According to Vet Street, some dogs do not need their ears cleaned all the time. However, French bulldogs are not a breed of dogs who can get away without having their ears cleaned regularly.
Their adorable bat ears that add to the cuteness of their endearing faces catch lots of debris and dust as they explore the world. More debris means a higher likelihood of infections. However, there is a solution: good ear hygiene.
French bulldogs tend to have more ear infections than other breeds, making ear cleaning an important part of caring for your Frenchie.
Ear cleaning does not take a long time to do and is a simple way to improve your dog's health and maintain good hygiene. It should be done once a week or as often as necessary, depending on how dirty your Frenchie's ears are.
How to clean your French bulldog's ears
Cleaning your Frenchie's ears should be a part of your weekly routine with your furry friend. The process is very simple and takes approximately 10 minutes total between preparing supplies and cleaning the ears.
First, you will need to gather a few supplies to get started:
- Kleenex Hand Towels
- Paper Towels
- Cotton Balls
- Cotton Swabs
- A Flash Light, or a Head Lamp for hands-free lighting
- Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner (this cleaning solution is recommended by most veterinarians)
- Organic Dog Wipes
- Tasty treats, like Zuke's Minis or Soft Well Bites
Next, follow these steps to make your Frenchie's ears squeaky clean:
1- Gather all of the aforementioned supplies, using a paper towel or paper plate to keep the supplies organized and ready to use in your reach. This is important because it gives you a place to put the dirty supplies after they are used, and it gives you a way to throw it out without having to touch all the dirty supplies.
2- Grab a handful of treats and bring your ear cleaning supplies to the location you want to clean your Frenchie's ears.
3- Invite your Frenchie to sit with you. Pet them and offer them a treat in exchange for a paw shake. Position them comfortably in your lap and begin by assessing each ear with your flashlight.
If your Frenchie does not like their ears handled it may be difficult to see where the debris is located with only one hand. If your dog is not cooperative, consider using a headlamp instead of a flashlight to assess the ear if you will need both hands.
4- Take a dog wipe and wipe the upper part of your Frenchie's bat ears. Do not use the wipe deep into their ear canal; just clean the front and back of the part that stands up. Towards the base of the ear, they have little flaps of skin. Clean those with the wipe as well, being very gentle.
5- Moisten a cotton ball with the Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner and massage the inside of the ear with the cotton ball. Some Frenchies may enjoy this ear massage and lean into it and make happy noises.
Others may not. Frenchie's ears are very fragile; if your Frenchie thrashes too much you could hurt their ear. If your Frenchie is particularly uncooperative, consider asking a friend to help hold them while their ears are cleaned to prevent injuries.
6- Look inside the ear with a flashlight to see if there are any large pieces of debris the cotton ball missed; the ear canal has lots of nooks and crannies that wax can hide in.
A headlamp is recommended for this part as well because you must be very careful and having two hands is better for this step. It is very important that you ONLY use the cotton swab to clean where you can see.
Never put a cotton swab too deep into a dog's ear and always be very gentle. Take a cotton swab and clean out any wax or debris tucked into the nooks and crannies in the ear canal. Use the headlamp to ensure you are not putting it too deep into the ear.
7- Take a Kleenex hand towel or a paper towel and gently dry off the ear. Preventive vet says that if a dog's ears are regularly wet their risk of developing an ear infection increases, as the bacteria and yeast that live naturally in their ears will overpopulate as a result of the extra moisture, making this step important.
You could use a regular paper towel, but a Kleenex hand towel is softer than a paper towel, which would be more comfortable.
8- It is important that the ear cleaning experience be positive; Frenchies need their ears cleaned frequently, and it will not be fun for anyone if they learn to dread it.
If you have rescued an adult who is still learning that they have to have their ears cleaned frequently and they fight you tooth and nail to have their ears cleaned, consider doing one ear then waiting a few hours to do the other ear.
9- Finish the ear cleaning by telling your Frenchie how good they were, and giving them lots of attention and a few more treats.
Jordan Johnson from All About Frenchies and his Frenchie, Lottie, demonstrate how it's done in this YouTube video.
The Importance of Ear Handling
As French bulldogs tend to have more ear issues than other breeds, they require their ears to be cleaned more frequently.
Therefore, it is imperative that they are used to having their ears handled because if they are not used to their ears being handled, they will make cleaning their ears very difficult.
A dog who does not want their ears cleaned will thrash and jerk away from their owner, which increases their risk of injury.
When you bring your French bulldog puppy home, make a daily habit of running your hands all over them when you pet them.
Gently pet and massage their ears, stroke and hold their paws, lift their lips to look at their teeth and massage their gums with your finger, pet their belly, etc.
Their future veterinarians and groomers will thank you, as they will be used to being handled, making examinations, ear cleaning, and nail trimming less of a big deal.
What is different about the ears of French bulldogs compared to other dogs?
According to the French Bulldog Rescue Network, white Frenchies are prone to deafness, and when Frenchies have untreated ear infections, they can become deaf as a result.
According to Dr. Patty Khuly from Vet Street, French bulldogs often suffer from ear issues. Combined with their erect ears and general predisposition to skin conditions and allergies, their ears are more sensitive than other breeds of dogs. But there is good news; prevention is possible.
How can ear infections be prevented?
Dr. Kramer of Vet 4 Bulldog says that ear infections can be prevented: "The key to preventing your bulldog and French bulldog puppies needless pain is early and frequent ear cleaning, rinsing, flushing, and drying… Repetition will help you recognize the smallest changes from the norm and take action".
Learning to recognize ear infections
From the first day that you get your French bulldog, Dr. Marty Becker for Vet Street says there is something that you should do that will sound odd: smell their ears.
When you snuggle your Frenchie, nuzzle their ears with your nose like another dog would smell them, as this method makes them feel more comfortable. Learn what they normally smell like when their ears are healthy.
This is important because all dogs have a slight ear odor naturally, but if they are not cleaned the smell becomes stronger, or when an infection strikes, the odor changes.
By learning to recognize what their ears are supposed to smell like, you will be able to quickly identify the smell of an ear infection.
The importance of veterinary care
At the first sign of an ear infection, like an odd smelling ear, immediately schedule a veterinary appointment. A French bulldog with an untreated ear infection will suffer.
Ear infections are uncomfortable and painful. Dr. Kramer of Vet 4 Bulldog says that when left untreated, ear infections can cause real damage to their ears, like chronic, irreversible ear canal disease.
French bulldogs are genetically prone to having ear issues, which makes helping them maintain good ear hygiene very important.
By regularly cleaning your Frenchie's ears, and regularly checking your Frenchie's ears for debris and odd odors, you can help prevent ear infections or be able to treat ear infections promptly when they arise.
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.