When you choose your new friend, take into consideration grooming needs and that you will need to learn how to clean puppy ears. Grooming puppies goes beyond a bath now and then or worrying about shedding. Different dogs require various amounts of ear grooming care. Healthy ears are pink, and a small amount of amber wax is normal and helps protect the ear canal. A discharge, bad smell, and/or dark or crumbly material may indicate an ear infection, otitis or parasites such as ear mites.
Check your puppy's ears at least once a week, and clean at least monthly unless doing so more often is recommended by your veterinarian.
Grooming Puppy Ears
Commercial ear cleaning solutions are available from veterinarians and pet stores, but a 50/50 vinegar and water solution are fine for general cleaning. Place a small amount of solution on a cotton ball, soft cloth or cotton swab, and gently wipe out only the visible portions of the ear. Never squirt cleaner or put any instrument down into the ear canal unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. You may inadvertently damage your dog's ear.
When recommended by the veterinarian and/or demonstrated by the groomer, ears can be cleaned in this way. Grasp the outside (pinna) of the puppy's ears firmly, while applying the cleaner into the ear. Then gently massage the base of the puppy's ear--he may groan and "talk" about how good that feels and lean into your hand--and then let go of the ear so he can shake.
You'll want to wear old clothes because it's likely the head-shake afterward will spray you with cleaner and possibly ear debris.
The pendulous ears of breeds like Cocker Spaniels tend to trap moisture, and the poor air circulation provides a perfect environment for ear infections. If your dog has this type of ears, he'll benefit from a weekly cleaning with a drying agent (epiotic solution) or "airing out." Draw the ears up over his head or behind his neck, and tape them in place for a few hours.
It looks funny but can prevent ear problems down the road.
In Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers, Lhasa Apsos, Bouvier de Flanders, Old English Sheepdogs and some other breeds, hair actually grows inside the ear canal. This tends to block air circulation, holds moisture and makes these dogs prone to ear infections. Every one to three months, use electric clippers to trim the hair around the ears and pluck out the fur growing inside the ear.
A serum that oozes from the hair pores after plucking is an ideal medium for bacterial growth. Follow ear plucking with an antibiotic ointment as recommended by your veterinarian to prevent infection or inflammation. You may be able to perform plucking service for your dog once a veterinarian or professional groomer shows you how.