Woof? I can hear you, 4 ways what dog ears tell us

what are dog ears mean

We dogs have a whole variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to our ears, they’re long and floppy like mine, or they can be pointy, bendy, upright, or tiny. You name it they come in all shapes and sizes as unique and varied as there are dog breeds. We also move our ears all the time, up, down, alert and relaxed, all in a way to express ourselves. So you ask what do dog ears tell us?

Well dog’s ears can provide signals about how we are feeling. However, it is very difficult to accurately interpret a dog’s emotional state simply through our ear movements, you’re going to have to look at all of our body language to understand how we’re totally feeling.

Sometimes, peeps may have a hard time figuring out what some dogs are telling them via their ears. A good place to see what your dog’s ears are doing?… just look at the base of the ear, with a little study of your own dog, you will soon learn whether the ears are pointing forward or back and understand what he’s trying to say to you.

What dog ears tell us

dog ears upright1.  Upright, and facing forward and slightly forward on the head: We’re ready for action! I’m alert and ready to react. Now this can be for a lot of reasons. For example

  • Ready to hear your command.
  • Ready for dinner or a treat.
  • I hear something out of the ordinary.
  • I’m telling a dog, person or thing that I’m alert and will react, this could be playful or aggressively!

This is the time to look at the rest of my body language for clues of what I am trying to express: (fur up?, tail alert? Wagging?)


dog ears slightly back2.  My ears are pulled slightly back and close to my head: I’m feeling a little nervous and could be apprehensive about what I am seeing or hearing. If I’m afraid, my  tail could be tucked between by legs, I could have my head down and curling my back).

But if you see my body is giving you a full body wag, my jaws are loose or smiling, and my tail is neutral or low…I’m just trying to say I am so pleased and excited to see you.

dog ears strongly forward3.  My ears are strongly forward and upright:  I’m aroused, without any apprehension.  It fact I feel quiet confident and interested and I will act on what has got my attention. Again this could mean many things

  • I’m ready to play.
  • I’m ready to be aggressive.

Depending on my body language, and the circumstances, it could be a sign that I am on the offensive and may be aggressive. And if my ears are like this and flattened slightly out to the side, it’s even more likely that I’m on the offensive.


dog ears pulled back and down4.  My ears are pulled right back and really tight to head: Okay I’m feeling a little fearful and defensive. And if my ears are pointing downwards, I’m in total fear.

Ears might not be as revealing as your dog’s tail, eyes or even his mouth, however by learning the different positions can give you a good insight of your dog’s mood. Can you hear me now?

Wild African Dogs: Usually have large, triangular upright ears. They’re great for hearing, and can turn towards a noise that they hear and are large enough with an open channel which the noise can travel easily. But importantly, they are large enough for other pack members to see from a distance, which means that they are another form of information that can spread quickly amongst the pack….

What signs do you see in your dog’s ears…and what does it mean?