As a Doodle owner, I’m sure you are familiar with dog ear plucking. If not, it’s basically a procedure done by groomers or vets to pull hair out from inside the ear canal. It’s typically done by using a hair pulling hemostat (tweezers) or fingers, in conjunction with a specialty ear powder. Some groomers and owners choose to pluck their Doodles’ ear hairs. However, over time it has become a controversial practice, and many have begun to wonder if it’s truly necessary. Let’s discuss!
Why Dog Ear Plucking is Done
As you know, Doodles are just covered in hair which grows and grows…and grows. Unfortunately, this includes the hair inside the ears.
Unmanaged hair inside the ears can cause a plethora of problems. Inner ear hair growth can contribute to trapped moisture, wax buildup, bacterial and yeast overgrowth, and can create a breeding ground for ear mites and other parasites. Without proper care, any of these can ultimately cause an ear infection…or worse.
The above health risks are traditionally why ear plucking has been done on long-hair breeds like Doodles.
Does Ear Plucking Cause Pain?
Now, many Doodle owners say that dog ear plucking has never affected their pup.
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Some vets even claim that dogs don’t have nerve endings in their ears, and therefore can’t feel the plucking. Moreover, some people think that dogs who react to plucking are just “being dramatic”.
However, many people – dog owners and groomers alike – suspect that dogs do in fact feel pain when their ears are getting plucked. These are people who largely avoid having it done on their Doodles.
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As Gordon’s Grooming puts it:
“First, ripping this hair out of the ear HURTS the dog. Most will fight, wiggle and try to get the person pulling the hair to stop. Some will scream and try to bite.”
Not judging! But personally, I tend to agree with the below person’s comments:
Moreoever, if they can’t feel it, then why do some dogs start scratching their ears or shaking their heads after plucking?
“Is it normal for a doodle to keep shaking its head after having ears plucked? My groomer plucked our girl’s ears yesterday and said she had to quit before she was done because she kept screaming while she was plucking and the groomer was afraid someone would think she was hurting her. 😳”
Repeated head shaking can actually lead to other issues, such as aural hematomas, which are when the ear flaps fill up with blood.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m 99% certain that Chloe’s (first and only) hematomas were the result of ear plucking, as she began shaking her head uncontrollably after coming home from the groomer’s…with very, very clean (hairless) inner ears.
Again, even if a dog doesn’t physically react to plucking, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it.
Now, whether or not you believe that plucking causes dogs pain, it won’t hurt anyone (pun intended) to simply be mindful of the possibility of pain when it comes to dog ear plucking.
Other Side Effects of Dog Ear Plucking
So we already discussed irritation that can lead to head shaking, which could lead to aural hematomas.
Ironically, another potential side effect could actually be the thing that dog ear plucking aims to prevent in the first place: ear infections.
Gordon’s Grooming continues to say:
“Since we’ve stopped plucking ears, the salon hasn’t received a single phone call telling us that their dog got an ear infection right after grooming so we must have ‘got water in their ears.’ This is because those ear infections were never caused by getting water into a dog’s ears, but from yanking the hair out of the ear canal.”
There is some truth to that statement. It’s been found that ripping the hair out can cause microscopic tears in the ear canal. If bacteria are present, it’s possible for a dog ear infection to occur in an injured ear. (Source)
So, Is Dog Ear Plucking Really Necessary?
There is no doubt that removing hair from a Doodle’s ears is necessary to prevent the aforementioned health risks.
The question is, though, whether the hair needs to be plucked.
While some vets believe that dogs can’t feel pain in their ears, many others no longer recommend dog ear plucking. Plucking should be done on a case-by-case basis and should only be attempted as a treatment option for dogs who are more prone to ear infections.
This is to say that if your Dood isn’t particularly prone to ear infections, then plucking is not necessary. As they say:
“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
For especially squirmy dogs, ear plucking using just your fingers is probably the safest option.
Alternatives to Plucking
So if not plucking, what can we do to manage inner-ear hair in Doodles?
Trimming, thinning, and removal of the hairs with clippers or scissors is really the only alternative. Both are great for removing bulk and trimming hair short without any of the suspected pain.
Here’s a video tutorial on trimming the ear hairs with scissors.
By the way, if you don’t want your groomer to pluck your Doodle’s ears, all you have to do is let them know.
Dog Ear Plucking Products
If you’ve weighed the options and prefer to pluck your Doodle’s ears, here are some products that can help you do that more efficiently.
The ear powder is for grip and the hemostat is for grabbing the hair. Also, be sure to follow up the plucking with an ear cleaning product such as ear wipes.
Needed for Ear Plucking
How To Pluck Your Dog’s Ears
Tilt your Doodle’s head to the side and sprinkle some powder onto the ear hair around the ear hole opening. Sprinkle enough powder so that you get a firm grip with your fingers without them slipping when you grab hold of the ear hair.
Then, using either your fingers or tweezers, grip a small amount of hair at a time. Give the hair a sharp pluck and the ear hair should come out fairly easily. Keep plucking little bits at a time until the inner-ear canal is clear of hair.
Here’s a good video tutorial on dog ear plucking.
All of this is just to say that the act of plucking a Doodle’s ears isn’t necessary. However, all we can do is choose the option that is best for us.
So there you have it! I hope that sheds some light on what dog ear plucking is and whether or not it’s a good option for your Doodle.
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The information on this page is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified animal health provider with any questions you may have.