Deaf Special Needs Dogs

Deaf special needs dogs can lead perfectly happy normal lives with an owner who simply will give them a chance. You won't be sorry. You'll just need a little extra patience and flexibility, but think of the difference you can make. Adopt or foster a deaf dog, and experience the joy of a special needs dog.

Dogs may be born deaf or their deafness may be acquired. Dogs may be unilaterally deaf (deaf in one ear) or bilaterally deaf (deaf in both ears).

What Causes Sudden Onset Deafness?

  • Otitis: An infection of the middle or inner ear can produce transient or permanent deafness. After the infection material in the ear that blocks sound transmission. It may take several weeks, but the body will eventually clear this out and the hearing will gradually improve. It can lead to permanent deafness if not quickly treated.
  • Presbycusis: An age-related hearing loss which is progressive with time and cannot be prevented or reversed.
  • Noise trauma: Depending on the loudness, it can produce temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • General anesthesia: In rare cases animals awaken from anesthesia deaf in both ears.
  • Drug toxicity (ototoxicity): Hearing loss due to use of some antibiotics which may have been the only choice of treatment for a life-threatening infection.
  • Congenital Deafness,(inherited from birth): The dog is born deaf for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, pure white dogs are more prone to deafness, with Dalmatians and Boxers more prone to deafness than other breeds.

You may wonder whether hearing aids are a viable option for deaf dogs. Since all aids merely amplify sound and most congenital deafness in dogs means total deafness, amplification does not help. Not to mention that small objects placed in a dog's ear would most likely be bothersome, and the expense is prohibitive.

Common questions about living with a deaf dog:

  • Do deaf dogs startle easily?
  • Just as a hearing dog may be startled by unexpected noise or movement, so may a deaf dog. They may or may not be startled if you touch them when they're not looking. Using common sense and placing yourself in front of the dog before touching her may be a better way to approach a deaf dog. It depends on your dog's personality how much they are startled. A hearing dog may be just as startled if woken suddenly, and a deaf dog won't react any more aggressively.

  • Can a deaf dog be raised with children?
  • That depends on the dog and your children. The fact that your dog is deaf isn't as big contributing factor as all the other factors that need to be considered, such as the dog's temperament, size, and personality.

  • Are deaf dogs more likely to get hit by a car?
  • No dog, hearing or deaf, should be off a leash where she may be hit by a car. A hearing dog is just as likely to chase after another dog or small animal if she's off leash, so it's imperative that they are on a leash around cars. This is no different than a deaf dog.

  • Is it difficult to train a deaf dog?
  • Rather than using voice commands as you would with a hearing dog, a deaf dog will have to learn visual clues. It is up to you to learn how to train him, just as you would need to learn how to train a hearing dog. Dogs place a higher value on our body language than the words we speak. They read our moods and react accordingly. Both deaf and hearing dogs do this.

You may find yourself unexpectedly raising a deaf special needs dog, having either adopted a dog who cannot hear or having a dog that loses his hearing. Be confident that you can raise, train, and properly care for a deaf special needs dog. Deafness should not be a deterrent in your decision to adopt a dog. Without people like who are willing to learn to live with a deaf dog, these special needs dogs may never find a home.

Deaf dogs aren't much different than hearing dogs. Choosing to adopt deaf special needs dogs should be done just as you would a hearing dog, by looking at his breed characteristics, his size, whether you have children, and all the other factors involved in choosing the right dog.

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