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Home Grooming The Companion Old English Sheepdog

Plucking Hair From The Ears
Of An Old English Sheepdog
(A dog with much more ear hair.)

Below is just one way an Old English Sheepdog owner tends to a dog's ears.  Dogs often need to be slowly desensitized to any new process.  This process can be more challenging to some owners because some dogs are more sensitive to having hair plucked from their ears. The vibration of electric clippers can startle a dog so you need to be slowly desensitize a dog to this process.  You need to proceed slowly, respect the dog's limits, praise and reward lavishly so the dog will learn to tolerate it.  Only you know your dog and how he or she may respond.  Seek assistance from a professional if there is any chance your dog could be harmed by it's exuberance or fear or if the dog could display an aggressive behavior. Follow all product safety instructions provided by individual manufacturers.  Try to make grooming a special one-on-one time that both you and your dog will look forward to.   These instructions are offered as-is and without guarantee or warranty.

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When I was first told by by my vet that I needed to pluck an Old English Sheepdog's ear hair, I know I made a face.  "Oooh... but it's going to hurt."  He flipped up the ear flap on one of the puppies we had recently purchased, pinched a couple of hairs between his thumb and index finger and quickly plucked it out.  He put the ear flap back down.  That particular dog never flinched.  That was my introduction to the process of plucking ear hair. 

Some dogs tolerate the process very well... others hate having it done and may require sedation by a veterinarian so the hair can be professionally removed.  This is why it's important to get the puppy or dog to view this process as tolerable.  The way I've desensitized my Old English Sheepdog puppies to ear plucking is during their "introduction to grooming". Even my Old English Sheepdog that arrived at close to 11 months of age went through this same process.  It involves brief play grooming sessions each evening. I think many dogs look for, "What's in it for me?".  All of my dogs are food motivated so it makes things easier.  Play grooming... treats... play grooming.... treats... play grooming... treats... etc.

The first time I pluck a dog's ears, I flip an ear flap (also known as the pinna), pinch maybe 2-3 hairs and quickly remove it.  I give the dog a treat immediately after plucking the hair so he or she associates the action with "something good is going to follow".  We then go back to play grooming.  I go to the other ear a little later do the same thing and that's it for the day. It doesn't appear that much has been accomplished but if you play groom every evening, it can add up over a month or two.  I slowly add a couple more hairs to each pluck as days goes by but only if the dog has been tolerating it well. 

I have two dogs that don't particularly like the ear plucking process but they do tolerate it.  One is the dog that is shown in this photo demonstration.  The other 3 don't mind at all.  For the two that do care, I take it slower and start by removing only a few hairs with each pluck. 

While I do wipe down the dog's ears after plucking, I do not fill the ear canal or rinse out the dog's ears.  I wait at least a couple of days for the tissue to settle down because the regular cleaning solution I use contains alcohol and would sting.  Think about plucking eye brows or shaving then swabbing with alcohol.  Ouch!   I do use an alcohol-free solution to wipe the outer area down with to remove ear wax and powder... excess powder can also often be removed when the dog shakes off.  I still wipe the ears down after.

 

Some people prefer to use tools to remove ear hair... though I have a couple of hemostats, I choose to use my fingers instead.  I don't have to worry accidently injuring the dog if he suddenly moves. I surely don't have the most beautiful hands but my short nails won't cause this dog any harm either.  You will need to be careful if you do have longer finger nails. 

Ear care products I used in this demonstration. 
There are many others... use the ones you feel work best.

  • Bio-Groom Ear-Fresh Astringent Ear Powder
    Use: Ear powder allows you to get a better grip on the hair your trying to remove.

  • Pfizer Oti-Clens, Butler Euclens Otic Cleanser or any canine ear cleaner that will not sting.
    Use: To remove ear wax from the outer ear canal and ear flap.

  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs.
    Use: To remove wax.

  • If your dog is prone to ear infections, speak with your vet about the best products to use.  Also ask whether applying an ear antibiotic like Mometamax immediately after plucking might help to prevent ear infections due to bacteria.  This product requires a prescription.

This clumped together, waxy clump of hair was removed from deep in the ear canal. Hair left in the ears tends to collect wax and it can also limit air flow.  

Below is an example of an ear before being plucked and after.  I focus on the area inside the green dotted lines.  Note that I do not pluck the hair below the line at the front of the ear opening.  Instead, I use either scissors or a palm clipper to trim it shorter.
I pluck hair by pulling it out in the direction the hair is growing.

What You're Trying To Accomplish... Before & After Pictures

Remove the hair from your Old English Sheepdog's ears
by plucking it out in the direction that it's growing.

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Copyright 2010- J. Dunne.  All rights reserved.  The photographs and instructions on this page are the property of the author. Do not reproduce or copy for public use without written permission from the author.

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