Bracing those puppy ears,
Giving Mother Nature a helping hand...
I've had lots of questions about how to brace puppy ears, so I thought I'd document my method for everyone, and provide a little of my thoughts on training ears.
First thing - DON'T ever weight ears. Weight is what you do with lead (tungsten) if ears weren't trained as a puppy and you need to get them over in the show ring! Which, as we all know is illegal, messy, and not fun to do. So.......
Always start with clean ears. Clean out ears with alcohol on a piece of cotton to remove wax, grease, and dirt from the ear prior to bracing or gluing.
I brace most ears at about 8 weeks. I use moleskin braces, and tie the ears on top of the head to set ear carriage (I have also used Japanese tape when available. Go to tape method). Between 8-10 weeks, I pull the braces tight enough that the ears almost touch. Usually, it is not necessary to glue the ears until the puppies are 9 or 10 weeks old, but may be glued down at the same time if needed. After 10 or 11 weeks, you cannot change the puppy's ear placement, so the braces are not pulled as tightly together. The purpose at this time is to provide support and prevent folding the ear back into the ruff. Until the puppy is 14 -16 weeks, I always brace the ears when I glue them over to prevent the formation of a crease in the back of the ear.
I use moleskin, yarn, and Doc Brannons Spray Adhesive for tackiness. I will describe the brace, then include a diagram (pattern) later. The braces are cut from heavy duty moleskin, two identical pieces for each ear. I pierce one piece of each moleskin pair in the middle of the piece. I cut two pieces of yarn about 7 inches each. Thread one piece of yarn through each hole, I use what looks like a miniature rug hook ( it came in a softball glove re-lacing kit. I sorta borrowed it after my husband fixed his glove!) Pull the yarn halfway through, and remove the paper backing on the moleskin, careful not to unthread your yarn. Fold the yarn pieces to the side, opposite for each pair. and place the piece on top of its unpeirced twin. The yarn pieces should face each other when the moleskin pieces are placed next to each other with the rounded end down. Remove the paper backing, give the tacky side of the moleskin a quick shot from the Doc Brannons, just enough to barely dampen. Let set (30-60 seconds) until it is tacky, not gooey. Place in ear with yarn pieces extending out over the top skull. Repeat for the other ear. Let braces set in the ears for about 3-5 minutes. Then tie the ears in place using the yarn. Double knot, tightly, and cut off excess yarn. Don't pull ears so tight together as to place severe strain on the ear back. This may actually weaken the ear. I like to also lightly shape the ears afterward by curving the braced ear forward around my finger to simulate the natural curve of the lower ear, rather than the flatness of the moleskin.
The proper way to glue ears is to put the glue on the TOP inside edge of the tip. Fold the ear straight down and smooth the hair from the front of the ear over the glued tip. This should place the ear tip at the front of the inner corner at the base of the ear. Speed Sew, or Val-A are the two glues that Common glues used for this. Strip Ease is a good solvent for glue removal. I have found that Proclaim Super Bond, a hair extension glue found at Sally's Beauty Supply is a very inexpensive and effective glue to use. It has a lotion glue remover that is made to go with it that does a good job (though leaves the hair a little greasy right after removal). If there is not hair enough for gluing, or you are trying to save hair for matches/shows on older puppies, you can fasten an ear over with moleskin. Cut 2 pieces for each ear (same pattern as for a brace). Glue the pieces, felt side together with your hair glue. Place in the clean ear, fold ear down onto the moleskin. Be sparing with glue, a little placed correctly glues as well as a big glob, and is healthier for the skin.
Low ears. There are no tried and true ways
to correct low ears. There are a couple methods that you can try, hopefully
- with a good dose of luck, the ears will turn out fine. First off, puppy
ears go up an down like yoyos, so don't panic right away. The first thing
to try is to glue the ears high . Glue the tip of the ear tip to the ear
edge 2/3 of the way up the ear leather. DO NOT tie low ears tight
on the top of the head. This will pose excess strain on an already weak
ear. Tie the ears loosely. If ear leather is very thin and weak or very
heavy, trim or shave the hair off the upper 3/4 of the ear and brace high. Good
Make the braces:
Place in ears:
or use moleskin tabs to glue tops to bottom braces.
tie the laces together.
Place the tape in a clean ear as shown below. The tape will stay much longer if the glue is made tacky with a quick spritz of Doc Brannons Spray Adhesive. Please use in a well ventilated area. Place a dab of glue (Proclaim Super Bond, Speed Sew, or VaLa) on top half of tape, then fold ear over where the crease is desired. Shape ear by rolling the ear length-wise forward around your finger. After it sets for 30 seconds to 1 minute, glue ears together on top of the head by pulling a few strands of hair from the back of the ear- low on the inside edge of the bottom of the bell. Twist the hairs together, then pinch with a dab of glue. Always remember; the less glue, the better. You’ll save more hair, and have less to try and remove later.
For a quick set without glue, roll a strip of tape around your finger into a tube with the sticky side out. Place tape in the ear (open ends to the top & bottom) like you would the moleskin above. Fold ear over onto tape, smoothing ear to fully attach.
email Krys Messer at firstname.lastname@example.org
last updated: Jan 20, 2000