head, little pointy ears, and tightly curled tail all specific spitz. Since 2006 there have been two distinct breeds, the Akita and the Akita Inu.
The Akita Inu is an intelligent dog, easy to housetrain, and is not known for overzealous barking. Because of their natural intelligence, boredom sets in quite early, and Akitas needs the training to challenge them. They are a wild hunting dog, so activity using their natural skills is the way to keep them motivated. Praise and reward is the ideal way to train the Akita.
Very early socialization with other animals and people is essential with the Akita. If not, they can be dog aggressive and become over-protective of their family. If you have children in your family and would like to adopt an Akita Inu, bear in mind that they can be food and toy possessive, so it’s best to keep children away when eating.
Akita owners cannot leave small pets and other animals near an Akita Inu; they have a severe prey drive and chase and kill small animals. Even though they are a large breed and look as though they need masses of exercise, it’s not the case. They are more than happy with a couple of decent walks every day and, now and again, some heavy training.
8. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is known by a few other names, for example, the Queensland Heeler. Queensland being the dog’s native Australian home and heeler because to herd cattle, farmers often saw him nipping the heels of the cattle he was herding. He is also known as the Red Heeler or Blue Heeler because he has a coat of different colors.
Their background and breeding give them plenty of stamina and strength. If you need a running partner, you could do a lot worse than the ACD.
Apartment dwellers should avoid this dog at all costs. They require vast amounts of exercise, and it’s not an issue of what kind of activity as long as the ACD can burn energy. Without physical fitness on this scale, he will become destructive and possibly even aggressive. The Australian Cattle Dog is a dominant animal and will push and control other dogs and animals. Very early socialization is necessary, but that will not diminish his nipping prowess. Socialization, training, and constant exercise is ongoing with the Australian Cattle Dog.
The ACD is not the right choice of dog for first-time owners. Their intelligence leads them to test boundaries continually. They must have firm, kind, and patient owners.
Some popular breeds are dogs with pointy ears, but they didn’t come into this world that way. They have been subject to ear cropping when they were puppies. Doing this makes the ears stand erect, so it looks as though they have natural pointy ears. If a dog is naturally born with floppy ears, dogs should never have this done to them for the sake of someone’s idea of a breed standard. In all probability, that goes back over a century ago, when a dog’s life was not worth much.
Breeds like this include The Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, and a Great Dane. We mention this because as wonderful as these dogs are, they are not naturally dogs with pointy ears.