If Princess has a hairy ear canal, she may have trouble hearing. The bounteous hair muffles sound waves as well as traps wax and debris that lead to further sound dampening or infection. Ear infections, or otitis, can affect the ear drum, leading to deafness.
Your dog may be deaf, but she may just be ignoring you. If you aren’t sure, quietly get behind her and clap loudly. If she turns or flicks her ears, she can probably hear you. Your veterinarian can determine the state of your dog’s ears much more effectively. He'll check the dog’s ears to make sure the ear drums are intact, look for wax and hair in the canal, and evaluate for infection. He may perform a brainstem auditory evoked response or BAER test, which more effectively evaluates whether you dog can hear.
Hearing loss may be temporary or permanent. Your veterinarian or groomer can remove or pluck the hair from Princess’s ear canal. This procedure may be curative or may allow better treatment of the underlying problem. Cleaning the waxy debris out or treating the infection can restore normal hearing. A damaged ear drum will take time to heal before hearing returns. Before cleaning the ears yourself, your veterinarian needs to evaluate the canal, since you can do permanent damage if you attempt to clean an ear with a ruptured ear drum.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.