One of the most commonly asked questions from new Norfolk owners concerns the taping of ears. In the hustle and bustle of acquiring their puppy, the new owners remember the breeder saying something about flying ears ... teething ... tape ... but can't remember much else.
To answer the last part of the question first, yes, it's worth it to have properly set ears. This is what helps give the Norfolk its unique and charming expression. While having a pup with "expressive" ears certainly isn't the end of the world, why not at least try to get them right?
Joan Read's book, The Norfolk Terrier, (available through ANTA) contains information on taping ears and an explanation that, while many Norfolks set their ears correctly from birth, others need some help, particularly during the time they are teething. With bitches, a first heat can also send the ears into a tailspin ... to mix a metaphor!
But there is no final answer regarding how long ears have to be taped. Some have to be gently manipulated throughout the dog's adolescence, particularly when he or she is exposed to stressful situations such as dog shows. This doesn't mean that tape has to be left on constantly, but rather that owners need to pay attention. If ears seem to go awry for more than a few hours or a day at a time, then perhaps it's time for some tape for a day or two or three to get things on the right track again.
Remember, you don't want to irritate the skin on the underside of the dog's ear. In addition to the method described in The Norfolk Terrier, there are other ways to tape, including the use of surgical tape in a V pattern on the underside of the ear ... with the wide part of the V falling just below the crease of the ear. This method works particularly well on ears that are the right size and the right placement ... but which need just a little encouragement from time to time.
When in doubt ... call an experienced breeder or attend an ANTA event and ask for help!
ANTIC, June 1996
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