Ears are, without question, one of the most defining qualities of a dog. There’s so much you can learn from your dog’s ears. For example, erect and triangular ears can give the impression of a dog that is alert and ready for action.
Then there are the dogs with long, floppy ears and look like they’re perpetually ready for a nap or on the verge of dozing off. However, just because a dog’s ears are droopy doesn’t mean their personality matches the look.
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 and thus excel at hunting, this doesn’t mean they don’t have a soft side. They’re adored for their kind features and loving temperament. It’s the reason they make such great family dogs, especially with kids.
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 IQ leads them to enjoy games that include some mental exercise, especially if they get a chance to use their amazing sense of smell.
The Beagle’s 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.
Highlights: Easy-going, Gentle, Stubborn
Few dogs are as iconic as the Bloodhound. Anyone who grew up watching Disney’s The Fox and the Hound will recognize the dog’s drooping ears and wrinkly jowls. And with a reputation as the “Sherlock Holmes” of dogs, there’s no doubting their 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, they’re very gentle dogs with a naturally sweet and loving demeanor. Though, their sense of smell often leads them to trouble.
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 their somber yet adorable looks. Who can resist them?
In addition, Basset Hounds 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 phrase, they’re 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 love to curl up and relax with their owners.
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Highlights: Adaptable, Mellow, Sociable
Technically, the American English Coonhound is the champion of long-eared dogs. That is, 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 unique breed was developed for the less common task of hunting raccoons and other animals that could climb trees during hunts.
The Coonhounds were also bred to work both individually or in packs, so they have a rare combination of being both sociable and independent at the same time. Though with a human pack, they’ll get along with just fine.
Highlights: Powerful, Aloof, Elegant
The Weimaraner, also called the “Gray Ghost,” recently featured on our list of dogs with blue eyes. Their dignified appearance has historically made them a overwhelming favorite among royalty as companions for hunts.
Their wicked-sharp wits and astounding stamina made them a prized breed, and not only for a king and queen of old! Even today, Weimaraners are just as popular among dog owners who want a steadfast and lively companion.
Their bodies are long and lithe, but their ears are long and floppy, making them stand out. And while most Weimaraners are short-haired, long hair mostly manifests only on the ears and tail, which can give them an even more ghost-like look.
6. Cocker Spaniel
Highlights: Sensitive, Intelligent, Sweet
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 at dog shows.
They are extremely sensitive dogs, so even though training them is relatively easy, it should be done with care and compassion. In fact, 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.
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7. Spinone Italiano
Highlights: Versatile, Patient, Calm
The Spinone Italiano excels at anything he puts his mind to. Featuring a close-lying wiry coat, a solid body, and webbed paws, they are equally good at hunting, swimming, and playing. But in the home, they’re outstanding loving companions.
And while they have the capacity for physical activity, they prefer to move at slower paces, often 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, Diligent, Loving
After consideration, we’ve decided that the Welsh Corgi deserves a place on this list. Most of the dog breeds on this list have ears that just flop around, but the Corgi’s stand up straight (in most cases) despite their length.
Some might be surprised to learn that despite their squat legs, Corgis are actually athletic and active dogs. They excel at herding tasks, for which they were bred, as well as dog sports. In addition, they’re the 11th most intelligent dog breed.
However, care should be taken to make sure that they do not develop back problems. With the long bodies and short legs, they’re at risk for such health issues if not cared for properly. Plus, a Corgi will require plenty of mental and physical stimulation.
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Highlights: Adventurous, Happy, Agile
While the actual ear of the Papillon isn’t exceptionally lengthy, we’ve decided to include this dog breed because the hair on their ears gives them the long-eared look. It’s actually how they got their name, which means “butterfly” in French.
The actual length of their ears (and hair) can vary quite a bit, but it’s one of the defining physical qualities of this happy toy dog. They’re from the toy category of breed, but they still have loads of intelligence in their tiny heads.
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’s 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 boasts a long history of success due to their unique flowing coat and dignified posture.
In day to day life, they carry themselves with an aloof air, but when play time comes, 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 though.
However, 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 fully understand a new command. But if you have a light heart and plenty of time or patience, Afghan Hounds are great.
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 characteristics on the head. So relatively, Doxies have some of the longest ears.
These little dogs from Germany are intelligent but can be extremely stubborn when it comes to obedience training. For this reason, the’ve been classified as just “average intelligent” dog breeds. Even so, Dachshunds are adaptively smart.
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 when they’re playing with the pack. As such, there’s never a dull moment with a Dachshund by your side.
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12. Cavalier King Charles
Highlights: Patient, Outgoing, Adaptable
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has quietly become a popular lap dog and companion. And because of their petite heads, the long droopy ears are emphasized, thus giving these spaniels a hound-like look. It’s adorable, but matches them perfectly.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are among the best dogs for children. They have a cheerful and positive vibe that’s easily contagious in any household. These dogs are also very playful and loving – there’s nothing they’d want to do more than hang with the humans.
Patience is a key with the Cavalier. For the most part, they’ll be calm and docile. Though, it’s not unusual for them to get easily excited over seeing familiar faces. And despite being small, few things will actually scare a Cavalier King Charles.
Highlights: Friendly, Spirited, Even-tempered
The Otterhound has an ear that resembles your typical hound, though with curly soft fur. And as you may have already guessed from the name, they were developed to hunt otters! Along with their webbed feet, Otterhounds are expert swimmers.
But the problem with canine swimmers and long ears is “swimmers’ ears.” That is, when some water residual becomes trapped in the ears. Since Otterhounds have droopy ears, it’s difficult for the ear canal to dry, thus causing infections.
However, when you keep this in check, Otterhounds are easy-going and relatively simple dogs to keep. They’re super-friendly and have an outgoing personality that meshes well with all kinds of families. Plus, Otterhounds love playing!
Highlights: Independent, Quiet, Reserved
The Saluki is one of our favorite breeds, simply because they’re quiet dogs with a reserved and calm demeanor. The furry yet long ears of the Saluki adds an extra touch of elegance and grace to the hound-type dog breed.
A Saluki is best as a one-family dog. They’re affectionate dogs, though they’ll need their own space from time to time. With strangers, Salukis tend to be aloof and reserved around. As such, they can make great watch dogs for the family.
The Saluki is great with children because they’re typically gentle and docile. They understand the fragility of kids and will often treat them with care. These dogs even get along with other dogs and cats, thus making them superb family pets.
15. Pharaoh Hound
Highlights: Obedient, Sociable, Active
Unlike most popular hounds, the Pharaoh Hound has erect ears instead of droopy ears – such as with a Beagle or Bloodhound. Nonetheless, Pharaohs will certainly have long ears. These dogs are sighthounds that track with eyes, as opposed to smell.
It’s believed that the Pharaoh Hound is one of the most ancient dog breeds. In fact, historians believe they were first bred over 5,000 years ago! They’re believed to be the hunting dogs of the kings, and probably hunted alongside pharaohs.
Although they come from a “royal” background, the Pharaoh Hound is fairly laid back and loves to play. They have an outgoing personality that’s easy to get along with no matter who their owners are. They’re also highly obedient dogs too!
16. Picardy Spaniel
Highlights: Trainable, Energetic, Loving
The Picardy Spaniel is one of the most underrated breeds of the spaniel-types. Originally bred as a gun dog for French hunters, the Picardy still retains the hunting instincts and versatility that made them such formidable hunters of the past.
They have weather-resistant fur, which extends all the way to their long ears. As a result, the Picardy was the hunting companion of choice even among the French nobility. They’re able to track and hunt in all types of terrain too.
As magnificent as they are on the field, Picardy Spaniels also make excellent home pets. Their loyalty and devotion is impressive, and because of it, they’re very obedient and trainable dogs. Still, they’ll need a decent amount of daily exercise.
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.
17. English Setter
Highlights: Mischievous, Energetic, Methodical
Though their working background makes the English Setter strong-willed, and occasionally naughty, they do mellow out if raised as companion dogs. They’re highly intelligent and can perform most tasks with a methodical efficiency, except for herding.
When outdoors, their natural bird-hunting instincts often leads them to be distracted by the sights and sounds around them. And despite their energetic appearance, English Setters are actually quite gentle and sensitive in the home.
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, emphasis should be put on rewarding them when their focus remains steady.
18. 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 are agreeable dogs that react quickly and respond well to obedience training.
Though they’re naturally alert dogs, Irish Setters don’t make great watchdogs. They are more likely to greet any strangers (with licks and kisses) than to set off an alarm. But it’s 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 pets. However, keep an eye out when they’re around smaller animals, as there can be a latent prey drive due to their breeding and work history.
19. Gordon Setter
Highlights: Eager, Confident, Loyal
Originating from 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’re naturally alert and confident in their abilities.
But underneath this pride, Gordons are very loyal dogs that develop strong bonds with their owners. They thrive in environments where they receive plenty of affection, and you’ll find that they’re very eager to learn and please their owners.
One pleasant feature of this dog is that they tend to retain a puppy-like air longer than most breeds. This is because they mature slower than other dogs. And even once they’ve reached maturity, they tend to remain young at heart well into their older years.
Why Do Dogs Have Long Ears?
Not all dog breeds are blessed with long and awesome ears. In fact, just a tiny fraction of them do! So why exactly do some dog breeds have long ears? And is there any purpose for these unique physical traits? Read on to learn why.
Long Ears as “Scent Mittens”
Just about all scent hounds have long ears. These dog breeds include the Beagles, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds, Harriers, English Foxhounds and so many more breeds we couldn’t cover. But with these specific hound-types, ears serve a crucial purpose.
Though there are other popular breeds that can sniff out and track a scent, such as the German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever, the scent hounds are the best. Not only do they have more scent receptors than others, but the secret weapon is the ears.
The long floppy ears act as a mitten, both catching and scooping up small 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 nearly all modern dogs have originated from wolves at one point in history. 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 originally bred dogs for special qualities, traits, temperaments and skills, little emphasis was put on physical qualities. As such, there may have been a “universal malfunction” that led to the long ears.
Researchers believed that in the long history of dog breeding, there was a change in canine embryonic development. In other words, cells that were supposed to contribute to the growth of the ears malfunctioned for whatever reason.
The result of this genetic mutation likely caused the long floppy ears that don’t stand erect like with their ancestors. So technically, these ears can be called “defects.” But despite the stigma, we appreciate this “mutation.” I mean, who can resist a dog with long ears?
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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