Dog Breed Info

Removing Hair From The Ear Canal

Through the ages, humans have bred dogs for specific tasks to meet their needs. This selective breeding has led to different coat types, meaning that some dogs have thicker, longer coats while others have retained a more natural coat similar to the wolf. Thicker and longer coats can result in more hair growth in ear canal. A dog with excessive hair growth in ears would have a much harder time surviving in the wild because it not only lessens dog's ability to hear, but also contributes to ear disorders. Dogs with tight curly and tight wire coat types such as the Poodle and the Wire Fox Terrier typically have a lot of hair growth in ear canal. Short hair breeds such as the Dalmatian, Doberman and Greyhound have little or no hair growth in ear canal and hair should not be removed as it serves as a filter to help keep out debris. Breeds with erect ears that have wire coat types, such as the West Highland Terrier, the Scottish Terrier and the Cairn Terrier, have very little hair growth in ear canal even though they have tight wire coats. Whether dog has erect or drop ears or has tight curly coat rather than wire type coat, ears must be checked on each and every dog during prepping phase to evaluate if hair should be removed to create a healthier ear on man's best friend.

The average dog does not mind hair removed from ear unless dog:
  • has had a bad experience previously
  • has experienced improper pulling of hair from ear
  • has had rough handling by a groomer
  • is prone to ear infections
  • has excessive hair that is hard to remove (such as the Poodle and Schnauzer)

Ear hair must be removed to create better ventilation to help prevent ear infections and assist in reducing unpleasant odors caused by poor ventilation and/or ear infections.

Ear hair should be removed approximately every six weeks to allow for adequate ventilation and to prevent excessive hair build-up. Ear hair should be removed during prepping phase, prior to bathing.

Dog should be placed on grooming table to remove hair from ears, in either a standing or sitting position, with a safety loop on and professional should be standing to front or front/side of dog.

Method to remove ear hair depends on reaction of pet and amount of hair in ear. It is easier to remove ear hair using your thumb and index finger because you have more control. However, if you are not able to grasp hair with your thumb and index finger, you will have to use hemostat. Ear powder is placed in ear to absorb moisture, making it easier to grasp hair, and is removed during ear cleaning procedure in bathing tub during bathing phase.

Technique to Use Hemostats
Hemostat should be held same way you hold your scissors for control and also to prevent damage to your hand and arm.
  • Place thumb and ring finger in hemostat.
  • Do not allow thumb ring to go past base of your thumb nail.
  • Keep finger ring on second joint (from base of finger).
  • Use entire hand to balance hemostat to create more control.
  • Place index finger as close to pivot point as possible.
  • Move only your thumb to open and close hemostat.
  • Keep 90 degree angle, also called right angle, with hemostats and your forearm.
  • To better understand this angle, visualize corner of picture frame that forms right angle.
  • Use gentle plucking type motion when using hemostats.

Be Prepared for Pet's Reaction
Professional must be prepared to react to dog's reaction at all times when removing excessive hair from ear canal especially with dogs that have had previous ear infections or dogs that have excessive amounts of hair in ears.

Dogs often get very nervous around their ears. Check safety loop and make sure it is adjusted properly. Massage opposite ear as a calming and distracting technique. If dog resists and begins to struggle, stop procedure and ask a salon buddy to assist you. After task is complete, use both hands to massage ear area to praise dog for allowing you to complete task.

Remove Hair From Ear Canal Introduction
Method to remove hair from ear canal is determined by temperament and behavior of pet and amount of coat in ears. Safest approach is using thumb and index finger especially if pet does not react well to procedure. Individuals with large hands find it difficult to work on smaller breeds using thumb and index finger and have no other option but to use hemostats.

Procedure: Remove Hair Using Thumb and Index Finger or Hemostats
Pet's Position: Standing or Sitting
Professional's Position:
  • Stand in front of dog and gently secure head.
  • Use both hands to gently massage both ears.
  • Bring one hand forward and gently hold underside of muzzle.
  • With other hand, lift ear leather to expose ear canal.
  • Place small amount of ear powder in ear canal.
  • Massage ear to allow ear powder to distribute evenly.
  • Use thumb and forefinger or hemostat to remove hair in direction of hair growth with a gentle plucking-type motion.
  • Pull a few hairs at a time.
  • Continue until hair is removed.

Safe & Gentle Handling
Never attempt to diagnosis a medical problem, however you must be able to recognize symptoms and suggest visit to veterinarian. Do not attempt to remove hair from ear that shows signs of infection. This is a veterinary procedure. An infected ear is very sensitive and dog may attempt to bite. Take care during this procedure to avoid injury to ear. Inner ear canal is very sensitive and can be damaged by using thumb and index finger or hemostats incorrectly. When using thumb and index finger, take care not to scrape skin with fingernails and not to pinch skin when using hemostat. Tip of hemostat should not be placed in ear deeper than you are able to see. Never use locking hemostats. If you accidentally grab skin and hemostat locks, dog will react in negative manner and difficult to work with in the future during this task. Always remove excessive hair from ears unless instructed not to by pet owner or veterinarian. Always pull just a few hairs at a time to prevent hurting dog. Always remove hair by pulling in direction of hair growth.

Professional Image
The professional must focus on how to safely secure head of pet when conducting grooming task to maintain a professional image. Many dogs react in a negative manner creating the impression professional is hurting dog. Use soothing techniques to encourage dog before task and reward after completing task.

It is important to sanitize hemostats and your hands after completing each ear, or you risk transferring infection from ear to ear.

Time Management
Thumb and index finger is most efficient method to remove hair from ear canal, however, it is not always possible to secure hair making it necessary to use hemostats. Remove as much as possible using thumb and index finger and then use hemostat to finish task. Use thumb and index finger to better monitor pet reaction and be prepared to respond if dog reacts in negative manner.

Client Relations
Notification to the Pet Family
Notify pet family of any signs of ear infection such as foul odor and discharge or infestation of ear mites. Notify pet family dog may scratch at ears after removing excessive coat from ear canal.

Recommendation to the Pet Family
Recommend to pet family to schedule appointment with veterinarian to have ears checked and treated if necessary. Recommend pet family monitor dog for 24 hours after grooming if ear was packed with hair that had to be removed. Recommend pet family schedule a more frequent grooming schedule to remove excessive ear hair to make it easier on pet.

Pet Family Education
Removal of excessive hair from inside ear canal is very important for pet to prevent odors and ear infection due to lack of ventilation. Loss of hearing can be caused by excessive hair blocking the ear canal.
Pet Grooming Training