This specialized layer of cells, and the cells that determine hair color, come from the same stem cell source. Without this stem cell, the dog's body won't be able to make this specialized layer of hearing cells and will likely be white in coloration. Dogs that carry the piebald gene are often affected by deafness.
Experts say the most common cause of congenital deafness in dogs is related to pigment (the color of the coat). Therefore, dogs with any kind of light colored or white pigmentation of the skin or coat can be a predisposed to deafness.
Hereditary deafness in many species and breeds is associated with loci for white pigmentation, where the cochlear pathology is cochleo-saccular. In other cases, there is no pigmentation association and the cochlear pathology is neuroepithelial.
Congenital deafness has been reported for more than 100 dog breeds, with the list growing at a regular rate (see list); it can potentially appear in any breed but especially in those with white pigmentation of skin and hair.
As your dog loses his hearing, you might find him “ignoring” your cues, such as not sitting when asked or failing to come when you call him. Or he may seem confused by his surroundings or by your requests.
Some otherwise deaf dogs can hear certain frequencies such as a shrill dog whistle. If your dog is lucky enough to have this degree of hearing make sure you use this whistle and reward his response. You never know when it will come in handy. Lastly is the issue of identification.
What are the causes of deafness in dogs? Deafness may be caused by a number of factors, including congenital defects, chronic ear infections, head injuries, drug toxicity, degenerative nerve changes, old age or disease, such as a tumor or ruptured ear drum.
Merle and white coat colors are associated with deafness at birth in dogs and other animals. Dog breeds commonly affected include the Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Australian Heeler, Catahoula, English Cocker Spaniel, Parson Russell Terrier, and Boston Terrier.
Breeds more prone to deafness include Dalmatians, Cattle Dogs, English Setters, Australian Shepherds, Collies, and other breeds with a merle (marble) fur pattern. Other dogs may lose their hearing from old age, injuries, or even chronic ear infections.
Caring for a deaf dog is not difficult, but you will need to make some adjustments in your life and your household. You may also need to adjust what you expect from your dog as he may not behave the same as a hearing dog would.
Puppies may be born deaf when the nerves of the ear fail to properly form. Congenital deafness is often associated with merle or piebald coat patterns. Commonly affected breeds include the Dalmatian, Australian Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, and Bull Terrier.
In the American pit bull terrier and the American Staffordshire terrier, the piebald gene is responsible for this increased risk of deafness associated with white coat coloration. The rate of congenital deafness in white bull terriers is 20%.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that hearing loss does not have to hinder your pup's quality of life. As Webb puts it: "Deaf dogs can live happy, healthy, long lives and make great companions.
Deaf dogs are just as capable and intelligent as dogs that can hear. They just need a little extra time and patience. You will have to learn and teach your fur-baby the different hand signals. And just like humans that are deaf, their other senses are more sensitive.
With a deaf dog, the owner must be willing to get up off of the sofa, go over to the dog, get the dog's attention, give a hand signal command for “no,” and redirect the dog to the proper behavior (in this instance, playing with a dog toy instead). This is where consistency becomes important.
They are Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and the mixed breed Cockapoos. These breeds all have the traits needed to become perfect hearing dogs.
It is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of dogs in the United States suffer from deafness, either in one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral). But most dogs with hearing issues cope well with their disability, are very trainable, and can even go on to compete in dog sports.
Owners and trainers “speak” to dogs, teaching them to comprehend intent and meaning. With a deaf dog, the verbal avenue is not an option. Communication needs to focus on the visual sense instead. What is most important is to be careful and deliberate with hand, face, and body movements.
Some deaf dogs sleep longer and more deeply than hearing dogs; so it's paramount to wake your dog gently (especially new puppies).
In a perfect world, a deaf dog should have a happy, healthy, and stress-free life. But what if your deaf dog has anxiety, and how do you deal with it? Dogs can have anxiety just like people and deaf dogs may be more anxious than most, especially if their hearing loss is new.
Home tests for deafness
Clapping your hands is a great way to detect deafness in your dog, but it's best to do it whilst standing further away. Because dogs rely on air movement and vibrations to detect any sounds around them, they may be able to pick up on air movement and in turn, respond to your clapping.
Helpful Tips. Deaf dogs may bark a little louder than other dogs, since they cannot hear themselves. They just bark the only way they know how, which is sometimes loud. Try to ignore the barking or use distraction techniques and reward your dog after a period of silence.
There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on the individual dog's personality. However, some people believe that deaf dogs may be more clingy because they cannot hear their owners' voices and may feel isolated.