Why Are Cocker Spaniels’ Ears So Long? Do They Need Extra Cleaning?


One thing that all droopy-eared dogs (cocker spaniels included) have in common is that their ears help in hunting. The dogs have ear flaps to keep their ears from tearing when they’re running. Ever wondered why cocker spaniels have long ears? Well, their ears complement their scenting abilities.

The first cocker spaniel breeds served as hunting dogs since their long ears helped funnel scents in the hunting grounds. Cocker spaniels also have long fur beneath the ears that requires regular brushing, grooming and trimming. Their ears are mostly comprised of thick fur, not just tissue.

The Reason Behind the Long and Floppy Cocker Spaniel Ears

Since the 1400s, a selection of hunters bred cocker spaniels to help them in their day-to-day field activities. Spaniels come on different colors and shapes with each type having different qualities that complement hunting activities. Though they have a nose, their big ears make it easier for them to smell prey or items on the field. The ears uniquely capture scents and push them to the nose.

Cocker spaniel are noticeable for their long floppy ears. They continue to become a favorite breed for dog lovers to adopt because of their beautiful fur-covered ears. People also rear them with hopes of amplifying their hunting efforts.

Do Cocker Spaniels Have Their Ears Docked?

It’s natural for dogs to have full-length ears from birth as a result of artificial breeding and domestication. Cocker spaniels have unique long and floppy ears that make their facial features complete. Their floppy ears prevent water from entering the ear canals while protecting the ears from burrs and insects (among other irritants).

There’s a rising debate on whether to cut the ears shorter on cocker spaniels. What most people don’t consider is that dogs rely on their ears to adequately communicate their feelings. More veterinarians continue to oppose practices related to cropping dogs’ ears. They believe that this practice is painful and unnecessary.

Your dog may suffer from complications after having its floppy ears trimmed. It’s frustrating to have that ongoing pain in your household, especially if there’s nothing you can do. Ear croppings in dogs may result to bleeding, damaged pinna and ear infections.

As I’ve written more about in this related article, it is more common for Cocker Spaniels to have their tails docked rather than their ears cropped.

Are Cocker Spaniels Prone to Ear Infections? 3 Conditions They May Catch

Cocker spaniels are prone to ear infections that affect their ear canals and outer parts of their ears. Their ear canals may become waxy or the canal glands may inflame when dogs contract an ear infection. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a veterinarian to help treat and prevent recurring or persistent ear problems.

Always lookout for the signs and symptoms of ear infections in dogs as a pet owner. Since you may not manage to identify them all accurately, you’ll need a veterinarian’s help.

Here are some of the ear conditions a cocker spaniel may catch:

1. Allergies

As the leading cause of ear inflammation, allergies can cause severe ear diseases with or without accompanying skin problems. Your cocker spaniel may pick the allergen from food or a contaminated surface.

Consider changing your dog’s diet if the allergy comes from a particular type of food. Antihistamines can help treat the allergy when administered with a veterinarian’s prescription.

2. Non-allergic skin conditions

Many skin conditions in dogs may result in inflammation in the ears. The skin is undeniably the largest organ (in terms of surface area) both in animals and humans. It covers the entire body including parts of the ears.

Consult with a veterinarian on how to treat skin conditions not caused by allergies.

3. Ceruminous gland proliferation

With this condition, your dog’s wax producing glands will enlarge and generate a lot of wax that may develop into ear infections.

Wax helps capture small objects and dirt that are destructive when they come into contact with the eardrum. It should come in relatively small doses for it to serve its purpose properly. Your dog will feel uncomfortable after its ear glands produce an abnormal amount of wax.

How to Keep Your Cocker Spaniel’s Ears Clean and Groomed: Ear Drops & Brushes Explained

If you notice that your cocker spaniel can’t stop scratching his ears all day, it’s time to have the dog cleaned and groomed. You may consider this observation as a sign of an ear infection.

Cleaning your spaniel regularly can help prevent nasty smells and infections. But how can you go about this procedure?

Cleaning Your Cocker Spaniel’s Ears

Consider getting ear drops or an ear solution with a recommendation from a veterinarian. Pour two to three drops of the solution in your dog’s ears and gently massage them. Use cotton wool when wiping away the ear solution and excess wax.

With hundreds of cleaning solutions designed for dogs in the market today, finding the right one may seem challenging.

Always look for cleaning solutions made with companies that have the relevant industry accreditation. If you use a cleaner not designed for dogs, it will likely irritate your pet instead of fighting disease-causing germs.

Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel’s Ears

Use a dog-friendly comb to brush away any material behind or under your pet’s ears and then comb down by the skin.

Pests and disease-causing organisms tend to hide behind the fur on dogs’ ears. The excess hair can make it difficult for fresh air to reach the ear canal by creating most conditions in the ear for bacteria to thrive.

Trim a portion of the fur using trimming scissors. A slicker brush can help you eliminate loose hair from the dog’s skin. You can end the grooming procedure by combing your pet’s undercoat beginning from the bottom to the top part of the ear.

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