Protective, lovable and loyal, these are just some of the characteristics of the Boxer dog. Like most dogs however the Boxer can be born with a health condition that can sometimes go unnoticed if it isn’t being looked for.
Zerin Mewa discovered that when it comes to choosing your new companion, a puppy or a rescue, there is a chance that he or she may be deaf, if you choose an adult you may be informed of their deafness. However, if you bring home a puppy it may not be immediately obvious that your puppy may be deaf.
Offering any dog a home is a lovely feeling, but offering a deaf Boxer a home is just that little bit more satisfying. However, remember that training any dog is a challenge, training a deaf dog is not any easier. You will need patience, devotion, care, understanding, attention and most important of all, time.
About 20% of Boxers are born deaf due to their lack of pigmentation and suppression of blood supply to their inner ear (cochlea). White Boxers are particularly prone as the genes that carry the deafness are inheritable.
Identifying that your puppy is deaf
Sometimes looking for the signs can be difficult; here are a few things you can look out for:
1. When your puppy/ rescue are asleep do they react to the doorbell? (remember dogs can sense vibrations so try and get a friend to come round and ring the doorbell or knock at the door)
2. When they’re asleep, do they only wake up when you touch them?
3. Clap your hands near your dog, do they respond?
When you call them, do they come to you or look up?
4. You can also buy a dog whistle; do they give you that ‘puppy dog look’ when you blow on it?
5. Your dog may also constantly shake his or her head or turn in the wrong direction when you call.
If you come to the conclusion that your dog doesn’t respond to any of the points above it is worth getting your puppy or dog’s hearing tested so you can be aware of the level of deafness. It may just be that the ear canal is blocked as this is common in puppies.
If tests show that your dog is deaf you may have to adapt to your new arrival’s needs, both at home and when you visit the outside world.
As you dog won’t be able to hear they will react and sense your body language. If you move or stop suddenly you may startle them, always keep your Boxer on a leash when going for walks as they won’t be able to hear an approaching car or a parent doing the school run down the road with running children approaching you.
Some things that may help are training classes: start these as soon as possible, finding a local training class that has knowledge of deaf Boxers will help your new addition have a fulfiled and happy life. There are also books available on the conditions of Boxers, such as ‘sign’ techniques and activities and games for deaf dogs (it is important that your Boxer still stays active).
Make sure your dog has a clear name tag, add the word ‘deaf’ so he won’t be startled or misunderstood if he or she ever gets lost. It is also important that if your Boxer is proved deaf to not breed her as this may be passed down on to her pups.
Remember, any dog is a companion, just because yours has a health condition it does not make them any less important or lovable. Living with a deaf Boxer is just like living with any other animal, it just requires that little bit more patience and love! The outcome of all this will be a rewarding feeling for you, and your companion becoming your new best friend.