Resources - Ear Cleaning
Whether your dog's coat is long or short, paying attention to their ears can save you a lot of grief in the long run and provide a better state of health to your pup. The audio sense is the second strongest sense in the canine and just like a human's, a lack of quality hearing can cause behavioral changes in your pup.
VERY sensitive with many nerves (especially in those dogs whose ears stand erect) and a high concentration of blood flow, one must be careful cleaning a dog's ears. Penetrate too far into the ear canal and it can be damaged with a Q-tip. Pushing too hard in any one direction can cause cartilage breakage - also a painful condition. Without hands, a dog can easily cause themselves damage with their claws as they scratch to remove the discomfort.
There are numerous ear washes on the market to pick from and many work well. A 50/50 solution of vinegar and warm water works very well too, just as a solution of 50/50 warm water and hydrogen peroxide.
Dip a cotton ball into the solution, squeeze out the excess and clean the inside of the ear flap. Then wrap a bit of gauze around your finger, drop some of the solution onto the gauze and GENTLY clean the inside of the ear. You can get a better feel on the amount of pressure you are using and avoid ear damage using this method.
Generally, cleaning your dog's ears once a week is all that is needed. But for those with chronic ear infections or a propensity to develop 'yeasty-type' smells and infections, 2 drops of witch hazel to 1 tablespoon of baby oil works very well. Apply this solution to a soft baby washcloth and GENTLY clean out the ear. Witch hazel is also referred to as 'nature's Neosporin' and this solution encourages healing on minor skin breaks.
Dogs with long hairs growing inside the ears need to have these hairs plucked back to a minimum. It helps to prevent yeast infections, excess build-up of ear wax and causing a barrier that allows bacteria to harbor beneath it. If this is not something you can do, please make sure get your pooch into a groomer or veterinary to have it done. A hemostat works very well to do this and you really want to pluck only the hair on the outer part of the ear canal - not deep inside.
There is excellent information on cleaning a dog's ear at the PetGroomer's website
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS seek out veterinary care if in doubt and handle your pup's ears carefully. It is your most important venue of communication with you!