Collie floppy ears explained (collie ear taping tips)

Collies can sometimes have one or two naturally floppy ears, depending on how the cartilage in their ears develops when they are a puppy.

Having one or both ears flop over a bit is normal for a collie, and doesn’t affect their hearing.

Some people use special tape to ensure a collie’s ears don’t flop over when they are a puppy, however this is completely unnecessary and cosmetic and doesn’t impact your collie in any way.

Even if your collie has a lopsided ear (or if both of their ears flop down) they can make their ears stand up by themselves when they need to focus on something.

When do collie ears stand up

Collies may have one or two naturally floppy ears, but they can always make them stand up when they want to.

Collie’s ears stand up when they want to hear something, or when something catches their interest and they want to give it their full attention.

What does it mean when my collie’s ears stand up?

When your collie’s ears are standing up, it usually means that they are interested in something and want to give it their full attention and is usually accompanies by the stereotypical collie stare.

If your dog hears a funny noise, they may raise their ears and tilt their head to the side to listen for the noise again and find out what’s going on.

If your collie hears something they don’t like, or that they aren’t sure about, their ears may stand up to help them hear it again. One example of this might be if your collie hears an animal outside, they will prick their ears up to make sure they don’t hear it again.

Luna’s ears stand up when she hears someone moving around in the kitchen, in case there’s a chance of a treat!

Why does my collie have one floppy ear

Collies may have one or two floppy ears because of either genetics or how they live as a puppy.

The most common reason for a floppy ear is that your puppy commonly sleeps on one side, and thus the cartilage in their ears does not harden equally, resulting in some small differences between their two ears.

Usually, one ear is slightly folded at the top, whereas the other naturally stands up fully.

If your collie has a floppy ear (or two) it’s completely fine. It doesn’t affect their hearing abilities and they can still stand their ears up when they need to focus on a certain sound.

When do Collie Ears stop growing

Collies generally stop growing at about 18 months old, and this includes their ears, although their ears will have solidified in to their final shape long before this.

When are collie ears fully developed?

Collies ears are made from soft cartilage, which hardens once a collie’s ears become fully developed at around six months of age.

What does it mean when a collie holds their ears back?

When a collie holds their ears back, close to their head there could be a number of things happening.

A collie may fold their ears back towards their head if they are frightened or anxious, if they are very excited, or as an evolutionary behavior to help minimize their visibility when herding.


Collies who are frightened or anxious may put their ears back to make themselves as small as possible and to protect their extremities. This is similar to how a person might hug themselves or cover their eyes when they are frightened.


Another time you may notice your collie putting their ears back is when they are excited.

Fear and Excitement create the same physiological effects in the body, and when your collie is excited you may notice them doing the same things as they would when they were frightened, such as running around the room, folding their ears back, or running up to you.


Where some herding breeds are more aggressive and rule the fields with an iron fist, collies use their intellect and agility to tactfully maneuver the sheep in to their pen without resorting to aggression and without startling the sheep.

They do this by hunkering down near to the grass and deftly circling the flock, only popping up when they need the sheep to see where they are and react accordingly.

Collies fold their ears back to make themselves more stealthy, and to minimize their profile so that sheep can’t see them as easily.

Luna folds her ears back instinctively when she is waiting on me to throw her ball in the fields.

Border Collie Ear Taping

Some people tape their collie’s ears when they are young, before the cartilage in their ears has hardened at around 6 months old.

The goal of ear taping is either to ensure your collie has an equal fold in both their ears (sometimes called cocked or semi-pricked ears) or so that their ears both stand up with no fold at all (usually called pricked ears).

How to tape collie ears:

There are many methods for collie ear taping depending on whether you’re looking for straight ears (aka pricked ears) or folded ears (aka cocked ears), but the easiest way is with a single strip of tape on the outer and/or inner ear.

Apply one strip of zinc or silver backed non-stretch cotton tape to hold your collie’s ears in the desired position. Replace the tape each day, until your collie is approximately six months old. Eventually, the cartilage in the ears will harden and remain fixed in the desired position.

What type of tape should I use to tape my collie’s ears?

Collie ears should be taped with zinc or silver backed non-stretch cotton tape.

Both zinc and silver contain anti-bacterial properties and zinc/silver backed cotton tape is often used in athletics and first aid because of its non-stretch and water-resistant qualities.

Using an inferior tape can result in moisture or bacteria building up on the tape, or the tape coming off.

Should you tape your collies ears?

Although common practice and generally harmless, in my opinion taping your collie’s ears is unnecessary and you should not tape your collie’s ears.

Your collie can hear just fine whether their ears are folded or straight, and taping is a long procedure which has to be held in place for 6 months.

The first six months of your collie’s life are the most important for training, as their brains are malleable at this age. Even working collies start training from as young as 8 weeks old. Ear taping really isn’t a priority and your time could be better spent on training rather than cosmetic appearance.

How long to tape collie ears?

If you’ve decided to tape your collie’s ears for cosmetic reasons, the ears should be held in place for the duration of their rapid growth stage, or until about six months old.

What if you don’t tape your collie ears?

One or both of your collie’s ears may flop over at the top, or they both may stand up straight. This is normal for all dogs.

About the author:

About the author:

Hollie and Border Collie

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

 Stuart MacPherson

Colliepedia Editor

I'm an experienced collie owner from Scotland. I started Colliepedia to share everything I know about collies. All the pictures you see on colliepedia are of my beloved collie Luna

Learn More about me and Luna's story on the about page!