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What do you do if you discover your pet cannot hear?



From time to time when people are considering getting a white boxer they are concerned that the dog might be, or might become, deaf.

Just because a boxer is white does not mean it will be deaf. Most are not. We have read articles that the recessive gene that causes animals (not just boxers) to be white can affect their ears and hearing, especially when the gene becomes predominant ( a good reason for not breeding whites with whites.) It has something to do with the way pigmentation, or the lack thereof, affects cell structures in sensitive areas like the ears.

There are, however, deaf animals, just like there are deaf people. Cats and dogs, brown ones and white ones, boxers and shepherds.
Sometimes it is possible to notice their hearing problem when they are still small puppies. Sometimes it doesn't become noticeable until later in life.
Noticeable.
If a deaf dog seemed to hear when it was small, it may have only been responding to your vibrations or smells. Though some animals can lose their hearing later in life, just as we humans can, it is probable that if your puppy can hear when it is little, it will keep its hearing for life. However, many animals, and people, start to lose their hearing when they get old.

We don't know what tomorrow will bring. Life is full of surprises.
What is important is that we know our own abilities and our willingness to try our best to make the most of each day. Then it is a little easier for us to judge risks or situations that we feel we will be able to cope with.

People are surprised every day by just how far they will go, and can go... for love.
We have had a few very nice letters from people who have discovered just how deep their love and devotion to their pets became once they learned they were deaf.

Not everyone has the temperament or the time and situation to deal with someone who requires this extra attention. This is not bad, but they should know themselves well enough not to take on this challenge if it is too much for them. The same can be said for anyone considering having any pet... whether it can hear or not.

We are humans. Our world revolves around us. Pets are our faithful companions who are subject to us... subject to our kindness as well as our impatience, anger, and other challenges. It is not fair to make an animal suffer any more than it is to hurt our own children.
They depend on us.

If you discover, too late, that your pet is deaf and it is too much for you, at least have the kindness to find it a new home or shelter where it will be loved and treated well. Don't punish it for something which is not its fault. If someone sold you the pet and you feel they wronged you, don't give the pet back to a wrong-doer. Find it a new home or shelter where it will be loved and treated well and then report or contend with the seller in question. Don't involve the innocent dog.

If, however, you discover your dog is deaf and you feel up to the challenge, you may just discover a new window opening in your life that you never dreamed possible.
It doesn't take a super-hero to live with a handicapped pet, especially if the handicap is only its hearing. All it takes is a little time, patience, observation, and a kind heart. It also takes a little bit of good basic common sense.

The following is a story sent to us from our friends Clare and Rob in the United Kingdom.
Their pets are two boxers, Maddy and Murphy. And Incy the cat.
Maddy is deaf.



Life With A Deaf White Boxer
by Clare Jacques and family


Our Boxer dog Murphy has always been one for the ladies so when the chance of a boxer bitch from Boxer Rescue Southern in the United Kingdom came up we jumped at the chance.

We were given a brief history of Maddy who at 18 months old has had a pretty rough start to life. She was rescued from a puppy farm in Ireland where they used her as a breeding bitch. We are not sure how many litters she had but we think it could of been as many as 3. We are pretty sure she was hit as, when we first got her, every time we went to stroke her she flinched. She definitely was not walked or allowed to play. She had various illnesses, I have a vets list as long as your arm The Dogs Trust brought her over to England where she was handed over to a wonderful lady called Shirley from Boxer Rescue who, as usual, did a fantastic job of nursing her back to health. We were told that she was pure white and completely deaf. We have never had a deaf dog but we like a challenge.

To look at Maddy seems like any other boxer, until we actually tell people hardly anybody knows she is deaf. Over the weeks Murphy has gotten to know that Maddy is a little bit special, he knows there is something different about her and in his own way looks out for her.

A deaf pet will often take its cues from a hearing companion.


You begin to realize the simple things you do with a hearing dog can become dangerous for a deaf dog. Murphy knows to sit at the curb and keep back while the cars go past, Maddy on the other hand can see the cars but cannot hear them, to her they look like brightly coloured big toys.

Maddy is a very sociable dog and loves running, chasing, jumping and pinching other dogs sticks, toys etc. This is great until you come across that one dog who doesn't want to play !!! Whilst Murphy can hear the dog growling and snarling, Maddy cant. Thankfully this has only happened once and Murphy put himself between Maddy and the other dog. The term "eyes in the back of your head" applies in a case like this. Common sense tells me that if I see a dog on a lead in an area where normally dogs round around like mad then is there a reason for this, is the dog anti-social, hence the reasons for it being on the lead. When this happens I normally call Murphy back and Maddy follows. I put Maddy on the lead until I have passed the dog.


A little common sense will go a long way. Do not let a deaf pet run free near a street or in an unfenced yard.
Even though Maddy is deaf I still call out to her, its second nature !!! When I pat Murphy and tell him good boy I do the same to Maddy. Even though she is deaf she can still sense my body language and the shape my face makes.


Using hand signals is a good way to communicate, whether a dog hears or not.
A flashlight or the vibration of your footsteps is enough to get your deaf dog's attention without startling them. Be gentle.


Training is not a problem, we use hand signals for sit, stay, lie down. You don't have to follow any particular type but once you have chosen the signals you must stick to them. Remember to make sure the dog has eye contact with you. Maddy quite often gets distracted, I gently move her face to look at me and she soon gets the message I want her to do something. Dog treats are always handy to have as way of praise, along with a stroke and a cuddle.

Murphy has now got to know the sound of our car !!! Normally he is at the front door before we have even put the key in. Maddy is normally crashed out on the sofa and is oblivious to us even being in the house. You know what its like yourself when your in a dead sleep and somebody shakes you to wake you up, it normally scares the living daylights out of you, the same applies to a deaf dog. We normally gently tap the side of the sofa or the floor so she can feel the vibrations and not be scared.

A deaf dog can still feel vibrations, such as your footsteps.
Try not to startle them.


Deaf dogs in my view have the same qualities and love to offer as a hearing dog. With a little bit of patience there is no reason why they cannot be treated the same as a hearing dog.

If you are thinking of getting a dog or maybe adding another dog to your family and have been offered a deaf dog please don't pass them over just because they are deaf, all dogs should be given the same chance in life deaf or otherwise. Deaf dogs can live in harmony with hearing dogs. We are proof it works !

Watch your pet. Let your dog teach you.


-Love from Murphy and Maddy-

If you have a story or comments about a deaf dog, please feel free to send us an email.

DEAF DOG WEBSITE - click here - Deaf Dog Education Action Fund
The following letters are examples of the love a deaf pet can find:

We just found out this weekend that our 15 week old puppy, a white boxer named Lance, is deaf.
Both my husband and I were out of town on two different trips. Lance stayed with his Dad, Granddad, and Uncle. Their owners told us of the experiences with him over the weekend. They realized Lance was deaf. Now all the times we thought Lance was being stubborn and lazy became as clear as rain. We understood why he wouldn't respond to his name or commands. Well, I was so glad to read this web site and read the information you have. Enlightening. Thank you. As for Lance, we thank God for placing him in our home. He is a wonderful blessing.
- R. Tedder -

My boyfriend and I have a deaf puppy named Duke! We find that Duke has been nothing but a pure blessing to our lives, as a matter of fact I can't imagine life without him. Duke became a part of our life through a miracle and we were told that he was a bad puppy with potty training and his behavior. We later found out he was kept in a dog kennel all day!! Duke has had one accident in the house no big deal and has learned several hand commands quickly and he in return has given us a completion in our new family. Duke learned commands faster than most hearing dogs and he has so much love to give. God blessed us with our Deaf White Boxer Named Duke Fitzgerald-D'Amico.
- C. Fitzgerald -

We are first time boxer owners and have been amazed at how comical our little one is. She is brave, daring, lovable and a joy to have in our lives. We still have not been able to tell if Bellatrix is deaf or just ignoring us.
Often it seems as if she hears but then something happens and we think she is deaf. Do you have any advise on determining her hearing status? Our vet is still not sure either.
We have a mixed breed dog that I was convinced was deaf for the first few months. It turns out she was just ignoring us.
- G. Keirn -
I too have a great boy who is white and deaf. His name is Astro. I got him from a breeder by chance who I met at a local SPCA.Told her I was looking for a new best friend as it had been 9 months since I had to put my 11 yr. old "best dog in the world", Miss Maxine down.She informed me that she had the dog for me !! He was 8 mo. old, white and deaf....I never even put his handicap into consideration.Went to meet him the following weekend. It was love at first site !! My boyfriend said he knew he was mine the moment I laid eyes on him.He's a good boy !! Many people ask if his deafness is a problem for me...I answer honestly that after having 3 previous boxers,I don't find it much more of a challenge than raising hearing boxers....They're an energetic breed that needs a lot of attention.....Astro is my "new best friend" now and 21 months old....I'd have to say there has never been a bit of regret for bringing him into my life !!!
- K. Phillipps -
My mom, who was bedridden, asked me for a puppy. After much discussion (me telling her why we couldn't have one) I said fine. Of course she wanted a white boxer, female, puppy. (We had one for 11 years and she was the best dog ever.) I drove 6 hours to meet with some people who breed boxers. Picked up Molly and drove back to Connecticut. An hour into our trip back, I realized that Molly was deaf.

I could not get a hold of the people so continued home. Once home, Molly cuddled with my mom whom I told not to get used to her. She was going back. She was deaf. Of course my mom said "NO. she is not going back, you and I both know what will become of her." Needless to say Molly stayed.
- Read more about Molly -

"I just want to say if you have never had a deaf, white Boxer, you don't know what you're missing.. I was a foster family for boxer rescue until Buster AKA Whitebuster came to our house, he fit in perfectly, I have three dogs, three cats and three birds...
I would also like to tell people that deaf boxers (any dogs) are really no different, its especially easy if you have hearing dogs in the house. The deaf dog will follow what the hearing dogs do and like the writer said most people don't have a clue my white is deaf...
The biggest thing we had to learn was don't let your DEAF DOG RUN LOOSE.. You can't call him and some times you can teach him to respond to a vibrating collar but that takes time."
- E. White -
About a month ago I adopted a white deaf boxer. She is wonderful. I already have three boxers that are fawn and can all hear. They help my little Abby out so much. When she first came to me she really didn't know any hand signals and I don't think she had ever played with a toy. Because of my other babies, she has learned to play with toys and she has also learned fetch. I have also taught her three hand signals so far.
Thanks for your dedication to this wonderful breed.
- B. Loving -
We have a fun and loving white boxer boy named Cooper. He is deaf but we didn't know it until the day we brought him home. He has a big sister Bailey who is also a white boxer but she is definetly not deaf, maybe some selective hearing... I just want to tell anyone who is thinks just because a dog can't hear doesn't mean he can't love. Our Cooper is so special to us. We talked to him and have taught him signs. His big sister Bailey helps out so much. She is his ears! She knew right away that he was special, and they love each other. I am so proud to be a mom to my two boxers! I feel very blessed that I was chosen to be Cooper's mom. He will never know he is any different than any other dog, he will just know we love him for the funny boy he is!
- Michele -
My mum has a white boxer girl Sophie who we knew was deaf before we took her on. It was something that was discussed with the family before we took her on. Having lived with Boxers all my life I can't say she is any worse for not being able to hear- most of our boxers have had selective deafness they can hear a chocolate bar open through three doors but cant hear you when you stood next to them and wanted them to move.
Sophie has been taught a number of hand signals- give her the thumbs up and she knows she has been a good girl and wags her stump. Thumbs down and she slinks away knowing she has done somenthing she shouldnt, and should she be across the other side of the room then we stamp our foot to get her attention.
- Juliette -
I just came across the site, and want to thank you for the wonderful information.
I just adopted a deaf white boxer puppy, and he is just precious! We've named him Ty. The breeder wanted him to go to a good home where there wasn't a lot of traffic. We live on a farm, and our home is 1/4 mile from the nearest roadway, so that will help. It was love at first sight when my friend placed him in my arms! I just could not resist agreeing to bring him home. He is so loving, and so energetic, as puppies always are. So begins the training to teach him hand signals. He's going to be a very spoiled dog! Ty and the other dogs have already made fast friendships, and they love to romp and play together. Even my Great Pyrenees has welcomed Ty into his heart. Ty loves to go outside with me when I go chore and feed the farm animals. He's quickly learning how to keep one eye out for me so he knows where I am, while investigating and exploring the sights around our home. I look forward to a long friendship with this beautiful little dog.
-Deah-
We found our Abby when she was about 2 months old. She may be older or younger. She is now a year old.
It did take us awhile to figure out she was deaf.
She was on the side of the road and my son saw her and opened his car door and she jumped right in! She was all skin and bones. Abby has brought such happiness and joy into our lives I wonder how we lived without her!
She still has nightmares about her time out there alone and when those happen I wake her gently and give her hugs and kisses. I hope she will grow out of them, but I don't think it will happen. She has a daytime t shirt and a night time sweater. Every night I spray her with Nova Pearls ... it helps her skin from itching. And after that her sweater goes on and you should see the tail wag!
She does know some hand signals, like stay and no no.
- Cindy -
We have 2 deaf white boxers: Daisy (about 6) and Duke (about 2). They are wonderful additions to our family and are boxers through and through. Potty training Duke was challenging, as it is for most puppies, and we got through it with lots of love, patience, and consistent training. When we aren't at work, the dogs are our constant companions. When I first saw Duke at the Humane Society I spent a lot of time getting to know him, and he learned how to sit, using hand commands and rewards very quickly.
Using the lead for Duke is especially important, since he is still very much a puppy and doesn't always look back for commands when we are walking in the woods off leash. We have a fenced in back yard, which is essential for owning a deaf dog. Although we think fawn and brindle boxers are lovely, I think we'll always have room in our home for a white boxer - hearing or deaf.
- Jeanie -
George will be 3 years old in March. I flew from California to Minnesota to pick him up when he was not quite 8 weeks old. George was a big boy the size of 2 boxer puppies when he was born. He's kept his large stature, but there couldn't be a more gentler soul in the world. I knew when I went to pick him up that he was deaf. Being deaf hasn't been a big challenge. Of course, we couldn't clicker train him, but he could be treat trained and George is very good at reading faces.
- Read more about George -

We live in Australia and are parents to three lovely fur-children. Azura, the White Boxer; Athena, a Mastiff/Dane/Wolfhound X; and Buster, a white Bull Arab.
Azura was rescued after being starved and abused, even though she is white, her hearing and vision are normal.
However, it's Buster that is deaf and partially blind. He is another rescue. This poor darling was found tied by the collar and with all four legs tied together outside an industrial site!
I belong to an online dog forum and saw him among the dogs needing to be fostered. He came to us and here he will stay. He's a lovely addition to our doggy family, and our big girls just love their little brother.

For anyone who might hesitate in taking on the responsibility of a deaf dog, we've found him to be easier to train than the hearing dogs. As he cannot hear you, he watches you for signals. He is very nearsighted, so he prefers to be close to you. He also watches our other dogs and follows their lead. The girls have been invaluable in teaching him the ropes. Within just a couple of days he was already "sitting" and "shaking hands" and starting to learn "down". He's very smart!
- Christine -


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