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EAR-TRAINING

My experience is that if your dog's ears are genetically "prick", you will never get a lasting "tipped" or "tulip" or "breaking" ear without surgery, and of course, a surgically altered dog is not allowed in the show ring. However, even a genetically prick ear can be trained with alot of diligence and annoyance on the part of the owner and puppy-dog. Depending on genetics and perseverence, the trained ear, once let out of the brace, will only look great for a number of hours (enough for a picture or trip around the ring). The ear brace has to be re-applied constantly during the show season

One breeder years ago, told me to massage each young pup ear with lanolin. I tried this, and can say that it does not work, and once the lanolin (or other oily lotion) is applied, it must be removed with alcohol to allow any other brace technique using glue or tape.

Currently, I use a 3/4 inch wide strip of mole skin (although the sticky side never seems sticky enough) and use "Val-A" or latex glue to bridge the ears and also glue the ear tips down. I no longer bother with "engine starter fluid" (which is also dangerous) and no longer bother with the "H" shaped cut for the brace or any brace which involves glue and ties- these are all extra and unnecessary work. Braces need to be applied every few hours, to every few days, to every week, depending on whether these are "out-door" dogs and whether there are multiple pups kept together (Playmates will pull off the braces).

Additionally, I've tried proto-type net "ear-bonnets", use of old fashioned foam-plastic human hair curlers, and different types of clips and weak clamps. None of these stay on long enough to make it effective. (Note, when trying your own braces, remove those that are obviously painful to your dog!).

Interestingly, I have not heard of a breeder who is determining his/her selection program based on ear tipping. We all admit that the tulip ear profile is a must for proper expression, and we are willing to torture ourselves and our dogs to artificially get this look, yet it is not a breeding goal.