Dog Ear Positions Chart – What Does Your Dog’s Ear Position Mean?

 There are a variety of dog ear positions that convey different emotions.

Dog owners should have a good grasp of the dog ear positions chart as it will enable them to best support the emotional and well-being needs of the dogs in their care.

What Does Your Dog’s Ear Position Mean

In this article, we will walk you through the dog ear positions chart as well as explore other body languages that dogs use to convey emotion.

Each dog is unique and there may be some variances between breeds. However, many of the dog ear position meanings carry across most breeds.

Read on to learn more about dog ear positions and dog body language.

Dog Ear Positions And Their Meaning Explained

Neutral Position 

The neutral ear position is one that you will gladly notice. The meaning of the neutral position is that your dog is very comfortable in your company and the overall environment.

The exact position that is defined as neutral will differ between breeds, but they have the same meaning of contentment.

Dog Ear Positions Chart

Pointy-eared dogs such as the German Shepherd, Boston Terrier, and Husky will demonstrate the neutral position by relaxing their ears at a slight angle.

Dogs that have floppy and long ears may appear relaxed all the time as their ears rarely move from that position.

However, dogs with these traits such as a Beagle, Cocker Spaniel, or Golden Retriever will show the neutral position by having the base of the ear in a comfortable position while the outer ear loosely flops.

Perked & Attentive Ears 

The perked and attentive ears refer to when the dog lowers the ears towards the head. This position is much more noticeable in dogs with straight and pointy ears.

Often this ear position does not present positive characteristics as they are either showing submissive behavior or fear.

This ear position is often shown in front of other dogs particularly if they feel the other dog is more dominant.

While it may not be so appealing for your dog to have this ear position, it can prove a positive behavior because your dog is complying and not wanting to cause the other dog any issues.

It will allow them to sniff and analyze them. After the analysis is complete, they are more likely to play without any aggression.

A greater concern is when fear is shown through flattening the ears as this is often the response to abusive human behavior.

Dropped Back Ears 

Also known as pinned ears, this position occurs when your dog places their ears on the side of the head. This position is more noticeable for dogs with pointy ears.

In most cases, dogs will pin their ears when they are feeling both nervous and happy.

Drop Back Ears

If you notice this ear position you should take time to notice the rest of their body language.

For example, your dog could pin their ears while kissing you on the face as an act of reassurance through expressing affection and love.

This ear position would also partner with tail wagging and body looseness if they are expressing happiness.

Alert & Concerned Ears 

Alert and concerned ears can be similar to pointed ears but there is an emotional difference displayed. When dogs are alert, there is increased muscle tension in the ears and face.

This normally means that your dog is focusing hard and waiting for a command or treat from you.

Typically there are no aggressive or negative emotions behind alert and concerned ears so there is no need to be worried.

The ear position typically comes when your dog hears a sound without knowing where it comes from. It means they are in investigation mode.

If your dog’s ears are perked and moving slightly sideways, it means they are focusing on listening to you and likely waiting for instructions.

Extremely Pinned Ears 

If a dog is completely frightened or threatened it will convey these emotions through every square inch of its body, including the ears.

To show extreme fear, dogs will pin their ears tightly to the side of their head and their toil will coil in between their legs.

Additionally, their knees will bend tightly and the dog will do slow sinking movements.

To avoid eye contact, dogs with extremely pinned ears will turn their shoulders away from the aggressor.

Ears Changing Positions 

When a dog’s ears change position frequently back and forth it is normally an expression of concern as they are working out what the issue is.

Often dogs find it difficult to express emotions when they are in a new or strange situation. It can be a struggle for many. The main of this circumstance is the rapidly changing ear positions.

An example of when this may occur is when you take your dog out for a walk on a busy road and a street with plenty of pedestrians.

In addition to the changing ear positions frequently, you will also notice them closing their mouths and having tight jaws.

Dog Body Language Meaning

Alert Dog Ears

Dog Posture 

In addition to understanding dog ear positions, reading other body languages can tell you a lot about their physical and mental status. One of the key body languages is body posture.

Similar to human body language, reading a dog’s body language can tell you their thoughts and feelings, examples of which are explained below.

  • Playfulness – this emotion is very easily conveyed through body posture. Whether it be a puppy or a senior, dogs will take a stance with their legs near the floor and their paws in front and maintain their lower body part in the air.
  • Excitable – an excitable stance of a dog refers to specific movements. You’ll notice your dog being giddy and unable to stand still. They will be running, jumping, and barking in excitable ways.
  • Scared – if a dog is scared it will often place its whole body on the floor with the tail placed between its legs. They may also be shaking.
  • Aggression – is an emotion that is displayed by placing their body weight mainly on their front paws. Their eyes will be focused on a target and they will show their teeth.
  • Relaxed – is shown through all body features being in a neutral position and they will be breathing normally.

Dogs Eyes


The eyes are another body feature that conveys emotion. Key eye movements to look out for and their emotions are explained below.

  • A winking motion shows your dog to be in a playful and happy mode.
  • If your dog’s eyes are upturned and wide, it may suggest your dog is feeling nervous or unsure about something.
  • When your dog’s eyes narrow, they are likely in an aggressive mode. Especially if there is concentrated staring.
  • Open and wide eyes imply playfulness with them keen to have fun.
  • If your dog is reluctant to give eye contact, they are probably being polite and avoiding confrontation.
  • A dog who is maintaining eye contact with very few breaks suggests they are wanting attention or is simply focused on something.

Dog Gestures 

Through using body language, dogs can convey all manner of emotions. In addition to body language, dogs can do gestures to show emotion.

For example, if a dog wants close body contact and a cuddle, this is an act of love and reassurance from their guardian. Licking your face is also another gesture that dogs used to convey their affection.

Dogs Ear Positions Chart

If they are wanting to be in between your legs while you are talking with someone, this is an example of your dog’s attention-seeking playfully.

If your dog is experiencing stress or agitation, it will likely bark or squeal. If they are not used to other humans or animals, this is an expression of protective instincts.

Face Expressions 

You may have thought that dogs don’t express emotions as frequently through their faces compared to humans. This is not true. Dogs have very emotive facial expressions which are easy to spot.

  • Whale eye – is an example of a facial expression when dogs are so fixed on a specific object that the white section of the eye, known as the sclera, becomes visible. This facial expression is normally a sign of nervousness or agitation. Though, it can also be a sign of guilt if they have been cheeky.
  • Yawning – can refer to a couple of emotions. Firstly, they may be tired and calm and are ready to sleep. It is also true that yawning is used to calm over-excitement and sometimes is a defense against stress.
  • Open mouth – if your dog’s mouth is wide open while you are eating, it is a sign that they want to eat your food. This is especially true if they are salivating and making eye contact with you.


Tail wagging is a well-known way for dogs to communicate emotions. Wagging of the tail normally expresses excitement and happiness, but there can also be other emotions attached to this body language.

If the tail is stiff and only wagging slightly it could be a sign of impending aggression. This can be caused by your dog not liking the energy of another dog or human.

If this occurs, you should remove your dog from the situation to avoid any potential aggression taking place and no one getting hurt.

Tail wagging can also take place when your dog meets strangers. You should allow your dog to sniff them before letting them go.

While this act is normally displaying excitement, it could turn sour if your dog is not allowed to fully suss out the new animal or human.


Barking Dog

A barking dog can convey lots of different emotions. Depending on the breed, the bark may come across as cute or intimidating.

Although barking is a very audible expression of emotion, understanding your pup’s body language will be combined with the manner of the bark is the best way to work out their emotions.

Barking can be an expression of excitement, fear, and a call for play time.

The tone and regularity of the bark may be the same or different depending on the emotion conveyed. This is best observed by owners over time so that barking patterns can be understood well.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has given a brief insight into the various dog ear positions and other body languages that dogs use to convey emotions.

Dogs have a variety of ear positions including the natural, perked, dropped back, and pinned positions.

While the positions may look different depending on the dog breed and ear style, the emotions that each position conveys are standard across all dog breeds.

Dogs will also convey emotions through body language including their posture, eyes, gestures, facial expressions, and barking.

As a dog owner, you should closely observe your dog to make sure that you are picking up their different ways of expressing emotion. Understanding this well ensures that you can best serve their emotional needs.


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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