View Full Version : Going deaf?

Love my Cavaliers
15th October 2008, 09:32 PM
I'm beginning to wonder if my 6 year old black and tan female, Riley, is going deaf. She has SM and had decompression surgery in June. She's doing well post-operatively other than some residual vestibular problems she had prior to surgery. Recently, her recall has not been as consistent as it used to be. I thought she was just ignoring me so I went back to work on recall using treats and praise. But this morning I noticed that when she is far away from me in the yard or behind some bushes and can't see me, she won't come or even react to me when I call her. When she's closer to me, she'll come readily. She has no problem hearing me in the house or responding to my voice when I'm with her or in the next room. Is this how deafness usually starts - that they can't hear from far away? She has an appointment with her neurologist tomorrow morning and I will ask him about it, but I thought I'd just see what other people have experienced. Thanks!

16th October 2008, 11:18 AM
Deafness is common in the breed. Many of them have PSOM -- like glue ear -- this would have shown on her MRI. Others simply become deaf. My Lucy who MRId clear of PSOM is almost totally deaf now at 9 but was fairly deaf by age 7.

Be sure to always keep her on a lead wherever you go now -- it is very risky to ever let a deaf dog offlead. I use a flexi so Lucy can run around at the park (never for street walks as they can be dangerous -- hard to control and don;t always fully lock).

I also have a second tag on Lucy that says "I am deaf. If you find me please put me on a lead and call my owner."

16th October 2008, 01:18 PM
How big is your house? How noisy is it outside? If your house is smallish/normal sized, she may be coming to you because the acoustics make it easier for her to hear if there is a hearing loss. Plus, as you've pointed out, she's responding more reliably when you're in sight.

One thing I would try: test the boundaries of her hearing with one of those high frequency dog whistles. Generally, high frequencies are the first to go, so if she gives no indication of hearing that then it could be sign of hearing loss. And yes, distance is a major factor. For example if you're wearing a hearing aid, you often find that the efficacy of the aid drops after ONE METRE. So if she's at the other end of the garden and has any loss at all, then it's quite possible she won't hear you.

Of course, she could just be ignoring you! ;)

Love my Cavaliers
16th October 2008, 06:00 PM
Thanks for your replies. We saw Riley's neurologist today and he confirmed that she did not have PSOM - at least when she had her MRI in June, so he doubted that was an issue now. Her ears looked good. The vestibular center is near the hearing center in dogs (maybe in people too - don't know) so he suggested that because she has had so much damage to her vestibular system from the SM, that maybe her hearing was affected too. He also said that she may just be going deaf. I will keep her on a lead all the time now as Karlin suggested, although it will be hard once the snow and freezing weather comes.

I might try the high frequency whistle. Thanks for that suggestion Lisa. Our house is fairly large, but is a ranch and Riley is rarely more than one room away from me. I also have most of the bedroom doors closed because of Oz, my 15 month old. He is definitely a trouble-maker, especially with toilet paper rolls! Our yard is just over an acre, so if Riley is at one end, and behind some of the bushes, she is fairly far away from me. It is pretty quiet around here though. WE live at the end of a dead end street, but there are always the usual outdoor noises.

I hate the thought that she might have to deal with deafness in addition to SM. She's been through so much. And this is a dog who lives to please. I know the majority of cavaliers are like that, but some - like my Oz- still have a little of the devil in him! Riley never had any devil in her. Maybe because she has been suffering from SM most of her life. Thanks for the advice and if anyone else has advice on living with a deaf dog, PLEASE let me know.

17th October 2008, 04:14 AM
Hi Bev, Sorry you're going through this. If she is going deaf, it is usually progressive so she will get "used" to it and will continue to lead a normal life. I have a completely deaf Cavalier and she gets along just fine. I just have to be careful not to come up too quickly behind her and give her a startle!

17th October 2008, 11:10 AM
My Luke just turned 6 years old last month and he is deaf. I don't know when it happened, but I just figured it out this past August.

17th October 2008, 01:53 PM
My rescue cav is deaf. We have now had her for 2 1/2 years.
We live in the heart of the countryside and, for the first year, I walked her over the fields on a 100ft training lead, then she could not get lost and could run as much as she liked. She gradually learned handsignals, and learnt to realise when to turn round to keep a check on me.
She now runs free over all the fields and soon realises if she is going a different way to me!
I do have to wait for her to look up, and if she has found a really interesting smell, I have to walk back towards her until she realises.
She is obviously walked on a lead if I am unsure of anything.
The sad thing is that she will never hear a kind word spoken to her again, but we make up for this with loads of loving cuddles and smoothings!
However, my OH thinkgs that she is fooling us, as she always knows when he is opening the biscuit tin!!!!!

Super Princess
18th October 2008, 03:45 AM
We figure ollies deff too..you could be standing behind him and he wont hear you.
might even jump if you pet him and he dosnt know your in the room.
its too bad too..because he dosn't like being left alone, so we often could be in the other room and he can't hear us..and thinks hes alone and hte 'owe owe owe owe oweeeee' starts up :)

I think it is common in this breed..although im not sure why.

Love my Cavaliers
18th October 2008, 04:32 AM

How old is Ollie and when did you notice he was getting deaf?

18th October 2008, 03:55 PM
I have found that having a deaf dog makes her more responsive to me- since they rely so heavily on sight signals, Casey is always looking up at me to see what she is supposed to be doing. However, when she's in the yard and I need her to come in, I have to walk over to her, tap her on the back and then give the signal.

I started noticing she wasn't hearing at around 2 YO. Although by the time I noticed, I think she was already pretty much deaf.

18th October 2008, 04:34 PM
my tri is deaf she is nearly 8yrs old she has been deaf for 2 years now
she dosent have SM and replies on hand a facial expression i think she is perfectly happy
and still very bright as long as we are consistant with what we are asking of her

18th October 2008, 04:49 PM
We have had Cavaliers which became deaf around ages three or four. I found out that a neurologist, Michael Podell, who is in the US State of Illiniois, has researched what he calls "progressive hearing loss" in Cavaliers, which usually begins during puppyhood and progresses until the dog is completely deaf, usually between the ages of three and five years. The progressive nature of this form of deafness in CKCSs is believed to be due to degeneration of the hearing nerve.

Read about it at http://cavalierhealth.org/deafness.htm

Margaret C
18th October 2008, 04:51 PM
Early loss of hearing does seem to be common in cavaliers.

Two out of the three cavaliers permanently resident here are totally deaf, the other seems to have partial hearing loss.
They all have SM, but I am not sure that is the complete explanation for the deafness.

A few years ago I had one little dog that would look up when I called him, seem to stare straight at me, look around & then walk away. I would get so cross at his 'disobedience'
Later I found out that he was only registering certain ranges of sound and had difficulty in locating where sound was coming from.
This could be the explanation for the 'selective hearing' that so many of them display.

Tommy & William have learnt to come to hand signals, but I can spend some time rounding them up, if they are too absorbed in what they are doing to raise their heads.
Fortunately we have a secure community garden, so they can be off their leads without me worrying about them getting lost.

I also find it sad that they cannot hear me when I talk to them, especially as Tommy is having an uncomfortable time at the moment ( now on gabapentin, but not sure it is the best choice for him ) I try to comfort & reassure him, and would love to know he hears my voice, but I rather think his world remains completely silent.

Margaret C

18th October 2008, 09:54 PM
even when your dog is going deaf its important to keep talking to them because they read your facial expressions.