Why Do Shiba Inu Have Airplane Ears? (Answered)

Have you ever noticed your Shiba Inu’s ears standing straight up like airplane wings? This adorable trait is commonly referred to as “airplane ears” and is a unique characteristic of the Shiba Inu breed. While all dogs can have erect ears, the Shiba Inu’s ears are particularly expressive and can convey a range of emotions.

happy shiba inu with airplane ears

So, why do Shiba Inu dogs show airplane ears? One reason is that it’s a sign of alertness. When a Shiba Inu is focused on something, their ears will perk up as a way to better hear and assess the situation. Additionally, airplane ears can indicate excitement or happiness. When a Shiba Inu feels playful or excited, their ears may stand straight up to express their joy.

What Are Airplane Ears?

Airplane ears are a term used to describe the upright triangular shape of a Shiba Inu’s ears. The name comes from the ears’ resemblance to an airplane’s wings. This characteristic is one of the most distinctive features of the Shiba Inu breed.

The ears of a Shiba Inu are pointed and erect and set high on the head. The base of the ear is broad and tapers to a point at the tip. The ears are covered in short, dense fur that is usually the same color as the rest of the dog’s coat.

The shape of the ears is determined by the cartilage that supports them. In Shiba Inus, this cartilage is strong and sturdy, which allows the ears to stand upright without drooping or flopping over. This is a trait that is unique to the breed and is not found in other breeds of dogs.

The airplane ears of a Shiba Inu serve a practical purpose as well. The upright position of the ears helps amplify sound, allowing the dog to hear more clearly. This is especially important for hunting dogs like the Shiba Inu, as they need to be able to hear prey from a distance.

Why Do Shiba Inus Show Airplane Ears?

Shiba Inus are known for their unique and adorable appearance, including their upright triangular ears. However, sometimes Shiba Inus will show “airplane ears,” which are when their ears are flattened against their head.

This behavior can be a sign of various emotions and body language. Here are some reasons why Shiba Inus might show airplane ears:

  • Fear or anxiety: When a Shiba Inu is scared or anxious, they may flatten their ears against their head as a way to make themselves appear smaller and less threatening. This can also be accompanied by other signs of fear, such as trembling or hiding.
  • Aggression: In some cases, a Shiba Inu may show airplane ears as a sign of aggression. This can be a warning sign for other dogs or humans to back off.
  • Playfulness: Believe it or not, sometimes Shiba Inus will show airplane ears when they are playing! This can be a sign of excitement and anticipation for what’s to come.

It’s important to pay attention to your Shiba Inu’s body language and ears to understand their emotions and behavior. By recognizing when they show airplane ears, you can better communicate with your furry friend and provide them with the necessary care and attention.

Common Ear Positions For Shiba Inus

Shiba Inus are known for their unique triangular ears that stand upright and are often referred to as “airplane ears.” However, their ears can also take on different positions that can convey different emotions and moods. Here are some common ear positions you may see in your Shiba Inu:

Straight Up And Alert – With A Tense Body

Most people are familiar with This classic Shiba Inu ear position. When your Shiba’s ears are standing straight up, and its body is tense, it is likely alert and focused on something in its environment. This could be a squirrel in the yard or a stranger approaching the house.

Relaxed – With A Laidback Stance

When your Shiba’s ears are relaxed, and its body is in a laidback stance, it is likely feeling calm and content. This is a good indicator that your Shiba is comfortable and happy in its current environment.

Confused – Followed By A Headtilt

If your Shiba’s ears are slightly tilted, and its head is cocked to one side, it may be feeling confused or curious. This is a common reaction to a new sound or unfamiliar situation.

Pulled Back Against Its Head

If your Shiba’s ears are pulled back against its head, it may be feeling scared or anxious. This defensive posture indicates your Shiba is feeling threatened and may need reassurance from you.

Folded Or Floppy Ears

Some Shiba Inus may have folded or floppy ears, though not as common as the other ear positions. This genetic trait can occur in some Shiba Inus and is not a cause for concern. However, it is important to note that these dogs may have a harder time conveying their emotions through their ears.

Understanding your Shiba Inu’s ear positions can help you understand its body language and emotions better. Keep an eye on your Shiba’s ears to see what it is trying to tell you.

What Does It Mean When A Shibas Ears Are Down?

When a Shiba Inu’s ears are down, it can be a sign of various emotions or physical states. The ears are an essential part of a dog’s body language, and they can communicate a lot about what a dog is feeling or thinking.

One possible reason a Shiba Inu’s ears are down is that they feel anxious or nervous. When a dog is anxious, they may flatten their ears against their head, which can make them appear smaller and less noticeable. This behavior is a way for dogs to make themselves appear less threatening to other dogs or people.

Another reason a Shiba Inu’s ears may be down is that they feel sad or depressed. Dogs can experience a range of emotions and become visibly upset if they are feeling down. When a dog is sad, they may hold their ears down, and their tail may be tucked between their legs.

In some cases, a Shiba Inu may hold their ears down as a sign of submission. This behavior is common when a dog is interacting with a more dominant dog or person. By holding their ears down, a dog is showing that they acknowledge the other dog or person’s dominance and are not a threat.


You may have noticed your dog’s airplane ears if you’re a Shiba Inu owner. This is when their ears stand straight up and point forward, resembling airplane wings. But why do Shiba Inus show airplane ears?

One reason is that it’s a natural trait of the breed. Shiba Inus are known for their erect ears, which help them hear better and locate sounds more accurately. Additionally, the breed has a high level of alertness and curiosity, which may contribute to their tendency to perk up their ears and pay close attention to their surroundings.

Another possible reason for the airplane ears is excitement or anticipation. When a Shiba Inu is happy or excited, their ears may stand up to show their enthusiasm. This could be triggered by anything from receiving a treat to going for a walk.

It’s important to note that while airplane ears are common among Shiba Inus, not all dogs of the breed will exhibit this trait. Other breeds may also have erect ears, so it’s not a definitive indicator of a Shiba Inu. Nonetheless, it’s a charming and distinctive feature of the breed that many owners adore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Airplane Ears A Sign Of Aggression?

Airplane ears are not necessarily a sign of aggression in Shiba Inus. While it is true that dogs may raise their ears when they are feeling threatened or aggressive, Shiba Inus often shows airplane ears when they are alert and curious. In fact, airplane ears are a common expression for many dogs, and it is important to read the dog’s body language as a whole to understand their mood and intentions.

Are Airplane Ears A Sign Of Affection?

Airplane ears are not necessarily a sign of affection in Shiba Inus. While dogs may show affection in many ways, including wagging their tails, licking, and cuddling, airplane ears are not typically associated with affection. Instead, Shiba Inus may show airplane ears when they are interested in something or trying to figure out a situation.

Do Other Dog Breeds Make Airplane Ears?

Many other dog breeds make airplane ears, including the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, and Siberian Husky. Airplane ears are a common expression for many dogs, and they are often used to show curiosity or alertness.

At What Age Does A Shibas Ears Stand Up?

Shiba Inu puppies typically have floppy ears that gradually stand up as they grow older. While the timing can vary from puppy to puppy, most Shiba Inus will have fully erect ears by the time they are 6 months old. However, some puppies may take longer to develop their ear muscles, and it is not uncommon for some Shiba Inus to have floppy ears throughout their lives. If you are concerned about your Shiba Inu’s ears, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

Recent Posts