There are many reasons a dog may be born or become deaf during their lifetime. It could be a genetic defect. It could be from damage to their ears, either physical or from a disease. Other times, it’s merely because of old age. Unfortunately, some people look at deaf dogs as “lesser” or not as capable of loving or being loved. That is simply not true! Just because they can’t hear you say “I love you” doesn’t mean deaf dogs can’t feel or express that same love.
The last full week of September (starting now!) is dedicated to Deaf Dog Awareness Week, helping people understand deaf dogs better and learn how to have a happy and healthy life with them as beloved pets and family members.
First, a few facts. Deaf dogs are as intelligent and capable as hearing dogs. They are equally trainable as well, even if you must employ different techniques to do so.
Deafness is most common in the following breeds: Australian shepherds, Boston terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, German shepherds, Boxers, Jack Russell terriers, Malteses, toy and miniature poodles, and West Highland white terriers.
Deaf dogs (especially those deaf from birth) also tend to exhibit visual variations, such as albinism, lacking pigment in their skin, fur, eyes, or nose. This doesn’t mean all white dogs are deaf, though. There is just a genetic link between the cells that develop to create pigment and those that develop into “hearing cells.”
And lastly, don’t be surprised if a deaf dog barks! Just because they can’t hear other dogs barking or their own noises doesn’t take away their instinct to do so.
If you have a deaf dog, a primary precaution: don’t let them roam freely outside. Always ensure they are either within an enclosure, being watched by their caretaker, or on a leash or other controlling device. This keeps them from being in danger from threats they cannot hear, such as another attacking animal or oncoming car.
So this week, remember that deaf dogs are just as worthy of our love and companionship as any other canine. You can form the same bond and enjoy a long and happy life with them, whether they can hear your words of affection or not.
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