In common with many other animals with white fur, Dalmatians can suffer from deafness in one or both ears. Only recently has it been possible to test animals for deafness and some results have shown about 1 in 12 Dalmatians tested are deaf in both ears.
It is therefore important to ensure that any Dalmatian that you buy can hear in at least one ear. You can imagine the heartache if you find your pet is deaf in both ears after you have taken responsibility for its future and become attached to it. You should not be put off buying a pet that can hear in one ear only.
A deaf dog can be a liability to itself and those around it and demands more help than most owners could provide.
There now exists a definitive test for deafness called the BAER test. The test is carried out once puppies are 6 weeks old. Electrodes connected to a computer are able to measure the brain's response to noise (or lack of response), even if a puppy is unconscious. By the time a puppy reaches this age, hearing loss will have developed in those inheriting the condition.
Experience has shown that other methods of testing for hearing, such as clapping hands or other sudden noises, cannot be relied on. There are many instances of puppy buyers being assured that their pet can hear and finding out too late that this is not the case.
We would recommend that you enquire closely about how your puppy has been tested. If it has been BAER tested, the breeder will have a computer printout showing the result. This will be handed to you when you collect your puppy.
If there is no proof of testing, and you still go ahead and purchase, obtain written confirmation that the breeder will take the puppy back if subsequently found to be deaf in both ears.
If you are considering having a litter from you own bitch, please have her tested before mating her, and also insist on seeing proof that the stud dog has also been tested. Evidence shows that dogs with only partial hearing are likely to have more deaf offspring than those with perfect hearing. Do you want the responsibility of dealing with the consequences?
As the equipment for carrying out BAER testing is specialised, testing is available in only a few places. Those currently available are detailed below and can be contacted directly.