Why Do My Golden Retrievers’ Ears Smell? 7 Clear Reasons and Solutions

Who doesn’t appreciate the companionship of a Golden Retriever who can go almost everywhere with them?

Parents of Golden Retrievers may detect an odor emanating from their pup’s ears and get puzzled as to what it may be.

So, Why do my golden retrievers’ ears smell? Your golden retriever’s ears smell due to an ear infection caused by bacterial growth or yeast overgrowth, an infection in their ears that has gone undiagnosed, Ear wax buildup, dampness, allergies, ear mites, or a foreign item lodged in the ear are all possible causes of ear wax buildup.

If you’re afraid that anything is wrong with your dog’s ears, here’s all you need to know.

Why Do My Golden Retriever’s Ears Smell? 

golden ears to answer why do my golden retrievers ears smell

Golden Retriever’s ears stink because of an ear infection caused by bacterial growth or yeast overgrowth, which can occur if their ears are not regularly cleaned. It can also occur frequently caused due to excessive moisture in their ears.

It’s possible that your Golden Retrievers’ ears stink because they have an illness that’s gone undiagnosed. This is a frequent ear issue in this breed, and it is usually caused by a yeast buildup in the ears.

Because golden retrievers’ ears can retain moisture, they should be properly cleaned after they return from being outside, whether in water, mud, dirt, or other outside factors. It’s critical to establish a regular cleaning routine for Golden Retrievers to avoid moisture buildup and decrease the risk of yeast or infection.

Ear mites or allergies might be another reason why your Golden Retriever’s ears stink. If a Golden Retriever has an ear infection, you should take them to see their veterinarian.  Medications might be prescribed to assist alleviate infection symptoms and hasten to heal. 

Most ear infections occur in the outer portion of the ear, which includes both tunnels and produces oils.

The ears of Golden Retrievers sometimes stink, which is a typical problem with this breed. Their love of the outdoors, and exercise makes them more vulnerable to ear infections and fungus formation.

The inner ear, which is usually where the infection begins, is a somewhat darker recess of the ear that has a reputation for being a breeding place for yeast and bacteria. 

Aside from the stench, a Golden Retriever may suffer various symptoms that are both bothersome and upsetting to people around them and to themselves when this happens.

7 Reasons why your golden retriever’s ears smell? 

The smell of your dog’s ears might be caused by a variety of factors:

Wax Buildup in the Ears

If your dog’s ear’s natural self-cleaning process is disrupted, ear wax accumulation can result. It’s possible that your dog is unconcerned about this. The wax in your ears will be yellow in hue.

This sort of wax accumulation might produce a slight odor change in your dog’s ears.

Infections caused by Yeast

Ear yeast infections are fairly frequent, and they can make your dog’s ears smell a lot worse.

When your dog’s body produces too much Candida, yeast infections develop.

A yeast infection is frequently characterized as having a sweet or musty odor. There may also be redness and a brownish discharge from the ear.


Allergies are another major cause of ear infections and smell in dogs, accounting for almost half of all instances of ear infections.

Your dog might be allergic to pollen or food in the environment, come into touch with an irritating chemical, have systemic allergies, or have a local medication response.

Allergy-related infections may or may not have an odor, or they may have the rancid or sweet odor of a bacterial ear infection.

Ears that are red or heated to the touch, rubbing ears along the floor or scratching at ears, discharge from the ears, or sores/scabs on the ear are all common allergy symptoms. The ear canal may become hard and inflamed in severe or chronic instances. You can learn more about allergy-triggering foods in this post about golden retrievers with sensitive stomachs.

Ear Infections Caused by Bacteria

The most severe symptoms are generally caused by a bacterial ear infection. Before seeing your veterinarian, do not attempt to clean your dog’s ears at home.

You could be able to smell the ear from across the room if it’s infected with certain germs. There will be redness, swelling, and/or discomfort in some situations, which can be extremely severe, and the discharge will be pus and/or a blood-tinged fluid.

Mites in the ears

Ear mites are extremely small and difficult to notice with the naked eye. The most prevalent ear mites in dogs are Otodectes cynotis, Demodex, and Sarcoptes. They scratch dogs and make them uncomfortable.

Often, you’ll notice a buildup in your dog’s ears that looks like coffee grounds. Your dog’s ears may smell unpleasant, but not rotten, as a result of this buildup. This odor is typically associated with old garbage.

Ear mites should be treated very away since they can transmit from dog to dog. Ear scratching, head shaking, redness, and head tilting are all symptoms that are comparable to ear infections.

Ear Infections

Ear infections including both bacteria and yeast are frequent. Symptoms vary based on the types and quantities of organisms present, and they may resemble those of a yeast or bacterial infection.

The following are symptoms of a serious middle ear infection:

  • Your dog looks to be unsteady on his feet
  • Your dog appears to be clumsy
  • Your dog is going around in circles

Objects stuck in the ear

Surprisingly, it’s fairly unusual for dogs to have foreign objects stuck in their ears. Plant awns, hair, grass seeds, and whatever else your dog gets into can end up in their ear. A lump or growth in your dog’s ear is also possible. The same issue can be caused by growths, polyps, or enlargement of the glands that secrete ear wax.

Changes like this obstruct ear ventilation. The ear canal is unable to dry correctly, resulting in an increase in humidity within the ear canal, which promotes yeast and bacteria overgrowth.

During the summertime, your dog is more prone to have anything trapped in his ear. You could see him scratching his ears, shaking his head, and a little bit of blood, depending on where the item is.

It’s worth noting that a dog with recurring ear infections frequently has an underlying problem that has to be treated.

What to do about your golden retriever’s stinky ears? 

You should visit the vet within a few days if you notice that your dog has a yeast infection. To identify this condition, your veterinarian may do cytology (taking a sample of the discharge and staining it to examine it under a microscope). 

Antifungal drops or an ear cleaning may be prescribed, and in difficult-to-treat cases, surgery may be required.

You can clean your dog’s ears at home using a vet-approved ear cleaner, but don’t do it for at least 24 hours before your appointment, since this will complicate the diagnosis.

Cleaning your dog’s ears using a veterinarian-approved regular ear cleaner typically solves the problem.

Oral steroids may be required to relieve pain and swelling if the infection is severe enough to produce substantial edema in the ear. Your veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible in these instances.

For a complete guide on how to make your golden retriever smell the best they could, make sure to check out these 13 ways to make your golden retriever smell amazing here.

How to clean your golden retriever’s ears properly at home 

If you need to clean your dog’s ears, follow these instructions:

Hold the ear cleaning bottle over your dog’s ear and gently squeeze the solution into the ear. Fill the ear almost completely with the solution.

Spread the cleaning solution and remove any dirt, gently massage the base of the ear.

Allow your dog to snort and shake his head. This will assist to move the debris outside, where it will be easier to clean up. (You might want to keep a towel handy in case any debris falls on you.)

Gently wipe away any wax or dirt using a cotton ball.

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

Dogs have an ear-cleaning system that keeps their ears clean naturally. This indicates that ear cleaning at home should be done as frequent as the following situations occur:

  • Your dog’s ears are clearly filthy.
  • Your dog bathed or went swimming (using a veterinarian-approved cleaner with a drying agent).
  • Following the instructions of your vet while treating an ear infection

A decent rule of thumb is to clean your dogs’ ears once a month. Ear cleaning may be required every other week, or even weekly, for breeds like Golden Retrievers with floppy ears or dogs who swim regularly. Make sure your dog’s ears are completely dry after washing or swimming.

Cleaning your dog’s ears using a solution designed for this purpose is recommended.

Home ear cleaning remedies including hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or alcohol should be avoided since they may irritate the ears or aggravate an existing issue. For a more complete guide on cleaning your golden’s ears, follow this complete, step-by-step guide to cleaning golden retrievers’ ears here.

What is the best ear cleaner for dogs? 

There are several over-the-counter products that may be used at home that are available on Amazon:

Great Ears Multi-Symptom Dog Ear Cleaner

  • It may be used on dogs over 12 weeks old on a regular basis for ear care.
  • Created with plant-based surfactants that safely and efficiently remove canine ear smells.
  • Regular usage is the best method to avoid frequent veterinary visits for ear infections.
  • It’s simple to use for smells, wax accumulation, and itching in canine ears.
  • It is safe to use on a frequent basis.
  • Conditioning and moisturizing substances ensure that the lipid barrier of the ear is not harmed.
  • Ideal for dogs that swim, have allergies or spend time in hot or humid conditions.

Sogeval Douxo Micellar Ear Cleansing Solution

  • The solution is mild yet effective.
  • eliminates dirt and debris
  • Excess sebum is removed.
  • It lowers inflammation.
  • The formula is non-greasy.
  • includes 0.02 % phytosphingosine, a natural component of the epidermis that aids in the formation of the skin’s protective barrier.
  • has a mild and nice green tea scent that is natural and not overpowering.
  • Ear cleanser that is gentle and moderate.
  • Veterinarians recommend it.

Mighty Petz 4-in-1 Dog Ear Cleaner

  • A fantastic alternative for unclean ears, irritation, itching, and build-up, as well as preventing infections and avoiding trips to the veterinarian.
  • Within three days of initial usage, dirt, wax, and odor are gone.
  • It has a lovely cucumber and melon smell that pet owners will like.
  • It’s quick-acting and effective.
  • Both pups and older dogs are safe.

When to go to the vet? 

With a little layer of pale yellowish wax, the skin should be lovely and pink.

The ear’s self-cleaning mechanism includes a little quantity of wax. If your dog’s ears are red or have a dark brown or black discharge, or if he shakes his head, paws at his ears, or rubs them against the carpet or furniture, he should see a veterinarian to figure out what’s wrong.

Your veterinarian will perform a variety of tests to determine the cause of your dog’s stinky ears.

Your veterinarian will first check the inside of your ear using an otoscope. The veterinarian will be able to observe redness, discharge, a mass, or a foreign item within your dog’s ear during this examination.

A sample from your dog’s ear may be taken and examined under a microscope by your veterinarian. This will reveal whether your dog’s ears are infested with mites, germs, or yeast.

To determine the degree of illness in your dog’s ear, further diagnostics such as radiography, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required.

Certain illnesses, such as persistent ear infections or masses, may necessitate surgery.

Related Questions 

Should I clean my golden retrievers’ ears? 

You should clean your Golden Retriever’s ears if you notice a slight stench or your dog shaking his head more than normal. Contact your veterinarian if your dog’s ear seems to be red and inflamed, smells yeasty, or he appears to be in discomfort.

Why do my dogs’ ears stink and itch?

Your dogs’ ears stink and itch due to an ear infection caused by bacterial growth or yeast overgrowth, which can occur if their ears are not regularly cleaned. It can also occur when they roll about in the mud or play in the water, and is frequently caused by excessive moisture in their ears.

What’s the brown stuff in my dogs’ ears? 

The brown stuff in your dogs’ ears is waxy, yellow, or reddish-brown ear discharge caused by an ear infection, which can be caused by allergies, mites, polyps, overproduction of ear wax, prolonged bathing or swimming which might leave too much moisture in the ears.

Why do dogs have black gunk in their ears? 

Black gunk in dogs’ ears indicates the presence of yeast, bacteria, and validates the diagnosis of an ear infection. Dark brown or black debris is common in the ears of dogs with yeast-related ear infections. In the ears of dogs with bacterial ear infections, there may be yellow-brown debris or pus.

Helpful Resources

How to Treat Ear Mites in Dogs

Dog Ear Infections

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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