Deafness in dogs is the complete or partial deficiency of hearing. If your dog is completely deaf, it is quite easy to pick up on, but not so easy to detect if he is only deaf in one ear.
Injuries to the ear canal, tears in the the ear drum or damage to the small bones inside the ear can lead to deafness. Also infections, a build up of wax, repeated exposure to loud noises and nerve damage due to old age can lead to hearing problems
Some dogs, especially white dogs, are born deaf. Normally, puppies will react to sounds by about 2 weeks old. Breeders should have noticed any hearing problems before a puppy is ready to go to it's new home.
Dog owners may not discover deafness until their dog stops responding to commands, familiar sounds, such as a knock at the door. Fortunately, most dogs adjust to being deaf by trusting on their other senses rather than their sense of hearing.
For a dog to be able to hear correctly, the cells and nerves that carry sound, and the parts of the brain that translate these messages must be intact and in working order.
Deafness in dogs can be caused by many things. Some are hereditary or simply a result of old age. Conductive hearing loss is caused by diseases that ruin the outer ear canal, tear the ear drum, or interfere with the operation of the very small bones in the middle ear. These include infections of the inner, middle or outer ear, cancer or other tumors, wax build up or other debris obstructing the ear canal.
Deafness can also be a result of decaying of the nerves that detect sound, particularly in older dogs. Deafness in older dogs generally develops gradually and seldom extends to a complete lack of hearing. Most older dogs with hearing problems can still hear high-pitched sounds, such as a whistle.
Deafness can also be congenital, in which case the dog will be born deaf. Inborn deafness is the result of some evolving fault in the cells, nerves or tissues responsible for conductivity and production of sound.
Some of the breeds typically affected include Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, Boxers, Border Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, English Setters and Rottweilers. Inherent deafness is normally seen in very young dogs and is often connected to incomplete pigmentation of the skin and hair. Dogs with predominantly white coats have an increased risk of congenital deafness.
The inheritance of deafness is linked to the genetic software that the dog's parents contribute to the litter. If the parents can hear but have overly-white heads for their breed, or if they are congenitally deaf from a inheritable condition, the chance of creating deaf puppies is increased.
Some drugs and toxins are known to be responsible for causing deafness in dogs, particularly when applied locally to an ear with a damaged drum.
White dogs should not be bred with one another, because the danger of deaf puppies is quite high. Ear infections should be addressed quickly and continuously until they are fully resolved. Avoid continuous loud noises in close proximity to your dog.
Inherited deafness is a complicated genetic condition that is very hard to eradicate from some breeds, even with careful breeding. The risks of inherited deafness are greatly increased if two deaf dogs are coupled. Even so, two dogs with entirely normal hearing can still produce deaf puppies. If you think that your dog has a hearing condition, confer with your veterinarian so that a correct course of action can be followed.
Dogs are empowered with the ability to easily trust on their other senses to compensate for one that they have either lost or never had. Dogs with total congenital deafness are born deaf and never feel the sensation of sound. They do not know that they are deaf or that they are any different from other dogs.
Dogs with developed deafness normally become deaf gradually. Most owners do not realise that their dog is losing it's hearing until it has lost most of its power to hear. They may notice that something about their dog seems different but they generally do not suspect hearing loss until it becomes quite obvious.
Things to Remember About Deaf Dogs:
Deaf dogs are no less healthy than most hearing dogs and do not suffer because they are deaf. They are not more likely to become aggressive than any other dog and should be socialized from puppyhood, just like hearing dogs.
They don't know that they are deaf and are not concerned that they are deaf. Deaf dogs can be trained just as easily as hearing dogs.
Because they are deaf, they may become startled if awakened suddenly, so be gentle.
Deafness in dogs should not prevent your pet from living a normal, happy life.
They can do any sorts of activities that hearing dogs can do. Deaf dogs do require special attention by owners but they should be able to lead as full a life as any dog with normal hearing capacities.
Deafness in dogs is not a life-threatening condition. However, it is worthwhile asking your vet whether there are any possible treatments to address any conditions that are contributing to your dog’s loss of hearing.