Should You Adopt a Deaf Dog?

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deaf dog photo

Photo Credit: West Jersey Volunteers for Animals in Woodbury, NJ.

What causes deafness in dogs?
Deafness in animals can be congenital (inherited from birth) or acquired through trauma, drug reactions, or old age. Deafness is more common in white animals, though any animal can be deaf. Some breeds, such as Dalmatians and Boxers, are more prone to deafness than others. Thirty percent of all Dalmatians born are either unilaterally deaf (deaf in one ear) or bilaterally deaf (deaf in both ears). Some deaf animals also have albinism, meaning that they lack normal melanin pigment in their eyes, nose, or skin, though not every albino animal is deaf. Deafness is also sometimes accompanied by other medical issues such as blindness or low vision.

Deaf pets are just like hearing pets
Deaf pets are just as intelligent as hearing pets. They make great only pets or do well with other animals in the home–it’s a myth that a deaf pet “needs” a hearing companion to function successfully. In fact, Petfinder’s staffer Trevor is the proud caretaker of Keller, a blind and deaf Great Dane.

Deaf animals bark, meow, whinny, and make all the regular sounds their hearing counterparts make. They can be taught sign language commands and are fully trainable. The only real caveat in adopting a deaf pet is that it should never be allowed to roam freely outdoors unless it is in a securely fenced enclosure, since they cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching.

Adopting a deaf dog
There are several Petfinder rescue groups who focus on deaf animal rescue and adoption. Just a few of them are Deaf Paws Haven, Deaf Dogs of Oregon, and Deaf Dane Rescue, Inc. You can do a search for deaf-specific rescues and shelters by searching for “deaf” here. To see more, do a regular search for adoptable pets and, after you’ve gotten the initial results, check the box marked “Only Special Needs Pets.”

The mission of the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (DDEAF) is to provide education and funding for the purpose of improving and/or saving the lives of deaf dogs. They are working to find homes for adoptable deaf dogs, and to increase awareness of the noble and loving nature of deaf dogs. For more information on living with or training a deaf dog, visit www.deafdogs.org.

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