Ears! Long and floppy or pert and upstanding?
More commonly described as dropped, folded or pricked, the kind of ear your dog has will determine the way it is groomed and cared for. Pricked ears seldom have problems related to the ear canal because air can freely circulate. Folded or drop ears, particularly if they are heavy can trap moisture and breed bacteria leading to ear canal infections. Grooming makes a real difference to the health of the ear.
Gently swabbing out an ear with cleanser keeps it free from dirt and debris and sometimes it is necessary to remove excess ear hair from the ear to allow air to flow more freely. Hair is gently plucked out with fingers or a little tool called a haemostat.
I may remove the hair from the underside of the ear flap to let the ear hang more softly against the skull or to remove matts and tangles.
A matt on the leather can cause real problems if the matt is so tight it restricts blood flow, once the matt is removed blood returns and can form a small swelling, this definitely means a visit to the vet!
After a groom you may see your dog shake its head sometimes as it gets used to the new feel of the coat. If this continues or you are at all concerned take your dog to the vet.
I am very careful when washing your dog to make sure that water does not get into the ear canal. I turn the water jet to a soft sprinkle, gently pinch the ear closed close to the skull, and aim the water down the ear from top to tip. For some dogs I may also put a small ball of cotton wadding in the ear, not cotton wool as it can shed fibres that become a problem in themselves.
Ear, ear! I am setting you some homework!
Look up a diagram of the canine ear and really get to grips with the biology. Understand your dog from the inside out!