Are you having a problem with your Shih Tzu’s ears being smelly? A lot of Shih Tzu owners are facing the same situation and it’s important to know what to do to prevent any further complications.

One of the most important senses of your Shih Tzu is their hearing. They can hear sounds of up to 60,000 hertz compared to the 20,000 hertz heard by human ears. So a much wider and higher range, it’s one of the reasons why things like “silent dog whistles” grab their immediate attention yet we hear nothing!

Making sure there ears are clean not only stops potential infections (this is what can cause the smells)  but good ear hygiene also protects their hearing. Blockages in  their auditory canals can stop air flow and impact their hearing. 


A Shih Tzu typically has drop ears, so they hand down the side of the head rather than being upright on the top.  Dog breeds such as Shih Tzu are susceptible to ear problems. Because in contrast to standing ears, their floppy ears are poorly ventilated. For this reason, the dirt is held in the ear canal and germs and bacteria form faster.

Your Shih Tzu’s ears stabilize their balance and help them with their orientation. Since they are incredibly flexible, your Shih Tzu can move their ears exactly in the direction of a sound and know exactly where sound comes from. Because hearing is so important to your Shih Tzu, ear infections are very dangerous and you should therefore take a close look at them regularly.

There are different forms of Shih Tzu ears infection but it’s mostly caused by an inflammation in the external auditory canal. This is a thing called otitis externa where your Shih Tzu’s auricle (visible part of the ear) is affected.


Your Shih Tzu’s overall ear consists of the outer ear (auricle and external auditory canal), the middle ear (with the ossicles) and the inner ear (contains the actual hearing organ and the organ of balance). The external auditory canal is formed by the tubular which is longer in dogs than humans. Understanding your dog’s ear is very important for you to examine and treat your Shih Tzu’s ear.

Usually, a Shih Tzu’s auditory canal is odour-free, clean, and has the same colour as a light-skinned person. Although not all Shih Tzus can be affected by a smelly ear, it can cause a serious problem to your dog’s health if not spotted early and treated properly.

Ear infections are a common reasons why Shih Tzu owners take their babies to the veterinarian. The first signs of ear infection in your Shih Tzu includes frequent shaking of head and scratching of ears.


Shih Tzu Ear Problems

First of all, we must understand exactly what is an ear infection in your  Shih Tzu since some of us may believe that it is the same as otitis. However, they are two different terms.

Otitis is an inflammation of the ear and can have numerous causes such as allergies, the presence of foreign bodies in the auditory cavity or viral, bacterial or fungal infections. When there is an ear infection, there is usually otitis because the colonization of the pathogen causes inflammation in the auditory canal. But otitis is not always caused by an infection, which we will discuss later on.

Depending on the main cause of the ear infection, it’s advisable to take a look. Be careful and gentle as your dogs ears may well be sore or sensitive. Have a look and see if there are any obvious deposits in or around the ears. Look for any evidence of the fur in or around the ear being dry or greasy and look for any black-brown or yellowish deposits.

It’s not all the time that both ears are infected, it may be only one ear causing the discomfort but it’s sensible to check both ears. 


If your Shih Tzu scratches their ears more than usual, it can be a sign of an onset inflammation. In severe cases, just a small touch of the ear can become very painful. In Shih Tzus, it can be sometimes difficult to detect so you need to have the vet check their ears regularly.

Ear Infection

These ear infections are common problems in Shih Tzus and can occur in the outer, middle or inner ear area. Ear infections usually start with an inflammation of the outer ear canal, which is caused by bacteria or a fungus. However, ear infections in Shih Tzus can arise due to food allergies, parasites, external organisms, traumas, excess moisture in the ear or hereditary conditions. If you think your dog has an ear infection, take them to the veterinarian for treatment.

The following are some of the Shih Tzu ears infection symptoms that you must watch out for:

  • Shaking their head frequently
  • Too much scratching in the ear
  • Foul odour that comes from the ears
  • Swelling in the area of the ear and redness
  • Hearing loss
  • Scaly-like substances in the ears
  • Pain in your Shih Tzu’s part
  • Changes in behaviour, sometimes aggressiveness
  • Loss of balance

Otitis (Ear Inflammation)

If your Shih Tzu scratches their ears a lot, shakes their head vigorously, protests, cries or does not let you pat their head, it’s possible that they have otitis, an inflammation of the ear canal. Otitis usually appears between 3 and 7 years of age of a Shih Tzu.

There are obvious signs of otitis when the ear is infected, there’s a lot of wax oozing from the ear and it has a very strong odour. Try stroking your Shih Tzu’s forehead and watch their reaction, if they lean toward your hand to scratch you or show you their teeth or defends themselves roughly, it might be because they’re suffering from otitis which is painful and annoying to them.

This can alter their behaviour, they become somewhat aggressive and lose hearing. Check if they have wax or pus by gently rubbing their ear canal with a clean gauze.

What To Do

If you observe any of these otitis symptoms on your Shih Tzu, take them to the veterinarian immediately so the vet can perform an otoscopy on both ears, identify the cause of the problem, and give it the appropriate treatment that usually lasts 15-20 days.

It consists of a periodic external cleaning of the outer ear to remove foreign bodies and secretions combined with antibiotic drops inside the ear (massage the base of the ear after dropping the drops) to eliminate the agents that may have caused the infection : parasites such as the Otodectes Cynotis that affects the younger ones irritating the ear canal (blackish discharge) or aggravating factors such as bacteria (yellowish discharge), yeast (brown discharge) and fungi .

They can become chronic because they can obstruct the auditory canal or reach the middle ear and produce neurological disorders such as vestibular syndrome, which manifests in your Shih Tzu running in circles or loss of balance. To prevent this problem it is advisable to take good care of your Shih Tzu’s ears and hygiene by doing a weekly cleaning. You must also do extreme care during times of maximum heat and humidity such as spring and summer.

Breeds such as Shih Tzus are prone to ear infection. This is because they have excess hair and little ventilation in the ear canal so they have more moisture and their ears is more prone to the multiplication of bacteria. A trick to keeping the airway aerated is to pick up their ears with a rubber band on top when you are at home.


cleaning shih tzu ears

Regular Ear Cleaning

Regular ear cleaning should become a ritual for you and your Shih Tzu at an early stage to ensure their well-being. The touching and cleaning process also strengthens you and your dog’s bond.

The ears of your Shih Tzu are important sensory organs that are needed for a good health. Healthy ears ensure that your Shih Tzu hears all the exciting sounds and important commands from you.

Ear Check-up

Anyone who has a Shih Tzu must not only take their dog to the groomer but also to the ear care specialist. Grasses, husks, and thorns can often get caught in their hair.

These need to be removed immediately so that they don’t get into their ear canal and cause injury. If you cannot detect any mite infestation but smell a really bad odour coming from your Shih Tzu’s ears, you must see the vet immediately because it could be a deeper-seated inflammation. Often  the vet only needs to remove something from their ear canals using specific instruments.

Daily Ear Cleaning

For your Shih Tzu’s ears to be healthy, it’s not enough to just check and clean their ears once a week. You should do it daily so that their ears remain clean and healthy.


Before you start, make sure to gather all the materials that you need so you don’t need to stop in the middle of the cleaning process.

Things you will need:

  • Clean cotton balls,
  • Ear cleaner – liquid or cloths,
  • Ear powder,

When you’re bathing your Shih Tzu in the tub, make sure that no water gets into their ears. If one or both ears are infected or if the ear canal is affected by ear mites, the water can increase the secretions of dark lard and make the ears stinky.

Step 1 – Take a good look

The first thing to do is to examine the ear. Look for anything that does not seem normal, such as redness, small spots (that look like ground coffee), swelling, discharge in the ear.

Does it have a peculiar smell that does not seem normal? If you find one of these things, call your veterinarian, make an appointment to prevent your Shih Tzu’s ear infection. You could do more harm than good. If everything seems normal, go to step 2.

Step 2 – Hair removal

This is the difficult part of the cleaning process of the ear. After checking the ears, it might be necessary to remove excess hair from the ear canal. To do this gently stretch the ear, this will help the hair fall so you can see if any hair is long and may be falling into the ear.  so all the hair is covered. Next it’s just a case of trimming the hair shorter. 

The easiest way to do this is by pulling the hair gently with your fingers and cutting it. Of course, there will be places that you can not reach, so use tweezers to tease gently any long hair out. If you’re not comfortable doing this, just as your groomer to make sure the ears are regularly checked and trimmed.

Step 3 – Cleaning

If you are using ear cleaning wipes, gently wipe each ear with a clean piece. Do not use the same wipes for both ears. If the ears are very dirty, it might be necessary to use more than one cleaning wipe for each ear.

In case you are using a liquid ear cleaning, use as indicated on the bottle. Apply the specified amount of drops and then proceed with a small massage at the base of the ear. Your Shih Tzu will react and will probably shake their head, so be prepared. This is really good. The movement of the dog’s head will make it easier to loosen the dirt. After the massage, gently clean the ears with clean cotton balls.

Recommended Ear Products

If you’re looking for some ear products to use for your Shih Tzu’s ear care, here are some of our recommendations:


If you are someone who truly cares about your Shih Tzu’s health, then you might want to check for any ear issues that they might have. These might include the following:

Ear Mites

shih tzu ears

The first symptoms of infestation can be seen in the behaviour of your Shih Tzu. The usual comfort of your dog is disturbed by constant scratching combined with restlessness. The fact that your Shih Tzu shakes and scrapes on their ear means that your dog might be suffering from an ear mite infestation. They will try to remove the parasites from their ears from time to time. If you recognize the ear mites in time, you can prevent any complications.

Other signs of ear mite infestation in dogs

  • Hair loss
  • Encrustations in the ear canal and ear
  • Abrasions
  • Development of bacterial infections

With these symptoms, your Shih Tzu may be suffering from a parasite attack. This should be checked and treated by the vet.


shih tzu ear care

A Shih Tzu allergy can be caused by several external factors which causes hypersensitivity to your dog’s immune system. These factors are called clinical allergens and can be present on a daily basis. Things such as dust, pollen, mites, moulds, various chemicals and even food. Only a small amount can be enough to trigger your Shih Tzu’s allergic reactions.

Your Shih Tzu may have a reaction to some of the food they eat especially those of animal origin, this intolerance can activate their antibodies (their own bodies defence) which can  then produces histamines (substances that trigger allergies). But beware: do not confuse an allergy with food poisoning. Allergy includes the accumulation of substances that cause an allergic reaction, and this takes time, while food poisoning happens when you consume some food that releases toxins.

Allergies to parasites, mycoses, or bacteria are also becoming increasingly common. They are the most common among Shih Tzus and are usually caused by the bite of fleas, scabies and bacterial infection, causing problems in the skin and coat, in addition to uncontrollable itching. This can be any area on the body….it isn’t isolated to just their ears.


You can find multiple home remedies for otitis in Shih Tzus. When the inflammation is caused by an ear infection, you have at your disposal several natural alternatives, let’s see below what these homemade Shih Tzu ears infection medication are:

Tea tree essential oil

It is an ideal remedy for any type of infection. If the ear does not have any wounds, directly apply 2 or 3 drops every day. On the other hand, if the ear has wounds, mix the essential oil with almond oil. Add 20 drops of essential oil in a ½ glass of almond oil. Make sure to apply 5 drops of the mixture daily.

Application of hot compresses

Applying hot compress quickly decreases inflammation and pain, also, dilating the blood vessels improves the irrigation of tissues and promotes faster recovery. Soak a cotton towel with warm water, drain the excess water, and make a gentle pressure on the base of the ear of your Shih Tzu, apply these compresses a few times a day.

Maceration of garlic

Crush two cloves of garlic and put them in a jar with hermetically closed olive oil, then let it rest all night. Strain the mixture the next day and add 5 drops in the ear of your Shih Tzu, make sure to administer it daily. NOTE – it needs to go in the ear. Consuming garlic is dangerous for dogs.

Aloe vera

The pure juice of aloe vera is ideal to protect the ear canal of your Shih Tzu. When applied, it reduces relieves pain and reduce inflammation. Apply it directly in the ear of your Shih Tzu at least 2 times a day.

Home antiseptic solution

Mix in equal parts water, hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide), and apple cider vinegar. Get a cotton swab and soak it in this solution and proceed to clean the affected ears of your Shih Tzu.


Shih Tzu

Prevention is always better than cure and this is true about your Shih Tzu’s ear care. To avoid any ear infection and complications, make it a point to do the following:

  • Clean your Shih Tzu’s ears frequently but not so much because it can cause irritation
  • Make sure to always dry your Shih Tzu’s ears
  • Remove excess ear hair monthly / six weekly or at grooming visits 
  • Have the vet check your dog’s ear during any checks or visits


If you care about your Shih Tzu’s health, you should also care about their hygiene especially the ears. To properly clean the ear, use the proper products to gently clean each ear.

If you are using an ear cleaner for your Shih Tzu, make sure to only use the proper dosage for each ear and gently massage the base right after. Your Shih Tzu might shake their head and get some fluid on you so just be prepared. This will help them feel more relaxed.

There are also home remedies that you can use to lessen your Shih Tzu’s suffering but this should not be done for a long time. As soon as you know there’s something wrong with your dog’s ear, make it a point to take them to the vet immediately.

If you recognize your Shih Tzu’s ear infections earlier, you can also treat this early. Do not wait for the infection to cause bigger health problems.

Shih Tzu With An Ear Infection