The purpose of this retrospective study was to compare outcome measures in dogs treated by a primary care veterinarian (pcDVM) before referral and after seeking collaboration with a board-certified veterinary dermatologist (BCVD) for cases of severe recurrent chronic otitis externa. Medical records of 65 client-owned dogs were retrospectively reviewed, and data were obtained regarding treatment history, referral timeframe, recurrence rate, clinical signs, and resolution of signs. The median number of otitis recurrences while under the care of the pcDVM was 4 (range 1–40) versus collaborative BCVD care of 2 (P < .01). There was a longer median time to otitis recurrence with collaborative care (171 days) compared with dogs managed by the pcDVM before referral (21 days; P > .01). Proliferative changes in the ear canals improved in 41/45 (91%) of cases under BCVD care compared with 6/45 (13%) under care by the pcDVM (P < .01). Dogs with chronic otitis had better long-term outcomes when collaboration with a BCVD was pursued within 6 mo of treatment. Referral or consultation with a BCVD should be considered for cases of chronic canine otitis that are persistent or quickly recurrent (20–30 days) over a 6 mo period.