causes for hearing problems or deafness in dogs are similar to the cause
for human hearing problems. Some dogs have a congenital defect that causes
deafness. This is more common for white or pigmentless dogs, though possible
in any dog. Some dog’s hearing diminishes with age, and sometimes hearing
is damaged by loud noises or a bad reaction to medicines or anesthesia. Excellent
hearing is so strongly associated with dogs that many have misunderstandings
about canine hearing problems. Dogs born deaf often adapt wonderfully. As
with people, if one sense is diminished often others become more acute. These
dogs are likely to develop a strong sense of vibrations and changes in light.
There are many misperceptions of the attitude of deaf dogs. When trying to
figure out the personality and demeanor of a puppy researching its breed
and background is likely to give you more clues than judging the dog on its
ability to hear. There are some special considerations for deaf dogs. Training
needs to be done with hand signals instead of verbal commands, and it is
even more important with a deaf dog to keep them either on a leash or in
a contained area for safety. However, these aren’t dramatic adaptations
and deaf dogs can make wonderful pets. One of the most common misconceptions
about deaf dogs is that they are aggressive. Some think because a deaf dog
may become startled it will be angry and lash out. Particularly for dogs
that are born deaf this is a distortion. A deaf dog is just as likely to
be aggressive or mild mannered as any other dog. Also, they won’t necessarily
One place this misconception may come from is some may have experienced
this with older dogs that are starting to lose their hearing. This is
a different situation. Older dogs may snap when startled or awakened suddenly.
This is not always strictly hearing related. First, these dogs are adjusting
to the loss of hearing; therefore this is a new unexpected experience.
Also, older dogs may be experiencing other problems besides hearing loss.
Again, similar to humans, older dogs may be encountering memory problems
that make them disoriented creating a scary situation. If you consider
the wide range of ways older people deal with hearing loss and other age
related difficulties, it’s easier to understand a dogs reaction to
hearing loss can vary greatly. With dogs whose hearing is diminishing it
is important to have patience and be comforting. There will be a period
of adjustment and be careful not to awaken a dog suddenly, or make contact
with them unexpectedly. Most dogs will adjust, but need some time and consideration.