Dogs with white coats can often be prone to deafness. Are white Pomeranians deaf?
Not all white Pomeranians are deaf. Deafness in dogs is determined by their genetics. The gene that causes pigmentation in the skin and fur is associated with hearing ability. Some white dogs like many white Pomeranians still have the pigmentation gene.
In this article, I dig into what causes deafness in dogs, why many white dogs are deaf, and why not all white dogs are deaf.
I also have included what Pomeranians are most likely to be deaf, which dog breeds have the highest occurrence of deafness, and how a dog is tested for deafness.
- What Causes A Dog To Be Deaf
- Are White Dogs More Likely To Be Deaf
- Are All White Dogs Deaf
- Are White Dogs Born Deaf
- What Fur Colors Can Result In Deafness
- What Are Albino Dogs
- What Are The Signs Of Deafness In Puppies
- How Are Dogs Tested For Deafness
- Is Deafness In Pomeranians Common
- What Breeds Of Dogs Are Prone to Deafness
- Is My Pomeranian Deaf
- What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Deaf
- What Is It Like Having A Deaf Pet
- Final Thoughts
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What Causes A Dog To Be Deaf
A dog’s genetics will determine most cases of deafness.
Specific genes called melanocytes are associated with hearing ability.
Some dogs do not have melanocytes, when a dog is lacking melanocytes they will be deaf.
Are White Dogs More Likely To Be Deaf
Dogs that have predominately white coats are more likely to be deaf.
What does a white coat have to do with hearing?
The ability to hear has to do with a layer of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes within the stria inside of the inner ear.
These same cells determine the dog’s fur color. If these particular cells are missing the dog’s fur color will also usually be white with no pigment in their skin and points (eye lids, nose, and lips).
These dogs will also have blue eyes, which are not technically a color they are the result of an absence of color or pigment within the iris.
Dogs that are all white with blue eyes are often born without melanocyte cells.
White dogs are more likely to be born lacking certain stem cells called melanocytes which can lead to deafness.
Are All White Dogs Deaf
Not all white dogs are deaf.
This can be confusing, after learning that certain genes will result in a dog with white fur and deafness, how come not all white dogs are deaf?
The simplest answer is the genetics are different.
Many dogs like the Pomeranian, Samoyed, Bishon Frise, and West Highland Terriers have been bred through the years to have white fur.
What’s the difference between a deaf white dog and a dog bred to have white fur?
The genetics in a dog with white fur and perfect hearing also has pigmented skin underneath their fur, pigmented eye rims, mouth, and nose.
A white dog that is deaf will not have pigmented skin, eye rims, mouth, and nose.
What Is A Piebald Dog
Dogs that are piebald are not completely white but, instead have white patches of fur along with one or more colors.
Piebald coloring is the result of a mutation within the MITF (Microphthalmia Associated Transcription Factor).
This genetic mutation and piebald coloring can be found in 25 dog breeds.
Pomeranians can be piebald, we refer to them as Parti colored.
Are All Piebald Dogs Deaf
Dog’s that are piebald can lack melanocytes (the cells that create the pigment melanin).
As mentioned earlier if a dog does not have melanocytes the blood flow to the inner ear will be cut off resulting in damage to a dog’s hearing.
There are many different genes that can come into play with a piebald dog.
Due to the variations of genetics, not all piebald dogs are deaf.
That said, having piebald genes does increase the chances of a dog being deaf.
Are White Dogs Born Deaf
White dogs are not born deaf.
The deafness in a dog usually occurs within the first few weeks of life while its ear canals are still closed.
If a white dog does not have melanocytes (the cells that create the pigment melanin) vascular degeneration of part of the blood supply to the stria portion of the ears often occurs.
When the blood supply is cut off the nerve cells within the ear die off resulting in the tiny hairs with the ear that are needed for hearing to fall off causing the dog to become permanentely deaf.
It is not known what exactly causes the vascular degeneration but, experts have associated it with the lack of melanocytes.
What Fur Colors Can Result In Deafness
There are a handful of fur colors that can carry genetics that cause deafness.
- Piebald (mostly white with other colors)
- Roan (white with grey fur mixed through the coat)
- Merle (desaturated, black and greys looks like blues)
Can Merle Pomeranians Be Deaf
Deafness in merle dogs can happen but, with ethical breeding standards, a deaf merle puppy is rare.
The merle gene is a dominant gene that causes dilution in pigment.
The dilution results in the patchy dots and spots of diluted fur color on a dog.
People often get confused with merles thinking that merle is a type of coat pattern when it is not.
The merle gene can be bred and found in all of the coat patterns, solid, black and tan, parti or tri-colored.
When you have a blue merle dog the dog is actually an all-black dog with merle genetics.
Are Double Merles Deaf
A double or triple merle occurs when there are two or three copies of the merle genetics.
This can not happen when you breed a merle with one copy and a non-merle together.
Where you get into trouble is when you breed two merles together.
The dominant merle genes will often be found in the puppies resulting in double or triple merle puppies.
Statistics show around a quarter of the puppies from double merle breeding will have double merle genes.
The double merle genetics can result in deafness and blindness.
In most situations, it is not ethical to breed two merles together.
What Are Albino Dogs
A true albino dog lacks the genetics that contains the ability to make pigment.
An albino’s fur will be white and its skin, nose, eye lids, and lips will not contain any pigment.
An albino dog’s eyes are very pale blue and the dog will most likely be deaf.
What Are The Signs Of Deafness In Puppies
It can often be hard to determine if a puppy is deaf since they are so active and rambunctious.
The biggest sign that your puppy may be deaf is if it doesn’t respond to fun and exciting noises like squeaky toys.
Another sign to look out for is if your puppy is across the room and their ears don’t move to listen to noises made around them.
How Are Dogs Tested For Deafness
To know if your dog is deaf, the best solution is to bring your dog to the vet with your concerns.
Your vet will recommend doing a BAERS test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Test).
The BAERS test is done by placing electrodes on your dog’s head.
The vet will monitor your dog’s auditory routes in the brain and electrical activity to your dog’s cochlea (part of the inner ear involved with hearing).
This test will be able to determine your dog’s hearing abilities.
Is Deafness In Pomeranians Common
There is a list of 103 dog breeds that are susceptible to deafness.
Pomeranians are not included in the list of breeds that are at the highest risk for deafness.
Although it is rare for a Pomeranian to be born deaf, it is possible for aging dogs to lose some or all of their hearing abilities.
What Breeds Of Dogs Are Prone to Deafness
The breeds that are most prone to deafness are.
- Buller Terrieers
- English Setters
- Cocker Spaniels
- Australian Cattle Dogs
- Jack Russel Terrier
Which Breed Of Dog Has The Most Deafness
Dalmations have the highest occurrence of deafness in the breed.
22% of Dalmatians are deaf in one ear, with 8% having deafness affecting both ears.
I had a Dalmatian and one of his littermates was completely deaf.
Is My Pomeranian Deaf
If your dog is deaf it will either be deaf shortly after it’s born or will occur during its life.
Most breeders should be able to spot a deaf puppy in a litter before they end up in their forever homes.
If this is the case you would be able to know ahead of time and decide if this is the right puppy for you.
If you’ve already brought your puppy home and notice signs that your puppy could be deaf, visit your vet with your concerns and contact your breeder if deafness is confirmed.
Even if you are still keeping your deaf pup, the breeder show knows that a puppy from one of their litters is deaf.
If deafness occurs after puppyhood it should be pretty easy to spot the behavioral changes in your dog.
- Sudden disobediance
- Excessive barking
- Shaking its head
- Tilting of the head
- Increase in startling response
- Unresponsive to everyday sounds
- Increased sleep
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Is Deaf
Bring your dog to your vet with your concerns for an evaluation to confirm your suspicions.
What Is It Like Having A Deaf Pet
Deaf pets can adapt and live long happy lives.
Growing up we had a deaf cat. She was all white with two different colored eyes. One was blue and the other was green.
She was able to feel vibrations extremely well that you may not have known that she was deaf.
She would easily respond to someone walking up to her while she was sleeping.
Some tips for adjusting to a deaf pet would be.
- Make vibrations when you approach your sleeping pet before you touch them
- If your dog is awake make sure they can see you when you are communicating with them
- Teach your pet hand signs
- Be aware of extra safety needs, you pet may not hear cars in the driving etc.
The majority of white Pomeranians are not deaf.
White Pomeranians contain specific genetics that results in white fur with pigmented skin, noses, eyelids, and mouths.
Many breeds like Pomeranains have been bred through the years to have white fur but, still have the genetics that contains pigmentation
The reason many deaf dogs happen to be white is that these dogs lack the gene that causes pigmentation. The gene that causes pigmentation has been tied to deafness. If a dog does not have the gene the dog will end up deaf.
All dogs are a gift, we shouldn’t breed intentionally aiming for a deaf dog but, if a dog happens to be deaf it can live a long and happy life.