How To Tell If Your Dog Is Losing Its Hearing

As dog’s age, they’re at a higher risk of losing their hearing abilities, due to which they become less responsive to your calls and have trouble communicating. Deafness in dogs is gradual, taking place over a certain period. 

Therefore, you can pick up on some signs of deafness early in the process and try to accommodate your dog accordingly. It’s important to note that deaf dogs can also have a healthy life as long as their owners cater to their specific needs. 

In this guide, we discuss a few dog losing hearing symptoms and the possible interventions that can help your little friend stay healthy and happy. 

Symptoms of Hearing Loss In Dogs 

Whether it’s senile deafness in dogs or hearing loss caused as a result of an infection, there are different symptoms that would give it away. 

Does Not Respond 

A common symptom of your dog losing hearing is their inability to listen to your commands. 

Your dog would be unable to hear high-pitched sounds in the early stages, such as you calling their name from a distance or blowing a whistle. 

A simple at-home dog deafness test is to make different sounds, like clapping or whistling, while your pet is looking the other way. If they don’t respond or show any sign of being addressed, they’re probably losing their hearing. 

Barks a Lot 

When you talk to someone who has headphones on, they tend to speak loudly because they can’t hear themselves. Without this sensation, they can’t possibly know how loud they need to speak for you to listen to them. 

It’s the same with deaf dogs. Since they can’t receive auditory cues from the environment, they tend to bark as an alternative method of communication. 

In simple words, your dog believes that you can’t hear him just because he can’t listen to you. So, he’d bark louder to get the message across. 

Heightened Reflexes 

When dogs lose their hearing ability, they rely on other senses, such as touch or smell. Due to this sensory shift, your dog is likely to become more receptive to other stimuli. 

Thus, they’d get startled or surprised much easily. For example, a footstep or a sharp smell from the kitchen will make your doggo’s ears stand. 

You should notice these symptoms most prominently when they’re asleep. If they wake up with a start at the slightest vibrations or touch, it’s likely that they’re losing their hearing. 


Like some humans, dogs also resort to sleeping more in order to deal with a change in their lives. They’ll also become passive towards you and may start avoiding social interaction. 

At first, it might seem like they’re unhappy. However, it’s more of a precautionary measure at your pet’s end – to stay away from the unexpected. 

Some pet parents also ask: can hearing loss in dogs cause anxiety? Yes, it can. Besides being more vocal (barking more), your dog may also be more anxious. Moreover, if you show frustration due to their changed behavior, their anxiety can potentially increase. 

If you notice these changes, talk to your vet to learn about the possible help you can offer to your loyal friend. 

Types of Hearing Loss In Dogs

Deafness in dogs could be of two types: acquired or congenital. 

  • Congenital: In this case, the dog is born deaf because of an inherited defect or exposure to toxins at the time of birth. It could also be the result of poor development of the inner ear canal or other apparatus involved in auditory functioning. 
  • Acquired: Dogs with acquired hearing loss are born with functioning ears but develop deafness due to infection, age, trauma, or other reasons. 

In both cases, the mechanism of deafness may differ, depending on the inner defect. In conductive deafness, the sound stimuli cannot pass through the environment to the ear’s internal hearing apparatus. 

On the other hand, sensorineural deafness is characterized by a defect in the nerve transmission or the nerve receptors. As a result, the signals cannot be transported to the brain for processing. 

What Breeds of Dogs Are More Prone to Deafness?

Although all dogs fall prey to deafness at a later stage in their lives, some breeds have a higher susceptibility. These include: 

  • West Highland white terrier 
  • Dalmatian 
  • Jack Russell terrier 
  • Cocker spaniel
  • Australian shepherd
  • Boston terrier 
  • Miniature poodle

Some dog breeds, including Otto Bulldog, Norweigian Dunker Hound, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Ibizan Hound, and Italian Greyhound, among a hundred others, also have congenital deafness.

Congenital deafness in dogs could be due to intrauterine infections or exposure to toxins at the time of birth. Some dogs also have a hereditary predisposition to deafness. 

Causes of Deafness In Dogs 

In congenital cases, the main cause of deafness is an incomplete development of the ear canal or an inherited genetic defect

Certain breeds are prone to having congenital deafness, such as those with merle coats and white heads. 

Acquired deafness may be due to different reasons, with age being the most common. Other causes include inflammation, blockage of the auditory canal, wax buildup, internal or external ear infection, inflammation in the ear, tumors, drug toxicity, and exposure to heavy metals. 

Some people might wonder: can ear mites cause deafness in dogs? No, they don’t directly lead to hearing loss. 

However, if you don’t treat them promptly, they can worsen auditory loss, resulting in deafness.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Losing Hearing?

If you see signs of deafness in dogs, keep your cool and talk to your vet about it. Deafness is almost inevitable in older dogs, so there’s no need to panic. 

Instead, talk to other pet parents who might be going through the same stage with their dogs. They might give you some tips on how to adapt yourself to this change in your dog’s life. 

Moreover, replace auditory signals with visual ones. When you take your friend out for a walk, keep an eye on them and be warier since they can’t look out for themselves as effectively as they used to. 

With a little contribution and cooperation from your side, your buddy will have a healthy life ahead. 

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