in ,

How to Clean a German Shepherd’s Ears

Cleaning your German Shepherd’s ears is a great way to help keep dirt and grime out while preventing infections at the same time. It is a chore that is often overlooked but can make your dog feel so much better and healthier.

To clean a German Shepherd’s ears, you will need to check the ear for infections or issues that a vet should check out, gather all the materials, including the ear cleaner and some cotton swabs, and start cleaning the ears.

The first few times you clean your dog’s ears may be difficult because they are not used to the experience. Keeping with a regular schedule of ear cleaning and using positive reinforcement will make this easier. Let’s take a look at some of the simple steps you can follow to make cleaning your German Shepherd’s ears easier. –

Quick Navigation

How to Clean Your German Shepherd’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears does not have to be complicated.

When you know the right steps to take, it can be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog. Some of the steps you should take include:

Check for Problems and Infections

Before getting started, take a moment to check the ears for any infections or other concerns. If you notice either of these, take them right to your vet. Your vet can discuss what treatment options are necessary and can handle the cleaning until the ears are better. Some of the common concerns that may show up with your dog’s ears include:

  • Redness: If the ear is red, this is a sign your dog has been scratching or that the ears are inflamed. This is a common sign of an infection.
  • Inflammation: As you look over the ear, you may notice that the skin around the ear is red and raised. This is a sign of inflammation, and it is time to get the ears checked right away.
  • Discharge: if you notice some discharge from the ear, this is a big red flag. Even a lot of ear wax is sometimes a symptom of an infection and should get checked out by the vet.
  • A bad smell: You should expect a certain doggy odor to the ears of your German Shepherd. But any other smell is a sign to visit the vet.
  • Scratching: Even before you check the ears, if you notice your dog is constantly scratching at the ear, this shows some irritation is present.

Most of the time, the ear will be fine. It is important to check ahead of time, so none of the cleaners or the work you do will cause irritation or make the infection work. This should only take a few seconds, and then you can move on to cleaning the ear.

Prepare What You Need

After checking the ears, it is time to gather everything you need to clean the ears. A few things you should consider getting include:

  • Ear cleaner: Get a cleaner that is approved for dogs, such as Lively Pets Dog Ear Cleaner. Avoid cleaning with only regular water. This may seem like a good way to save money, but it causes a warm and moist atmosphere to form in the ear, and bacteria may grow instead.
  • Cotton balls: Cotton swabs and balls are good for cleaning around the ear. Do not insert it into the ear, though. When you do this, the cotton swab can get stuck and may cause permanent damage. It is fine to use on the outside of the ear, but never inside.
  • Tweezers: This is more optional, but if there is a lot of hair in the ears of your dog, then it is possible you need to pluck them out. It is unlikely your dog will notice, but if they seem uncomfortable with this, then stop and save it for a professional dog groomer. A good choice to use is these Mars Professional Stainless Steel Tweezers.
  • Lots of treats: To help get your dog to sit still, bring some treats. This can keep them distracted and is a good way to add some positive reinforcement into the mix. These Natural Balance dog treats can help keep your dog still while providing them with lots of healthy nutrition. 
  • Gloves: Try not to touch the ears with your hands to avoid infection. Using gloves is a good way to make sure none of the bacteria on your hands gets into the ear. If you don’t have gloves present, take some time to wash your hands well before starting.
  • A towel: Have a towel to help catch most of the medication your dog may try to shake out when the treatment is done. This helps keep the whole area clean.

Clean the Ears

When you have everything you need to get started, it is time to clean the ears. The steps you can use for this include:

  • Take a look at your ear cleaner and read the instructions. Never assume you know how to use it.
  • Command your dog to sit down and sit still. Show them the ear cleaner and give them a few moments to sniff and explore it.
  • Hold the dog’s head steady. If necessary, have someone help you. The best way to do this without hurting your dog is to hold them near the top of the head.
  • Lift the ear and place only the recommended amount of ear cleaner inside. Each ear cleaner will be different, but most recommend adding enough cleaner until the ear canal is full.
  • When the cleaner is in, gently massage the base of the ear, going in a circle. This helps the cleaner sink inside. Keep the ear out of the way during this.
  • Grab your towel and prepare to add in any medication. Hold it around the dog’s head. Add the medicine inside.
  • Use cotton swabs or balls to mop up the extra medicine around the ear and any dirt you see. Don’t add into the ear, though.
  • When done, give your dog lots of praise and treats to show how well they did during the treatment.
  • Repeat with the other ear to finish.

Cleaning the Ears Regularly

The number of times you should clean the ears will depend on each individual dog. You need to consider whether they swim, whether they are more prone to getting an ear infection, and the type of ear. Luckily, German Shepherds have ears that stick up, instead of being droopy, which means you won’t need to clean them out as often.

The best way to tell whether it is time to clean the ears is to learn how the ears look when they are clean. You will notice the ears of your German Shepherd will be odorless and pink when they are clean. You will notice they look dirty and smell slightly when it is time to clean them out.

Wait until the ears look dirty before cleaning to avoid upsetting the balance in the ear canal and increasing the risk of ear infections. When you notice the ears are dirty, give them a quick clean using the methods we discussed above.


It is important to clean the ears of your dog to keep them clean and avoid infections. Using the right dog ear cleaner and a little gentle cleaning on the outside is often enough to make the ears as good as new.

Rewarding your dog with a few extra treats and attention can make it a fun experience for both of you.