Why Do My Golden Retrievers Ears Stink?

by Kern Campbell

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Young happy couple holding and hugging cute golden retriever puppy

I have a beautiful Golden Retriever whom I enjoy taking almost everywhere with me.  Recently I noticed an odor that appears to be coming from his ears, and I am curious to know what it is from.

Concerned that something might be wrong with him or his ears, I decided to research the topic, and here is what I found out.

Why do my Golden Retrievers ears stink?

You Golden Retrievers ears stink because of an ear infection caused by bacterial growth or an overgrowth of yeast and can happen when their ears are not cleaned properly.  It can also happen when they roll around in the dirt or play in the water and is often caused by high moisture content in their ears. 

Why you Golden Retrievers’ ears stink can be because they have an undetected infection in their ears.  This is a common ear problem with this breed and is usually caused by an overgrowth of yeast in their ears. 

Golden Retrievers ears can hold moisture, so if they have played around in the outdoors, whether water, mud, dirt, or other outdoor elements, they should be thoroughly cleaned when they return from the outdoors.  For Golden Retrievers with ears that stink, it is essential to set up a regular cleaning ritual that included their ear area to prevent moisture buildup in the dark and somewhat closed-off area and reduce the chance yeast or infection will form. 

If an ear infection is detected in a Golden Retriever, they should see their veterinarian, or at the very least, the vet should be contacted.  Medications can be given to help ease the symptoms of the infection and speed recovery.  Other reasons why your Golden Retrievers ears might stink could be because of ear mites or allergies. 

The loose part of the Golden Retrievers ears that flops around when they run, or move is called the pinna.  There are two parts to the inside of their ear which are horizontal and vertical and are two separate tunnels, with one having the ear drum that gives way to the middle and inner ear parts.   The outer part of the ear including both tunnels produce oils and are where most ear infections are seen.

Golden Retrievers’ ears can stink, and this is a common problem with this breed.  Their love for the outdoors and spending time rolling around, romping, and enjoying the outdoor elements make them more susceptible to ear infections and yeast, leading to an ear infection.

The inner ear, which is typically where the infection will start, is a slightly darker recess of the ear known for being a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria to grow.  Yeast and bacteria are found on every animal’s skin, but when it is kept to a minimum, it causes no issue.

To keep yeast to a minimum and prevent infections, it helps keep a dog’s skin clean and healthy.  If a dog is unclean or their skin is not healthy, including areas like their ears or other body parts, yeast can overgrow, causing issues like infections.  This yeast overgrowth and any infections can cause the Golden Retrievers’ body to smell.

When this happens, a Golden Retriever may experience other symptoms besides the smell that can be both irritating and annoying to those around them and themselves.

What is yeast on a dog’s skin?

Yeast on dogs’ skin is a fungus that happens due to the overproduction of oil secretions from their body.  Yeast forms on their body when their skin released many oily secretions, which can occur due to overheating, which is typical for a Golden Retriever with all that fur.

It can also happen when they are overly dirty for a long time and haven’t been adequately cleaned or if they suffer from allergies, whether skin or otherwise, which can happen to Golden Retrievers.

Yeast and bacterial growth is a normal part of life for every human and animal.  It grows on their skin, more so in certain moist or dark areas, but it is normal.

What causes the problem with yeast or fungi and sometimes bacteria that grow on our bodies, including that of our Golden Retriever, is left unchecked.  By unchecked, it means not cleaned correctly.

If the skin of a Golden Retriever is never cleaned or not cleaned enough, the yeast or fungi and other bacteria on the skin will multiply.  If it continues for too long without bathing the skin and removing the excess oils and yeast or bacteria, it can cause infections.

What other areas of my Golden Retrievers body can suffer an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast?

Other areas on the Golden Retrievers body that might suffer an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast include the mouth, under the tail, and skin folds, depending on the dog.  Moisture is usually more of an issue in these areas.

The mouth is a darker recess of the dog’s body like the ears that have skin and can easily harbor excess yeast and bacteria from the foods they eat and undetected or treated health issues.

It can be a bit moister under the dog’s tail than other body parts due to the tail and all the fur covering it.  This can also be a breeding ground for yeast overgrowth and possible infections, whether bacterial or yeast infections.

Skin folds on the dog’s body can be a perfect breeding spot for bacteria and yeast to grow as they are more moist and dark than their face or back.  Some dogs will have more folds than others, which can, of course, increase the likelihood of an infection or problem with yeast overgrowth.

How do I keep my Golden Retrievers body clean and healthy to prevent yeast overgrowth?

The best way to keep your Golden Retrievers body clean and healthy to prevent yeast overgrowth is to clean them each time they come in from the outside.

This can seem like an exhausting process to do every time they take a trip outdoors but only needs to be done when they are outside for more than a few minutes at a time.

The pet parent can reduce the chance that dirt and debris will build up and cause problems because they are removed right away.  Each time it should only take a few minutes, but it can be helpful to be patient and offer treats at the beginning of the process as they learn to accept it as part of their stay healthy routine.

Another area that needs to be addressed is their grooming habits.  Preventing ear infections and the overgrowth of yeast and bacteria on their body can be done by inspecting their fur and skin often and brushing, grooming, and bathing them as need be to keep them clean.  This will keep their skin healthy and wash away the overgrowth of oils that their body can sometimes produce.

What other ear symptoms will my Golden Retriever show if he has an ear infection?

If your Golden Retriever is suffering from an ear infection, they will stink, but it is also possible that they will also have redness of the skin and scratching, and signs of dirt around the areas.

Redness of the skin is always a pretty good indication that a Golden Retriever suffers from an infection.  If this is noticed on the Golden Retrievers’ ears, it is best to consult with their veterinarian as they will likely need medication to feel better.

Scratching of the ears won’t always signal an ear infection, as we all sometimes need to scratch an itch. Still, if scratching is excessive or repeatedly in the same area, aka their ears, it probably means they have an infection or at the very least an overgrowth of yeast.  Inspecting their ears, cleaning if necessary, and contacting their veterinarian may be required.

Dirt around the ears can signal an ear infection, but it can also indicate that the pet parents haven’t been cleaning their dogs’ ears as efficiently as they should be, which can lead to an infection if left unattended.  Cleaning their ears is a must, as is inspecting for issues like redness and possibly consulting their veterinarian may be required.

Dogs that suffer repeated or ongoing infections, whether in the ear or other parts of their body, should be cause for concern.

Excess of infections throughout the body is usually a sign of undetected health issues and should be addressed with the Golden Retrievers veterinarian for proper evaluation.

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In Conclusion

While all dogs sometimes stink, having stinky ears is not healthy.  This is often caused by an overgrowth of yeast or an infection that should be addressed with their veterinarian.

Having a healthy grooming schedule that includes inspecting them when they return from extended periods outdoors can help manage this issue and bring peace to the pet parent and dog.

It may seem like a lot of work to prevent issues, but in the long run, it can save not only time but your dogs’ health too!

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