Ears are without a doubt one of the most defining characteristics of a dog. Erect, triangular ears can give the impression of a dog that is alert and ready for action. Then there are the ones with long, floppy ears that look like they are perpetually ready for a nap and on the verge of dozing off.
However, just because a dog’s ears are droopy doesn’t mean their personality matches. Much like humans, their physical features can be misleading. But one thing is for certain, dogs with long ears have a certain appeal.
Because of this, we’ve put together a list of our favorite long-eared dog breeds to get you acquainted with them.
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Table of Contents
- Long Eared Dog Breeds
- Long Eared Setter Dogs
- Why Do Dogs Have Long Ears?
Long Eared Dog Breeds
These are all the dog breeds with long ears that we’ve found outside of the Setters dog family. They range from the Pembroke Welsh Corgi to the iconic long-eared Bloodhound.
Highlights: happy-go-lucky, curious, clever
Though Beagles belong to the hound group of dogs and excel at hunting, this doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft side. In fact, this breed is adored for its kind features and loving temperament. They consistently make great family dogs as they are even-tempered and considerate, even around children.
They are energetic without being too much of a handful, so owners don’t need to worry about them getting out of control. Their high intelligence leads them to enjoy games that include some mental exercise, especially if they get a chance to use their amazing sense of smell.
Their popularity has even seeped into pop culture, with the famous character Snoopy from the “Peanuts” series being a beagle. I know, the resemblance is a bit far-fetched, but we’ll just take “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz’s word for it.
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Highlights: easy-going, gentle, stubborn
Few dog breeds are as iconic as the Bloodhound. Anyone who grew up watching Disney’s The Fox and the Hound will recognize the breed’s drooping ears and wrinkly jowls.
Add that to their reputation as the “Sherlock Holmes” of dogs, and there’s no doubting this breed’s popularity.
While they were also historically bred for hunting, since the Middle Ages they have also been used for tracking people such as criminals on the run! Their formidable noses are estimated to be more than 1,000 times more powerful than a human’s.
Good luck hiding if they’ve picked up your scent! All they need are a few cells and they will be on your trail! But despite all this, at heart they are very gentle dogs with a naturally sweet and affectionate demeanor. However, their sense of smell can get them into trouble.
With so many interesting scents around them, they might want to follow their nose rather than listen to their owner from time to time. And who can blame them?
3. Basset Hound
Highlights: tenacious, outgoing, docile
A Basset Hound’s short and stout body makes its droopy ears appear all the longer. Their ears regularly flop well past their shoulders, framing their long narrow snouts and giving them a somber look. Additionally, they often have unique patches of coloring over their eyes, lending them an inquisitive expression.
Though they are known to have stores of energy and love socializing, at home they are ready to lay around with their owners. In a word, they are a work-hard play-hard dog.
When out and about, their keen sense of smell can lead them all over, investigating fellow animals and humans alike. But at the end of a long day, they are more than ready to curl up with their owners for a relaxing evening.
However, as they are known to be both vocal and stubborn, they do require firm and consistent training.
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4. Coonhound (a.k.a. The Coon Dog)
Highlights: adaptable, mellow, sociable
Technically, the American English Coonhound is the champion of long-eared dogs. A Coonhound named Harbor holds the title for the longest ears measured on a dog, with the left ear being 12.25 inches and the right being 13.5 inches. That’s almost 26 inches of ear on a single dog!
Ear-related accolades aside, this breed was bred for the less common task of hunting raccoons and other animals that could climb trees during hunts.
They also were bred to work both individually or in packs, so they have a rare combination of being both sociable and independent at the same time.
Highlights: powerful, aloof, elegant
The Weimaraner, also affectionally called the “Gray Ghost,” recently featured on our list of Dogs With Blue Eyes. Their dignified appearance has historically made them a favorite among royalty as companions for hunts.
Their wicked-sharp wits and astounding stamina made them a prized breed, and not only among the kings and queens of old! They are just as popular among dog owners who want a steadfast and lively companion.
Though their bodies are long and lithe, their ears are long and floppy, making them stand out among the other breeds on this list. And while most Weimaraners are short-haired, a long-haired variant does exist.
However, the long hair mostly manifests only on the ears and tail, which can give them an even more ghost-like appearance and earning them their colloquial name of the Gray Ghost.
6. Cocker Spaniel
Highlights: sensitive, sweet, intelligent
Both English and American Cocker Spaniels are easily recognized by their long ears, though the American breed tends to have somewhat longer ears.
Once prized for their ability in bird hunting, Cocker Spaniels now are more likely to be seen flaunting their long coats at dog shows than running through a forest in pursuit of a quarry.
They are extremely sensitive dogs, so even though training them is relatively easy, it should be done with care and compassion. Cocker Spaniels respond best to positive reinforcement and lots of love. Harsh vocal criticism can leave them feeling anxious and make training more difficult.
Their caring nature also means that they do best with households where they are not often left alone. When by themselves they can suffer from separation anxiety. So it’s best to make sure that someone is regularly at home to give them some quality attention. This means they fit in great with larger households.
7. Spinone Italiano (a.k.a. Italian Spinone)
Highlights: versatile, patient, relaxed
The Spinone Italiano excels at anything it puts its mind to. Featuring a close-lying wiry coat, a solid body, and webbed paws it is equally good at hunting, swimming, and simply playing.
Though they have the capacity for endurance and physical activity, they prefer to move around at slower paces, trotting instead of sprinting.
This attitude is further reflected in their relaxed nature. They don’t mind putting up with all manner of commotion or even being around children. This doesn’t mean their gentle demeanor should be taken advantage of.
Instead, it just means that they do best with people who go about at a similar pace. If you like a medium-paced life, somewhere between bustling and sleepy, then this is a dog for you.
8. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Highlights: agreeable, athletic, fearless
After some consideration, we’ve decided that the Welsh Corgi deserves a place on this list. Most of the breeds on this list have ears that just flop around, but the Corgi’s stand up straight despite their length.
Some might be surprised to learn that despite their squat legs, Corgi’s are actually rather athletic dogs. They excel at herding tasks, for which they were bred, as well as dog sports. Furthermore, they’re the 11th most intelligent dog breed.
However, care should be taken to make sure that they do not develop back problems. Having such a long body, but such short legs can put them at risk for such health issues if not cared for properly.
Most people recognize the Corgi as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II in England, but did you know that during her reign she has raised over 30 Corgis?
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Highlights: adventurous, happy, agile
While the actual ear part of the Papillon’s ears isn’t exceptionally lengthy, we’ve decided to include this breed in the list because the hair on their ears definitely is long.
This actually contributes to how they got their name. Papillon means “butterfly” in French, and one look at their ears will reveal the resemblance.
The actual length of their ears (and ear hair!) can vary quite a bit, but it is one of the defining characteristics of this happy little dog. They are from the toy category of breed, but they still have loads of brains in their tiny heads.
Because of their high intelligence, they often need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
While naturally playful, it is still important that Papillons are properly socialized from an early age, otherwise they can have a tendency to display mistrust to other animals and people, especially if they are particularly rambunctious.
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10. Afghan Hound
Highlights: clownish, aloof, independent
With this breed it is difficult to determine where the fur ends and where the dog begins, at least if its coat has been allowed to grow out. Among show dogs, the Afghan Hound can boast a long history of success due to its unique flowing coat and dignified posture.
In day to day life, they carry themselves with an aloof air, but when it comes to playtime they love to get goofy, letting their long coats flop around and enjoying themselves.
In terms of training, they are considered somewhat slower in acquiring commands, but some merely see this as an enjoyable challenge rather than a setback. Just be aware that they can take up to 80 repetitions before they demonstrate understanding a new command.
But if you have a light heart and plenty of time and patience, then you should get along with this breed just fine.
Highlights: curious, affectionate, brave
Dachshunds aren’t dogs you typically think of when you think “long ears.” But because their heads are so small, the ears easily dwarfs any other physical characteristic on the head.
Aside from the long ears, there’s still a lot to love with the Dachshund. They have a charming personality and can even be a little comical at times. There’s never a dull moment with a Dachshund by your side.
Long Eared Setter Dogs
The final breeds on this list all belong to the Setter family. There are three distinct breeds in this family: the Irish, English, and Gordon Setter. Though they may share some traits, such as their long ears, they do have a few unique characteristics.
12. English Setter
Highlights: mischievous, energetic, methodical
Though their working background can make English Setters strong-willed, and occasionally mischievous, they do mellow out if raised as companion dogs.
They are highly intelligent and can perform most tasks with a methodical efficiency…except for herding. When outdoors, their natural bird-hunting instincts can lead them to be distracted by the sounds around them.
Despite their energetic appearance, they are actually quite gentle and sensitive. This should be kept in mind for training, as they react poorly to harsh criticism.
Rather, positive reinforcement is the way to go. Instead of reprimanding them for becoming distract, more emphasis should be put on rewarding them when their focus remains steady.
13. Irish Setter
Highlights: lively, companionable, passive
Irish Setters resemble their English and Gordon cousins in some ways, but tend to be a bit less assertive. They can have a stubborn streak, but mostly they are simply agreeable dogs that respond quickly to positive training.
Though they are naturally alert dogs, but don’t make great watchdogs. They are more likely to greet any strangers than to set off an alarm. But it is this same trait that makes them fantastic family pets.
They love friends and strangers alike, and generally get along well with both children and other animals. However, just take care for having them around smaller animals, as there can be a latent prey drive due to their breeding history.
14. Gordon Setter
Highlights: eager, confident, loyal
Originating in Scotland, the Gordon Setter tends to have a much darker appearance than its Irish and English counterparts. With their history as bird-hunting dogs, they are naturally alert and confident in their abilities.
But underneath this pride they are deeply loyal dogs that develop strong bonds with their owners. They thrive in environments where they receive plenty of affection, and you will find that they are very eager to learn and please their owners.
One pleasant feature of this dog is that they tend to retain a “puppy-like” air about them longer than most breeds. This is because they mature slower than other dogs.
And even once they reach maturity, they tend to remain young at heart well into their older years. So be ready to keep up an exercise routine of at least 60 minutes each day for quite a while with this breed!
Why Do Dogs Have Long Ears?
Not all dog breeds have long ears. In fact, just a small fraction of them do! So why exactly do some dog breeds have long ears? And is there a purpose for these unique physical traits?
Just about all scent hounds have long ears. This includes your Beagles, Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, Harriers, English Foxhounds and so many more breeds we couldn’t cover.
Though there are other popular breeds that can sniff out and track a scent, such as the German Shepherd and Labrador, these scent hounds are the best. But why is this the case?
This is mainly because the long floppy ears act as a mitten, catching and scooping up scent particles and sweeping them towards their noses. In addition, the floppy ears somewhat hinders the dog’s hearing. As a result, these dogs have developed a heightened sense of smell.
Long Ears are Defects?
Scientists have concluded that modern dogs have originated from wolves. Though dog breeds are substantially different from wolves today, nearly all dogs can be traced back to wolves.
The current theory for long ears is that while humans started breeding dogs for specific traits, temperaments and skills, there was a “universal malfunction” or change in stem cells.
Researchers believed that in the long history of breeding dogs, there was a change in canine embryonic development. In other words, cells that were supposed to contribute to the development of the ears malfunctioned for whatever reason.
The result of this genetic mutation is a long floppy ear that doesn’t stand erect like with their ancestors. So technically, these ears can be called “defects.”
So which long-eared dog breed is your favorite? Do you own any of these dogs? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
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