Pugs have a number of different “styles” of outer ears (ear flaps), or pinnae. Take a look at the pinnae in the photos below.
Photo of our Charlie
Whatever way they flop, pugs’ pinnae are near the top of the head (probably because there’s no room for them anywhere else). These cute little flaps cover the openings to the ear canals, which direct sound waves down to the eardrums.
The undersides of the pinnae should be kept clean, as in the photo below.
If the inside of an ear flap is red or inflamed, the pug may have an external ear infection (otitis externa) that probably warrants a visit to the veterinarian. Regular cleanings help you spot such an infection before it gets as bad as the one below.
However, it’s not sufficient just to clean the pinnae. It’s important to pour ear cleaning solution into the ear canal (as in the photo below), squish it around, and then soak it up (I use a rolled-up piece of cotton to do this). There’s an excellent article on how to clean pugs’ ears at http://www.petpugdog.com/pug-dog-ears.
I clean our pugs’ ears religiously – every Sunday, in fact. Weekly ear cleanings usually are needed to prevent pugs’ ear infections, or at least to minimize the number and intensity of such infections. This schedule also forces me to examine the undersides of our pugs’ pinnae, so I’m more likely to catch an external ear infection before it gets very painful.
But why are pugs so prone to ear infections? Would you believe that it’s because of that smushed-in snout? Think again of how the pug’s snout and all its anatomical components are shoved back, toward the skull. An earlier post, Beautiful, Beguiling, Bulging Eyeballs (January 25, 2016), explained how there are not quite enough “parking spaces” available for the anatomical components that belong inside a pug’s head; that includes the ear canals. The canals of a non-pug dog are shown below.
Unfortunately, with a pug, the squished snout takes up a lot of head space.Therefore, a pug’s ear canals may not be as straight as this diagram depicts. The canals may have to wend – or wind – their way along a narrow, twisted route to find paths through any leftover space in the pug’s head. Thus, a pug’s ear canals are likely to be narrower and more crooked than those of a dog with a snout that extends forward, outside the main part of the skull.
So, with those floppy flaps blocking the entrances to the ears, and with the ear canals being circuitous or narrowed, it’s unlikely that a pug’s ears can get adequate ventilation; thus, moisture accumulates easily. Such conditions are akin to broadcasting an invitation for bacteria and yeast to move in, set up housekeeping, and raise large families in the pug’s ears. Therefore, it behooves the landlord (i.e., the pug’s human) to keep the premises as clean as possible, in the hope that doing so will cause the nasty interlopers to seek living quarters elsewhere, and not settle in the pug’s ears.
Our pugs are not quite as blasé about ear cleanings and ear medications as they are about eye meds, but they do keep themselves quiet and still during these ministrations. I think that’s because they know they’ll get a special jackpot-size serving of one of their favorite dog treats afterward. (I don’t know whether this is positive reinforcement or bribery; but whatever it is, it works for me.)
These three pugs wait for their after – ear-cleaning treats.