How to Clean Your Golden Retriever’s Ears (In Just 6 Easy Steps)

Ranked as one of America’s favorite dog breeds, Golden Retrievers bring boundless energy and love into our lives. Alongside the joy, however, comes the responsibility of ensuring their well-being, with ear care being a crucial aspect. Golden Retrievers are particularly prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears and active lifestyle. 

Understanding the proper techniques to clean your Golden’s ears is not just a grooming essential—it’s a vital part of their health regimen. In this guide, we’ll unveil six easy yet effective steps to keep your Golden Retriever’s ears clean, healthy, and infection-free, helping you safeguard your furry friend’s well-being with ease and confidence.

Why Should You Clean Your Golden Retriever’s Ears?

Cleaning golden retriever ears is important for two main reasons: to prevent infection and to keep the ears clean and free of wax buildup.

Ear infections are fairly common in golden retrievers, and they can be quite painful. Wax buildup can also lead to problems, as it can trap dirt and moisture, leading to irritation and inflammation. Let’s explore each of these issues a bit more in-depth.


Golden retrievers are prone to ear infections. This is because their ears are long and droopy, which can trap moisture and dirt. If you don’t clean your golden retriever’s ears regularly, they can become prone to bacterial growth and infection.

Symptoms of an ear infection include shaking their head, scratching their ears, and holding their head tilted to one side. If your golden retriever is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet to ensure they don’t need antibiotics.

In the meantime, you can clean their ears at home using some of the tips we’ll discuss below!


Aside from ear infections, golden retrievers are prone to wax buildup due to the long, droopy shape of their ears. This can cause discomfort and even pain. After all, think about how uncomfortable it is for you to have wax buildup in your ears.

If left untreated, the wax can eventually harden, making it difficult for the dog to hear. In severe cases, the wax can block the ear canal completely. This is why it’s important to clean your dog’s earsear regularly.

Overall Health

As any dog owner knows, keeping their furry friend clean and well-groomed is important for their overall health and hygiene. This includes regular ear cleaning that ensures your dog’s ears are healthy and free of infection.

Consider ear health a part of your dog’s grooming process and work it into the routine regularly to avoid buildup or issues with hearing or infections.

Frequency of Ear Cleaning for Your Golden Retriever

Wondering about the ideal frequency for cleaning your Golden Retriever’s ears as part of their grooming routine? For most of these furry pals, cleaning their ears once a month should suffice. However, the frequency can vary depending on your dog’s lifestyle and physical attributes. Golden Retrievers who enjoy swimming or have an abundance of inner ear hair, trapping moisture and dirt, may require more frequent ear cleanings. 

To tailor the ear cleaning routine to your dog’s specific needs, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian. They can assess your Golden’s unique situation and offer a personalized recommendation. Remember, the key to ear care is not just the frequency, but also the correct method of cleaning to maintain your Golden Retriever’s ear health.

Tools You Need To Clean Your Golden’s Ears At Home

The first step in cleaning your dog’s ears is to gather the supplies you’ll need. For this job, you’ll need a:

  • Soft cloth
  • Cotton ball
  • Dog ear cleaner

You may also want to have some treats handy to reward your dog for being a good sport. Aside from these tools, however, you don’t need much. You can purchase dog ear cleaning kits online. However, in most cases, simple tools will suffice.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Golden Retriever’s Ears

Ensuring your Golden Retriever has clean and healthy ears is a crucial part of their care. Here’s a stress-free, effective method to clean your dog’s ears:

  1. Preparation: Gather all your ear cleaning supplies first. This ensures a smooth and uninterrupted process.
  2. Positioning Your Dog: Proper positioning is key. If you’re handling the cleaning solo, try placing your Golden Retriever between your legs while you stand. This stance helps you gently restrain them, ensuring they stay still during the cleaning.
  3. Exposing the Ear Canal: Carefully lift and hold back one ear flap at a time to expose the ear canal. This action should be done gently to ensure your dog feels comfortable.
  4. Applying the Cleaning Solution: Apply an appropriate amount of ear cleaning solution directly into the ear canal. The quantity varies based on the size of your dog and the specific solution used (always follow the product instructions). The goal is to fill the ear canal without overdoing it.
  5. Massaging the Ear Base: With the ear flap still held back, gently massage the base of the ear for about 30 to 60 seconds. This action helps the solution penetrate deeper into the ear canal, loosening any wax or debris. Be gentle to avoid causing discomfort.
  6. Removing Debris: If you notice any dirt on the ear flap, use a cotton ball to gently clean it. However, never insert the cotton ball or any other object into the ear canal itself.
  7. Allowing a Shake: Once you’ve massaged the ear, let your dog shake their head. This natural reaction helps to expel the cleaning solution and dislodged debris from the ear canal.
  8. Drying the Ear: After the shake, gently pat dry any remaining moisture around the ear with a cotton ball. Ensure the ear is completely dry to prevent moisture build-up, which can lead to infections.
  9. Repeat for the Other Ear: Follow the same steps for the other ear to ensure both are clean and dry.

This methodical approach not only ensures a thorough cleaning but also makes the experience as comfortable as possible for your Golden Retriever. Regular ear cleaning is vital for preventing infections and maintaining your dog’s ear health.

Avoiding Common Mistakes in Ear Cleaning for Golden Retrievers

Even with the best intentions, some common mistakes can hinder the effectiveness of ear cleaning for your Golden Retriever. Being aware of these can help you provide better care:

  1. Choosing the Incorrect Cleaning Solution: A wide range of ear cleaning solutions is available, but not all are suitable for every dog. Solutions vary from natural ingredients like peppermint and witch hazel to medicated options. It’s essential to test a few and monitor your dog’s reaction, ensuring the chosen solution is both effective and gentle.
  2. Misuse of Q-tips: Like humans, dogs should never have objects like Q-tips inserted into their ear canals. This can lead to injury or push wax and debris further into the ear, potentially causing blockages or infections. Always clean only the parts of the ear you can see.
  3. Over-Cleaning: Ear wax plays a crucial role in maintaining ear health, offering antimicrobial and antifungal benefits, and protecting against water and irritants. Over-cleaning can strip away these natural defenses, so it’s important to clean your Golden’s ears just enough to maintain hygiene without removing all the protective wax.
  4. Neglecting Veterinary Care: Often, pet owners hesitate to seek veterinary advice when it comes to ear care. If you notice any unusual signs such as excessive scratching, redness, or discharge, it’s important to consult your veterinarian. Sometimes, what seems minor could be a sign of a more serious issue that requires professional attention.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a safer and more effective ear cleaning routine for your Golden Retriever, keeping their ears healthy and comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Clean Golden Retriever Ears

Should I Clean My Golden Retrievers’ Ears?

Yes, you absolutely should. Most golden retrievers are fine if they receive regular ear cleaning at least once a month.

Do Golden Retrievers Get a Lot of Ear Infections?

Yes, they do tend to get ear infections. This is because their long ears tend to trap moisture and dirt, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. As a result, it’s important to clean your golden retriever’s ears regularly.

Can I Use Baby Wipes to Clean My Dog’s Ears?

The simple answer is yes, you can use baby wipes to clean your dog’s ears. However, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when using baby wipes to clean your dog’s ears.

First, make sure the wipes you’re using are unscented and alcohol-free. Fragrances or alcohol can irritate your dog’s skin, and it’s best to avoid them if possible.

Additionally, be sure not to insert the wipe too far into your dog’s ear canal. Doing so could irritate or even damage the delicate tissue inside the ear.

Is it OK to use vinegar to clean dogs ears?

Generally, it’s not recommended to use vinegar to clean a dog’s ears without specific guidance from a veterinarian. Vinegar, even when diluted, can be too harsh for the sensitive skin inside a dog’s ear canal and can cause irritation, especially if the dog has any underlying ear conditions. It’s always safest to use a vet-recommended ear cleaning solution specifically formulated for dogs.

Can I clean my dog’s ear with water?

While plain water can be used to gently clean the visible part of a dog’s ear, it’s not recommended for deep ear cleaning. Water doesn’t effectively dissolve ear wax and debris and can be hard to dry out completely, potentially leading to infections or irritation. Specialized ear cleaning solutions are generally safer and more effective.

Looking For a Golden Retriever?

Are you learning about how to clean a golden retriever’s ears because you are looking for a furry friend to bring home to your family?

If so then we suggest you take a look at our golden retriever puppies for sale. They are bred healthy by great breeders and ready to take home after eight weeks with all of their shots and documentation.

Ready to add a new pup to your family? Click here to view our golden retriever puppies.

Galen has been connecting quality Golden Retriever breeders with loving families since 2012 and is the founder of My Golden Retriever Puppies. He and his wife have four children and love spending time together, traveling (lived oversees for 4 years), enjoying the outdoors and connecting Golden families.