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Are Deaf Dogs and Blind Dogs just like other Dogs?

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Do dogs that are deaf and/or blind have specific behavioural traits? New research sets out to investigate – and finds they are very similar to dogs with normal hearing and vision.




By Zazie Todd, PhD

No one knows exactly how many dogs have hearing or vision problems. Congenital deafness and/or blindness occur in several breeds. In some cases this is related to coat colours – for example the double merle gene in Australian Shepherds is linked to deafness and blindness – and at other times not, as with inherited cataracts in many breeds.

Very little is known about how dogs with inherited or acquired vision or hearing disorders behave, which was the motivation for this study by Valeri Farmer-Dougan et al (in press) of Ilinois State University.
The results showed many similarities between dogs with a hearing or vision impairment (HVI) and those without. This shows that HVI dogs can make good family pets. In fact, the non-HVI dogs were rated as more aggressive and more excitable than those w…