For anyone who owns a husky, there is a common question that surfaces frequently: why do huskies put their ears back? The answer to this question and others about husky body language will help you figure out the most effective way to treat them.
When huskies put their ears back, it can signal three different moods, depending on the exact ear position. Ears flat and back can signal aggression, back and open can show submission or fear, and finally, when their ears are just slightly back, it can mean joy.
These ear positions may seem indiscernible and confusing, but once you know what to look for in your husky, you’ll know exactly how you should react to comfort your dog or that you should avoid a certain interaction.
Interested in learning more? Let’s get to the ear positioning semantics of your husky.
Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.
Why Do Huskies Put Their Ears Back?
How many times have you looked at your dog and wished you knew what they were thinking? I’m going to assume that it’s more times than you care to mention.
Lucky for you, huskies do a fantastic job of communicating emotions through behaviors and actions. Though they can’t speak to you in your native tongue, their body language is all you need to understand their current mental state.
One of the more confusing signs huskies show is putting their ears down and back.
Pinning their ears back can be confusing because this can act can mean three different things.
The variances are subtle, but it makes all the difference when determining what your husky needs.
As I mentioned above, three emotions that can be signaled when you see your husky’s ears back are joy, trepidation or fear, and aggression.
Before you can adequately determine the position of their ears while they’re in a certain mood, you’ll have to be aware of their ears’ neutral position.
The neutral position is where their ears naturally stand.
In other words, where their ears are standing naturally when your husky isn’t doing anything extra to manipulate its ears’ position.
Familiarizing yourself with this neutral position will assist your efforts when seeing mood changes exhibited through their ear placements.
Though it may seem fairly obvious when your husky is happy, this may not always be the case. Often, people can confuse anxiousness for being happy because of mirroring signals.
When your husky is happy, their ears can either be up in an alert position, welcoming attention, or back slightly.
Of course, the ears may not always go back with happiness, but this is one of the natural positions for huskies.
If your husky put their ears back with joy, it will be subtle. The ears will be slightly pushed back as if to welcome a pet. You should notice that their behavior is calm and not overly eager.
A slightly pinned back ear shows that the dog is calm and ready to receive attention.
When your husky is overly excited, their ears will likely be in a more forward position.
When your husky is frightened, their ears will sag and remain slightly open.
This ear movement will be more exaggerated than the one that is calm and welcoming.
Again, your husky may exhibit other characteristics to show that they are scared, such as averting their eyes and appearing smaller, which I’ll discuss later on in more detail.
When huskies are angry, their ears are in the most dramatic position. This is definitely one that you’ll want to make sure you are aware of.
When your husky is angry, their ears will be pinned back sharply and pressed tightly against their head.
As with the other ear positions, there will be clear signs associated with their ears that will tip you off.
Other Body Language Signals
The ears are an excellent way to determine the state of mind that your husky is in, but taking note of other features in conjunction with the ears can help assess their mood.
Along with their ears, their tail can be a fantastic nonverbal cue regarding your husky’s mood.
If you see their ears pulled back but find yourself struggling to diagnose the mood, take a look at their tail next.
- Fear: When your husky is fearful, they will likely hold their tail tightly against their body, usually tucked between their legs. This is a submissive state, used to show other dogs or humans that they’re not a threat.
- Happy: A happy husky will have a fast, somewhat inconsistent tail wag. Their tail will usually be elevated higher than the neutral position showing levity.
- Anger: An angry husky will usually hold their tail lower. Mad huskies are also known to wag their tails in a slow, consistent motion, which can be confusing to those who aren’t used to their dogs’ actions. They are also known to hold their tails straight out, very stiffly as they are on high alert.
The body is another way that huskies use nonverbal cues to communicate with their dog parents, as well as with other dogs and humans.
- Fear: A frightened husky will try to make themselves appear as small as possible. They will tuck their head in and scrunch up their body as much as possible while also avoiding eye contact. Have you ever come home to your house destroyed, and your husky immediately cowers down and averts all eye contact? Yeah, same situation. They may even roll over on their backs to show an extra level of submission.
- Joy: Huskies will provide a pretty clear sign with their body when they’re happy. Similar to their tails, their bodies move around in a fun, wiggly manner.
- Anger: An angry husky will tense up their entire body. Opposite of a fearful dog, they try to make themselves look as large as possible, so they stand tall.
More obvious but still necessary to discuss in this context are some of the noises that your husky may make during different moods.
- Fear: If your husky is scared, they may let you know with a whine or whimper. A whimper is distinctly different from a bark, letting you know that they feel some kind of distress.
- Joy: A happy husky may or may not be vocal, depending on your individual dog. If they are vocal, then you’ll notice a sharp higher-pitched bark.
- Anger: Two obvious signs that a dog is upset are the bark and growl.
If your husky is upset and barks, the bark will be deep and intimidating. They may choose to growl, which should be a clear indicator that they don’t want to interact.
Looking at your huskies’ ears can be a fantastic way of determining their mood but can simultaneously be a bit confusing.
Combining their ear position with body language and vocal signals they use can be a much more effective method for determining mood.
Even if they are of the same breed, every dog is different, so you must be familiar with your own dog and their actions. Anything seen outside of their relaxed neutral positions can signal to you how they’re feeling in that moment and how you can help them.
That’s about all I have to say today on this topic. Per usual, I ask that you continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often.
Love you guys,
P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.
This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.