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What Breeds Of Dogs Are Prone To Deafness?

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Nobody wants their dog to lose their hearing, but it is a possibility that is important to be aware of, especially if you have certain dog breeds. This is because there are some breeds of dogs that are more likely to become deaf.

Thankfully, there are some signs of deafness that you can look out for, so you can be aware of when this happens. There are also some general things to consider when looking for the right dog breed.

Dalmatian dog

In this article, we will look at the dog breeds that are prone to deafness, meaning those that are more likely than other breeds to become deaf. We are also going to tell you what signs to look out for, as well as how to get an accurate diagnosis.

Deafness In Dogs

Deafness refers to temporary, partial, or total loss of hearing in either one or both ears. Deafness in dogs is something that can be hereditary or as a result of a birth defect, trauma, blocked ear canal, or simply old age. Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to deafness, and white or merle-coated dogs are also more likely to become deaf.

Congenital and geriatric deafness and deafness due to trauma are often permanent, which means that they cannot be treated. Acquired deafness can often be temporary and treatable due to an infection or blocked ear canal.

A veterinarian will be able to examine your dog’s ear canal for things like wax accumulation, infections, inflammation, injury, a ruptured eardrum, polyp, or foreign object to find out the cause.

The English Cocker Spaniel is 3 times more likely to be deaf in both ears than a multi-colored dog of the same breed. Dalmatians are born deaf in both ears around 22% of the time, and the Australian Cattle Dog is born deaf around 11% of the time.

Jack Russel Terriers are deaf at birth around 8% of the time, and while some at-risk breeds will only have deafness in one ear, deafness in both ears is far more common.

What Are Breeds Of Dogs Prone To Deafness?

More than 30 breeds of dogs are known to be at a higher risk of deafness, including the Australian Shepherd, Boston Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese, toy and miniature Poodle, and the West Highland White Terrier.

Although it is typically more common in senior dogs. The following breeds are highly associated with congenital deafness:



Bull Terrier

Bull terrier

English Setter

English setter

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack russell terrier

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian cattle dog

English Cocker Spaniel

English cocker spaniel

Signs That Your Dog Is Deaf

If you have any of the above dog breeds or any other dog that is more likely to become deaf, then it is important to be aware of the signs that could indicate that they have lost their hearing. Some of the signs that your dog is deaf include being:

  • Unresponsive to everyday sounds
  • Unresponsive to its name
  • Unresponsive to the sounds of squeaky toys
  • Not waking up to loud noises

What Causes Deafness In Dogs?

There are quite a few causes of deafness, and we are going to explain them below to help you better understand them.

  • Conduction – This is when sound waves do not reach the nerves in the ear, and it can be due to inflammation of the outer ear and other external ear canal diseases, as well as narrowing of the ear canal, the presence of tumors, or a ruptured eardrum.
  • Nerve – Degenerative nerve changes in elderly dogs can lead to deafness.
  • Inflammatory and Infectious Diseases – Inflammation in the inner ear can cause alterations in hearing but not complete deafness.

Some of the other things that can cause deafness are:

  • Inflammation of the middle ear
  • Tumors or cancer involving the nerves used for hearing
  • Trauma
  • Toxins and Drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • Antiseptics
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Medications to remove excess fluid from the body
  • Heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, or mercury
  • Products that are used to break down waxy material in the ear canal

Some of the most common risk factors for deafness include long-term chronic inflammation of the outer, middle, or inner ear, certain genes, or white coat color.

Deafness And Coat Color

You might be wondering what the color of your dog’s coat could possibly have to do with their hearing. The genes that control the color of the coat and hearing are actually linked, and genes sometimes interact this way.

Some breeds of dogs will always have the same coloring, like a Dalmation that will always be white with black spots. However, some other breeds can be white or other colors. Dogs with a white coat are more than 8 times more likely to be deaf in both ears than the same breed with another coat color.

How Is Deafness Diagnosed In Dogs?

Your vet can conduct bacterial cultures and hearing tests on your dog and test the sensitivity of the ear canal to diagnose an underlying condition. As we have previously mentioned, there are lots of potential causes of deafness, and each of them will need to be ruled out to find the cause.

Is There Any Treatment For Deafness In Dogs?

If the dog has been born deaf, there is no way to treat them. However, if it has been caused by inflammation or an infection, treating your dog and restoring their hearing is possible.

Although, this will depend on the extent of their deafness and any damage that might have been caused. Sometimes, hearing aids can be used for dogs to help with their hearing.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.