I'll start with.... I'm not a veterinarian. I am a dog groomer. I have only worked for vets and see dog ears every day. SO... My opinion is only that.
Clean and dry are the keys to healthy ears. They are deep, dark holes filled with moisture and bacteria. If we leave their ears packed full of hair and dirt with no breathing room, you'll most likely be treating an ear infection soon.
For general ear cleaning, I use a cleaning/drying agent. They tend to be less oily and don't leave a residue on the dog's hair.
IF YOUR DOG HAS CHRONIC EAR INFECTIONS THERE IS AN UNDERLYING CAUSE.
Allergies, thyroid issues, adrenal diseases, weakened immune systems and mites are all reasons your pet could have chronic ear infections. What does your dog eat? What is the pollen count? Has your pet had annual bloodwork done to check their adrenal levels?
Here is a very informative blog about ear infections and preventing them.
Does the breed of dog determine whether a dog has ear issues? Not necessarily... but most of the common breeds that have chronic ear problems also have allergies, skin problems, thyroid issues etc... So yes, ear infections can be genetic and per breed, but it's usually packaged together with other forms of irritants.
To pluck or not to pluck?
Well, well, well, if this isn't my favorite debatable question. Dogs that have hair instead of fur, grow hair in the ear canal. Now... some may say, "Leave it, it protects the ear canal from dirt and bacteria and if you pull it, you can open pores and cause an ear infection that wasn't there prior."
Others, including myself, say, "Pluck it!!" You don't have to pluck it clean enough to eat out of but opening the ear canal and allowing it to breathe, in my opinion, allows for less bacteria and moisture to be trapped under all that hair.
Should a vet do it? Or your groomer?
This is my second favorite question! I think, as long as there is no existing infection, your groomer can easily maintain plucking the ear hair. HOWEVER. If there is an infection, a veterinarian should see it before I clean it all out. WHY? Because the type of infection determines the antibiotic they need and if I clean the infection how will they determine what type to give the dog?
If your veterinarian tells you the dog has an ear infection... and they don't pluck the ear hair... How is the medication going to penetrate through the hair into the canal? Don't be afraid to question your veterinarian. I've seen dogs come back from the vet, ear still full of hair and medication all over the side of the dog's face and still with an infected ear. Don't worry, vet... the groomer will take care of poor poodle... because we love him more than you (haha).
Ears. There you have it folks.