Basenji Ear Problems (Smells, Causes, and Fixes)

From losing fur at the edge of the ears to excessive scratching, Basenjis can have problems with their ears.

Typically ear problems are uncomfortable, though some Basenjis may not show any outward sign of it. It is important to have the ear treated before it develops into anything bigger.

basenji dog with a simple harness
A Basenji dog wearing a simple restraint harness.

How To Know If Your Basenji Is Having Ear Problems

There are quite a number of telltale signs to help you notice the uncomfortable situation your Basenji is dealing with. With the most common one being itchy ears.

When your Basenji is having a go at his ears and pawing them more than you can consider normal that’s a sure sign you need to check on their ears. This may even be in combination with a lot of head shaking as your Basenji is trying to get the junk in his ears out.

Other symptoms may include or be a combination of the following.

  • A strong odour from your dog’s ear.
  • Black, Brown or Yellowish waxy discharge coming out of the ear.
  • Redness inside the ear itself, a shade redder than usual.
  • Inflammation of the ear
  • The ear being hot to the touch
  • Dirt inside the ear that almost looks like coffee grounds.
  • Scratch marks on the ear from all the pawing.

Types of Basenji Ear Infections

Otitis externa: Mostly known as “infection of the outer ear”; this type of infection indicates a chronic inflammation in the external part of the ear canal. It may also be caused by bacteria or yeast. This is the most common infection seen in Bs.

a white and red basenji sleeping on a bed
A white and red Basenji sleeping on a bed. Comfortable!

Otitis media: This type of infection is when the middle ear canal has been affected. It occurs when the infection in the otitis externa is spreading.

Otitis interna: Just like the Otitis media this type of infection happens through spreading. The inner ear canal would have been exposed to the infection Otitis externa.

Well, unlike the Otitis externa the Otitis media and interna can be fateful when untreated. With a chance of it spreading all the way to your Basenji’s brain. If it goes untreated, it could also have side effects of deafness, and facial paralysis.

Ear Mites

So, ear mites are little parasites that feed off oils and wax from the ear canals of your Basenji puppies. When they inhabit your puppy’s ear they’re sure to cause a lot of intense irritation and discomfort.

Ear mites have been recorded to have caused secondary infections. So, it is wise to deal with them swiftly. Older Bs can also get ear mites but only through contact with puppies.

Be careful not to let the ear mites spread to the people in your home as well because all a parasite needs is a host for it to thrive.

basenji dog eye wipe
Like many small dogs, Basenji’s need eye gunk removed – preferably before they dry. Dog eye wipes help but any cloth can do.

Foreign Body

Sometimes a little debris can get lodged in your Bs ear. Or, maybe left over cotton or even paper towel from wiping/ cleaning your Bs ear. So, in the ear’s attempt to fight off the foreign object an infection can occur.


In Basenjis these are quite a problem. Have you ever noticed the skin on the tip of your Bs outer ear getting thick and flaky? At times even the fur starts falling, leaving bare patches on the edges of your dog’s ear. That is what in the Basenji community is called winter ears.

A red and white Basenji wearing a snow coat.
A red and white Basenji wearing a snow coat.

The name came about from how this ear problem is seasonal. It thrives in cold weather conditions. It serves as a type of frostbite to your Basenji.

Imagine getting frostbite on your ears… Yikes!


Allergies are not only a human ailment, which I’m sure you know by now, especially if your Basenji has allergies.

Allergies break down the skin barrier in the ear canal and that causes a massive amount of wax to be produced. Now yeast and bacteria thrive in damp dark places. Since your Basenji already has the normal, good type of bacteria and yeast it then starts multiplying more than it should. This makes it easier for an infection to take root.

an owner kisses a tiny Basenji puppy
Kissing an incredibly small Basenji puppy!

How To Prevent Ear Problems

At times ear infections in your Basenji just occur due to unknown reasons. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do to help prevent them. After all, prevention is better than cure.

First thing you need to do for your Basenji is make sure he is staying in a clean environment. His sleeping area and blankets are washed regularly to keep off unwanted insects and parasites.

Dry your dog’s ear after swimming or bathing. Dampness is a breeding ground for infections.

Clean your B’s ears as often as once or twice every two weeks. It doesn’t have to be an extraneous task. Wiping down the ear with gauze is the better route to take.

a cute basenji with a colorful harness
A cute Basenji with a colorful harness. Good boy!

How To Clean a Basenjis Ears

  • Fill the ear canal with a dog ear Cleaning Solution and massage the ear from outside.
  • Wipe out the canal with absorbent gauze. Don’t use paper towels or cotton because these may leave fibers behind.
  • Cotton swabs may also be useful for cleaning your dog’s external ear flaps but avoid using them in the ear canal.
  • For uncooperative pets, you may need to hold his/her head and muzzle gently but firmly.
  • Rub the ear flaps with a good moisturizer, especially during the cold. It helps with winter ears.
  • Also couple up ear cleaning time with some treats to reward your Basenji.


Most infections resolve on their own within 1-2 weeks but it is always better to stay safe and sure by getting it checked at your Vet. Always clean Basenji ears regularly but also be as gentle as possible when doing it.

We wouldn’t want you to mistakenly cause damage to your dog. Always refrain from using abrasive products and alcohol inside your B’s ears. It will likely do more harm than good.