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Pug Ears


If you have a Pug, you most likely are wondering about the different types of ears that this breed can have..And how to keep them clean and healthy to avoid infection and other health issues.

In addition, you may have heard about the method of taping a Pug's ears and wonder if this is necessary...and if you wish to do it, just how it should be done.

We will discuss this topic and cover the issues of:
  • The differences between different types of Pug ears, AKC standard and variations 
  • What is taping, why and how is this done 
  • Providing proper care to keep away infection and other problems including ear mites
Types of Ears

While there are variations of the Pug ear and each dog will have his own unique look, one element is clear with this breed: The ear is a folded, flap-over. This breed should not have fully erect ears nor should he have full, flopped dropped ears.

In regard to the fold of the leather, this may be a bit unsteady during the first year. Also, puppies that are teething may have uneven ears during this time; in most cases this straightens out and resolves itself once the teething process is complete and all adult canines are in place.
Pug dog with button ears
The button ear is one variation that this breed may have. For this one, notice how the ears fold forward. They are nicely , pointing toward the eyes. 

In almost every recognized dog show, the button ear is the preferred look for conformance events. With this said, rose ears are acceptable.

More points will usually be given to a Pug dog with button ears (ones folding down toward the dog's eyes). For proper conformation, both will be symmetrical, basically mirrored images, with neither straying from this position. 
Pug dog with rose ears
This is the other accepted variation of Pug ears. This is the rose ear. As you can see, there is quite a difference between this and the above button. With this, the each ear has a fold. It is erect at the base...And then it folds over, in a forward direction. 

The above button type ends with the ears close to the face, this rose style allows for the ears to be off to the side. 

If they are too off to the side, they are nicknamed "flying ears" and while it gives the dog an amusing appearance, and while it is just fine if a Pug has this type, it is not preferred in conformation events.

Part of properly grooming a Pug will involve taking care of the Pug’s ears. This is not just done for hygiene, it is done for health. Proper care will help keep guard against infection, which can be problem for this breed. Dirt, debris and excess wax can lead to ongoing infections.

It is important to note that an owner will want to clean the ears enough…but not too much. Why? Because doing this too often can cause dry skin issues; too much wax removal (a certain amount is normal and needed, as it catches dirt and debris)…and over doing it can cause yeast infections.

Healthy Color

When you lift the Pug’s ears to look at the underneath of the flap and to see the entrance of the canal, the correct color of the skin is pink. If it is red, has any sores or shows any signs of irritation this often points to infection, mites or another issue that must be brought to the attention of the veterinarian.


Some owners ask questions about the odor that is emitted from a Pug’s ears. Some wonder if this is normal for the breed. The answer is that it is not normal. Excess wax buildup = excess dirt…and can produce a foul odor. Infection as well can be accompanied by a nasty smell.

Therefore, if your Pug has smelly ears, you will want to perform a cleaning and then if the situation does not clear up, it will be time to bring him or her to the veterinarian.

It is recommended to do an inspection each day. It only takes a minute and should be part of your daily routine. You will want to check for the above mentioned coloring and the above mentioned possible odor.

Also, you will want to feel a Pug’s ears as the temperature of them can be a clue to possible issues. They should feel warm, and not hot, to the touch.

To clean Pug ears, you will need just a couple of things:

• Solution. This can be bought online at any reputable pet supply store, in person at a pet supply store or obtained from the veterinarian. It is important to use the proper solution and not simply use water. Also,despite what you may have read elsewhere, please never use rubbing alcohol, as it will dry out the ears too much, causing problems.

• Rolled Cotton: While you may use super-sized Q-tips or another cotton element, many owners find it easiest to take sterile cotton pads and roll one up. You will want it to be just about 6 inches long (no longer!)

1) First, use one hand to lift the ears of your Pug dog.

2) With your other hand, gently squirt the solution into that ear.

3) You will now need to massage it in…This is done by having your thumb on one side of the Pug’s ear and your forefinger on the other side. Simply gently press your fingers toward each other. 

Do this 5-10 times. As you do this, you will usually hear a type of “squashing” sound. This means that the solution is working to break up hard, compacted wax…so it is a good sign. 

Do not worry if you do not hear this, as it will just mean that the ear is clean in regard to excess buildup.

4) Now, it is time to use the cotton. You will place your finger in the middle of the rolled cotton in order to keep it firm and get it to where you need for it to be. Entering no more than 2 inches, you will rotate it around several times and then remove it.

5) Do not be surprised at what you see after removing it. The solution that you just massaged in helped to loosen compacted wax and dirt. The color of the debris that you clean up may be anywhere from a yellow to a dark brown.

You will want to repeat the above steps with each ear… You will be done when the cotton is clean when you remove it.

Unless told differently by the veterinarian (if your Pug’s ears are infected or other), you will want to do this grooming technique 2 times per week. Any more often will be counter effective. If you do this and see that the cotton is very clean and there was nothing to clean out, then you can go down to doing this 1 time per week.


This is a non-surgical method that is quite literally what it sounds like. Tape is used to hold the ears into preferred position. It is often tried on those who have "flying rose ears"...ears that protrude too much off to the side. 

While there is absolutely no guarantee that taping will produce the desired results, there is a chance that it will. For those dog owners who wish for their Pug to meet dog show standards, taping is a non-intrusive way to gently urge the ears to point forward.

There is no reason to do this unless you wish to show your dog in conformation events. Ears that lay to the side do not produce health issues or any type of problem. There are millions of Pug dog pets that do not have button ears and there is no reason for them to.

Taping can be effective if done before the dog is 6 months old. After the age of 6 months, taping may work temporarily. Some dog owners with Pugs over 6 months old, will tape their Pug's ears before an upcoming dog show. 

The ear will usually point forward for 2 to 3 days; just long enough for the dog to score higher in a conformance event. The ear will then slow go back to laying to the side.

Cloth adhesive tape is used to tape a Pug dog's ears. The ear is folded over to the front and the tape is used to wrap around the ear as in the photo above. The tape should be left on for 1 week at a time. Each time the tape is removed, the ears should be cleaned and allowed to air out for 1-2 hours before being taped again.

Regarding the length of time that this should be done...Well, the ear is in charge on this one! If the tape is removed and the ears does not fall to the front as desired, it would then be taped again for another week. Some owners may get results in a few weeks, some a few months and some...never.

Mites can happen to any dog, of any breed. This is not limited to unclean dogs…and even owners who take great care of hygiene problems can find that their Pug has gotten mites.

They are very contagious. While they live in abundance in the ear, they also travel to other areas on the dog, such as the neck, chest, back and so on. And this is often how dogs catch them from one another…

When on the body, they can be transferred when 2 dogs simply rub against another while walking past, play with each other, etc. They also have the capability to jump short distances, therefore they can pass from one dog to your Pug by jumping onto the coat when in close proximity.

The Signs of this are:
  • A dark discoloration of the inner ear flap and/or entrance to the canal 
  • A strong smelling odor coming from the Pug’s ears 
  • Discharge 
  • Itching – This usually manifests by the dog shaking his or her head in an attempt to relieve the discomfort 
  • You may see a crusty substance when looking in the canal. 
Treatment - This cannot properly be treated for at home. Your Pugs ears will need an prescribed insecticidal medication.

it is important to apply it as long as directed, even things seem to be clearing up.

In most cases, it will need to be applied for 3 weeks to ensure that all mature mites and larvae are eradicated.

A specialized flea powder should be sprinkled onto the coat of the dog to kill any mites that have traveled outside of the Pug’s ears.
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