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What is Deafness
Deafness, or hearing loss, is an all too common health problem in French Bulldogs. According to the AKC, it affects around 5 to 10 percent of dogs in the United States.
It can be present at birth due to genetic defects or develop over time as part of aging.
Deafness can also be present in one ear (unilateral deafness) or in both ears (bilateral deafness).
Testing for Deafness (BAER Test)
Fortunately, you can rule out congenital deafness by conducting a test known as the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Test in puppies as young as 6 weeks old.
Deafness is more common in White & Merle Frenchies
Deafness is more common in white-coated dogs due to a piebald gene which is often characterized by a mainly white coat with patches of black and blue eyes.
Deafness is also common in Merle French Bulldogs as well, and we recommend staying away from breeders that offer merle French Bulldogs due to the other various genetic defects that are associated with the merle gene.
The Role of Color in Hearing
You may be wondering why the color of the coat can affect hearing.
A lack of pigment cells
The reason for this is that the piebald gene is associated with a lack of pigment cells which give the appearance of their coats.
This affects the small hairs in the ear responsible for hearing
There are small hairs in the inner ear that are called cilia, and when there is an extreme lack of pigment cells, the cilia may not develop properly, resulting in deafness.
Be sure to ask your breeder about BAER testing
If you are interested in a predominantly white French Bulldog or are just concerned about the possibility of your new puppy being deaf, be sure to ask your breeder about performing a BAER test.
Causes of Deafness
As mentioned earlier, deafness can be present at birth or develop slowly over time.
- Congenital deafness (present at birth)
- Presbycusis (acquired hearing loss)
- Ear infections
- Ototoxicity (Loss of hearing due to medication)
- Head trauma
- Foreign bodies
Symptoms of deafness
According to PetMD, the symptoms of deafness in dogs include, but are not limited to:
- No reaction to sounds (loud noises, squeaky toys, etc.)
- Unresponsive to its name
- Hard to wake them up even with loud noises
- Prolonged barking
- Easily startled
Improving your Deaf Frenchie’s Quality of Life
- Be compassionate of their limitations
- When outside, always use a leash. They won’t be able to hear cars or other dangers.
- Use hand signals instead of voice commands & keep communication consistent
- Place a bell on their collar to help locate them
- Put a tag on their collar that says they’re deaf, just in case they get lost
- Use a flashlight to get their attention
- Wake them up by putting food under their nose or petting their back (not their face!)
What are the causes of deafness in French Bulldogs?
Common causes of death in Frenchies include: Genetics, presbycusis, ear infections, ototoxicity, head trauma, and foreign bodies
Can French Bulldogs be tested for deafness?
Yes. There is a test called the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Test that can rule out congenital deafness in puppies as young as 6 weeks old.
Is deafness more common in white French Bulldogs?
Yes. The genes responsible for the white coat cause a lack of pigment cells which can cause improper development of the tiny hairs inside the ear called cilia.