All About Dog Deafness

Dogs’ character and behavior are often misjudged by people, especially when a particular dog exhibits aggressiveness and other signs like biting and barking at the wrong time and at the wrong place. Humans even react negatively to dogs that can hardly be trained or even trusted, but what if the dog that they are judging is suffering from something that is beyond human understanding? What if that misbehaving dog is actually deaf and what’s even worse is that he or his owner is not even aware of his situation? If a dog is misbehaving badly, there is a likely chance that that particular dog may be suffering from canine deafness.

Deafness in dogs is, more or less, the same as human deafness. These ailments can be caused by various factors, like ear infection, injury or trauma from accidents, drugs, noises, and even faulty genes. Among all these factors, the most baffling of all is the last one – the faulty genes. As a matter of fact, many experts believe that in various cases of congenital canine deafness, most of the animals exhibit pigmented skin. This also means that puppies with pigmented skin have evidently inherited the recessive bad genes and that they would most likely lose their sense of hearing in their later years. Dog breeds like Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, Poodles and Collies are just few of the many dog breeds that are prone to congenital canine deafness.

While it is true that many dog owners are not aware of their dogs’ auditory ailments, various efforts have been made by experts to better confront this problem by introducing new technology that could at least help them detect this ailment. The most trusted test that could determine deafness among animals is known as the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response or the BAER Test. It is supposed to detect activity in the auditory pathways of the animals’ brains. Once normal activity is detected by the BAER equipment, it means that the dog’s hearing is perfectly normal. Otherwise, the result suggests deafness or impaired hearing. On the other hand, some dog owners resort to vibrating collars in an attempt to communicate with their pets. They use these collars to easily grab the attention of the dogs, but these collars alone could not hurt the dogs. These collars serve as useful tools in communicating with a deaf dog.

Although it is true that canine auditory ailments can be considered as communication barriers, it is still very crucial for a dog owner to at least understand the situation the dog is in. Making an effort to communicate with his/her dog, possibly by using a vibrating collar, would definitely make life easier for them both. Deaf dogs are not entirely incapable of doing anything. They can still see and feel. So, communication with deaf dogs can be best done by showing them gestures and touching them.

For more information on dog deafness, please consult the following links:

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund – Provides an overview on canine deafness and on why it is often associated with the pigmented skin of dogs.

Animal Health Trust: Deafness – Presents a detailed overview on how to determine if a dog is deaf, and why many experts and dog owners trust the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Tests.

Dog Breeds With Reported Congenital Deafness - Shows a table of dog breeds that are most affected by congenital deafness. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Deafness – Offers easy-to-read explanations on the signs that indicate hearing loss among dogs, and a short discussion on treatment and prevention of canine hearing loss.

Dalmatian Club of America: Position on Dalmatian Deafness – Discusses why congenital deafness is very common among Dalmatians and provides some tips on how to deal with deaf Dalmatians.

American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation: Deafness – Talks mainly about congenital and acquired deafness among dogs, its symptoms, and possible treatments.

Piebald or Extreme Piebald Gene – Deafness – Provides technical discussions on the Piebald gene, which is deemed to be the main cause of congenital deafness in most dogs.

Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline, Inc.: Breaking the Sound Barrier– Discusses on how to communicate with deaf dogs and how to train them.

Best Friends Animal Society: What Did You Say? Your Deaf Dog or Cat– Provides a very short overview on animal deafness.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals: Genetics and Inheritance of Canine Deafness – Presents technical discussions mainly on the genetic make-up of dogs, and some graphs and diagrams illustrating Mendelian genetics so as to show the possible reappearance of the regressive gene in a particular deaf dog’s family tree.