Erectile Ear Dysfunction

Key Points

This condition results in the inability of the ear flap to assume an erect position – the ear will not stand up and just flops over

Trauma or a congenital defect of the cartilage or muscles that pull the ear up may be causes of this condition

Taping the ear up frequently does not result in resolution of clinical signs in severe cases

Surgery has a good outcome



  • the ear is made of a series of cartilages
  • the position of the ear flap is largely controlled by muscles that attach onto the cartilages of the ear
  • trauma (pulling of the ear) when a dog is a pup (or even when it is mature) may cause disruption of the muscles of the ear and cause the ear flap to flop over


  • the problem is only noted in dogs that normally have erect ears
  • it can be seen in young dogs


  • inability of the ear flap to assume an erect position


  • the scutiform cartilage is examined at the time of surgery for damage
  • if the scutiform cartilage is torn from the pinnal cartilage it is reattached with nonabsorbable sutures
  • care is taken during the surgery to prevent damage to the muscles that control ear movement
  • a graft (collagen called laminated BIOSIS) is sutured to the cartilage of the ear flap (typically the scutiform) and to the occipital crest (bony projection of the skull)



  • good prognosis with surgery
  • the ear will permanently assume an erect position and likely will not lay flat even if the dog tries to do this
  • the ear typically can still rotate forward and backward, thus hearing ability is improved with surgery



  • infection
  • seroma formation
  • recurrence of erectile ear dysfunction necessitating another surgery


Hank is doing great and back to his old self.  The ear looks great and the hair is coming back in.  I’ll be able to send you a good “after” photo in a month or so.  It looks to me like he has full mobility.  He cocks it around, lays it back, etc.  pretty much everything the left ear does, the right does.

Take care, Pat


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