Dalmatians have a genetic predisposition for deafness – but should all deaf Dalmatians be euthanized? The Dalmatian Club of America thinks that they should be – and this organization isn’t alone.
The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA) states that the number of deaf Dalmatians is increasing due to increased breed popularity – and it believes that this is a very big problem. According to the DCA, approximately 10 to 12% of all Dalmatians are deaf. A study from Louisiana State University found that only 70% of Dalmatians have “normal” hearing. Of the 5,839 dogs tested in this study, 21.5% (1,255) were unilaterally deaf and 7.7% (448) were bilaterally deaf.
The DCA stated on its website:
Recent discoveries in the genetics of deafness have made it possible to reduce the incidence of deafness, with the possibility of virtually eliminating it in the future. Hearing research is currently being financed by the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation, Inc., various regional Dalmatian clubs and interested individuals. However, for the time being, it is important that deaf pups be dealt with in a responsible and humane fashion.
The DCA states that all deaf Dalmatian puppies should be euthanized: “Deaf pups should ALWAYS be humanely destroyed by a veterinarian. In the event that a deaf pup is inadvertently placed, it should be replaced with a hearing pup.”
For those who share their lives with hearing impaired animals, this is beyond extreme: euthanize your deaf puppy, simply for being deaf, and then simply “replace” the puppy with one who isn’t “defective.”
But the DCA doesn’t stand alone in this stance – others – including Louisiana State University PhD George M. Strain, also support the euthanasia of deaf Dalmatians.
Dr. Strain states:
I agree with the official policy of the Dalmatian Club of America that bilaterally deaf puppies should be put down by breeders instead of being placed.
For every story of someone who has successfully raised and owned a deaf dog, there are two or more of people who tried and only got heartbreak and incredible problems as a result.
The DCA further states:
Many breeders have their deaf pups put down at three to four weeks, though some choose to wait a few weeks longer. Dalmatian pups normally start to hear at fourteen to sixteen days of age, and hear by five weeks of age if they are going to hear.
NO ONE should consider raising a litter of Dalmatians without being prepared to deal responsibly with any resulting deaf puppies.
Deaf Dalmatians are hard to raise, difficult to control (they are often hit by cars when they “escape”) and often become snappish or overly aggressive, especially when startled.
IF YOU ARE THE OWNER OF A DEAF DALMATIAN, and are having problems with the dog, don’t feel “guilty” about it. Consider starting over with a healthy, hearing pup. (And DO have the deaf dog put down.)
“Consider starting over?”
The DCA also advises animal rescues and shelters to “not attempt to place the deaf Dalmatian puppies and adults that come in, and do not advertise for a ‘special home’ for the ‘poor little deaf Dalmatian.’ The HUMANE approach is to put down the deaf Dals and concentrate on finding good homes for the healthy, hearing dogs.”
The DCA’s advice to veterinarians is similar: “Please advise your clients to put down any deaf pups they may have bred. PLEASE do not make it any more difficult for your client by suggesting that perhaps a ‘special’ home might be found. With the enormous surplus of unwanted dogs in this country, there is no need to preserve dogs with problems such as deafness.”
What do you think? Should deaf Dalmatians be euthanized because (according to the DCA) they can have a propensity to “become snappish or overly aggressive, especially when startled” – or is there a better way to work with deaf Dalmatians?
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