What Dogs Have Button Ears?

A dog with a button ear has a fold forward to protect the inside of the ear.


Button-eared dogs are hunting or herding breeds whose ears help protect them while digging or running through brush. Button ears are straight at the base, semi-erect, and then fold over about halfway up to cover the sensitive parts of the ear. Think of a shirt with a button-down pocket. That’s where legend has it the name originated. The American Kennel Club defines a button ear as, “A small, neat ear with the flap folding forward, covering the opening of the ear.”

Dog breeds with button ears include the Airedale Terrier, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Manchester Terrier, and the Australian Shepherd (who can also have rose ears).

These breeds needed protection to do their original jobs, which was either to hunt ground-dwelling rodents or to herd sheep. In either case, their sensitive hearing was an important sense to either find prey or find the sheep. A dog’s hearing is about four times more sensitive than ours, and they can hear things as much as four miles away.

greyhound with rose ears
This Greyhound has a rose ear, which is upright but falls toward the back. Credit Juergen Latzke/500 px | Getty Images

Don’t confuse button ears with rose ears, although both kinds of ears fold over. The AKC says a rose ear is “a small drop ear that folds over and back so as to reveal the burr (the inside of the ear).” A rose ear bends forward over the back edge, while the upper front edge curves over, backward, and out. As a result, a rose ear reveals the cartilage inside the ear. It does not protect the inner ear the way a button ear does. Breeds with a rose ear include the Greyhound, Boxer, and rough-coated Collie.