Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back?

Understanding the Canine Body Language

Dogs communicate with their bodies. One of the most significant ways they do it is through their ears. Their ear positions can indicate their mood or intentions. Dogs have 18 different ear positions, and each one conveys a unique message. When dogs put their ears back, they may be trying to communicate something specific.

What Does It Mean When Dogs Put Their Ears Back?

When dogs put their ears back, it may be an indication of their emotional state. It can indicate that they are:

  • Afraid: Dogs may put their ears back when they are scared or anxious. They may do this to protect their ears or to appear smaller to potential threats.
  • Submissive: Dogs may put their ears back when they are in a submissive posture, such as when they are rolling over or cowering.
  • Nervous: Dogs may put their ears back when they are nervous or unsure of a situation or person.
  • Happy: Although it is not the most common reason, some dogs may put their ears back when they are happy and relaxed.

Other Ways Dogs Communicate With Their Ears

Dogs use their ears to communicate in many other ways besides putting them back. Here are some other ear positions and what they may indicate:

  • Perked ears: Dogs with their ears up and forward are usually alert and focused on something.
  • One ear up, one ear down: This can indicate that the dog is trying to locate a sound or is unsure of what is happening.
  • Ears flattened against the head: Dogs may do this when they are scared or aggressive. They may also do it when they are trying to block out a sound.
See also  Which Dogs Bite Most Often?

Factors That Affect Ear Position


Ear position can vary depending on the breed of dog. For example, breeds like German Shepherds and Dobermans have ears that stand up on their own. Breeds like Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds have long ears that hang low.


Ear position can also change as a dog ages. Puppies may have floppy ears that stand up as they grow older. Older dogs may have ears that droop more than when they were younger.


Ear positions can also be affected by a dog’s health. Dogs with ear infections or allergies may hold their ears back or shake their heads. If you notice your dog’s ear position has changed, it may be worth checking with your veterinarian.

FAQs: Why Dogs Ears Back

Why do dogs put their ears back?

When dogs put their ears back, it can be a sign of fear, stress, or submission. Typically, it’s a way for dogs to protect their ears and neck from potential harm. Additionally, dogs might tuck their ears back when they’re feeling anxious or nervous. If you notice your dog doing this frequently, it might be worth observing their body language and environment to identify potential stressors.

Should I be concerned if my dog’s ears are always back?

While it’s normal for dogs to tuck their ears back from time to time, it’s not always a cause for concern. However, if your dog’s ears are constantly in this position, it could be a sign that they’re experiencing stress or anxiety. It’s important to observe their behavior and determine the root cause of their discomfort. If you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinary professional.

See also  Why Do Dogs Howl When I Howl?

Are certain breeds more likely to put their ears back?

Some dog breeds are prone to putting their ears back due to their anatomy. For example, dogs with droopy ears, such as Basset Hounds or Bloodhounds, may naturally have their ears in a “back” position. Additionally, breeds with short snouts, such as Pugs or Bulldogs, might experience discomfort in their ears due to their facial structure, causing them to tuck their ears back frequently. However, it’s important to observe the individual dog’s behavior in conjunction with their breed tendencies.

How can I help my dog feel more comfortable?

If you notice your dog frequently tucking their ears back, there are a few things you can do to help them feel more comfortable. First, ensure that their environment is free from potential stressors, such as loud noises or unfamiliar people/animals. Additionally, providing your dog with a comfortable, quiet place to retreat to can help them feel secure. If you’re still concerned about your dog’s behavior, consider consulting with a Veterinary behavior specialist.

Leave a Comment