Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Drop Ears

What Are Drop Ears?

Drop ears, often observed in various dog breeds including the Cocker Spaniel, refer to the type of ear that hangs down from the side of the dog’s head rather than standing erect. Unlike pricked or bat ears that stand up straight, drop ears dangle down, covering the ear canal. This ear configuration is natural for certain breeds and adds a distinctive appearance, often enhancing their endearing look. In Cocker Spaniels, these ears are not just a hallmark feature but are also soft to touch and covered with long, silky fur.


  • Drop ears hang down, covering the ear canal.
  • Distinct from pricked or bat ears that stand erect.
  • Common in breeds like the Cocker Spaniel.
  • Often covered in long, silky fur in Cocker Spaniels.

A Deeper Look: Drop Ears

The drop ear configuration, while being a unique physical attribute, also has functional and evolutionary implications. Historically, dogs with drop ears were primarily bred for work where listening for high-frequency sounds wasn’t a priority. The drooping nature of these ears shielded the ear canal from debris, especially for dogs that were closer to the ground or in thick underbrush. This protective feature could have been advantageous for breeds used in hunting or herding.

For Cocker Spaniels, in particular, drop ears may have been beneficial during their hunting days, shielding their ears from thorns and underbrush while retrieving game. However, the characteristic also requires certain care considerations. Due to the ear covering the canal, there’s less air circulation, making the environment underneath warm and moist. This can sometimes make drop-eared breeds more susceptible to ear infections.

Regular cleaning and check-ups are necessary for dogs with drop ears to ensure that any buildup or potential infections are promptly addressed. It’s important for owners to be familiar with the best practices of maintaining the health and cleanliness of drop ears to avoid complications.

Spotlight on Drop Ears

  • Historically beneficial for shielding the ear canal from debris.
  • Less air circulation under the ear may lead to a warm, moist environment.
  • Cocker Spaniels and other drop-eared breeds require regular ear check-ups and cleaning.
  • Evolutionarily advantageous for certain breeds used in hunting or herding.

Cocker Spaniel Guide is your ultimate resource for everything related to these charming canine companions. Explore breed insights, training tips, health & wellness tips, heartwarming stories, and more, tailored exclusively for cocker spaniel enthusiasts.


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