Schnauzers come in giant, miniature and standard sizes, with wiry coats and recognizable mustache-and-beard combos. Their triangular ears naturally flop over in a comical manner, or are surgically cropped to achieve a smaller, more upright appearance. If neglected, they could develop ear infections, causing pain and discomfort.
Because the schnauzer is a terrier breed, his playful, inquisitive nature means he won't hesitate to stick his head wherever he thinks he may find something interesting. This could result in dirty ears, or burrs or debris getting stuck inside. At the very least his ear wax may build up and cause discomfort, so clean his ears once a week to keep them healthy. Use a cotton ball with retail dog ear cleaner, following packaging directions, to wipe out any dirt or ear wax. Your schnauzer's ears should look pink; no discernible odor should emanate from within. If you plan on bathing your schnauzer, place a cotton ball in each of his ears to prevent water and shampoo from dripping inside.
Much like elderly men, schnauzers grow hair in their ears. Sometimes quite a bit of hair. These mostly unseen strands can trap debris and moisture, causing unwanted bacteria growth. Plucking the hair keeps the ears cleaner and reduces the chance of ear infections. You can pluck the ear hair yourself, but it can be a chore -- especially if your dog doesn't sit well for it. Seek the help and guidance of a professional groomer or your veterinarian. They can do it much quicker and with less discomfort for your pooch. Plucking frequency depends on how quickly your pup sprouts hair. Some dogs need a good ear pluck every few weeks, while others can go months between tweezings.
Watch for Illness
Dog ears are essentially caves with nooks and crannies for tiny nasties to hide. The inner ear hair of the schnauzer adds another aspect to this, as it can hold moisture in the ear and prevent proper evaporation. Dark plus moist equals perfect breeding circumstances for bacteria. Without proper cleaning and attention, your schnauzer could develop ear infections or become home to mites. Symptoms of infection include redness or odor in the ear, possibly with an unusual discharge. Ear mites feed on your dog's ear wax and oils, depositing discharge that resembles coffee grounds. In either case, your pooch probably shakes his head more often than normal and scratches or rubs at his ears to try to relieve the discomfort. A quick trip to the vet will confirm the problem, and ear drops and medication should take care of his ear troubles.
What Not to Do
Since your schnauzer's ears are deep, you may be tempted to reach for a cotton swab to get down in there and remove as much ear wax as possible. Resist this urge, as one jerk from your pooch could send that swab deeper than you intended and seriously injure his inner ear. Only use cotton balls to wipe the parts of his ear you can easily see. Do not insert anything into his ears. Never attempt to remove foreign objects that are lodged in your schnauzer's ears. Any attempt may force the object further in, injuring his ear drum and causing hearing damage. See your vet for help.
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