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Canine Deafness: The How and Why

Canine Deafness: The How and Why

Table of Contents


word image 1003 1 canine deafness

Gem Was Born Deaf but Canoed, Hiked and Camped throughout Canada with Ruff and Steve

Dogs are born deaf or can become deaf over time or due to an injury.

Learn more about why deafness happens and the symptoms to look for.  Canine deafness, the how and why.

word image 1003 2 canine deafness

Is your dog not responding (or stopped responding) to normal sounds at normal volumes? They may be facing hearing loss (even though some “deaf” dogs can still hear very low or very high-pitched sounds). How do you know if your dog may have a hearing problem? See the symptoms below.

Canine Deafness: Symptoms

If you see any of these symptoms with your dog, see your vet immediately to rule out hearing problems!

  • Changes/inattentiveness with obedience
  • Repetitive head shaking or tilting to one side
  • Confusion or unable to follow familiar vocal commands
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Painful or smelly ears
  • Problems with balance

Learn about the common causes behind K9 deafness below.

Canine Deafness: Causes

  1. Genetic or Congenital Deafness

Irreversible congenital deafness stems from two genes, the piebald or merle gene. According to the Pet Health Network, 90 different canine breeds carry the gene for congenital deafness.

  • word image 1003 3 canine deafness Dogs with the “piebald gene” have a white coat (but not all white dogs are deaf). They are often deaf due to the absence of cells called melanocytes (responsible for pigment or color). Also, without this stem cell source, their body is not able to make the special layer of cells in the inner ear required for the dog to hear. These dogs often have “blue” eyes (not a true eye color, it comes from a lack of color-producing pigment in the affected dog’s iris).
  • Congenital deafness is also linked to the “merle gene.” This gene creates a merle – or dappled – coat and often blue eyes.
  1. Infections, Inflammation & Injuries word image 1003 4 canine deafness
  • Long-term allergies, infections and inflammation of the ear canal may also lead to hearing loss. Always work with your veterinarian to quickly treat any hearing issues before they become irreversible.
  • Keep ears free of dirt, wax, ear mites, allergens and other foreign bodies that could lead to hearing loss (conductive deafness) or permanent hearing loss.
  • Very loud noises can also cause temporary or permanent K9 hearing loss.
  • Blunt trauma to a dog’s head may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss from blood in the inner ear.
  • Also, some drugs (including some treating ear infections or inflammation) may cause ototoxicity (drug or chemical damage in the inner ear) leading to deafness.

Learn which K9 ear drops may inadvertently cause

K9 deafness at Dog Discoveries

  1. word image 1003 5 canine deafnessAging

Hearing loss due to the aging process can happen gradually but also suddenly. Older dogs may be challenged by a form of “acquired hearing loss” called presbycusis. This irreversible form of hearing loss affects the receptors in the cochlea and deteriorates their ability to transmit sound to the senior dog’s brain.

Is Your Dog Deaf?

Deafness in dogs can be diagnosed with a BAER test on dogs older than 6 weeks. (The same test is used to check the hearing of human infants.)

13-year old Bella is not letting her deafness slow her down!

The Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response test painlessly measures electrical activity within the brain in response to sound stimulation. If a dog is deaf, the BAER response is flat or reduced in scale. The test usually lasts 10-15 minutes and tests each ear individually and determine if a dog is deaf in one ear (unilateral deafness) or both ears (bilateral deafness).

word image 1003 6 canine deafness

Check out the award-winning Deaf Dog Education Action Fund for support if you have – or are thinking about adopting – a deaf dog.

Regardless of the cause behind a dog’s deafness, they still make incredible

4-legged best friends! Just because they are deaf, they are

not damaged!

Watch for our next blog for training tips for working with a deaf dog.

East Valley K9 Services works with both deaf dogs and deaf humans with dogs!

How can we help you?

Just email or call us at 480-382-0144.

East Valley K9 Services has got all your dog training, doggy daycare and dog boarding.

Serving Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and East Valley areas of Arizona!

Additional Reading:

FetchFind: Are All White Dogs Deaf?

Pet Health Network: What You Need to Know About Deaf Dogs

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund

The Bark: Challenges and Rewards of Living with a Deaf Dog

PetMD: 6 Causes of Deafness in Dogs

Image Credits (Shown in Order of Appearance):

Gem was born deaf. She explored the great Canadian Outdoors with her owner, Steve, and her K9 sidekick, Ruff until her death at the age of 13

Htuuli from Pixabay 

Zayda C from Pixabay 

Sergio Souza from Pexels

13-year old Bella is deaf due to aging. She is owned by Kim Reed of Patriotic Pet Care, Washington DC

Courtesy: East Valley K9 Services



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