No, no, please don’t misunderstand us when we say cutting dog’s ears we definitely do not mean ear cropping, we mean trimming the ear hair! 

Have you ever looked inside your puppy’s ears? Take a look…pretty hairy in there isn’t it? We doubt you’ve given it much thought and who can blame you when there’s so much cuddling to do, but ear hair can cause problems if it’s not trimmed or plucked.

As usual, Zigzag is here to tell you everything you (n)ever wanted to know about trimming your puppy’s ear hair. We’ll fill you in on when you should be cutting your dog’s ears and how best to do it, training tips to help ear cutting go smoothly, and what the best equipment is to trim ear hair. 

Whether you need to trim your dog’s ear hair will vary depending on their breed, Breeds that commonly need their ears cut are Poodles, Cockapoos, Labradoodles, Maltipoos and other poodle crosses, as well as Maltese and Bichons.  

Some people will recommend plucking over trimming, which you decide to do is a personal opinion, and it can be quite a contentious subject, the plucking vs trimming argument. Generally, dogs who have hairy ears need some help to keep the ear canal clean. Too much hair can hold onto moisture, dirt and debris and be a perfect place for ear mites to take up residence. It can also trap wax and cause a bacterial or yeast build-up, creating infections. 

If your puppy is itching or scratching their ears, take a good look inside and see if they need the ear hair removed, or a really good clean – the mucky pups!

If you’re looking for help with grooming your puppy, teaching them about the world around them, or having the best-trained hound in town, look no further than the Zigzag puppy training app.

We’ve created a personalised programme based on your puppy’s age, breed type and lifestyle, so you get the right content in the palm of your hand, right when you need it. We also have a great bunch of puppy coaches on hand to help you whenever you need them, yep 7 days a week. They LOVE puppy pics and learning more about you, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with them. 

puppy with upright ears
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

When do I cut my dog’s ears?

Getting your puppy used to grooming and handling when they’re young, will come in handy when it’s time to cut your dog’s ears. The more positive experiences they have when they’re little, the better they’ll be at coping with you cutting their ear hair later. 

Not all breeds need their ear hair cut, take a look in your dog’s ears, do they need the hair trimming, or is it not thick enough to worry about? Some breeds just need more of an ear cleaning – especially Frenchies or Boston Terriers, who have prick ears that collect a lot of dirt.

How do I do it?

There are a few different ways to cut your dog’s ears 

How to cut your dog’s ear hair with clippers

This is probably the way a groomer will do it, but if you get the right grooming equipment, you can do it at home too. Your dog will need to be ok with the noise and sensation of the clippers, if they haven’t had any experience with them before, teach them clippers are a nice thing first before attempting to clip their ear hair, as it’s quite full-on for a puppy and can be scary.

You will need

  • A clean damp cloth to wipe away any ear hair

How to do it

  1. Have your puppy on a non-slip surface, this can be high enough to do it standing up, or you can sit on the floor and have them on a piece of vet bed.
  2. Give your puppy some treats or a filled lickimat and start looking in their ears to see where you need to trim.
  3. Hold the ear open with one hand and use clippers to trim the ear hair – you don’t need to shave it bald, we just want to thin it out and shorten it.
  4. Do the other ear exactly the same way, making sure you get into all of the folds and wrinkles as much as you can.
  5. Check over both ears and see how much fur is left, trim any of the leftover fur with scissors to tidy up.
  6. Use the cloth to clean out the ear and make sure there is no loose fur left inside the ear canal.

How to cut your dog’s ear hair with scissors

You will need

  • A clean damp cloth to wipe away any ear hair

How to do it

  1. Have your puppy on a raised non-slip surface, or on the floor on a piece of vet so that they feel comfortable and won’t slip over.
  2. Give your puppy their filled lickimat or some treats to teach them ‘this is gonna be nice, don’t worry’.
  3. Take a look in your dog’s ears – does the ear need cutting?
  4. Hold the ear with one hand out to the side, with the other hand trim the ear hair.
  5. Make sure you don’t nick the skin with the scissors, you’re just trying to cut the fur a little shorter, not cut it off completely.
  6. Make sure your dog is coping ok, and go back in and check.
  1. Do the same on the other side – give your dog breaks if you need to, it’s fine to do this in stages. 

For both methods, ensure the ears are free of loose fur after you’ve cut it off, and give the ears a gentle wipe and clean.

pomeranian wrapped in pink towel
Photo by Hayffield L on Unsplash

How to make it less stressful for Pup?

To make trimming your puppy’s ear hair less stressful, follow these tips

Take plenty of breaks to make ear trimming a nice experience

Consent based husbandry, handling, grooming and cooperative care might all be phrases you’ve heard and they all rely on going at the animal’s pace. By giving dogs the freedom to walk away from the ear trimming experience, you allow them some control. Choice is a huge reinforcer and super powerful to give to our dogs, try doing it more. 

Get them back in the grooming area by rewarding them for staying

By using rewards like lickimats and tasty treats when cutting a dog’s ears we can teach them, ‘if you step away I won’t chase you, but if you come back here and let me do your ears I’ll reward you’. 

Be gentle and calm when cutting dog’s ears

Dogs pick up on our emotions, if we’re feeling stressed or frustrated they’ll pick up on that. Cutting your dog’s ears needn’t be stressful for you either – don’t let it. If you have to come back to it tomorrow, no big deal. 

Pick up on their signals when cutting dog’s ears

Studying your puppy’s body language and what they’re telling you will be really helpful when trimming their ear hair, as they can let you know when they’re uncomfortable and you can stop before they want to walk off. Take a look at our article and learn how to speak dog by understanding their body language.

puppy on sand
Photo by Ryan Walton on Unsplash

Best Trimming Equipment?

Best scissors for cutting dog’s ear hair

When choosing a pair of scissors to trim your puppy’s ears, you’ll want size appropriate scissors. For a small dog consider the Mikki Dog, Cat Ear and Face Grooming Care Set

and for a larger dog take a look at these 6.5 inch round tip scissors.

Both sets of scissors feature safety ends, thin blades and should be good for trimming their ear hair

Best clippers to trim ear hair

Clippers need to be small, and cordless is helpful. The best all-round rechargeable clippers are WAHL Dog Cat Clippers but Wahl also make a battery-operated pocket clipper which is a more budget-friendly option, which also comes in pink! 

Best ear cleaner 

Epi-Otic is vet approved and gets our vote for best doggy ear cleaner. 

Best grooming table

If you groom your own dog, you might want to think about getting a home grooming table.

Best treats to use for cutting a dog’s ear

Use high value rewards when cutting your dog’s ear hair, we’re asking a lot of them. Our dogs love the Pet Munchies range, but especially their venison training treats. Products like doggy liver paste or bacon pate can be spread over a lickimat splash, or just on the floor for your dog to lick off and be entertained with. 

We hope you’ve learnt the basics of how to cut your dog’s ears, you might want to think about how to clip a dog’s nails, or find out why your dog is scratching their ears.

If you’re looking for help with training your puppy why not download the Zigzag puppy training app? We have loads of pawsome content with lessons, articles and videos to help take your puppy from problem pup to perfect pup. We even have an  expert puppy coach team, available 7 days a week via phone, whatsapp or email to guide you through when you need that bit of extra support or just reassurance.