Cardigan Puppy Ear Taping 101

 

First a note about Cardigan ears.

One of the original ancestral breeds behind the cardigan was known as the Bronant corgi and most accounts descibe these dogs as being 'drop eared' or having ears similar to the dachshund.

Ranger, age 2.

A drop-eared cardigan, age 2.

It was only in more recent times (late 1800's to early 1900's) that the current ear type now seen in cardigans became common following crosses with (now extinct) red and brindle herding dogs which had more upright ear carriage. Even so, the older types of ears will turn up from time to time and different sorts of ear carriage can even occur in the same litter.

Ranger, Dare and Fudge

These three cardigans are littermates. The one in the middle is a 'fluffy' and his ear type is often seen with the longer coat.

Many cardigan puppy's ears will naturally be soft and not stand up until they are between 12-16 weeks old or even a little longer. Don't give up if ears don't stay up at first after the tape is removed. Put the tape on for a few days, then let the ears rest for a few days and repeat again if they still aren't up. Ears can be up one day and down again the next or a puppy can have one ear up and the other ear down or out to the side. This is most common during teething. A tired puppy can also have droopy ears and you might see ears held up better after a nap. This is all normal.

Bolt, 9 weeks

Bolt, age 9 weeks.

I can say that I have been very fortunate so far not to have many troubles getting ears up, though a couple puppy's ears have been a little softer and slower to come up than I'd like. Even then, usually between 16 weeks to 6 mos, ears are definitely up and once adult teeth have grown in, any 'soft' ears will stabilize solidly.

Bastion, 9 weeks

Bastion, age 9 weeks

 

Here's my step-by-step description on how to tape ears.

What you need:

One 12 to 16 week old cardigan puppy with relatively clean ears and good appetite

Two approx. 10-12" and two approx. 6-8" pieces of 2" wide masking tape

Lots of dog cookies

 

A Quick Note About Tape:

Some breeders prefer to use duct tape for its longer lasting hold, but I would rather just re-tape every couple of days to check progress. Masking tape is far less likely to cause an injury if it gets caught on something or if a sibling pulls or chews on it. It also doesn't pull off as much hair or leave a lot of sticky residue if I want to remove it when I take a puppy to a fun match. Try to find regular 2" wide masking tape, not the painter's tape which looks the same, but is not very sticky.

 

Step One:

First tear off and put the tape somewhere within easy reach (lightly sticking to a nearby table edge, etc.)

Make sure puppy's ears are clean and dry.

Step Two:

Hold Puppy in your lap facing away from you and give a cookie. While the puppy is distracted, take the tape in one hand and lift one of the puppy's ears into position with the other.

Step Three:

Wait for the puppy to stop trying to see what you're doing. Give another cookie if needed. While the puppy is eating again, stick one end of the tape to back of the puppy's ear with the longest end at the bottom (See Fig 1a).

Step Four:

Before the puppy wriggles too much trying to figure out what's stuck to it's ear, gently fold the tape back up across the front of the ear from below, leaving a 'flange' at the bottom and making sure not to fold the ear at the edges. (Fig 1b) Give more cookies as needed.

Step Five:

Continue to wrap tape around ear leaving a flange at the top too and then gently pressing it to stick against the inside and outside of the ear (Fig 1c). Make sure it isn't too low so it blocks the ear canal opening. If so, making a little tear at the bottom of the tape should provide enough air circulation to the ear.

Fig. 1

Step Six:

Repeat Steps One through Five for the other ear.

 

Step Seven:

If the puppy will lie on it's back in your lap for at least a few moments, place it in this position and cradling it's head, see how the ears look with the tape. They should make the shape of a "V" if you drew imaginary lines from the nose through the center of the eyes to the ear tips. (see dotted lines in Fig 2)

Fig. 2

Step Eight

Now comes the tricky part.

With the puppy sitting back up and facing away from you again, give another cookie and get one of the shorter pieces of tape. Take the ears and gently place one into the approximate position that would make one half of the "V". Stick the end of this tape to the the tape between the ears so it goes straight across (or as straight as you can get it with a wriggling puppy). Lift the other ear into position and stick the other end of the tape to it. Don't feel bad if it ends up crooked.

 

Step Nine:

Turn the puppy to face you and check your work. If the ears are two close together or too far apart, carefully peel one side of the middle tape loose and restick. Use more cookies.

 

Step Ten:

Take the last piece of tape and stick it across between the ears to cover the sticky side of the tape on the back (Fig 2 d). Gently pull loose any hair on the top of the head and bottom of ear edges that are caught between the tape. Free the puppy and watch to make sure it doesn't pull the tape off right away. Give more cookies and/or play a game to distract. If the puppy gets the tape off, retape again in a little while. Usually they ignore the tape very quickly.

 

Note:

Don't feel bad if you don't get it right the first couple of times. This takes a little practice. Wriggly puppies don't help much and the tape can end up everywhere but where you want it!

The tape will usually come off with normal wear in a couple of days, but gently pulling it in the direction the hair grows can remove it with little discomfort to the puppy. Alternate leaving the tape off a few days and then re-taping again for couple more days until the ears stay up on their own. Most puppies will shake their heads and try to scratch at the tape the first time, but will stop this by the second or third time. Just remember - if you don't make a fuss about it, then your puppy won't either.

Finally:

Discover your friends have written amusing messages like "This Space For Rent" or "Satellite Cable" on your puppy's ears.

Super Tully

"Super Tully" age 11 weeks.


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