Some of you will find this post funny. I am not known for my great ears. It seems that I am always talking to fellow breeders who consistently have nicely tipped ears and asking them to “show me again what you do”. Long ago I did conclude that my “technique” was fine, but my “timing” was lousy. Over and over the breeders whose dogs have nice ears tell me, “you must keep them over. You can’t wait a week between the braces coming out, and new ones going in.” I have a bad habit of “if they look nice when the I take the braces out……..”

So, I will pass along to you the “technique”- but I will tell you that if you really want perfectly tipped ears, take the braces out, clean the ear up again, and that same day (yes, you can wait a few hours), put the new braces back in. The ears will need to be braced at least until the adult teeth come in. Of course if you don’t care about this- then just enjoy whichever way the ears end up!

The ear consists of 2 parts (in my mind anyway). The skin portion -that is what what we will be working with to tip, and the actual "ear"- or the parts that allow the dog to hear. The "ear" begins at the skull and is identified by folds and lumps. I am going to call this the "button" for simplicity's sake. (this is a simplification of the ear since the shape of the entire ear, skin and all, affect how the dog hears- but that is for someone else's post).

Items you will need:

1. alcohol and cotton swabs
2. moleskin
3. ruler
4. scissors
5. an adhesive- and there are a few that are fine
a. Doc Brannon's spray adhesive
b. skin-bond
6. a paper plate
7. Fabric glue such as
a. Tear mender
b. speed sew
c. jiffy sew
8. yarn
9. small crochet hook (#6 works the best)

You can buy these items from Mel Cohen at roylsroyce@aol.com or from Nadine Iroff at triumphshelties@comcast.net

Step 1:
*Clean your puppies ears thoroughly with alcohol- *then put the puppy down so the ears can dry while you prepare for the rest.

Step 2:
*Get all of your materials together in one place.
* Cut out the moleskin pieces. You don't want your puppy to be sitting nicely waiting for you while you do this part as it can take a few minutes to really get ready.

Moleskin: (picture is of the pieces that go in the bottom of the ear)
- Cut (2) 1" x 1 1/4" pieces for the bell of the ear
- round the corners of one side. (Well, you will notice that I take the edges off of the top too, but that is because I don't want anything poking the dog.) The top edge should be straight. That is the edge that will be where the tip will occur. The bottom will go all the way down to the "button" (but not over it- just above it).
-cut (2) 3/4" x 3/4" pieces for the tip of the ear. Round the tips of this too. The rounded side will follow the top edge of the ear and the straight side will meet the straight side of the bottom piece at the part of the ear that is the tip. (see the picture #1 to see how they line up).
- cut (2) 1/4" x 1 1'2" pieces. These will be the cross braces.
- poke a hole on one end of the cross braces and using your small crochet hook, thread the yarn through. If you fold the yarn in half before you pull it through the hole, you will have a loop on one side, bring the end side through the loop and pull so that you now have yarn going in one direction.
- after I have cut all of the moleskin pieces I get the dog and check for sizing by placing the pieces in the ear where they will be so I can tell if they seem too big. If they are too big, this is the right time to trim them to the right size for that dog.
- the bottom piece should go from the bottom to just over halfway up the ear and from edge to edge.
-the top piece should follow the edge of the ear and not overlap with the bottom piece. It is OK if this is "too short" because you will be folding this over to meet the bottom piece. I usually do fold the ear over while I am checking size to make sure the tip seems like it will be in the right place- not too high- not too low! (easy for me to say )

Step 3: Preparing your moleskin

- peel the backing off of the moleskin and place them sticky side up on the paper plate. Apply adhesive (skin bond or spray adhesive- #5 in the list). Regardless of which adhesive you use, you will need to let it get a little "tacky". If you just put the adhesive on the moleskin and then apply immediately to the ear, the moleskin might slide.

Step 4: Putting the moleskin in the ear

-personally, I find it easier to have someone holding the puppy so it is facing me. Some breeders can do this alone by putting the puppy on a grooming table, in a chair, or some other place where you can keep the puppy reasonably still, but I find a patient spouse or friend to be ideal.

- place the larger piece of moleskin in the bell of the ear, all the way to the button. Make sure the straight side of the moleskin is even. Your adhesive should allow you move the piece a little if you need to make some minor adjustments. HOLD for a few seconds so it adheres to the ear. That part is critical. If you don't hold it to allow some "setting time", when you put the cross brace on and apply pressure, the cross brace could cause the moleskin in the bottom of the ear to "slip".

- place the top piece of moleskin in the ear. Again, HOLD for a few seconds.

- Using your fabric glue, attach the cross piece to the bottom piece of moleskin. Place this along the top edge.

- again using the fabric glue, glue the top piece of moleskin to the bottom piece of moleskin. You are now forming the tip. HOLD for a few seconds.

Final Step:

Use the yarn to pull the ears together on top of the head and tie the yarn in a knot. The ears might be almost touching- that is fine. Cut off the excess yarn, and VOILA!

You are done!

Thank you Utley- our model. He is owned, loved and spoiled by Sally and Dave McKeever and he came to visit to have his ears done.

This is my husband Mike relaxing with Utley. Mike helps hold the puppies for me while I do ears. Another site to go to for pictures and an explaination is http://www.bronwynshelties.com/helpful_tools/ear_pattern.php

Cool Design Shelties  – (April 6, 2009 at 5:48:00 AM PDT)  

Thank you very much for this detailed description. I have been thinking about to let this method have a try!

As you probably know in Europe we don't use to fix the ears this way. But I will try it on Mösse...right now her ears have their own life and it's very frustrating!!One day they are perfectly tipped ears and the next day they stick out and after an hour they maybe looks like a Labrador's ears :ol

Could you PLEASE tell me: ..what do you use to take the pieces of moleskin out of the ears again??

Thanks for the detailed description :o)


Acadia Shelties  – (April 6, 2009 at 1:13:00 PM PDT)  

Hi Bente-
I think your puppy's ears have looked good! Naturally nice! That is the best way.

But- to take the moleskin OUT- we use a product called Zo-eze or Detachol. It is an adhesive remover. I like Zo-eze better. You can buy them from the same people I listed in the post.
GOOD LUCK with Mosse's ears.

Cool Design Shelties  – (April 6, 2009 at 2:05:00 PM PDT)  

Thank you very much for your answer :o)


Sally McKeever –   – (April 9, 2009 at 12:14:00 PM PDT)  

Utley is honored to be the featured model for your ear presentation! Since both ears came out this morning, I am about to put into practice your instructions. Wish me luck!
Sally (and Dave and spoiled Utley)

Anonymous –   – (December 17, 2012 at 9:23:00 AM PST)  


Acadia Shelties  – (December 19, 2012 at 6:35:00 PM PST)  

We start working with the ears at about 7 weeks of age and continue working with them until their adult teeth have come in- which is around 7 months. Ears tend to go haywire when they are teething.

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