11 Dogs With Floppy Ears That Will Steal Your Heart

Dogs With Floppy Ears

Am I the only one who thinks that dogs with floppy ears seem more approachable? I adore dogs with straight ears, ears to the ground, and even bizarro ears, but there’s something about floppy ears that warms the heart.

Have dogs with these adorable ears been given to them by the evolutionary process, or are there other reasons why the flop factor is so prevalent? We cover dogs from golden retrievers to bloodhounds and lots of other breeds as well to give you the answers.

We feature 11 dogs, to be exact, that are as talented as they are cutie-pies. Nothing against straight-eared dogs, we just want to highlight those dogs with floppy ears. So make sure you’re listening for the ears heard ‘round the world.   

Why Do Dogs Have Floppy Ears?

brown dog with floppy ears

Breeds of the floppy-eared variety generally have the talent of scent hunting, which means they hunt using mostly their nose rather than their sight like greyhounds do. Having said that, it’s unlikely that evolution has anything to do with it. With scent hunting, floppy or long ears “scoop up” scents from the ground, which aids in their ability to smell things.

Many people love floppy-eared dogs, and due to demand, breeders have answered by ensuring the trait is continued. It’s called ‘selective breeding’, when dogs are bred to have certain traits like short legs or curled tails for hunting or aesthetic purposes. 

So why do some dog breeds have one ear up and one ear folded or down? Mostly genetics. And stand-up-straight-eared breeds don’t begin in pups since the cartilage and/or muscle hasn’t had time to stiffen. 

Additionally, there are those adult dogs who always look like they’re saying “What??” who have one floppy ear. 

Other reasons why this can occur are:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Parasites
  • Trauma
  • Ear infections

In adult dogs with the one-floppy-ear look, there could be an injury as well.

Let’s continue with this ear show and talk about the breeds that could sport some cool earrings.    

Dogs with Floppy Ears

floppy ear dogs

From their charming head tilts to their gentle, soulful eyes, there’s something undeniably heartwarming about dogs with floppy ears – a true symphony of softness and affection.

1. Basset Hound

dog breeds with floppy ears

Can we take a moment to bask in the glory that is the basset hound? My next-door neighbor has one, and in the last two years, I’ve become smitten. With adorable floppy ears like velvet, eyes full of love, and contentment with life that is admirable, this breed is just… special. 

Developed in France centuries ago by those in aristocratic circles, bassets were originally used to hunt rabbits and deer. They advanced to hunting birds, foxes, and other game as their talents became apparent.

Their short legs and long, pendulous, floppy ears might deceive since their bark sounds like a St. Bernard’s – low and loud. Also, dog fanciers recognize that the bloodhound has the best nose in the business, and guess who is second? The basset hound. 

They’re deliberate as they hunt and allow their guardian to keep up with them due to their small stature. (The perfect example of selective breeding.)

You might research snoods – a tubular head covering to keep the ears from dangling – for your basset while eating or drinking.    

2. Golden Retriever

floppy ear dogs

My nephew has a golden that I dog-sit. What a giving, gentle, loving dog. And this breed loves everyone. One time, the landlord came into his backyard without saying anything. JJ just sat there wagging his tail. Goldens are vessels of love. 

Their coats fall in red waves, and their tails knock over just about anything that’s not nailed down. Their main goal? To please you. And we can’t even imagine them without floppy ears.

This double-coated water dog has two different types: 

  • Conformation dog show type (larger, fluffier)
  • Hunting (leaner, smaller, more athletic)

(Both are the same breed and just bred for different reasons.)

Regarding their ears, they tend to hold moisture and warmth, which can cause yeast and bacterial infections, so keep them dry and clean. These dogs are gems. 

3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

floppy ear dog breeds

At only 13-18 lbs. and 12”-13” tall, these little dogs with floppy ears have expressive eyes that will pierce your soul. This breed was developed in England to be a companion animal. In the early 1900s, they were separated as a unique breed from the King Charles spaniel and English toy spaniel.

The Cavalier meets no stranger, so don’t expect a fine watchdog here. 

Serious note: These dogs are brachycephalic, which is a serious condition. Life-threatening. Dogs like these (Pugs, French bulldogs, and more) find it hard to breathe due to selective breeders making the decision to perpetually breed them again and again, making the nose worse and worse. That’s just the facts.

There is a surgery now that can open the airways of brachycephalic dogs. Consult with your veterinarian before pursuing any avenue.      

4. Beagle

dog with big floppy ears

Can you say, “Perfect family dog?” This hound dog is missing one not-so-popular habit that hounds do: Slobber. They don’t do a lot of it. It’s probably one of the reasons why they’re one of the most popular dog breeds there are.

And you just about can’t get something physically cuter than a beagle. 

The American Kennel Club recognizes two varieties of beagle: 13” for hounds less than 13 inches and 15” for those between 13”-15”. Both of them fall under the umbrella breed  of “beagle.” 

Origin stories for the beagle are murky, but we know The National Beagle Club of America was formed in 1887. The English club was formed shortly after, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1885.

Beagles do hunt in packs but can hunt independently. Many hunters believe it boosts the breed’s confidence and ability to search and find prey on their own. And those floppy ears help them. We salute you, Snoopy!  

5. Cocker Spaniel

dog with floppy ears

The happy-go-lucky, gentle Cocker spaniel has the furriest paws, floppy ears, and big, brown eyes. This breed is in the sporting group of the AKC since they were bred to flush out birds on the hunt. They’re named after their talent for finding woodcocks (birds).

Although the Cocker is smaller framed than other spaniels, they’re just as alert, curious, and intelligent. Their silky, double coat will need plenty of attention, especially twice a year when they “blow” (shed) their coat. They also have a lot of energy and need brisk walks and outdoor playtime. 

“The Cocker is the AKC’s smallest sporting spaniel [at 15.5” tops],” according to the AKC. In the US, there are the American and the English cocker spaniels. Differences are difficult to spot, but the English is slightly taller with a different coat texture. Either way, these excellent family dogs will become your loyal companion.

6. Afghan Hound

dog with droopy ears

A bit more standoffish than some breeds on this list, the Afghan is a regal and elegant sighthound, hunting more by sight rather than scent. They seem to breeze by in the conformation show ring with crowds going wild over their incredible hair that mimics a person’s. This breed loves attention and affection.

Developed in Afghanistan, they were used to hunt leopards, gazelles, and everything in between. The Western world wasn’t aware of the breed until the 19th century, and they probably originated around 4000 BC. There are almost 15 types of Afghan hounds in Afghanistan, and experts can tell the difference between them at a glance.

They’re surprisingly quick and can jump up to seven feet vertically. They’re also powerful, agile dogs with huge paw pads to handle the rough terrain where they originated. What a fabulous animal.

7. Weimaraner

droopy ears dog

In Germany’s Weimar region, the Weimaraner was developed to hunt bear, boar, and other large game in the 19th century. As a top gun dog, they’re top companions, too, knowing when to turn the energy off and relax with you. They’re phenomenal game trackers and athletes, and their intelligence leads the way.

The breed’s nickname, the Gray Ghost, comes from their color and their hunting style, which is stealthy and patient. 

They build deep bonds with family members and are devoted to their guardians. They need rigorous play and lots of space to equal what they’d be experiencing on a long hunt. One look in those blue-grey eyes, and you’ll be hooked.

8. Irish Setter

long floppy eared dog

What is a setter anyway? Setters are hunting dogs trained to find game birds and then set (crouch or lie down), but with the advent of the firearm, they were trained to settle into a more upright stance/position. 

At times, hunters have found that it’s difficult to find a setter that excels at hunting and isn’t just a pretty red dog. “There’s still a significant split between “show” and “field” Irish…” says Gun Dog Magazine, but these beauties are more than bird dogs.

They just want to be part of the family and involved in what you’re doing. They’re fantastic with children and great family dogs. 

Irish Setters need to run or jog for at least a couple of hours daily. That’s a tall order unless you’re a highly active person, so be honest with yourself and put the needs of the dog first before introducing one into your home.  

9. Bloodhound

dog with long floppy ears

The number one scent dog in the dog world, these dogs can track for miles a day and have the determination of a pro athlete. They have over 200 million olfactory receptors compared to a human’s 50 million. These dogs with huge ears might also win the trophy for “Floppiest ears” since they seem to have no end. 

The bloodhound is called “A nose with a dog attached to it,” and you could say that about their ears, too. They’re insanely cute. To have your work be so precise it could be used as evidence in a court of law is quite a feat, and that’s exactly how a bloodhound’s results are accepted by the courts. Wow. What a dog!

10. Shih Tzu

floppy eared dogs

We couldn’t talk about breeds with floppy ears without mentioning the Shih Tzu. These toy dogs have won the world’s hearts ever since we became familiar with them. And whether you call them “She-Zoo,” “Sheet-Zoo,” or “Shitzu” doesn’t matter to them. They just want to be on your lap. 

The perfect animal for an apartment or someone with no backyard area, these 9-16 lb. dogs will keep you laughing. They’re just that adorable. Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese and it was Chinese royalty who got the first taste of the undeniably cute canine.

In fact, they were originally bred for royal family members, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that breed clubs formed in Peking and England. The AKC recognized the breed in 1969.

One of the most ancient dog breeds, their love of family has transcended time.

11. Vizsla

droopy ear dog

This medium-sized 44-60 lb. dog is stunningly beautiful with its red-brown close coat. With a tail that usually stands straight out and a wise countenance, they’ve been hunters for centuries, aiding Hungarian sportsmen. They’re also one of the oldest ancient dog breeds.

They’re versatile, adaptable, and very loving. They’re also fast, agile, and tough. A great day for them is a full day of hunting that ends with lounging around with their human family. They’re best suited for an active person or couple with no young children since Vizsla’s don’t recognize their own power and could inadvertently hurt a child.

The first Vizsla who came to America in 1950 was smuggled out of Communist Hungary with the help of a U.S. State Department employee. What a storied history!  

Guide to Adopting a Dog with Floppy Ears

  • First things first… Visit your local animal rescue or sanctuary to see if there are any floppy-eared dogs.
  • Visit Petfinder and just scroll through available dogs from the home page.
  • Visit Animal League – North Shore Animal League (America) to do the same.

Before you adopt, be committed to cleaning your floppy-eared dog’s ears weekly so no water or bacteria settles in to possibly become infected. Your veterinarian can show you how and guide you to ear-cleaning products specifically made for dogs.  

FAQs

What Kind of Dog Has Ears That Fold Down?

Bloodhounds and field spaniels – Drop ears hang straight down from the base, but the folded ear sits up away from the face and then folds. 

What Breed of Dog Has Droopy Ears?

  1. Bloodhound
  2. Beagle
  3. Basset hound

And more.

Are Dogs With Floppy Ears More Friendly?

Not necessarily. Dogs with stand-up straight ears can be just as friendly. It just depends on the breed and even the specific dog. Also, dogs with pointy ears have often had them cropped (an activity we don’t condone).

Conclusion  

I don’t know about you, but all I want to do right now is go hug a floppy-eared dog. A dog’s ears serve more purposes than being a good hunting requirement. They aid in communication and expression, and they also make our canines the picture of perfection.

So, think about adopting a dog with floppy ears. Just remember, they’ll probably hear you coming from a mile away.  

Jen Flatt Osborn
Born with a pen in her hand and a deadline (and probably a tail), Jen considers writing a vocation, an art, and a release. She’s a freelance copy/content writer who specializes in the pet industry. Previously, she was the founder/director of an animal sanctuary for 12 years, taught classes to middle school students about dog behavior, and has lived a life full of devotion to animals and their welfare. As a vegetarian, Jen advocates for the humane treatment of every living creature. She currently lives with one delightful canine who encourages her to put her head out the car window more often.

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