I recently heard on social networks that a deaf dog could not live normally because of his disability.Being a former owner of a deaf dog, I will show you that this is not true and how to educate a dog with a visual or hearing impairment.This is to change the mentality because they are dogs like others who deserve to live normally.



Before talking about education, I would like to talk about deaf dogs in a more general way, often victims of human selection.

Several breeds are unfortunately more affected than others by deafness.

This is mainly related to the highly developed white coat: Australian Cattle Dog, Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Jack Russel Terrier mainly.

As well as all breeds allowing the color merle: Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Welsh Corgi Cardigan, French Bulldog, Chihuahua, Pug, etc.

Indeed, a bad selection of the reproducers with not realized DNA tests can lead to make reproduce two dogs carrying the merle allele, and thus to give: double merle.

The double merle is a real plague at the present time, because some breeders do not hesitate to produce this crossing voluntarily to have all-white puppies, consequently deaf and often visually impaired, but with a very cute physique and attractive for the general public. This can also be due to a bad knowledge of genetics thinking that breeding two merle dogs will produce more merle colored puppies.

This birth defect can be detected in the puppy as early as three weeks of age. Before you go for veterinary tests, you can already notice it because the puppy does not react if you clap your hands next to him, does he move his ears according to the sounds around him, etc…

The AEP (Auditory Evoked Potentials) test allows to detect deafness in dogs. It is a painless and safe test for our canine friends.

Hearing loss can also be caused by old age. And yes, just like us, dogs can become deaf and visually impaired as the years go by. It’s the vagaries of time.

Deafness can also come from a perforation of the eardrum, an otitis badly treated, a too violent cleaning of the ear canal, etc…



A deaf dog remains above all …. A dog. You will have to educate him, in the same way as any other person, but silently and using your body.

Basic requests like sit, down, come, go to the basket, etc… can be learned by gesture.

Let’s take the example of sit:

Deaf Titou is standing in front of you, raise your hand flat, palm up to the sky, so as to create a backward rocking motion of the dog.

Now you’ve taught your dog to sit, but it’s up to you to be precise in your movements so that they are clear to your dog. It is up to you to be precise in your gestures, so that they are clear to your dog. Don’t hesitate to call on a dog trainer so that you don’t make any mistakes.

The only thing you need to watch out for is the fact that Titou will not hear anything, so he may not be very receptive to growling or barking (especially if he can’t see well because of his impaired vision or if he is in the middle of a game with his friend). So be careful and watch the encounters, so you can intervene if a growl has escaped your dog, to avoid a potential unnecessary fight.

Of course, you will have to make big gestures, move to touch him in order to challenge him. But all this will become commonplace with practice.



This is the most asked and dreaded question for humans living with a deaf dog.

How do you call him back if he can’t hear?

First of all, put a lanyard and a harness on him (no lanyard on the collar because an involuntary shake can cause a lot of damage to the cervicals and the thyroid).

The lanyard will allow you to recover the dog during the learning process (this is also valid for any dog, even if it is in full possession of its ears haha).

There are several methods, but I will only highlight one for different reasons.


We will talk about the vibrating collar (not electric, vibrating)

It is indeed possible to put a vibrating collar on your dog and to associate the vibration with a reward, to learn recall, but I did not want to teach recall to my deaf dog in this way for the following reasons:

Prohibition to use this type of collar before the dog is six months old (see 10).

If the battery fails, you have no more reminder

The neck area of the dog is extremely sensitive, a vibration may seem painless, but can be unpleasant for the dog depending on its sensitivity.

After many discussions with the creator of the Association Blanc Comme Neige (you will find an intervention from her at the end of the article), I understood that there was another way to teach recall to a deaf dog: automatic recall.

This method consists in teaching the dog to come back on his own, whatever the distraction is.

Example: As soon as the dog turns towards us and looks at us = treat. As soon as he comes back on his own = treat.

By dint of training, he will have acquired the fact of referring to you, whatever the situation and of coming back regularly to see you, by making regular trips back and forth. He will come back with pleasure and not by verbal or vibrating indication.

You will have a dog that comes back even in the middle of canine friends or humans.

Because he will have understood that it is more interesting to come back to us.

It’s up to you to anticipate, depending on the visibility or the number of walkers, if you have to reattach your dog because you know him better than I do!

My other little tip is to use your body to call your dog.

Crouch down, run back a few steps and praise him warmly when he comes back.It’s all about trust and questioning.The deaf dog requires a real letting go of the dog that we think is always under control.

But they are a real life lesson, and they give it back so well.

Intervention of the association Blanc Comme Neige


Can you introduce yourself and your association ?

Hi, I’m Patty, president of the association Blanc Comme Neige since January 2017 and dog educator at Guide Ses Pattes.

Our association specializes in the prevention, help and care of double merle dogs.

For those who do not know what a double merle is, it is a dog that has inherited two merle alleles from its parents which, combined together, have a risk of making it be born with a coat called “excessive white”, leading to a suppression of pigments and causing various ocular and auditory anomalies that can go as far as complete deafness and/or blindness.

Why did you create this association and with what objective?

A few months after adopting Merveille, my first double merle dog, I was seeing more and more advertisements for double merle dogs at risk of euthanasia. I contacted Emma Lemaître who also has a double merle dog, Iwok, and together we decided to create the association Blanc Comme Neige so that the reproductions would stop and that we could help a maximum of sensory deficient dogs.

Do you have deaf/visually impaired dogs in your home and what have they brought to you (humanely, learning, etc…)

I share my life with four sensory impaired dogs: Merveille, Poker and Mélisse who are deaf and blind, and Posca who is deaf.

They have taught me so much and they are still teaching me so much. In the elements that immediately come to mind: letting go, learning to adapt to the dog and not the other way around, guiding and accompanying by communicating in a different way and proving to people that a sensory deficient dog can live like any other dog.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to adopt a deaf or visually impaired dog?

To have a maximum of time to spare. We advise families who work 35 hours a week not to adopt a dog for the dog’s future well being. To be able to adapt to him, to privilege his autonomy, to offer him a maximum of interactions and not to use aversive tools like the vibrating collar.

What message would you like to pass on to the world about this plague?

If you want to breed your dog, have your two breeding dogs tested for merle at the Tilia laboratory because many dogs have the merle gene without it being expressed on their coat.

Many births of double merle continue because of this.

Don’t make the business of some “breeders” who continue to breed double blackbirds work, it’s up to them to take their responsibilities and stop their reproduction and not up to you to buy or to get the puppies because otherwise this traffic will never stop.

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