Dog having his ear cleaned

Study reveals dog breeds most affected by ear infections

One in every 14 dogs in the UK suffers from ear infection each year, according to new research from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). Knowing more about the condition can help you spot the signs and ensure your dog gets prompt treatment when they need it.

Ear infections (clinically known as ‘otitis externa’) occur when the lining of a dog’s ear becomes inflamed and thickened in either one or both ears. The infection can be smelly, irritating and often very painful — and if left untreated, the infection can spread deeper down the ear canal causing even more serious harm to the affected dog.

Happy dog

A study led by the RVC’s VetCompass Programme which looked at data on 22,333 dogs across the UK has revealed that certain breeds are particularly prone to ear infection.

The top five worst affected breeds are the Basset Hound, Chinese Shar Pei, Labradoodle, Beagle and Golden Retriever. Overrall, Poodle and Spaniel types of dogs are at greater risk of ear infection, and dogs with long and hanging ear flaps have a much higher risk of ear infection compared with dogs with pointy ears. Smaller sized breeds, weighing under 10kg, have a lower risk of ear infection than larger breeds.

The research also showed that dogs aged over one year are at higher risk of ear infection compared with those under one.

Helping to identify which dogs are most at risk of ear infections will inform better treatment and prevention, said Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at the Kennel Club.

“Ultimately, we hope the research, funded in part by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust VetCompass grant, helps to ease this issue in our canine friends and ensures owners regularly clean their dogs’ ears to prevent infection, are aware of what to look out for and know when to seek veterinary advice or treatment.”

Dog insurance from Purely Pets can help pay the vets’ bills when your dog needs treatment for illness or injury. We also offer a free, 24-hour Vet Helpline for any queries regarding your dog’s health.