The written standard for any AKC recognized breed describes the perfect example of that breed of pure bred dog. The breed standard for Yorkshire terriers, among many other things, calls for standing ears. While not all pure bred Yorkies will have erect ears, the standard calls for it.
Yorkies are supposed to have ears that stand erect. A Yorkie that fits the breed standard must have standing ears. While not all Yorkies have standing ears, and some people actually prefer “floppy” ears, a Yorkie does not have to have standing ears to be considered a pure bred Yorkie.
There are three general categories of ears with Yorkies – 1) ears that stand on their own, 2) ears that will stand with help while the Yorkie is young, and 3) ears that will not stand, even with help. In any of these cases, you should know by the time you bring your puppy home (at 12 weeks or after) whether or not your Yorkie’s ears will be standing. If the ears are not standing by 12 weeks, they will likely not stand on their own. The reason I say this is because the overwhelming majority of breeders will begin the process of helping the ears to stand at about 6 – 8 weeks though various techniques (mostly hair trimming and taping the ears). Also, the cartilage in the ears that hold the ears erect is, in effect, “set” by the age of 6 months, so no amount of assistance after the age of 6 months will make the ears stand. So, it is best to start working on the ears sooner rather than later, and most breeders feel they are responsible and best-suited for this task (due to their knowledge and experience).
For many Yorkies, the ears will naturally stand erect on their own by the age of 6 – 8 weeks, with some possible short periods of drooping ears due to teething, vaccinations, stress or illness.
For some Yorkies, the ears have trouble standing up on their own and a little intervention is needed. Yorkies must not EVER have their ears cropped. While cropping may be considered acceptable for some breeds, cropping the ears is never acceptable for Yorkies. There are two acceptable ways to help a Yorkie’s ears stand: by trimming the hair from the ears to reduce weight and by holding the ears erect so the cartilage can strengthen in a standing position. There are many techniques on getting a Yorkie puppy’s ears to stand (we may write a post about that later).
For other Yorkshire terriers, for some reason or another the ears simply will not stand. Or, in some cases, one ear will stand and one will not (or will only partially stand). This can be because there was no intervention early on or because the ears are simply too big or the cartilage to weak to keep the ears standing up.
Whether your Yorkie’s ears stand up, flop down, or are somewhere in the middle, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and as long as you love your Yorkie, the ears are just another part of them to love.