From the toy-sized shih tzu to the big Bernese mountain dog, these floppy-eared breeds will surely melt your heart.
three Basset Hounds running in a park
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There's something especially sweet and puppy-like about dogs with floppy ears. And it's impossible to get "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" out of our heads when we see a basset hound's long ears waving in the breeze.

Have you ever wondered why some dogs have pointy ears and others floppy? Or, if there's any purpose for long, droopy ears at all? An expert gave us some insight—and we're all ears.

Why Do Dogs Have Floppy Ears?

"Dogs with floppy ears are due to the domestication of dogs long ago," says Amber Karwacki, DVM at Heart and Paw in Philadelphia. The theory behind this, she says, is that domestication caused the adrenal glands to produce less adrenaline. As a result, the adrenal glands produced fewer stem cells, also known as neural crest cells.

"These cells are responsible for different traits in a dog, including ears," Karwacki says. "Dogs with more of these cells will have upright ears, while dogs with less of these cells will have floppy ears."

She explains that when these dogs started to have floppy ears, some breeders weren't too concerned because they were bred for other characteristics. On the other hand, Karwacki says, some dogs have floppy ears because the dogs were bred intentionally.

Ever notice how a lot of hound dogs have floppy ears? Karwacki says this was no accident. Their ears were bred to be that way!

"These dogs are used as tracking dogs, either for hunting or for search and rescue," she says. "Their ears help to swirl the scents on the ground closer to their nose and allow them to track better." So, not only are floppy ears downright adorable, but they can be functional, too.

From pint-sized pups to gentle giants, here are some of our favorite dogs with floppy ears.

Basset Hound

three Basset Hounds running in a park
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Who can resist the basset hound's big, floppy ears and lovable, long face? Friendly and affectionate, basset hounds make great family dogs and are wonderful companions for children. These are a low-energy breed who love to lounge and spend time with their loved ones. But don't let their love for lazing around and short legs deceive you! They revel in putting their noses to the test—basset hounds are pros at tracking scents and thrive when out for long walks or playing scent games.


Beagle stands between owner's legs while on walk in park
Beagles need at least an hour of exercise each day. She definitely won't object to a long walk around the neighborhood!
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We can't get enough of seeing beagles' ears flop while they romp! Beagles are a small, spunky breed with a sharp sense of smell. A family favorite, beagles love to be around their people. These gentle and ever-so-playful pups require lots of exercise and activities to satisfy their natural working and hunting instincts, such as long hikes or walks around the neighborhood. Nose work classes could be a great activity to do with your beagle. Also, don't be surprised if he alerts you when he's suspicious of someone or something; he's just doing what he was bred to do!

Afghan Hound

black afghan hound posing on autumn park
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It's always a good hair day for the Afghan hound. Known as one of the most ancient dog breeds, Afghan hounds have been serving looks with their long ears and luscious coats for thousands of years. These sensitive sweethearts are catlike in that they're highly intelligent and independent. Bred to be hunting dogs, Afghan hounds can run up to 40 mph and need plenty of exercise. They also require daily brushing to maintain their elegant appearance and prevent mats and tangles.


Bloodhound laying on grass in front of a lake
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Bloodhounds are the definition of "inquisitive," thanks to their droopy ears, wrinkly faces and bodies, and incredible noses. These dogs love to explore wherever their extraordinary sense of smell takes them! An active and social breed, bloodhounds enjoy spending time outdoors and are at their best when they get lots of exercise and mental stimulation.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel with his tongue out
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Behold, one of the sweetest breeds in all the dogdom: the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. This breed is highly adaptable and friendly. (And oh-so-handsome with his charming smile and soft, floppy ears!) He becomes pals with anyone and everyone, no matter if it's a canine, cat, or kiddo. These tiny and devoted dogs are happy when in company, though he's happiest around you! Cavalier King Charles spaniels are playful companions you can always count on to bring a smile to your face.


weimaraner wearing red collar lying on patio
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A striking silver-gray coat. Light blue eyes. Adorable, pendant ears. Meet the Weimaraner. This is a loyal breed filled with lots of energy and affection. Weimaraners, or Weims, make wonderful family dogs. They love people and children and will want to be by your side just about all the time. Bred to be working dogs, Weims make a great fit for an active family who can provide them with exercise, play, and a whole lot of love.

Golden Retriever

golden retriever running on grassy field
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Golden retrievers have long been known as the ultimate family dog. This breed is smart, sweet, and sporty. Bred as working dogs, golden retrievers require daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy, preferably going out for a run or playing a game of fetch. These fun-loving sweethearts are thrilled to spend any kind of quality time with you.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd standing in profile in front of woods
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The Australian shepherd is a naturally stunning breed with unique coat colors, striking eyes, and cute, floppy ears to match. Lovingly referred to as Aussies, they're playful and intelligent dogs who love to work. This loyal herding breed cherishes their human and is happiest when spending quality time together outside, whether it be to go for a run, hike, or games of fetch.

Shih Tzu

shih tzu kissing woman who is laying on the floor at home
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Alexa, play "Glamorous" by Fergie. Shih tzus are a majestic, loyal breed whose favorite pastimes include playing with toys and being on your lap. Known for their silky hair, unique underbite, and floppy ears, these pint-sized pups are just as outgoing as they are adorable. You can expect your shih tzu to turn heads and get showered with compliments wherever she goes. Despite loving the attention from strangers, it's you she wants all the love from!

Bernese Mountain Dog

woman standing next to her Bernese Mountain dogs, best family dogs
Credit: Jason Donnelly

The Bernese mountain dog is a gentle giant who looks—and acts—like a teddy bear. Bernese mountain dogs, or Berners, are smart, devoted dogs who can't wait to shower you in love! These dogs have a history of being hardworking and loyal to their families, making them especially eager to please their humans. Berners are easygoing, low-energy pups who like exploring, playing, and spending time by your side.

German Shorthaired Pointer

german shorthaired pointer hiking through grass
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Love the great outdoors? Meet your new hiking buddy, the German shorthaired pointer! This breed is instantly recognizable with their unique markings, floppy ears, and pointed stance! Bred for hunting, German shorthaired pointers (GSPs) are an energetic, loving breed that requires plenty of activity and affection. Whether it's playing fetch or going for swims, GSPs thrive when they can use their intelligence and athleticism.


Portrait of Vizla dog standing on a meadow.
With her red hair and sleek coat, a Vizsla is an instantly recognizable dog.
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The Vizsla, lovingly referred to as the Velcro Vizsla, is a loving, loyal companion who can often be found attached to her human's hip. A Vizsla's second favorite place? The outdoors. These high-energy dogs were bred to hunt and require daily exercise, no matter if it's jogging, running, or hiking. Vizslas are a hardworking and devoted breed who make wonderful watch dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and therapy dogs.


cute boxer puppy being pet by two children inside a house
Boxers are happy family dogs and get along with kiddos and other pets, especially when introduced to the fam in puppyhood.
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Take one look at a boxer and prepare for your heart to melt with those sweet puppy dog eyes and floppy ears! These muscular working dogs are as cute and cuddly as can be. Boxers' sweet demeanor, sense of humor, and strong loyalty has made them one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. These fun, curious dogs love their people and new adventures.

Irish Setter

irish setter lying on wooden fence with green trees in the background
Smart and eager-to-please Irish setters can learn training cues and tricks quickly, but they also have an independent streak that makes training a practice in patience.
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Although Irish setters are best known for their radiant red coat, it's hard not to swoon over those wavy-haired pendant ears! These fiery-colored pups are gracious, loyal companions who are excellent family dogs. Irish setters were bred as gun dogs and revel in any form of exercise, game, or job that puts their high energy and intelligence to good use.