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How to Clean Yorkie Ears [Steps]

One of the most common reasons dog owners end up in the vet’s office is ear problems  – like ear mites and infections. This is especially true for dogs that have naturally floppy ears, including a lot of Yorkies. 

So how do you clean Yorkie ears? Doing it DIY is simple and gets easy with practice. As a dog expert I get asked about cleaning dog ears all the time!

how to clean yorkie ears
How to clean Yorkie ears – steps for Yorkshire Terrier ear cleaning

Cleaning your Yorkie’s ears may not be able to prevent every ear-related issue. Still, it can significantly decrease the risk of infection, so it’s important to know how to clean your pup’s ears safely and effectively. 

Even if your Yorkie isn’t a fan, here’s a step-by-step guide for keeping your Yorkie’s ears sparkling clean. 

Cleaning Your Yorkie’s Ears: Step-by-Step Guide

Keep in mind that our in-depth guide below is just for routine ear cleaning. If your dog is already dealing with an ear-related issue, like ear mites or an infection, your vet may want you to follow a different procedure for cleaning your Yorkie’s ears. You’ll want to speak with them before you do anything. 

For Yorkies without any existing ear issues, here’s what you should know. 

Step 1: Inspect Your Yorkie’s Ears

Before you start cleaning anything, it’s always a good idea to inspect both of your Yorkie’s ears  – for a couple of reasons. Doing this regularly will help you understand what looks normal (and what doesn’t) and make sure there aren’t any issues before you begin.

It’s normal for a healthy Yorkie ear to have a little wax buildup and be a pale pink color. 

However, there are a couple of warning signs to be on the lookout for. If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to stop cleaning and call your vet for further advice: 

  • Unusual discharge from the ear
  • Swelling or inflammation (the ear is a much darker red than normal)
  • An excessive amount of wax (a little bit of wax is normal, but excessive wax buildup could be cause for concern)

And, if you notice that there’s no wax or debris in the ear, you may not need to do an entire cleaning  – some Yorkies may require more regular cleaning than others. 

black and gold yorkie has bath
A black and gold Yorkie having a bath

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

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Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs & Cats
  • Non-irritating solution prevents microbial action
  • Use during routine cleansing of sensitive ears
  • Removes debris and excessive wax and dries the ear canal.
  • Recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa which is chronic inflammation of a dogs external ear canal.
  • It has a low pH, so it shouldn't interfere with other ear preparations.

Once you’ve inspected the ears and found a little wax or debris, the next step is to gather your cleaning supplies. For routine cleanings, you can use cotton balls (or a q-tip if you don’t have any cotton balls) and an ear cleanser on hand. 

And, if you’re worried that your dog may react poorly to having its ears cleaned, you may also want to grab a bag of treats for positive reinforcement. 

Step 3: Make Sure Your Yorkie is Relaxed

One of the hardest parts of any ear cleaning is making sure your dog is relaxed. Like nail clippings or brushing teeth, some Yorkies may panic if they see you approach with a cotton ball  – so it’s always a good idea to spend a few minutes making sure your pup is relaxed.

This may include giving them a treat, petting them, or even talking in a calm, soothing voice, so they know you don’t mean harm. 

If your dog is used to grooming, you may be able just to lay them over your lap or sit next to them and start cleaning. For more anxious or rambunctious Yorkies, you may need to put them in the corner of a chair or couch and sit in front of them. This position ensures that it’s harder for your Yorkie to get away while you clean their ears. 

Start grooming your Yorkie young – as they get used to the noises and procedure and become more relaxed.

yorkies love water
Not every single Yorkie will love to swim – but most end up enjoying water and the beach

Step 4: Gently Wipe the Ear 

Next, you can actually begin cleaning the first ear. With a little bit of ear cleanser on your cotton ball, start by gently wiping the inside of your dog’s ear. You may want to hold your dog’s ear flap, also called the pinna, gently in your other hand while you wipe. 

Depending on how dirty their ear is, you may find that the cotton ball comes back soaked with wax and debris  – and you’ll want to keep gently wiping until your cotton ball comes back clear. 

Keep in mind that you don’t need to clean extremely deep into your dog’s ear  – you shouldn’t be stuffing the cotton ball or q-tip into your Yorkie’s ear canal. Stick to wiping the inside of the pinna. 

Be patient with dogs that may try to pull away when you clean their ears, as you can accidentally scratch their skin if you’re not careful. 

Step 5: Reward Your Dog 

Once you’ve finished the first ear, it’s almost always a good idea to reward your dog with a treat  – especially if they’re nervous about ear cleanings or if you’ve never cleaned their ears before.

Giving treats during this routine will teach your Yorkie to associate positive things with an ear cleaning, and in the future, you may find that they’re more cooperative or compliant. 

Once you’ve made ear cleaning a regular part of your routine, you may be able to lay off the treats, but positive reinforcement is a good idea for the first several times you do it. 

black and tan yorkie
How is this for a pose! A black and tan Yorkie

Step 6: Repeat With the Second Ear

Finally, you can repeat the process with the second ear. Some Yorkies may need a few minutes to calm down before you start the second ear, but others may be fine to keep going. Start by holding the flap gently in your hands, and gently wipe the inside of the pinna until your cotton balls are no longer discolored. 

Once you’re done, give your Yorkie another treat and praise them for a job well done. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Yorkie’s Ears? 

This can depend on how often your Yorkie’s ears get wet or dirty, but generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to inspect your dog’s ears at least once a month. Yorkies are one breed that can be more prone to wax and debris buildup, so they may require more regular cleanings than other dogs. 

If you’re noticing a ton of wax buildup every time you clean your Yorkie’s ears, you may want to speak to your vet about whether you need to repeat the routine more frequently.