French Bulldog Ears Facts, Problems, Tapping and Cleaning

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by Lily Ferreras

french-bulldog-ears

French Bulldogs’ ears are bat-like, pointed and erect. This fact poses some concern around the ears natural ability to stand up, including ear problems that Frenchies often suffer from.

In this blog post, you will find the most important facts about French Bulldog ears, how to tape them and how to clean them to avoid problems like ear mites and itchiness.

French Bulldog Ear Facts

Let’s start with some important facts to gain more understanding on your French Bulldog ears and how their shape influences the frequency with which they suffer from ear problems.

#1 – French Bulldogs Have Bat Ears

According to the American Kennel Club breed standards for French Bulldogs, these dogs have bat ears.

This means that French Bulldogs’ ear shape is broad at the base, elongated, with a round top.

The ears are set high on the head but not too close together and carried erect. Also, the leather of the ear is fine and soft.

#2 – French Bulldogs’ Ears Naturally Stand Up

French Bulldog puppies are born with floppy ears that eventually stand up on their own.

When do French Bulldog ears stand up?

A French Bulldog’s ears will stand up naturally when the puppy is 4 months old. This process can take between 6 weeks to 4 months.

You might notice that one ear straightens out sooner than the other one (like in the image below), but they will eventually even out.  

Although French Bulldog ears can stand up naturally, this isn’t always the case.

If this process doesn’t happen naturally, you might have to help your pooch to get those ears standing to avoid health problems.

Insider Tip: During the teething phase, a French Bulldog puppy’s ears curl backwards. This can happen between 3 and 4 ½ months of age. Once teething is over (by 8 months old), the ears will return to their usual, straight selves.

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French Bulldog puppies with erect, floppy and half standing ears.
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French Bulldog ears whilst teething are rolled back.

#3 – Erect Ears Benefit Your Dog’s Health

Apart from being part of the breed standards, the fact that French Bulldogs have erect ears is also beneficial for your dog’s health for two reasons:

  1. Standing ears improve air circulation in the ears.
  2. They reduce the risk of ear infection.

What happens when your French Bulldog’s ears remain floppy? What are the health concerns?

When a French Bulldog has floppy ears, this dog is likely to develop ear infections.

When their ears are folded, not much air can flow. As a result, moisture becomes trapped in the ear canal. This becomes a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria, which can lead to infection.

However, it doesn’t mean that your pooch is going to be continuously suffering from one ear infection to another.

#4 – Your French Bulldog Ears Might Not Stand Up

Why can French Bulldogs’ ears remain floppy?

Not every Frenchie will have completely straight ears.

Some may turn down at the very tip, and some may flop over at the breaking point (midway up the ear).  

The main area that determines if your French Bulldog’s ears are floppy or straight is called “pinna“.

The pinna is a part of the outer ear that you can see. It’s made of cartilage and covered by skin and hair. It can vary in size in French Bulldogs but it’s about the same shape. 

Your French Bulldog’s ears might remain floppy because:

  1. The size and weight of the pinna are heavier than average.
  2. An injury to the cartilage or muscles holding it. Ear trauma is a common issue when around puppies that like to chew! 
  3. Your puppy is teething. During the teething phase, the ears curl backwards. This can happen between 3 and 4 ½ months of age.

Once teething is over (when your Frenchie is 6 to 8 months old), the ears will return to their usual standing position.

You can always be proactive if you suspect your puppy’s ears aren’t going to straighten on their own.

french-bulldog-ears-not-standing-up
French Bulldog ears not standing up fully, or both of them not being erect.

#5 – Taping Can Help Your Dog’s Ears to Stand Up

There are different ways to support your dog’s ears to stand up, including taping them.

Does taping French Bulldog ears work?

First of all, you should talk to your breeder and vet for their expert advice before starting any protocol.

Insider Tip: If you suspect that your French Bulldog’s ears are going to be very large or heavy, speak with your vet, because you could start taping as early as 5 weeks.

Once you decide on a method, to avoid any further damage to your French Bulldog pup’s ears, try not to touch the ears too much – even if those soft ears are irresistible!

Also, you should prevent any other dog chewing or licking your dog’s ears.

Ok, let’s see how to tape those ears.

How to Tape Your French Bulldog’s Ears

When your Frenchie’s ears don’t stand up by themselves because the ear leather becomes too heavy… this weight could be supported by tape to help the ears to stand erect.

If your French Bulldog’s ears are not up by 4 months of age, then you should tape them to strengthen the ear. By doing so, they will stand up on their own eventually.

If you start early, it may only take 3-4 weeks for the ears to stand on their own. But if you start late (when your pooch is at 4 months old), it will take longer or it may not happen.

Here’s a step by step guide to taping your puppy’s ears:

#1 – Choose the Type of Ear Tape

There are different types of tapes for your dog’s ears. It’s about personal preference between soft and sports tapes.

In both cases, I would recommend applying two or three layers for proper support.

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#2 – Decide on the Ear Taping Method

The placement of the tape is crucial to ensure that you’re providing support at the proper area.

There are two taping methods that you can use:

  1. The Vertical Ear Taping Method: You can use tape inside your dog’s ears and place it in a vertical way. Also, you are less likely to pull out hair with vertical taping.
  2. The Horizontal Ear Taping Method: You place the tape horizontally around the ear at the natural breaking point. It can be a little more irritating and might not offer enough support for larger ears.

#3 – Prep Your Dog’s Ears and Tape Them

Here’s how to the tape your puppy’s ears:

  1. Trim or clip the hair inside of the ear.
  2. Wipe it with alcohol to remove the dirt and natural oils.
  3. Let the ears dry completely.
  4. Apply the tape splints.
    • Vertical Method: from the base of the ear up to the tip of the pinna.  
    • Horizontal Method: alongside the natural breaking point of the ear.
  5. Trim the tape following the shape of the ear to prevent your dog or any other dog chewing on it.
  6. Apply another layer and trim it. In total, apply two or three layers of tape to provide the necessary support. This depends on the weight of your dog’s ear.

#4 – Keep the Tape On 24 Hours a Day

Regardless of the taping method you use…

The tape must be kept on 24 hours a day, every day until the ears are strong enough to stand on their own. Depending on your Frenchie’s ears, this process could take a few weeks or a few months.

You will have to replace the tape as needed. Usually, every couple of days you will have to reapply the tape. This is because your dog’s skin secretes natural oils that will cause the tape to lose its stickiness.

Also, beware that the tape can cause irritation on the back of the ears and your pup will definitely want to scratch it off.

french-bulldog-ear-problems

French Bulldog Ear Problems

Are French Bulldogs prone to ear infections?

French Bulldog dog ears are more sensitive than average dog ears and are prone to ear infections due to the following reasons:

  1. Brachycephalic breed traits: Their flat compressed head has a direct impact on their ear canals. Their narrower ear canals provide for a wet, warm, moist, environment ideal for bacteria and yeast to flourish and grow.
  2. Bat ear shape: Due to the physical shape of French Bulldog’s ears they are inherently more likely to get dust, dirt, and other stuff in their ears.  
  3. Food allergies: Processed foods can cause allergies on dogs and French Bulldogs are no exception.
  4. Skin allergies: This is also known as atopic allergic dermatitis, which can be caused by environmental allergens.
  5. Wax build-up: Some dogs produce more wax and on a more regular basis. Failing to remove the natural wax that the ears generate results in an excess of wax that will cause discomfort to your dog, even pain.

The infection of the external ear canal, called “Otitis Externa” (outer ear infection), is one of the most common types of infections in dogs.

French Bulldog Ear Infection

Since ear infection is the most common ear problem for French Bulldogs, let’s see what the signs are, the treatments and the prevention options.

Ear Infection Signs

The most common signs of ear infection are:

  • Redness.
  • Itchy ears (your dog shakes his head and scratches his ears).
  • Off-colour discharge, black or yellowish (not brown wax).
  • Swelling or inflammation (ears are hot to the touch).
  • Odour (bad smell).
  • Pain when the ears are touched.

Note: Severe infections may also cause your Frenchie to lose his balance and/or hearing.

If your French Bulldog has any of these signs, you should take him to the vet for a check-up so he receives the appropriate treatment.

Ear Infection Treatment

The treatment will depend on the type of infection and if your dog has any damage in the ear canal.

Your vet might give you an ointment or drops to treat the infection. In some cases, oral medications are necessary such as antibiotics, anti-yeast, or anti-inflammatory pills.

However, before giving your dog any prescribed medication, you should clean his ears first.

The length of treatment also depends on:

  • The type of infection (Otitis Externa or Otitis Interna).
  • The severity.
  • How your dog responds to the treatment.

Your vet should schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure that the medication is working and the infection is cleared.

Ear Infection Prevention

How do you go about preventing your French Bulldog from contracting an ear infection?

There’s one preventive approach you can take, and that is to regularly clean his ears.

Check your dog’s ears on a weekly basis, so you know when they get dirty and how often you should be cleaning them.

By doing so, you also prevent ear mites, bad ear smell and itchy or red ears.

On another note, I have seen dog parents use ear warmers to keep their Frenchies’ ears protected. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can take a look at french bulldog ear warmers here (Amazon link).

Do you use a Bat Hat?

These hats are useful during winter since dogs lose body heat through their ears and French Bulldogs’ thin ear membranes are completely exposed to the elements.

french-bulldog-ear-cleaner

French Bulldog Ear Cleaner and Other Essentials

Here are some essential supplies you are going to need for cleaning your French Bulldog’s ears:

#1 – Ear Cleaner

There’s a wide variety of ear cleaners. You can either go for a homemade solution like water and vinegar mix (very diluted solution to reduce the sting) or get an alcohol free ear cleaner.

Ear cleaners containing alcohol can cause discomfort (sting sensation) if your Frenchie’s ears are already sore, red or tender.

Plus, the sting will likely discourage your pup from sitting down quietly during the next ear cleaning session.

Also, look for an ear cleaning product that has ingredients that will clean off dead cells and will help break up the earwax.

They should be mildly acidic to help kill bacteria and be able to evaporate quickly. That’s why hazel-based ear cleaners are one of the most popular ones.

Insider Tip: Water-based solutions or homemade ones have a disadvantage too. Unlike a cleaner, water is hard to completely remove from your dog’s ears. If your dog’s ear canal stays moist, i.e., there’s some stagnant water left there, this creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

Some dog parents prefer grooming wipes, which can be also free of alcohol, parabens and harsh chemicals. However, liquid cleaners can reach further than wipes, getting into all parts of the ears, including your Frenchie’s ear canals, which is where most ear infections start.

Note: If your French Bulldog has already been diagnosed with an ear infection, your vet may prescribe a specific ear cleaner with antibacterial properties.

#2 – Cotton Balls or Pads

You can use cotton balls or pads to thoroughly clean your French Bulldog’s ear canal. Also, they will soak up any excess cleaner or moisture after you apply an ear cleaner solution.

However, using cotton swabs can damage your dog’s ear canal since they allow you to reach further down. This can be the case if your Frenchie happens to shake or move unexpectedly.

#3 – Ear Powder or Coconut Oil

Your dog’s ears can get itchy (but not red) and/or dry after being cleaned. That’s why you might want to consider purchasing a talc-free baby powder or use some natural oil such as coconut oil (Amazon links).

The powder helps absorb excess moisture and also soothe itchy or irritated ears. Coconut oil, on the other hand, has antiseptic properties that reduce itchiness and also has hydrating properties to combat dryness.

#4 – Healthy and Small Treats

Healthy treats are a great way to reward your Frenchie after cleaning his ears. For tips on healthy and small food rewards, check 10 Boston Terrier Treats That Are Species-Appropriate blog post.

I wrote it having Bostons in mind, but it works for Frenchies too. Plus, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have the same food allergies, so the tips are highly applicable for both breeds.

how-to-clean-french-bulldog-ears

How to Clean French Bulldog Ears

The best way to keep your French Bulldog’s ears healthy is to clean them regularly.

Follow these 7 steps to clean your French Bulldog’s ears:

#1 – Choose A Spot to Clean the Ears Comfortably

Choosing a spot to clean your dog’s ears is important for two reasons:

  1. To avoid distractions (i.e., your dog won’t stay still).
  2. To avoid making a mess (i.e., ear discharge and cleaning solution all over the furniture).

During warmer months, I prefer to do most of the grooming outdoors, in the garden. That being said, some dogs get very distracted and won’t stay still. I found myself following my Foster Westie around the garden whilst trying to clean his ears, for instance.

If the garden is not an option, you can consider cleaning your pup’s ears in the bathtub (or wherever is easy to clean afterwards).

#2 – Check the State of the Ears

Before you begin cleaning, take a close look at both of your dog’s ears. You want to make sure that the ears are only dirty, not red or with discharge.

If you notice any signs of infection, contact your vet and don’t clean your dog’s ears, as your veterinarian may want to see the discharge. Infections cannot be treated with ear cleaning alone, you will need a prescription from the vet.

However, if both ears look normal and healthy, you can proceed with the cleaning.

Insider Tip: Heads up! Some dogs shake their heads a lot during grooming, especially when ear cleaning is involved!

#3 – Apply the Ear Cleaning Solution

First, get your pooch to sit in front of you in the chosen spot (step #1). Then, gently tilt your dog’s head to one side with your hand and fill your dog’s ear with the cleaning solution.

Your pup’s first reaction will be to shake his head. However, try to hold him still until you have finished cleaning one ear. Once the ear is full of cleaning solution, gently massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds.

After you are done, grab a towel and place it over your pooch’s ear as he shakes the excess cleaner out.

With normal ears, you fill the ear hole with cleaning solution, hold it in there and gently massage for 30 seconds, then let your dog shake out the crud (needless to say, you probably don’t want to be doing this in places at home where you don’t want getting soiled!).

Insider Tip: You can either do both ears at the same time or fully finish cleaning one before you start on the other one.

#4 – Wipe Away Excess Cleaner and Discharge

Now it’s time to carefully wipe away the excess moisture with a cotton ball or pad, avoiding going too deep.

Keeping the ears free of moisture is critical in preventing infection.

If the ear still looks dirty after this step (step #4), you may want to repeat the process until you have removed all of the wax.

#5 – Apply Powder, Oil or Medication (If Necessary)

Once both ears are clean and dry, you can apply the ear powder or the coconut oil to soothe possible itchiness and irritation.

If your dog has an ear infection, now is the time to apply any prescribed cleaning solution or medication by your vet.

Whether unsure or if you have never cleaned your dog’s ears before, consult with your vet and ask for a demonstration to prevent unknowingly harming your pooch.

french-bulldog-treat-reward

#6 – Reward Your Dog With a Small Treat

Finally, for an easy-going grooming routine, reward your Frenchie’s patience and good behaviour with praises such as “good boy,” a caress and a small treat.

You can take a break between ears and reward him then, or reward your pup after every step. This depends on how comfortable and how much encouragement your pooch needs.

By doing so, you are encouraging his good behaviour and setting a good tone for future ear cleaning sessions.

The goal is for your dog to have a positive association with the ear cleaning routine.

#7 – Establish an Ear Cleaning Routine

How often should you clean your French Bulldog’s ears?

Your dog’s lifestyle, habits, and ear health play a role in how often to clean your pooch’s ears.

As a reference, you can clean your French Bulldog’s ears every two weeks or every month, depending on how dirty they get or how much wax your dog produces.

For instance, if you bath your pooch every month, it’s best to clean his ears afterwards.

Insider Tip: If your Frenchie swims or likes playing with water, you should clean and dry his ears afterwards to prevent any ear problems.

Remember that keeping your French Bulldog’s ears clean is the best way to prevent itchiness, wax build-up, ear mites, ear infection and unnecessary pain.

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