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Poodle with hairy ears

The essentials

  • Plucking ear hair is a way to reduce ear infections — Excess ear hair can cause moisture and bacteria to get trapped inside a dog’s ears.
  • Some dogs have a large amount of hair in their ear canals — This is common in breeds like poodles and some older dogs.
  • If your vet believes your dog needs ear hair plucking, we recommend having your veterinarian do it for you — Don’t do this at home. Defer to your vet on whether a professional groomer is appropriate.

Monthly ear cleanings keep a dog’s ears healthy and help prevent infections. Unfortunately, certain dog breeds, including poodles, terriers, and schnauzers, may have extra hair in their external ear canals, leading to chronic ear infections. You often see excess ear hair in senior canines, too.

In some dogs, plucking their ear hair is one way to reduce ear infections. Good airflow is important to maintaining healthy dog ears. When dogs have too much hair in their ear canal, it can block air and cause moisture, dirt, debris, and excess ear wax to build up inside.

So, should you pluck your dog’s ear hair?

Plucking a dog’s ear hair is controversial among groomers, vets, and pet owners. The American Kennel Club tells us that some dogs need the hair plucked just inside the ear to keep air circulating. So with that in mind, your vet may recommend your dog’s ear hairs be plucked out to prevent yeast and bacterial infections. Plucking may be necessary to resolve your dog’s ear issues.

  • Some dogs need it. Some breeds and types of dogs have a large amount of hair in their ear canals.
  • Hairy ears can be problematic. This excess hair can cause ear infections and may trap debris and moisture.
  • Pet owners shouldn’t pluck ear hair. Plucking these hairs may irritate the canal, so a vet should be the one to do this.
  • In some cases, groomers can help. A professional groomer may also be able to pluck the hair out of the ears when needed.

How is ear hair plucking done? 

Ear plucking is the process of pulling the hair out with a pair of tweezers. Vets use hemostats (tweezers) or their fingers, but these hemostats can make gripping the more hard-to-reach hair a bit easier. This plucking technique is done with a gentle motion to prevent discomfort.

There are no nerve endings on a dog’s ear hairs. But, dogs may find this uncomfortable because the hair is coming out of their skin when plucked. How uncomfortable the process depends on how much hair is in a dog’s ear canal.

Breeds with extra hairy ears 

In addition to certain dog breeds, seniors can also have more hair in their ears. Yet many breeds are known for having excess hair in their ears:

  • Poodles
  • Poodle mixes like labradoodles
  • Schnauzers
  • Shih tzus
  • Lhasa apsos
  • Terriers

Keep your dog’s ears clean and infection-free 

There are other things you can do as a pet owner to help keep your dog’s ears clean. Here are six steps on how to clean your dog’s ears successfully at home. Only clean your dog’s ears as often as your vet recommends, and be sure to use a vet-approved ear cleaner, like Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner.

👉 Here’s our full list of vet-approved doggie ear cleaners.

Trimming versus plucking

Ear hair trimming isn’t an alternative to plucking. Sometimes both plucking and trimming are necessary depending on the amount of hair present and the type of dog breed. Trimming will involve mainly the outer surface of the ear that surrounds the ear canal to minimize moisture and debris.

Plucking actually involves removing hair from inside the ear canal where clippers and scissors are unable to reach. Most experienced groomers are able to do this depending on the need.

What about ear plucking powders?

While these are popular products on the market, they can form irritating concretions within the ear canal and shouldn’t be used.

Powders allow you to get a better grasp of the hairs but these should never be used by pet owners and aren’t used by a vet.

👉 Some powders are known to cause irritation and even damage to a dog’s eyes. The product may also irritate the lungs if inhaled. 

Leave plucking to your veterinarian

If your vet believes your dog needs ear hair plucking, we recommend having your veterinarian do it for you. Don’t do this at home. Your dog’s vet will decide how much excess hair needs to be trimmed and removed to keep your pup’s ears dry and clean. While ear plucking isn’t always recommended, it can be beneficial for some pups with recurring ear infections.

Frequently asked questions

Does ear plucking hurt dogs?

A small amount of hair is removed, and the hemostat’s grip and hair removal is done with a gentle motion. Plucking ears can be uncomfortable for dogs depending on how much hair is present. So it’s recommended that it is done by experienced groomers and veterinarians.

Is ea​​r plucking good for dogs?

If you live with a breed that is given a diagnosis related to an ear infection, needs ear medication, and is told they have too much hair by your vet, then your canine buddy is a good candidate for ear plucking. A vet will tell you what to do next.

How do groomers get the hair out of dogs’ ears?

Groomers are a pet’s biggest advocate and always looking for a strong odor when they clean your dog’s ears. They will also see if grass seeds are an issue if these foreign bodies can be seen. Groomers contact the dog owner when there is a sign of irritation and can clip or trim rather than pluck the ear hair.

Should pet owners use ear powders?

Nope! Some powders are known to cause irritation and even damage a dog’s eyes. This product may also irritate the lungs if inhaled.