All You Need To Know About The Dog Ear Anatomy
Published: May 24, 2022
Updated: January 12, 2023
Summary: In this blog, learn all about your dog’s ears! We’ll go over the dog ear anatomy and what you need to know about dog ears as a pet owner…
Did you know that the average dog can hear around x4 better than a human, including sounds at incredibly high frequencies that human ears can’t pick up!? Your dog’s ears are kind of amazing, and far more sensitive and accurate than ours!
Dog ears - and human ears alike - are an organ that enables hearing and also contributes enormously to the ability to balance. Your dog’s ear is made up of three parts; inner, middle, and outer…
Dog Ear Anatomy
Inner Ear; the most complex and arguably important part of the ear. This area consists of the cochlea (which is directly responsible for hearing), and the vestibular system (which is directly responsible for balance).
Middle Ear; this area is made up of the eardrum, three tiny bones that are contained in a small, air-filled chamber called the hammer, stirrup, and anvil (collectively known as the ossicles), the oval window, and the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube connects the back of the nose with the middle of the ear, allowing air to flow through.
Outer Ear; this is the part of the ear that we can primarily see on our pups and they come in all shapes and sizes depending on a dog’s breed. The outer ear is called the pinna (or ear flap!), is made of cartilage, and is covered with our dog’s skin and fur. Its shape is designed to effectively capture sound waves and make sure they pass through the ear canal and the eardrum. The dog ear canal is much deeper than in human ears, and they have an outer, vertical canal followed by a horizontal canal too. Unlike people, canine pinnae can move independently of each other and freely. More than a dozen separate muscles contribute to the movement of a canine’s ear, and the entire area is dense with nerves and blood vessels.
As mentioned, the shape of a dog’s ear varies from breed to breed. For example, German Shepherds typically have erect and active outer ears, whereas a Cocker Spaniel’s ears are typically long and dropping.
Ears’ discomforts are fairly common in doggos. Because of this, your vet will examine a dog’s ears at every routine checkup and check for infection, mites, and/or foreign bodies.
Foul-smelling ears can be an indicator of further ear issues. If you notice your dog's ears are starting to smell bad, contact your vet to get your pup looked over.
Being on top of your dog’s hygiene, including cleaning their ears regularly will reduce the likelihood of them developing issues.
Author Moriello, Karen A. DVM DACVD “Ear Structure & Function Of Dogs” MSD Manual: Veterinarian Manual, Oct 2020 https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/ear-disorders-of-dogs/ear-structure-and-function-in-dogs
Author Kidd, Randy “Structure Of The Canine Ear” Whole Dog Journal, Apr 22. 2019 https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/structure-of-the-canine-ear/
"Let's Hear It For Dog Ears!" Coronado Veterinary Hospital, Feb 05. 2019 https://nadovet.com/blog/103982-lets-hear-it-for-dog-ears