Deafness is something that affects many humans and can have a real impact on quality of life, particularly if the person was not born deaf. Similarly, animals can also experience deafness – sometimes this can be on a temporary basis while other times it can be from birth.
Dogs can be born deaf if they have total congenital deafness. Of course, they will never know that they are not the same as other dogs with full hearing because they will never have experienced this. When puppies are born, it takes around ten days for them to start responding to sound. However, with puppies that are born deaf, there will be no sound for them to respond to.
Signs of Congenital Deafness
There are various signs that your dog may have been born deaf. As a puppy, response to sound should begin at around ten days following the birth. If there is no response to sound, then this could be a sign of congenital deafness. If you are getting your dog from a breeder as a puppy, this is something that the breeder should quickly recognize. You may also find that puppies that are born deaf tend to be rougher and more aggressive with the other puppies in the litter.
An obvious sign is that there will be no response to any sort of sound, whether it is your voice, squeaking from a toy, hand clapping, or any other sound. Sometimes, they can also sleep for longer than their siblings and may be less active. You may find that there are difficulties in waking the puppy up.
When he is awake, a puppy born with deafness may bark more than usual and may be more sensitive to touch. In some cases, the sound that comes from your dog when he barks may also be different as a result of the congenital deafness. These are some of the main signs that your dog may be born deaf.
When it comes to looking out for signs that your dog may be suffering from deafness from birth, there are a number of body language signs to look out for. You may find that he spends a lot of time being apathetic or sleeping. He may also appear startled if you wake him up from his sleep despite having been sleeping a long time.
Your dog may also be jumpy if he is touched by you, but he cannot actually see you, and he may snap or growl when taken by surprise. This is because his deafness means that he cannot hear you or detect your presence, which means that any touch that is not within his field of vision will startle him. Another thing he may do is stare blankly ahead when you are talking to him from an area where he cannot see you.
You can look out for a range of other signs that can indicate that your dog has congenital deafness. If you call his name he won’t respond and if you make any other noises such as clapping, toys, or even if the doorbell rings, there will be no response. If you stand behind the dog and snap your fingers, you may also get no response.
The History of Deaf Dogs
Over the years, research has been carried out into congenital canine deafness and this has helped experts to discover that there are certain dog breeds that are more prone to this type of deafness at birth. It has also been discovered that dogs that are born deaf will make the most of their other senses in the same way that many humans do.
Dalmatians are amongst the breeds that are prone to this sort of deafness, with figures showing that nearly 25 percent are born deaf in one ear and close to ten percent are completely deaf when they are born.
Some research carried out in the past has shown that the majority of dogs with congenital deafness also have skin that is pigmented. In fact, this link between deafness and skin pigmentation was discovered many years ago, as there are reports that date back over a century. In addition to researching deafness over the years, experts have also come up with various solutions that could help owners to communicate more effectively with their deaf canine. This includes collars that vibrate to make communication between owner and dog easier.
The Science of Deafness in Dogs
When it comes to deafness in dogs, it can be classed as acquired deafness or congenital. As the name suggests, the former is where the dog is born with hearing but goes deaf over a period of time for one of a range of reasons.
With the latter, the dog is actually born deaf due to their genes. There are tests that can be carried out in order to determine a dog’s hearing ability, most notably the BAER test. This is able to determine whether the dog’s hearing is normal, impaired, or whether the dog is deaf.
Learning to Live and Communicate with Your Dog
Very often, canine deafness is seen is a total barrier to communications between dog owner and pet. However, there are ways in which you and your dog can learn to communicate with one another effectively. Of course, you always have to keep in mind that your dog will not be able to hear you, so if you have multiple dogs, there is little point shouting out and hoping that all of the dogs will respond. Your deaf dog may simply come as a result of following the others but will not have heard you.
Learning to live with a deaf dog can be a challenge, but one that can be overcome with the right training. Because your dog cannot hear you, you need to ensure that communication and stimuli focus on the other senses, which your pet will learn to rely more heavily on. Use the power of touch and make sure that he can see you when you are communicating with him. You can use touch and hand signals to help you communicate with your pooch, just as you would with a human being with deafness.
Another thing to remember is that dogs are very adept at reading facial expressions, so this is something else that you can use as part of the training between the two of you. You can still speak while you are using the sign language, as this will make it easier for you to have the right expression so that your dog can link this to the hand signals that you are using.
Just as you would with other dogs, make sure you give your pet plenty of attention and treats when he does well with his training, as this is something else that he will come to associate with his response to your hand signals and expressions.
By a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton
Published: 02/16/2018, edited: 04/06/2020