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Hereditary Deafness in Dogs
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM
Fetal Development
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DalmationsInherited deafness has been reported in several dog breeds. Dalmatians are the most commonly noted; however, English Setters, Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Australian Shepherds among others have been reported with inherited deafness. The deafness tends to be linked with the white, merle, or piebald coat colors.

What are the symptoms?

Most affected dogs are born with some hearing capabilities, but deafness becomes apparent within a few months. The deafness is due to a degeneration of the nerves within the ear.

What are the risks?

Dogs with inherited deafness do not all become deaf to the same degree. Some dogs have only a partial hearing loss, in fact, it may not be noticeable to the owner. Others have severe hearing loss. They can be more prone to injuries, since they may not hear commands or objects coming towards them.

What is the management?

There is no treatment for inherited deafness. Fortunately, most dogs cope very well with a hearing disability. Individuals can be taught hand signals, and the use of lights can be used to signal dogs as well. The book, Deaf Dog: A Book of Advice, Facts and Experiences about Canine Deafness by Susan Cope Becker may provide the owner of a deaf dog with valuable information. Because this is inherited, affected individuals should not be used in any breeding program.

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