About Deaf Dogs

Deaf Dogs may need a bit more attention but... if your Mini Schnauzer has lost his hearing know that he can still lead a fulfilling happy life!

Causes of Deafness in Dogs

Deafness in dogs can occur from a variety of reasons. It can occur at birth or develop later on in your Schnauzer's life. Congenital deafness is the type of deafness that occurs from birth. It is usually caused by a defective gene.

Deafness that develops later on in life can occur from trauma or injury, ear infections, drugs, old age, even wax build-up or dirt and hair in your Schnauzer's ear. Some of these reasons for your Schnauzer's deafness may be temporary and some even treatable. For example, deafness caused by an accumulation of wax, hair, or dirt can easily be rectified through proper grooming and care of your Schnauzer's ears.

Is your Schnauzer totally deaf? Deaf dogs can have unilateral deafness or affecting only one of their ears. These dogs still need extra attention and supervision but they are actually partially deaf. A dog with bilateral deafness means both ears of the dog are affected and therefore the dog is totally deaf.

deaf dogs, deafness in dogs, BAER test

The BAER test or the brainstem auditory evoked response test can detect auditory pathways in the brain through electrical activity in the cochlea (similar to the way an EKG detects electrical activity in one's heart).

The test is performed for each ear to determine whether or not the dog has partial hearing or is totally deaf. The test is the most reliable way to determine if a dog is deaf.

Deaf Dog Behaviors

Dogs that are losing their ability to hear or have become deaf begin to behave differently. Below are the top 5 warning signs your dog may be experiencing trouble with his hearing.

Top 5 Warning Signs Indicating Hearing Loss in Dogs

  1. Your dog does not respond to verbal commands.
  2. Your dog sleeps more than usual. 
  3. Your dog responds only when touched and/or when he sees something.
  4. Your dog paws at his ears.
  5. Your dog shakes his head often.

If you observe any of these warning signals or other major changes in your dog's behavior, make an appointment to have your veterinarian take a closer look at your dog. Your Schnauzer's vet will be able to perform the necessary tests to determine if your dog is deaf or losing his hearing and if so, will it be treatable.

Depending on the underlying cause of deafness, your veterinarian may put your dog on antibiotics, prescribe topical medications, have your Schnauzer's ears professionally cleaned out to remove any blockage, etc...

If there is no treatment that will help your dog's hearing, you will need to make some adjustments in the way you communicate and supervise your Schnauzer from here on out.

Living with a Hearing Impaired Dog

Deaf Dog Training Hand Signals

If your Schnauzer's hearing loss is untreatable, you will need to learn to communicate and supervise your dog differently than before. Owners must train their dog to respond to hand signals. Much like a deaf person responds and communicates through sign language.

In order to be successful training your deaf dog, you will need added patience and understanding. (This is yet another reason as to why it is good to train your Schnauzer from the beginning with both verbal and hand cues).

Another important change you need to make is in the way you supervise your Schnauzer. Since your Schnauzer won't be able to hear oncoming traffic and other dangers in his environment, it will be up to you to pay close attention to his whereabouts and activities. Even partially hearing dogs can get confused and disoriented not knowing what direction a sound came from.

As a safety precaution, always keep your deaf Schnauzer leashed to prevent accidents from occurring. And to help you locate your dog even within your home you could place a bell on your dog's collar so you can hear him moving about. Remember, your deaf Schnauzer won't hear you calling him for dinner.

Helpful tip and word of caution for owners of deaf dogs: Dogs that have lost their hearing are usually more easily startled when approached from behind. This can cause them to react negatively. The best approach to a dog that is hearing impaired is always head on. Also, if your dog is sleeping, stomp on the floor before approaching him. The vibrations will wake him so he sees you coming. This is an important safety tip and one particularly important for children to know about concerning handling their deaf dog.

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