Friday, May 21, 2010

Deaf Dogs Part 2

In doing some research on the issue of allowing deaf dogs to compete in AKC Rally, Obedience, and Agility, I found out that the breed club for Dalmations, the Dalmation Club of America, requires breeders to euthanize deaf puppies.

As with any breed of dog, there are a few things you should be aware of when choosing a Dalmatian as regards faults of health. One is congenital deafness. This occurs in Dalmatians at the rate of about 12%, although whole litters are often born with no deaf pups. However, ethical breeders have their litters tested for hearing impairment at a professional facility by a trained technician, when such facilities are available to them. Any puppies proven deaf are euthanized. The test, called a BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test, measures the hearing response of each ear on each puppy. The tester then provides a printout of each puppy's test, which is then given to you at the time of purchase. In this way, you know your puppy hears.

Do not adopt a completely deaf dog even if it is given to you, as you will be letting yourself in for a lot of work and probable heartbreak: work, because the dog cannot hear you, and for all but the most experienced handlers is rendered untrainable; probable heartbreak, because if the dog ever escapes from you, he cannot hear traffic. You can conclude the ending. The deaf dog leads a sadly neurotic life, as every hand on his fur or step on the floor startles him because he cannot hear. Most deaf dogs become so fearful and timid that they must be put to sleep anyway; it is better to do so right after the BAER test proves the dog deaf, before a family is attached to the dog. Should you somehow procure a deaf Dalmatian, the breeder is obliged, by any code of ethics, to replace the puppy with a hearing one or to refund your money and take the dog back. 

On the other hand, there are numerous people who have raised deaf dogs very successfully and argue strongly against this policy.  The deaf dogs can be spayed or nuetered so that's not a good reason to put them down. 

Rescue Story 


I was shocked to discover this DCA policy.  I don't have tons of experience with deaf dogs but the one I see in agility who runs regularly seems wonderful and has a great partnership with its owner.  What do you think?  



Kim said...

NADAC allows deaf dogs to play agility...and we have several that do AWESOME at it here in MT. AKC has to get off it's high horse. Maybe they will now that mixed breeds are allowed to play...

Jazzie Casas said...

Dogs who lose their hearing later in life, may become aggressive but it is only because of their confusion. Unlike humans, they do not understand what is happening to them and can lash out in fear when startled. Never come up behind a deaf dog who is sleeping. Even when he is awake, if he can't see you come up behind him, he may be momentarily startled and and act aggressively.

It is extremely important to learn how to communicate with, and train, your dog using hand signals. Whether you use American Sign Language, standard obedience signs, or signals of your own development, it is very important that you and other people who interact with your dog, are consistent with the signs that you use. Additionally, it is wise to use signs that require only one hand and can be easily detected by your dog from a distance away.

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