How to Clean a German Shepherd's Ears

Ears like satellite dishes.

Ears like satellite dishes.

As you are likely well aware, German shepherds are a large breed of domesticated canine that make excellent watchdogs and loyal family pets. German shepherds have large, erect ears, which are advantageous for more than just keener hearing: Because they're erect, they get more air circulation than floppy-eared dogs do; their ear canals stay relatively dryer, therefore, making them less prone to infection. It is still important to clean your German shepherd's ears once in a while, however, to maintain healthy skin.

Examine your German shepherd's ears for signs of infection. If your dog's ears appear red and inflamed, or if they excrete a foul odor, your dog may have an infection that could require veterinary attention. Healthy ears on a German shepherd will be pink and free of discharge.

Gently pull one of your dog's outer ears upward to straighten the ear and expose the ear canal.

Squeeze a few drops of dog ear cleanser directly into the ear canal and massage the base of your German shepherd's ear with your fingers to distribute the solution. You may want to have a friend or family member hold your dog's head still so he does not shake it when you apply the cleanser.

Use a cotton ball to carefully swab out the interior of your dog's ear, wiping away debris as well as residual cleanser. If you don't have cotton balls, a soft, clean cloth will suffice.

Apply an ear-drying powder to your German shepherd's ear if you are concerned about it staying dry. Because German shepherds have erect ears, they should dry fairly quickly on their own.

Trim the hair just inside your dog's ear using a pair of blunt-nose scissors, or pluck out long hairs using a pair of tweezers. This step is necessary only in German shepherds that have very hairy ears, to facilitate airflow to the ear canals.

Repeat these steps with your German shepherd's other ear, then reward your German shepherd with a small treat for his cooperation. After a period of regular cleaning your dog will should become used to the process of having his ears cleaned.

Items you will need

  • Dog ear cleanser
  • Cotton balls or clean cloth
  • Ear-drying powder (optional)
  • Blunt-nose scissors or tweezers
  • Dog treats


  • If your dog starts to exhibit head shaking or excessive scratching of the ears, check his ears; if you notice discharge or other signs of infection, take him to see your vet.
  • Even though German shepherds are somewhat less prone to ear problems than other breeds, you should still check their ears at least once a week and clean them as necessary.
  • Avoid getting your dog's ears wet when bathing him; excess moisture in the ear can lead to infection. Always wash your dog's head with a damp cloth rather than pouring water over his head.


  • Never use cotton swabs or alcohol to clean your German shepherd's ears; these items can cause damage or irritation to your dog's skin and sensitive ear canal.

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About the Author

Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.

Photo Credits

  • German Shepherd image by Terraina Lambert from