The most susceptible dog breeds to aural hemorhage, also called a “blood blister of the ears” or a painful condition that can require treatment, have been identified by vets.

If a blood vessel ruptures in the earflap, this can cause distressing symptoms for your dog. 

The condition affects one in 400 British dogs each year. However, it is usually easy to spot and diagnose. 

The symptoms include redness and swelling of the ears, redness in the face, and shaking and scratching at your ears. 

According to the results of a study led by Royal Veterinary College, breeds with folded ears (those that drop in a V-shape or have ears with semi erect ear carriage) have higher risk of developing it compared to breeds with erect ear carriages.  

The research found 14 breeds of dog that were particularly susceptible to aural hemorhage, which included Bull Terrier (Saint Bernard), Bull Terrier (French Bulldog), Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier) and English Bull Terrier.  

Breeds that are the least at risk, meanwhile, are Greyhound, Chihuahua and Miniature Dachshund and Pomeranian. 

According to the RVC, dog breeds with the highest risk of aural haematoma are Bull Terrier, Saint Bernard and French Bulldog. Those with lowest risk are Greyhound, Chihuahua and Miniature Dachshund

RVC says that Bull Terrier, Saint Bernard, and French Bulldog are dog breeds most likely to develop aural hemorhage. Those with lowest risk are Greyhound, Chihuahua and Miniature Dachshund


An aural hemomatoma (also known as the “blood blister” of the ear) is an area of blood in the ear which develops when the blood vessel within the earflap bursts. 

The symptoms include redness and swelling of the ears, redness in the face, and shaking and scratching at your ears. 

The condition is thought to be caused by blood vessels that burst when the dogs scratch or shake their ears too much.  

But Royal Veterinary College (RVC) claims it’s to do with repeated folding of the ear flap.

Sometimes, aural hemorhages can occur after an injury or knock on the ear. However, it is far less common according to People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. 

Source: PDSA/RVC

The research was led by the Veterinary Companion Animal Surveillance System (VetCompass) – RVC’s research project that aims to investigate the range and frequency of health problems in pets.  

According to the authors, ‘Based upon some previous evidence, this study hypothesized that pendulous-eared dogs had higher odds of developing aural haematoma than breeds with different types of ear carriage’.

‘However, the results did not support this hypothesis – breeds with pendulous [loosely-hanging]The odds of hearing loss in the ears were lower than those for other types. 

“Conversely, the greatest odds of an aural haematoma were found in breeds that have V-shaped drops ears or semi-erect ears.

It was previously thought aural haematoma resulted from blood vessels that burst when dogs shake their head or scratch their ear too hard, but the RVC team have proposed a new theory to explain the condition’s cause.  

Some people believe that repeated folding of the ear flap in certain types of ear carriages can lead to permanent damage or weakness. 

RVC states that eventually, this injury can cause a bleeding episode within the ear flap. 

Study by the college included a total population of 905,554 dogs receiving veterinary care at 887 UK veterinary clinics. 

Researchers identified 0.25 percentage (2.249 dogs) of affected dogs after going through their medical records for one year. 

An aural haematoma is a pocket full of blood that develops if a blood vessel bursts inside the earflap. Symptoms include a swollen and droopy earflap that develops very suddenly, redness, head shaking, ear scratching and holding the head to one side

If a blood vessel ruptures within the earflap, an aural hemomatoma develops. The symptoms include redness and swelling of the earflap, redness in the ears, and head shaking.

Crossbreeds were used as the baseline (the point of comparison) in order to work out the risk of getting the disease for each breed, although they were not at lowest risk.  

‘Crossbreds are the most common breed type – around 20 per cent of dogs – so statistically they are a reliable group to use as the baseline,’ study author Dr Dan O’Neill at RVC told MailOnline.

“There’s also the perception that crossbreds can be healthier than purebreds, so owners of pure breeds can compare these results with their crossbred. 

There were two types of ear carriage: ‘erect’, which was also called prick or upright e.g. German Shepherd) and’semierect’, also called cocked (or semi-pricked). Rough Collie, ‘V-shaped Drop’ (also called folded e.g. Hungarian Vizsla and ‘pendulous,’ also known as pendant or drop, e.g. Basset Hound 

All 14 breeds had a higher risk than crossbred dogs for ear haematoma. 

The German Shepherd, pictured, is a dog breed with erect ear carriage. Breeds with V-shaped drop ears had higher odds of aural haematoma compared with breeds with erect ear carriage, while breeds with pendulous ear carriage had reduced odds

The German Shepherd, pictured, is a dog breed with erect ear carriage. A breed with V-shaped drops ears was more likely to have an aural haematoma than one with erect, while a breed with pendulous or stubby ear carriage had a lower chance.

The Basset Hound, pictured here, is a breed with 'pendulous' ears - those that hang loosely. Dog breeds with pendulous ears had lower odds than the other types of ear carriage

Basset Hounds are characterized by ‘pendulous ears’, which can be described as those with loose, open ears. Dog breeds with pendulous ears had lower odds than the other types of ear carriage

Bull Terrier, Saint Bernard (x7.3), French Bulldog(x7.0), Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier (3×5.5), and English Bull Terrier (4×5.4) were the breeds at greatest risk. 

The risk of developing ear haematoma in twenty breeds was lower than crossbred dogs. 

Greyhound, Chihuahua (x0.1), Miniature Dachshund and Pomeranian were the breeds that had the highest risk. 


 Highest risk

1. Bull Terrier

2. Saint Bernard

3. French Bulldog

4. Irish Staffordshire Bull Terrier

5. English Bull Terrier

6. Golden Retriever

7. American Bulldog

8. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

9. Bedlington Terrier

10. British Bulldog

11. Boxer

12. Dogue de Bordeaux

13. Labrador Retriever

14. Weimaraner

15. Dalmatian

 Lowest risk

1. Greyhound

2. Chihuahua

3. Miniature Dachshund

4. Pomeranian

5. Lhasa Apso

6. Siberian Husky

7. Bichon Frise

8. Beagle

9. Border Terrier

10. Shih Tzu

11. Cockapoo

12. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

13. West Highland White Terrier

14. English Cocker Spaniel

15. Jack Russell Terrier

16. Pug 

17. Yorkshire Terrier

18. Rottweiler

19. Lurcher

20. Labradoodle

Comparing with breeds having erect ears carriage, V-shaped drop and semi-erect carriers had twice the chance of developing ear aural hemorhage. 

However, dogs with loose-hanging earrings had a risk of x0.6. Purebreds were no more at risk than crossbreed dogs. 

“Even though some breeds were more risky than others, there was a lot of breeds that were less risk,” Dr O’Neill stated.

“So, the bottom line is that the breed (and particularly the ear carriage) is what determines the risk and it’s not whether the dog is purebred of crossbred.

The Hungarian Vizsla (pictured here) is an example of a dog breed with a 'V-shaped drop' (also known as folded) ear cartilage

Hungarian Vizsla is an example of dog breeds with a “V-shaped” ear cartilage (also known to be folded). 

Rough Collie, pictured, has 'semi-erect' (also known as cocked or semi-pricked) ear cartilage

Rough Collie, pictured, has ‘semi-erect’ (also known as cocked or semi-pricked) ear cartilage

The researchers also identified other factors that increased the risk of the condition – age and body weight.    

Doggy owners with dogs that weigh more than 88lbs (30kg) were exposed to 8.5x the risks as those who had dogs that weighed less than 22lbs (10kg).

Dogs aged between 10 and 12 years had a higher risk than dogs younger than one year.  

RVC believes the study will aid owners in recognizing the problem faster and seeking appropriate care. 

Nature Scientific Reports has published the results of this study. 


One in 14 dogs in the UK  – 7.1 per cent – is now obese, a March 2021 study from Royal Veterinary College (RVC) revealed. 

Study of nearly 20,000 dogs found that golden retrievers, pugs and beagles had the highest obesity risk.  

RVC states that owners of such breeds should be “especially vigilant” to prevent their dog from gaining weight. This includes avoiding excess treats and getting plenty of exercise. 

Obese dogs can have shorter lives spans and lower quality of living. They also tend to be more likely to develop serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and breathing problems. 

The three breeds at highest risk of obesity are pug, beagle and golden retriever (top) while the lowest risk breeds are shih tzu, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier (bottom)

Pug, golden retriever, and beagle are the three most obese breeds (top), while shih tzu and German shepherd are the least likely to become obese (bottom).

There were eight top breeds that had a higher risk of being overweight than crossbred dogs: pug (3.12x more risk), Beagle (2.67x), Beagle (2.58), Beagle (2.67), Beagle (1.68), Labrador retriever (1.70), English springer spaniel (1.98), Labrador retriever (1.32) and cavalier King Charles spaniel (15.5). 

The bottom line – crossbreeds are more likely to be overweight than crossbreeds – was the shih-tzu (0.03 times) and the German shepherd dog (0.55). 

The largest crossbreed group was in the study, and they were used as the baseline.

There is currently no universally‐accepted definition of obesity in dogs, with the terms ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ often used interchangeably. 

This is different than humans. They are classified based upon their body mass (BMI) as being underweight, unhealthy, overweight, or obese.