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7 Reasons Why Pit Bull’s Ears Stand Up

Pit Bulls are known for doing many cute things, such as cuddling in blankets, rolling around in the dirt, and making goofy, wide-mouth faces.

One cute thing you may see from some pit bull breeds is when their ears stand up when they get excited.

Have you noticed that many pit bulls have long, pointy or floppy ears?

Some pits have floppier ears than others, but most of them will perk up when they hear their name, smell some delicious bacon, or spot a squirrel across the field.

You’re probably wondering:

Do pit bulls have natural floppy or pointy ears?

Why do some pit bulls’ ears stand up in such a way?

Let’s take a more in-depth look:

1. Genetics

pit bull dog outside the fence during winter

Some dogs, such as St. Bernards and Bassett Hounds, have large floppy ears.

Pit Bulls have a different kind of ear, more like that of a wolf.

Do pit bulls’ ears stand up naturally?

Yes, their ear stands up naturally, even when at ease, giving the dog a unique appearance.

Even among different pit bulls, the size and firmness of the ears can vary.

Because there are so many different mixes bred over the years, pit bulls can look quite different even within the same breed.

pit bull terrier on leash outside the house

Many dogs were bred to have floppy ears as a byproduct of domestication.

However, dogs such as the pit bull were not part of this group.

They were bred as hunters, so the cute, droopy ears were not required for all pit bulls.

Instead, they have a bit of a hybrid ear that stands up but often curls or flops over at the top.

This is simply a trait that came to be through years of breeding. This type of ear can sometimes make for better hearing.

2. Excitement

Excited Pit Bull Dog

When you call your pit’s name, or he hears you walking into the house, his ears may perk up quickly.

This indicates that he is excited about something.

You can confirm this if his tail is also perked up and his mouth is slightly open.

In general, this means he is anticipating something like a treat or a long walk.

The ears will generally be held straight up rather than pointed in a specific direction.

3. Alertness

Alert pit bull dog on the lawn

This happens when a dog hears or smells something of interest in the distance.

It may be a person, a car, or another animal. The ears will perk up and angle in the direction of the sound.

Often, the head and neck will be slightly angled, and the dog may have a look of concern on his face.

He is simply trying to evaluate what the sound is, where it is coming from, and whether or not it is a threat.

His tail will also be rigid, indicating that he is deeply focused on the situation at hand.

4. Establishing Dominance

2 pit bulls bumping heads and establishing dominant trait

A pit bull’s ears may also stand up when trying to establish dominance over another dog or animal.

They will stand up tall with their body leaning forward.

The ears will be standing tall and rigid in a straight-up position.

The dog is trying to make themself as large as possible, potentially intimidating the other animal.

5. Hearing

Pit bull with ear sound waves

This goes with being alert, but you may notice your dog’s ears stand up when they hear something.

They may move along with the direction of the noise, and the dog may be evaluating what it is or simply taking in the sound.

If there has been a long stretch of silence and you say something to your dog, the chances are that the ears will perk up a bit.

While dogs are known for their unique sense of smell, they also have superior hearing abilities.

Pit bulls can hear sounds up to a quarter-mile away, so their ears are constantly stimulated!

You may notice your dog’s ears perking up and moving around even though you can’t hear a thing.

This means that they sense something in the distance. This is a great skill to have for a guard dog.

6. Pinna

anatomy of the ear showing the pinna, which is responsible for transporting sound to the middle ear

Every dog has a part of its ear known as the “Pinna.” This is made of cartilage and covered in by skin and fur.

The shape of the pinna allows the dog to capture sound waves and bring them to the eardrum.

This pinna can be long and flexible, like in Cocker spaniels, or short and rigid, like pit bulls.

For most pit bulls, the cartilage around the pinna will become stronger around 8 to 10 weeks, and the ear begins to stand up.

In some cases, this may take several months – it depends on each dog.

Still, a strong, rigid pinna is holding them up in any dog with standing ears.

7. Pitbull Ears Cropping

cropped pit bull ears

People cite reasons for cropping a pitbull’s ears include a more desirable appearance and reduced risk of infection.

However, there is not much evidence to suggest that uncropped pitbull ears lead to infections.

In fact, sometimes the surgery leads to immediate infection rather than preventing it.

Some people clip the ears on hunting or fighting dogs so that they cannot be bitten as easily by other dogs or pests, leading to further injuries.

2 pit bull puppies with cropped cropped Ears

Ear cropping is always done on puppies who are less than a year old, and it is never performed professionally on fully grown dogs.

The practice is illegal in many countries worldwide, especially in Europe.

However, it is still legal in the United States and regularly performed.

Should You Crop Your Pit Bull Ears?

A pit bull terrier breed with cropped ears closed up photo with yes or no signs

This is a controversial subject, and you are the only person who can decide.

Keep in mind that this is considered a cruel and unnecessary procedure in most countries.

Some people suggest that it can help prevent ear infections, but there is no evidence to corroborate their claims.

MUST READ:Clipped Ears, Tails Are Cosmetic For Pets.

The American Kennel Club is the only organization supporting ear cropping, claiming that it protects the ears from being bitten and helps the dog hear better.

In contrast, both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association are opposed to ear cropping.

They consider it an inhumane practice that can cause pain and discomfort in the dog for years after the procedure has been performed.

3 pit bull puppies and collar with pit bull sign on white background

A dog’s ear is heavily involved in communication and body language, and cropping can make it difficult to get their message across to other dogs and humans.

Some people crop ears to make their dogs appear more vicious or intimidating, and this is a very shallow reason for mutilating a part of an animal.

Dogs are not there just for appearance, and we shouldn’t be trying to alter them to fit our agenda.

A brindle Presa Canario mixed breed dog with cropped ears looking at the camera

A strong dog can use body language to establish Dominance without needing to get its ears cropped.

Ear cropping surgeries are not always successful, and they can leave the dog more prone to ear infections if not performed correctly.

They can also create lifelong scars and leave the pit bull with unmatched, bent ears.

Those who want to crop their dog’s ears solely for aesthetic reasons may end up with the opposite of what they were looking for.


Pitbulls with uncropped and cropped ears

You may see some pit bulls with tiny ears that don’t have any flop whatsoever.

They stand straight up or back at all times. These ears have been “cropped” by the owner or breeder most of the time.

This controversial practice is when the ears are clipped with scissors and wrapped in bandages for several weeks until they heal.

The dog is placed under general anesthesia during the procedure

Because there are no proven health benefits to cropping a pit bull’s ears, it is highly suggested that you avoid the practice and allow your pup to keep his natural ears.

He will be a happier, healthier dog throughout his life, and he’ll be just as cute as you could ever imagine.

He’ll hear just as well as any other dog, and you’ll be able to tell from his body language when he is excited, alert, nervous, or tired.

About the author: Driven by his lifelong passion for dogs and an insatiable curiosity about their diverse breeds, Pablo Pascua founded dogbreedsfaq.com. Through this website, he seeks to expand his knowledge and share his findings with fellow dog enthusiasts. Having owned several dogs throughout his life, Pablo’s experiences have fueled his interest in learning more about these beloved animals. His mission is to provide accurate and comprehensive information to help pet owners make informed decisions about their furry companion.

8 comments… add one
  • janine hummel Oct 22, 2021 @ 12:49

    Thanks so much. I rescued a “Lab Mix” from Alabama, who I’m quite sure is at least half Pitbull. I love her. But, he ears alternately flop, and stand up. LOL. I’m happy you’re against cropping; that is heinous and detrimental to the dog’s health. We loved looking at your photos, which helped us determine what type of mix she precisely is.

  • Denessa K Bishop Jun 25, 2022 @ 10:26

    My Brindle Pitt Bull, his ears stand up all the time, like a German Shepard. He is beautiful and just curious is this normal?

    • Pablo Pascua Jun 25, 2022 @ 20:18

      Hi Denessa,

      May I know how old is your dog?


  • Zack Sep 14, 2022 @ 9:57

    Very good article Pablo. I just rescued a pitty mix, she is about 5 months old. Her ears are very large and pointy. It would be fun to get her DNA test at the vet.

  • Samantha Rivera Oct 2, 2022 @ 10:58

    I appreciate this article. So well written and a wealth of knowledge for me. Stella (red nose pit) was about 4 months old when we adopted her from some people that found it difficult to care for her due to financial hardships. Thankfully her ears weren’t cropped. At about 6/7 months when we had just gotten back from a long trip she ran to my daughter in excitement and something in the kitchen made a noise and that’s when we first saw her ears go from floppy to straight up in full point and one that turned toward the sound. We were all astounded to say the least. She’s just now over a year old and most times she does it is when she’s zoned out on a chew toy. They also have done the flip over the head point too. This is the first pitty we’ve had and she’s definitely a character all her own.

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