Congenital Deafness in Dalmatians

By the time a puppy reaches this age, deafness can be detected.  It will have already developed in those puppies inheriting the deafness defect. Ethical breeders use the BAER test to test their litters for hearing impairment. Your breeder will give you a print out of your puppy’s test.  This way you know that your puppy is a hearing pup.

Unilaterally Hearing Pups

Some Dalmatians hear in only one ear.  They are referred to as unilaterally hearing pups. The subject of unilaterally hearing pups is controversial, but experienced breeders feel they make perfectly suitable pets.  Very young unilaterally hearing pups seem to have some trouble with directional hearing such as locating the source of a sound.  However, by the time they are 8 weeks old, they have adapted very well to their limitation.  It would be difficult for the uninformed to find him in the litter. 

Do NOT adopt a completely deaf dog even if it is given to you. You will be opening yourself up to probable heartbreak. The Dalmatian Club of American Board of Governors believes strongly that deaf pups should never be sold, placed, or given away, and most certainly should never be bred.  Dalmatians with congenital deafness are hard to raise, difficult to manage, and are often hit by cars if they get lost. They may become snippy or overly aggressive.  Because they can’t hear, everything startles them including touching their fur.  Most dogs with congenital deafness become so fearful and timid that they must be put to sleep anyway. It is far better to do so as soon as the BAER test proves the dog deaf and before some family becomes attached to the dog.

Advice for Breeders

Responsible breeders never intentionally sell, place, or give away pups with congenital deafness.  Pups with congenital deafness should always be humanely destroyed by a veterinarian. In the event you accidentally acquire 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.

  • If you are the owner of a female Dalmatian and intend to raise a litter, be sure that you are prepared to deal responsibly with any pups with congenital deafness.  If you have difficulty recognizing deaf pups, please ask for assistance from an experienced breeder.
  • If you are a stud dog owner, be sure that your stud contract requires that pups with congenital deafness be properly handled.
  • If you are the owner of a deaf dalmatian and are having difficulties with the dog, don’t feel “guilty” about it. Consider starting over with a healthy, hearing pup.  AND, do have the deaf dog put down. You will be making the humane decision.
Research on Congenital Deafness

The Dalmatian Club of America takes the problem of deafness very seriously. It has directed its Research Committee’s sub-committee on Deafness Research to collect BAER test results to learn more about congenital deafness.  The sub-committee is looking for a “marker gene(s).”  If it finds one, a simple blood test can determine whether or not a particular dog carries the gene(s) for congenital deafness. 

Hearing research is also currently being funded by the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation, Inc., various regional Dalmatian Clubs, and concerned individuals. If you would like to make a contribution to this worthy cause, please visit the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation, Inc. Your contribution may be tax deductible, but you should first consult with your accountant.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *