Did you know there are an estimated 35,000 dogs in the United States that are bilaterally deaf? In comparison to the overall population of dogs in this country, that figure doesn’t seem very large. However, what makes this statistic particularly alarming is the notion [or stereotype] that deaf dogs are disabled and therefore a burden. Because of this stereotype, deaf dogs are often seen as “untrainable” or “too much work.” As a result, they are often abandoned in shelters and euthanized at higher rates because they’re often overlooked by potential adopters.
Here at the Furr-bulous HQ, we believe all dogs are lovable and deserving of a forever home, no matter the circumstances. Our very own Dyno is deaf and we’re here to tell you that deaf pups make stellar companions and family pets. So to close out Deaf Dog Awareness Week, we thought we’d take a closer look at what makes these cuties so special!
But first… Some facts!
Certain dog breeds have congenital deafness rates of 40% or higher than other breeds.
Some of the most commonly deaf dogs are among the following breeds:
- Australian Shepherds
- Boston Terriers
- Cocker Spaniels
- German Shepherds
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Toy & Miniature Poodles
- West Highland White Terriers
Have you noticed that most dogs born with congenital deafness are white in color?
Dogs born without pigment are also missing hearing cells. These “hearing” cells start from the same stem cells as pigment-producing cells. If a dog has no pigment in his or her body, it is likely that he or she will also be deficient in the specialized “hearing” cells which cause deafness.
Deaf dogs can and do bark!
For hearing dogs, barking is a form of communication. Deaf dogs may not make noise in the same way a hearing dog does, but they act through instinct. So if a deaf dog wants to bark, they certainly will!
Deaf dogs are more aggressive than hearing dogs! Absolutely FALSE!
We’re not sure where this idea that deaf dogs are more prone to aggression came from, but it’s not even remotely accurate. In fact, data and analysis proves that congenitally deaf or blind dogs are significantly less likely to display aggression than hearing dogs. A whopping 20% less likely!
Now on to what makes deaf dogs so wonderful!
Deaf dogs are more bonded to their humans than hearing dogs.
Deaf dogs are forced to communicate with fewer senses making them more emotionally connected to their owners. Studies have found that deaf dogs exhibit higher degrees of attachment, physical or otherwise. This supports the anecdotal experience of deaf dog-parents who frequently refer to deafies as “velcro pups.” As pet parents however, who doesn’t want an exceptionally loving and affectionate dog to snuggle with?
Deaf dogs are not as easily startled!
This one is both true and false. Deaf dogs cannot hear you coming so depending on his or her individual personality, they may be more prone to startling when touched. But the good news is that startling behavior can also be unlearned. Careful desensitization to startle responses can significantly reduce or eliminate this unwanted behavior.
What makes this fun fact true however is, deaf dogs don’t often suffer from the same fears as hearing dogs. They can’t hear so they don’t get spooked by fireworks, thunder storms and other loud noises! Imagine how many sleepless nights we would all avoid if thunderstorms didn’t spook our pups?!
Deaf dogs are as easily trainable as any other dog!
This one is very important because this is often why deaf dogs are overlooked as potential companions; because they’re too hard to train and communicate with. The truth is they’re very easily trainable! They are often trained through hand signs and touch training, both of which are methods often used by pet parents for hearing dogs as well. And sure, deaf pups may never have the same recall skills as a hearing dog, but with the same time and effort you would give a hearing pooch they can be just as trainable and obedient!
Deafies, as they’re affectionately called, are no less intelligent than any other dog. They are just as smart, funny, unique and charming. So, the next time you find yourself browsing rescue websites in search of your next furr-bulous, family member, consider adopting a deafie!