While scratching your pooch's ears, you might have noticed a little slit at the outer base of each ear.
This curious little flap on the outer ear is called a Henry's pocket or, in scientific speak, a cutaneous marginal pouch.
Nearly all domestic cat ears have this little pocket, but not all dogs do. If they do, it's located at the outer base of the external ear.
So what purpose does the Henry's pocket serve in the ear anatomy? Science hasn't quite figured out exactly what it's for, but the following are some educated guesses:
- Aids in the detection of high-pitched sounds by accentuating lower pitches.
- Serves as a barrier or corral for sound waves - when dogs tilt or angle their ears, they're allowing the pouch to function in this manner.
- Makes it easier for dogs to fold or flatten their ears, sort of like an accordion pocket in luggage.
As is the case with other types of ear flaps and skin folds, the Henry's pocket creates a dark, moist, bacteria, and parasite-friendly environment. Keep an eye on it in order to ensure that it stays clean to avoid ear infections or other ear problems, and don't fret if you see your vet taking a peek in there. Ear cleanings are imperative, especially for dogs with floppy ears like Coonhounds or Cocker Spaniels. Use an ear cleaner or ear wash and cotton ball or wipes, and get rid of all the gunk that collects in the outer edges of the dog's ear.
Healthy ears make for happy dogs!
Does your dog have the Henry's pocket anatomical feature? Show and tell us in the comments section!
This article was originally published November 3, 2017.