If you have ever wondered what breeders do when they discover a deaf puppy in a litter, you likely want to know the full story. While the first instinct might be to assume the worst, reputable breeders actually put great care and thought into ensuring these special dogs go to good homes.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: reputable breeders do not euthanize or abandon deaf puppies. Instead, they carefully screen potential owners to find loving homes willing to put in the extra work of raising and training a deaf dog.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you want to know about what responsible breeders do when they have deaf puppies, from testing and identification, to considerations around pricing and placement.

How Breeders Test for and Identify Deafness

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Testing

Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing is considered the gold standard for detecting deafness in dogs. This test measures the brain’s response to sounds and can identify dogs with hearing impairments as early as 5 weeks of age.

During BAER testing, small electrodes are placed under the puppy’s skin near their ears and on their head. Clicking sounds are then played through earphones into the puppy’s ears. The electrodes detect electrical activity in the auditory pathway from the ear to the brain in response to the sounds.

Puppies with normal hearing will have a noticeable brain response, while deaf puppies will not. BAER testing provides an objective way to determine if a puppy can hear in each ear.

Observational Testing

Breeders also rely on simple observational tests to detect deafness in puppies. These include making loud noises near the puppy and watching their reaction. Deaf puppies will not startle or look around for the source of the sound.

Breeders may clap their hands, ring bells, or blow whistles while watching the puppy’s response. Puppies with normal hearing will turn their head or ears towards the sound. Calling the puppy’s name and watching for a response is another common observational test.

These simple tests allow breeders to screen litters for deafness starting at around 3-4 weeks of age when the puppy’s ears open.

While BAER testing is more accurate, observational testing offers a free and convenient way for breeders to identify deaf puppies early on. By combining both methods, breeders can feel confident about detecting deafness in newborn puppies.

This allows them to take steps to ensure deaf dogs go to appropriate homes and provide extra training as needed. Responsible breeders are committed to carefully screening litters for health issues like deafness for the wellbeing of the puppies.

Considerations Around Pricing Deaf Puppies

The Costs of Raising a Deaf Pup

Raising a deaf puppy can be more expensive for breeders compared to hearing puppies. According to the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (DDEAF), the average cost for a breeder to raise a deaf puppy is estimated to be $150-$300 higher than a hearing puppy.

There are a few key factors that contribute to these increased costs:

  • Additional veterinary care – Deaf pups may need more vet check-ups and procedures like BAER testing to diagnose deafness.
  • Special training and socialization – Deaf pups need specialized training to learn commands using hand signals and extra socialization to build confidence.
  • Kennel modifications – Some breeders make changes to kennels like installing glass doors or video monitors so deaf pups can see people approaching.

Setting an Appropriate Price for a Deaf Puppy

Despite the increased costs, some breeders argue that it would be unfair to ask buyers to pay more for a deaf puppy. Others believe pricing deaf puppies a bit lower helps them find experienced homes faster.

Pricing Approach Reasoning
Price deaf puppies the same as hearing littermates Avoid implying the deaf puppy is “defective” and has less value. The deaf puppy deserves an equal chance of finding a loving home.
Price deaf puppies about 10-25% lower than hearing littermates Offer an incentive for buyers willing and able to take on the extra responsibility of owning a deaf dog.

Some experts emphasize that while pricing slightly lower may help deaf pups initially, focusing too much on a “discount” could attract the wrong type of owner. The priority should be finding the best possible home for each puppy.

The Process of Placing a Deaf Puppy

Screening Potential Owners

Breeders go through a careful screening process when selecting homes for deaf puppies. They want to ensure the dogs go to owners who are prepared for and enthusiastic about raising a deaf dog. Some key factors breeders look for include:

  • Previous experience with deaf dogs or special needs pets.
  • A safe, secure home environment without major noise hazards.
  • The ability to keep the puppy supervised and protected when outdoors.
  • A commitment to training using hand signals and rewards.
  • Patience and reasonable expectations about the puppy’s limitations.

Breeders may require potential adopters to fill out an application, get vet references, or even do a home visit. Their goal is finding the very best match.

Providing Resources and Support

Responsible breeders help prepare new owners for the unique aspects of life with a deaf dog. Some important resources they may provide include:

  • A list of training commands to start practicing with hand signals.
  • Tips on managing the puppy safely without verbal cues.
  • Contact info for deaf dog support groups.
  • A reference guide on deaf dog body language.
  • Advice on finding deaf dog friendly activities.

Many breeders make themselves available for ongoing questions and give new owners their phone number in case issues come up. They want adopters to have the tools to be successful raising the pup.

Following Up After Placement

Responsible breeders stay invested even after a deaf puppy goes to its new home. They will follow up periodically to see how the dog is adjusting and provide more support if needed. Some specific ways breeders may follow up include:

  • Calling after the first few weeks to answer any questions.
  • Requesting training updates and photos every month.
  • Offering to take the dog back if the match doesn’t work out.
  • Keeping in touch throughout the dog’s life to ensure continued care.

By maintaining open communication, breeders can monitor the puppy’s well-being and provide guidance if issues arise. They want to know their dogs are happy and healthy in their new families.

Should You Consider Adopting a Deaf Puppy?

Adopting any puppy is a big responsibility, but deaf puppies require some special considerations. While deafness may seem challenging, many caring pet owners have wonderful experiences raising deaf dogs.

By understanding their unique needs and giving them proper training, you can develop a rewarding bond with a deaf puppy.

The Benefits of Adopting a Deaf Puppy

There are several great reasons to open your home to a deaf pup. First, deaf puppies often have a hard time finding permanent homes, so adopting one provides a loving solution. Because they can’t hear common sounds, many people worry that training and communication will be impossible.

However, deaf dogs rely more on nonverbal cues and quickly learn hand signals for basic obedience.

Additionally, owners of deaf dogs report stronger bonds and deeper trust compared to hearing dogs. Since deaf pups depend entirely on their owner for communication, safety, and commands, a tight connection develops.

Making the time commitment to train a deaf puppy leads to an extremely loyal canine companion.

Special Considerations for Owning a Deaf Pup

While deaf pups make wonderful pets, meeting their needs takes patience and care. Because they can’t hear danger approaching, extra steps must be taken to keep them safe. Deaf dogs should remain on a leash when not in a secure, fenced area. It’s also essential to frequently check on them visually.

Owners of deaf dogs also need to use unique training techniques that rely on hand signals, vibrations, and positive reinforcement. Verbal praise, shouts, or clapping won’t get their attention. Additionally, startling a deaf pup can cause fear, confusion, or even aggression.

With plenty of repetition though, deaf dogs learn quickly.

It’s also important not to leave toys and chews lying around, as deaf dogs may accidentally injure themselves by chewing items they can’t hear you ask them to drop. Childproofing your home is essential.

Is Adopting a Deaf Puppy Right for You?

While deaf pups require some extra attention, most owners feel incredibly rewarded by the experience. If you have plenty of time to put into training and keeping them safe, adopting a deaf puppy can be very fulfilling. Be sure that all family members are on board to make the commitment as well.

With a lot of hard work and patience, deaf dogs make wonderfully devoted companions. Opening your heart and home to an overlooked deaf pup gives them a chance to thrive thanks to your compassion.


While the discovery of deafness in a new litter of puppies can be emotionally difficult, reputable breeders approach it with care and compassion. By investing in responsible testing, pricing deaf puppies fairly, screening adopters thoroughly, and providing ongoing support, they set their hearing-impaired pups up for happy lives.

With patience, commitment and proactive training, deaf dogs can make wonderfully loving and attentive pets. By understanding breeders’ best practices around deaf puppies, you can rest easy knowing these resilient dogs go on to live full, enriched lives.

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