Do Golden Retrievers Have Ear Problems? 4 Common Ones and Solutions

Not to brag, but my dogs have always had a pretty good recall. I put in the time and effort needed to train them well when they’re young, and that’s why last week had been kind of weird.

One of my sweeties suddenly had problems with their recall, and with the process of elimination, I have discovered that this issue is due to them not hearing me well when I’m a bit far away from them – such as in the other room. They had a problem with their hearing, not their training.

But is this common? This had me wondering…

So, do golden retrievers have ear problems? Golden retrievers are very prone to ear problems such as yeast, bacteria, ear mites, wax buildup, or allergies and it can happen for several reasons. It could be an underlying cause such as anatomical, allergy, thyroid abnormalities, or it could be due to poor grooming.

Keep reading to understand more about what’s going on with your dog’s ear, and does it require a vet, or just taking care of them with a few home remedies will be enough?

Do Golden Retrievers Have Ear Problems? 

An image of a cream goldenr etriever to illustrate the answers to do golden retrievers have ear problems

Golden retrievers are prone to ear problems for several reasons and their thick fur and the growing hair around their ear are two of the main reasons that make them a bit more vulnerable to ear problems than most other breeds.

The 4 Most Common Causes of Ear Problems and Their Solutions in Goldens

  • Poor Grooming 
  • Thyroid 
  • Anatomy 
  • Allergies 


Yes, I’m including poor grooming. Because it’s way more likely that your golden will suffer from an ear problem because of poor grooming than due to anything else.

Because of the golden retriever’s thick growing hair around the ear, it blocks airflow and drainage which can cause an ear infection.


To avoid this from happening you should regularly trim the hair around the ear opening and the area just below to prevent recurrent ear problems.


Thyroid abnormalities can cause havoc with the ears and skin.

Low thyroid is common in golden retrievers and the low normal range with some other symptoms such as chronic ear problems or skin problems. 


There is no cure for thyroid disease, but the treatment can help them manage the condition and the symptoms.

Dogs with thyroid abnormalities must be treated for life with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Levothyroxine sodium tablets are FDA-approved for replacement therapy for diminished thyroid function in dogs.  

Thyroid issues can also cause other problems such as losing hair, and you can learn more about why dogs lose hair around their eyes here and the possible treatments. I do recommend you read it to be able to quickly recognize the warning signs.


The anatomy of a dog ear, and you can see the L-Shape clearly

Because the dog ear canals are “L” shaped, it creates a problem because gravity traps dirt, wax, and moisture deep in the lower part of the “L” and it produces a moist and warm environment for the bacteria to invade, grow, and spread.

It starts off as a yeast infection but it can become bacterial quickly.

Also, they can have both yeast and bacteria so make sure to treat them both with anti-yeast and anti-bacterial medication because if you only treat one of them the other one will continue to grow unchecked and different bacteria can invade while you are eliminating the original one.


You should take them to the vet to treat them in the right way and to check for any other infections and to eliminate them immediately but you can try a cold/warm compress (it depends on the condition) and put it on the affected area to minimize inflammation and reduce the pain.

[su_box title=”Warning” box_color=”#ed1f2d” title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”20″] you should not give your dog antibacterial or anti-yeast medication without consulting your vet and it is already prescribed.[/su_box]


One of the most common causes of ear problems is allergies because most allergies appear in the ears or the skin.

The cause of the allergy can be food or the environment and it is hard to diagnose, but if your golden retriever suddenly develops an ear problem it is probably because of allergies or if they have ear problems every spring, autumn, summer, or winter then it is an environmental-based allergy.  


The treatment depends on the cause of the allergy for example if your golden retriever’s allergy is because of food then remove that food from their diet and avoid leaving it around your dog.

If the cause is an environmental allergy, then you should isolate them until you can find out what the allergen is and you should consult your vet to get them medication for their allergy and for the diagnosis, of course.

Your golden can also have a sensitive stomach, and you can learn if your golden has a sensitive stomach here and what you can do about it.

Care & Grooming routines for golden retrievers ears  

Here are a few simple steps that can help you groom your golden retrievers’ ears 

  • You need to make your golden retriever comfortable 
  • Sit on the floor and let your golden retriever lie down next to you
  • Check for the extra hair in and around the ear and check for dirt and other debris
  • Use a cotton ball and remove any debris that is visible on the outer ear.
  • Use a new cotton every time you wipe your golden retriever’s ear (In the case of bacteria in the ear, using a new cotton ball will prevent the spread of this bacteria)
  • Now, apply enough amount of cleanser into your golden retriever’s ear canal
  • Hold your dog’s ear above the canal and massage the cleanser into the ear gently
  • But if you notice any infection use a medication first or take them to the vet
  • In the last step, use a paper towel to wipe off any extra cleaning solution that is leaking out of their ear canal    

For the cleanser, I use the Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser For Dogs and Cats which you can check on Amazon here. I also use these cotton balls from Amazon for my dogs as I quite like their quality compared to what I can get from the pet stores near me.

Thyroid abnormalities and ear problems in Golden Retrievers

Let’s start with what are thyroid abnormalities? Thyroid or more commonly referred to as hypothyroidism.

This is thyroid glands located in the neck and it produces the hormones that affect the function of many parts of the body, and this disease usually causes a low production of thyroid hormones.

While it is rare in dogs, it is quite a serious problems and overactive thyroid glands are usually associated with cancer.

Thyroid abnormalities are usually caused by inflammation or shrinkage of thyroid glands 

Hypothyroidism appears more in medium or large breeds and most of the times in middle-aged dogs 

Thyroid cancer can cause hypothyroidism even though it is rare to occur in dogs.

Dogs who are more prone to have thyroid abnormalities or hypothyroidism

  • Irish setter
  • Golden retriever
  • Doberman pinscher

Low thyroid function includes

  • Thinning or loss of the fur
  • Excess shedding or scaling
  • Dull hair coat
  • Reduced ability to tolerate the cold
  • Reduced activity
  • Weight gain.

Treatment of hypothyroidism 

The only treatment is by giving oral replacement hormone for the rest of your dog’s life and it is initially given twice a day.

Then when the hair coat begins to improve most dogs can be maintained on once-daily medication.

Usually, it takes 4 to 6 weeks before regrowth of the fur starts to appear. However, in dogs with an associated ear infection, their ears should be treated and cleaned with antibiotics, they can take it by the ear or the mouth. 

Related Questions 

Do golden retrievers get ear infections? 

Yes, golden retrievers do get ear infections, they are more prone to ear infections more than any other dog because of their big ears and it can be moist in the inner ear which will cause them bacteria and yeast growth and it will be indicated by a foul smell and a dark buildup.

How do I know my golden retriever has an ear infection? 

Here are some symptoms to know if your dog has an ear infection

  1. Scratching at the affected ear
  2. Odor
  3. Signs of pain in the ear
  4. Redness and swelling of the ear
  5. Head shaking
  6. Dark discharge
  7. Itchiness
  8. crusting or scabs in the ears
  9. Will not allow you to get near their ear

Take them to the vet and do not touch it.

What Can I use to clean my golden retrievers’ ears? 

All you should check your dog’s ears regularly to notice any difference, you will need a trimmer to remove the growing extra hair in and around the ear and use a cotton ball to wipe the ear and change them every time you wipe their ear and then apply the cleanser and massage it gently in the ear. 

How often should you clean your golden retriever’s ears? 

It depends on how bad it is but usually, you should clean your golden retriever’s ears 1-3 times a week but during a chronic infection doing it about once a month will keep it from recurring and it will help clear it up however the most important thing is good grooming around the ear.

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