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Cocker spaniel with floppy ears

Floppy-eared dogs can be found across most breed categories, from petite toy pups to the giants of the working group. Longer ears are especially prominent in the hound group, which is probably the type of dog that comes to mind when you think about big droopy ears. However, they are far from exclusive to this category. Some pet parents prefer pointy ears, but if you love the low-slung look when it comes to a dog’s ears, you have many breeds to choose from according to your lifestyle. Learn more about some of the cutest dog breeds sporting the floppy-eared look.

1. Basset hound

Many people consider the basset to be the quintessential hound dog. Typically considered a low-energy breed, they’re the king of the southern porch but are adept hunters in the field thanks to their scent-hound ancestry. Bassets were originally bred to use their noses, and their long, floppy ears helped to sweep up scent particles from the ground.

Despite their lazy reputation, they still require at least 30 minutes to an hour of daily exercise to stay healthy. Their long, velvety ears contrast with their dwarfed legs—which tends to make their ears look even longer. Like most floppy-eared dogs, their ears require regular cleaning in order to prevent ear infections, ear mites, and other ear problems.

Basset hound dog walking across an empty field.

Facts about the basset hound

  • Breed groupHound Group (American Kennel Club)
  • Intelligence — Moderate
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 12-13 years

2. Bluetick coonhound

The bluetick coonhound belongs to a group of coonhounds that were bred with a common purpose and ancestry. These dogs were initially developed in the southern United States for hunting raccoons and large game such as bears and wild boars. The “bluetick” coonhound is unique because of their blue/gray markings that appear around the time they’re 4 months old.

Fun fact – a bluetick named “Smokey” is employed as the mascot for the University of Tennessee athletics.

Bluetick coonhound close up outdoors

Facts about the bluetick coonhound

  • Breed groupHound Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Frequent and loud
  • Life span — 11-12 years

3. Beagle

Pop culture lovingly pays homage to this loyal breed with the iconic Snoopy character in Peanuts cartoons. Although beagles may not actually laugh and cry like Charlie Brown’s best friend, they are often very vocal, thanks in part to their history as rabbit hunting hounds. Their name is believed to have derived from the French word “beguele”, which means “open throat.” Intelligent and active in a medium-sized body, the beagle remains a popular choice for families today.

A beagle panting outside

Facts about the beagle

  • Breed groupHound Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 10-15 years

4. Dachshund

This German badger hound historically possessed long floppy ears in order to shield their ear cavities from dirt and debris as they tunneled underground to search for prey. Even though the modern dachshund mostly hunts for the comfiest sofa cushion, this spunky breed remains beloved by the dog world as cute and fun-loving sweethearts.

Like the basset hound, their exaggeratedly short legs and long back pair with droopy ears to create a uniquely low silhouette. Dachshunds are a fairly active breed that likes to bark and has a high prey drive.

Dachshund wiener dog sat on a rug

Facts about the Dachshund

  • Breed groupHound Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 10-15 years

5. Great Dane

These gentle giants are among the largest dog breeds in the world, and can top out around 32 inches tall and 120 pounds or more. Their floppy ears soften their stately appearance. Great Danes tend to form close bonds with their family, and may guard them when necessary. As a giant breed, they have a relatively short life span of 7 to 10 years, but they’ll be content to give all of their time and affection to you.

A Great Dane in the woods.

Facts about the Great Dane

  • Breed groupWorking Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 7-10 years

6. Weimaraner

Long, velvety ears and a pale gray coat characterize the Weim, also known as the “gray ghost” of the canine kingdom. They usually have blue eyes, which is a fairly uncommon trait in most adult dogs. An energetic, high-octane breed, Weimaraners require roughly two hours of exercise every day, so they’re the perfect fit for active households.

Weimaraner dog in field

Facts about the Weimaraner

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-13 years

7. Golden retriever

America has “stayed golden” with this classic retriever since the early 1900s. They’re one of the most popular dog breeds in the country, usurped only by the French bulldog and the Labrador retriever. Their benign demeanor and playful attitude cements their status as great family dogs. As their name implies, their wavy coats can range from a light cream to red color.

Golden retriever at a lake

Facts about the golden retriever

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-12 years

8. Labrador retriever

Whether they’re yellow, black, or chocolate, the labrador retriever is guaranteed to greet you with a whole lot of love and bounds of energy. Labs are happiest when they’re engaging in outdoor activities with their people. Their webbed paws equip them to swim laps in the lake and most are fond of water, but will take you up on an offer to go to the dog park or hit the trails anytime.

If you do take them swimming, make sure to clean their ears out afterward to prevent infections, since they have big ears that can retain moisture. If you do encounter any ear problems, be sure to visit a vet as soon as possible to catch any health issues early.

Black Labrador close up

Facts about the labrador retriever

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 11-13 years

9. Irish setter

This eye-catching birding dog sports wavy red locks on its body and characteristically long ears. Although they’re not an especially common sight in the U.S. nowadays, the Irish setter was briefly one of the most popular dog breeds in America during the 1960s. Their gentle demeanor coupled with their active personality make them a terrific fit for families with children.

Irish setter in a forest

Facts about the Irish setter

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 12-15 years

10. Cocker spaniel

Both the English and American cocker spaniel breeds sport adorable floppy ears alongside wavy hair. The American cocker spaniel has a compact, domed head with deep set eyes. In contrast, the English cocker spaniel has a facial shape similar to the golden retriever with narrower, more balanced features. The distinct breeds are closely related and both were originally bred to hunt birds—woodcocks, to be exact.

Black and white American cocker spaniel

Facts about the cocker spaniel

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking —  When necessary
  • Life span — 12-15 years

11. German shorthaired pointer

The GSP is a highly active breed that historically loved to hunt. Today, when they’re not curled up on the sofa like a cat, they’ll probably want to chase squirrels around the yard or go take a swim. Their short, water-resistant coat enables them to dry off quickly and go on to the next adventure. You’ll need to keep an eye on their floppy ears, however, to make sure they stay clean and free from infection.

German shorthaired pointer dog by the water

Facts about the German shorthaired pointer

  • Breed groupSporting Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 12-14 years

12. Australian shepherd

Aussies pack tons of intelligence and energy into their medium-sized frames. Whether they’re romping through your yard or resting in your lap, they tend to be very athletic dogs who thrive on human companionship. Their high intelligence coupled with their excellent physical abilities can spell disaster if left to their own devices, though, so make sure to spend at least an hour or two training or playing with this loyal herding breed everyday to keep them happy.

Australian shepherd in the snow

Facts about the Australian shepherd

  • Breed groupHerding Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years

13. Poodle

The poodle is one of the only breeds that actually splits categories depending on size. The toy poodle belongs to the toy group, while the standard and miniature poodle are recognized as non-sporting dogs. Don’t let their pompous reputations fool you, however. Poodles of all colors and sizes are filled with lots of energy. In fact, standard poodles, besides their high intelligence, are also among the fastest dog breeds, and were originally bred to hunt waterfowl.

Poodle at the park

Facts about the poodle

14. Shih tzu

Among the most ancient dog breeds, the shih tzu presides over households with a flowy lion mane and elegantly folded ears. They were actually originally bred as lap dogs for royalty by Tibetan monks who were trying to impress the emperor. Today, they’re heralded as one of the most highly favored companion dogs for people of all classes.

Shih Tzu close up

Facts about the shih tzu

  • Breed groupToy Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-18 years

15. Maltese

The friendly dog and national symbol of Malta bestows their cuddly warmth on all who welcome them into their homes. Weighing under ten pounds, these members of the toy group are among the smallest dog breeds. Even so, the Maltese possesses a high amount of energy and a large heart. Although they’re mostly considered companion animals, they will bark protectively if needed.

Teacup Maltese in the grass

Facts about the Maltese

  • Breed groupToy Group (AKC)
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking —  Frequent
  • Life span — 12-15 years

Why do some dogs have floppy ears?  

Scientists debate why some dogs have floppy ears and others don’t. While they all agree it comes down to genetics and adaptations to neural crest cells, some believe it happened as they evolved from wolves to domesticated dogs. As canines learned to lean on humans, their pointed ears lowered because there was rarely any danger anymore. Others aren’t so certain of the cause. One sure thing is that it wasn’t all natural selection – because humans got involved.

For example, some breeds, such as the dachshund, were strategically bred to have floppy ears in order to better serve their hunting job. Additionally, some dogs within a certain breed may have either raised or floppy ears, such as the Pembroke Welsh corgi.

How to care for a dog with floppy ears

If you adopt a dog with floppy ears, it’s vital to keep them clean. In general, breeds with long drooping ears are at the highest risk of developing ear infections. Developing a habit of checking your dog’s ears can help you identify any irritation before it turns into an infection. A healthy ear should be light pink, odorless, and free from earwax and debris. They’re definitely overdone for cleaning if you notice a change in the usual smell or a funky or “yeasty” odor coming from their ears, or see built-up wax. Incorporating weekly ear cleanings into your grooming routine can help you stay on track.

“Over-the-counter (OTC) ear flushes for floppy-eared dog ear maintenance should be used after swimming and bathing,” recommends Dr. Bruce Armstrong, DVM.

Which breed is right for me? 

In addition to their adorable appearance, you’ll need to consider other factors when deciding which dog breed suits you best. Lifestyle carries a lot of weight. If you like to stay active, an energetic dog like the Australian shepherd is a good fit. If you live in a small apartment or prefer to stay indoors, a non-sporting or toy breed such as the shih tzu may be better.

You’ll also want to factor in potential health concerns if there are any, and consider the overall cost of their care. For example, large dogs eat more than small dogs, so their food budget will be considerably more. Thankfully, there are many floppy-eared breeds, so you’re sure to hear of one that’s the perfect fit for you.