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Position on Dalmatian Deafness

From the Board of Governors of the Dalmatian Club of America

With the rising popularity of the Dalmatian breed, there has been a rapid increase in the number of deaf Dalmatian pups showing up in homes, pet shops and Humane Societies across the country. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM. 

Deafness is NOT uncommon in Dalmatians. It has been estimated that from 10% to 12% of the breed is deaf. 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.

Responsible breeders NEVER knowingly sell, place or give away deaf pups to pet homes. 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. 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.

The deaf pups which are showing up in unsuspecting homes, pet shops and Humane Societies are generally bred by either "commercial breeders" (puppy mills) or by inexperienced Dalmatian owners who are unaware of deafness in the breed, are unable to identify deaf pups or are unwilling to have them put down. NO ONE should consider raising a litter of Dalmatians without being prepared to deal responsibly with any resulting deaf puppies.

The Dalmatian Club of America Board of Governors feels very strongly that deaf pups should NEVER be sold, placed or given away, and most certainly should not be bred from. 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 FEMALE DALMATIAN, and plan to raise a litter, be sure that you are prepared to deal responsibly with any resulting deaf pups. If you have trouble identifying deaf pups, please ask for assistance from an experienced breeder.

IF YOU ARE A STUD DOG OWNER, be sure that your stud contract requires that deaf pups be properly handled.

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.)

IF YOU ARE AFFILIATED WITH AN ANIMAL SHELTER, HUMANE SOCIETY OR DOG RESCUE SERVICE, PLEASE do 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.

IF YOU ARE A PET SHOP OWNER, please remember that deaf Dalmatians should NEVER be sold.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO PURCHASE A DALMATIAN, contact the Dalmatian Club of America, the closest regional Dal club, or an experienced local breeder who will guarantee that any pups offered for sale have normal hearing.

IF YOU ARE A VETERINARIAN, 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.

For further information, please contact:
Darlene Chirolas


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