How Do I Know if My Dog Is Going Deaf?

What did you say? Did I hear that right? 

Yes, just like humans, dogs can lose their hearing.

Canine deafness can be caused by a number of factors, including congenital defects, chronic ear infections, head injuries, drug toxicity, degenerative nerve changes, old age, or disease. It is important to talk to your veterinarian if you suspect hearing loss in your dog.

The loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause. 


Temporary deafness is often caused by wax buildup within the ear canals. Some dogs have excess hair in or around their ears that can collect wax and debris. If a waxy plug forms in the ear canal, it can cause hearing loss. This type of deafness may be reversed with treatment. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about options.


Certain breeds – including Dalmatians, English Setters, Australian Shepherds, and Jack Russell Terriers – are prone to congenital deafness. Early onset deafness, especially in predisposed breeds, typically suggests congenital causes and is usually irreversible.

Interestingly, there is also a connection between coat color and hearing loss. Dogs with predominantly white or merle coats may be at increased risk for congenital deafness.

Senile deafness develops gradually, typically occurring at about 13 years of age. Many older dogs lose their hearing but never become completely deaf. However, the loss they do experience is permanent.


A dog with significant hearing loss may:

    • Show a change in obedience or attentiveness
    • Appear unresponsive to everyday sounds, such as the doorbell or vacuum
    • Appear unresponsive to his/her name
    • Fail to respond to familiar verbal commands
    • Be difficult to rouse from sleep
    • Be less active
    • Bark excessively
    • Shake or tilt his/her head


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