5 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Get an Ear Infection

A rough collie receives an ear examination at a veterinary clinic
© didesign021/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Published: December 15, 2023

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Ear infections are a common and uncomfortable condition for dogs. At least one in ten dogs gets an ear infection each year and many require treatment by a vet. Some conditions, such as allergies and skin conditions, make dogs more prone to ear infections. However, a major UK study has also identified the breeds of dogs that are most likely to get one. This is valuable information for breeders, vets, and owners and is based on data from over 22,000 dogs!

Signs of an Ear Infection in Dogs

Ear infections are sore and uncomfortable for dogs. You may notice that your dog is scratching their ear, rubbing it on things, or holding their head to one side. You may also see a discharge coming from the ear and it may not smell great!

What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?

The ear canal of dogs is more vertical than ours and forms an L-shape. This makes it more able to retain fluid and dirt and puts all dogs at a greater risk of their ear becoming infected. Ear infections are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast, sometimes both. Any situation that encourages that growth makes an ear infection more likely. Therefore, this condition is most often seen in dogs with allergies, endocrine disorders, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, ear mites, and injuries. Excessive cleaning or cleaning with inappropriate products can also make your dog more likely to have an ear infection.

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection you should get them seen by a vet straight away. Overall, designer dog breeds are more likely to get ear infections but for some breeds they are a particular problem. Here are the 5 dog breeds most likely to get an ear infection.

#5 Golden Retrievers

Golden retriever outdoors

Your golden retriever is over twice as likely to get an ear infection.

©tglco/iStock via Getty Images

Golden retrievers are amongst the most popular pet dogs in the US and have been for many years. They are also over twice as likely to get an ear infection as crossbreed dogs. These guys have a lot of long hair and floppy ears – that is the perfect combination for infection-causing yeast and bacteria. Also, golden retrievers are gun dogs and are happiest when they are running through forests, rolling in mud, and throwing themselves into rivers! The resulting moisture and dirt make an ear infection more likely. Clean their ears using appropriate ear-cleaning solutions after walks – especially the mucky ones!

#4 Beagles

Adorable Beagle dog in stylish collar with metal tag on pink background

Long floppy ears trap moisture and bacteria.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

The risk of your Beagle getting an ear infection is around two and a half times that of a crossbreed. This is another dog breed that was designed for hunting – they are one of the smaller scent hounds. Their floppy ears are one of their most endearing features but trap dirt and moisture. They can also suffer from mange which will irritate the skin around the ear and could encourage infections. Keeping their ears clean and dry and treating mange promptly will help to reduce the risk of ear infections.

#3 Labradoodles

Black labradoodle labrador poodle dog pet sitting outside watching waiting alert looking hot happy excited white panting smiling and staring at camera

Hairy, floppy ears make labradoodles prone to ear infections.

©Lindsay Helms/Shutterstock.com

These guys are one of the new designer breeds that have become more popular in recent years. They are nearly three times more likely to have an ear infection than other crossbreeds. Labradoodles are a cross between a Labrador and a poodle. Their ears are hairy, floppy, and long and this creates a great environment for bacteria and yeast to grow and cause infections. Also, this crossbreed quite often suffers from allergies. The allergic reaction causes skin irritation within the ears which also encourages infections. It may help if you can get to the bottom of what is causing the allergy and keep the ears clean and dry.

#2 Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei close-up in an autumn garden.

Your Chinese Shar-Pei has an ear canal that is a quarter of the diameter of other dogs.

©Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock.com

Chinese Shar-Pei are around three and a half times more likely to get ear infections than crossbred dogs. Yet, this breed does not have long ears. Instead, their predisposition is caused by the shape of their ear canal. It is only around a quarter of the diameter of similar-sized dogs. This, combined with a predisposition to skin diseases, often leads to both repeated and prolonged ear infections. It will help if you can work with your vet to tackle ongoing skin conditions.

#1 Basset Hound

Beautyful adorable young basset hound smiling with happy sitting in a field of dandelion with blurry background full around of yellow flowers and green leave and tree ,spring season in europe,.

The long, pendulous ears of Basset hounds predisposes them to ear infections.

©praneem79/Shutterstock.com

Basset hounds are nearly six times more likely to get ear infections compared to crossbred dogs. This may not come as a surprise because these guys have magnificent pendulous ears! As a hunting dog, their long ears come in useful for wafting scents towards their nose. However, they are also ideal for trapping the dirt and moisture that the yeast and bacteria that cause ear infections thrive on. You can help prevent ear infections in your Basset hound by cleaning their ears with an appropriate cleaning solution and making sure that you dry them after swimming and bathing.

Summary of the 5 Dog Breeds Most Likely to Get an Ear Infection

RankBreedIncreased risk compared to crossbreeds
1Basset houndx 5.87
2Chinese shar-Peix 3.44
3Labradoodle× 2.95
4Beagle× 2.54
5Golden retriever × 2.23

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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