Why Are Some Dogs Deaf? Featuring Adoptable Dog Penelope

We don’t have many deaf dogs come through The Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA), but it isn’t unheard of. These dogs usually have a harder time finding a home. Some deaf dogs can be reactionary and defensive, in part because they don’t have as much awareness of their surroundings. But why are some dogs deaf? Keep reading to find out.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas (SPCA of Texas) explains why some dogs are deaf.

“What causes a dog to lose its hearing? A lot of the same things that cause hearing loss in humans. Genetic defects can cause a dog to be born deaf, this is known as congenital deafness. A dog can also lose its hearing due to an ear infection, injury to the ear, or may experience gradual hearing loss due to old age. Exposure to loud noise can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, as can certain drugs.”

As an adopter of a deaf dog, you will need to have extra patience with things like training and obedience. They can be just as loyal and loving, but they may take extra time to warm up to you or to obey your commands.┬áThink about when you coo or speak to your dog in a baby voice and they run up to you with excitement and joy. Deaf dogs can’t read this type of intonation in your voice, therefore they may not understand what you mean the same way a hearing dog would.

Penelope 818382 (2)

Penelope (818382) is a 3-year-old female Pitbull mix. She is deaf. At first we didn’t know, but after spending time with her we noticed that she was not responding to sound. She is sweet and loving and snorts like a little pig. She is shy at first and sometimes reserved, as you would expect from someone who couldn’t hear and is in a new environment! The irony is that she has large ears that stick up off the top of her head!


Here is Penelope on The Morning Blend with HSSA’s Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, Andrea Mitchell!

She has been overlooked by adopters, because she sometimes doesn’t come to the front of the kennel when people walk by. Unfortunately, this is because she can’t hear that anyone is there! We made a special tag for her kennel that tells potential adopters that she is deaf, so they understand why she doesn’t respond the same way as the other dogs do.


There are many ways you can learn to communicate with your deaf dog.

When Penelope came into the shelter we also happened to stumble upon this post about training your deaf dog sign language! We think it’s wonderful.


This will be useful for Penelope’s future forever home! Share this post and share the knowledge about what it means to have a deaf dog. They need loving homes just as much as the others!

Have you ever had a deaf dog? What were your favorite techniques for training them? Let us know in the comments below!

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