Brown is the most common eye color in Dalmatians but not all of them usually end up with brown eyes as some may also have blue eyes.
Blue-eyed Dalmatians are rare and stunning dogs to look at but this beauty can sometimes cause health complications in Dalmatians. One common complication with Blue-eyed Dalmatians is deafness.
A significant portion of Dals with blue eyes end up with a hearing loss in one or both ears.
However, it is not exactly known why this is the case as they can be several things that can cause hearing loss including external factors that may not be related to the dog’s eye color.
But before we look into deafness in these dogs, we should first take a look into why your Dalmatian may be blue-eyed.
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Why your Dalmatian may have blue eyes
1. Lack of pigmentation
A Dalmatian that lacks eye pigmentation can give off the illusion of blue eyes because of how light enters and leaves the eyes.
This the same reason we see the sky as blue but astronauts in space do not see the blue color.
2. The merle gene (M-locus)
Dalmatians are not natural carriers of the merle gene but this gene can occur in a Dalmatian mix with a merle gene carrier such as a Great Dane.
This means that if you see a Blue-eyed Dally, he may be an offspring of a merle carrier and a Dalmatian.
The merle gene causes dilution of the eye color, nose color, and parts of the dog’s coat. This gene may also be responsible for deafness in your dog.
3. The Piebald gene (S-locus)
The piebald gene is responsible for most blue eyes in Dals and is also the reason that Dalmatians have a white base color.
This gene dilutes the eye pigment making them appear blue as we talked about in our 1st point.
Piebald genes are also can cause deafness in some extreme cases. This could also help explain why about 30% of Dalmatians end up with some form of hearing loss.
4. An eye condition
Eye conditions such as heterochromia can cause a Dalmatian to have two different colored eyes. Heterochromia is especially common in Siberian Huskies.
Color change from brown to blue can also occur in a Dalmatian and this can be a sign of a condition known as interstitial keratitis that causes the dog’s eyes to have a bluish-white appearance.
Interstitial keratitis can be treated but in extreme cases, your dog’s eyes may appear watery or he may squint constantly to keep light out.
Other conditions such as melanoma and cataracts can also cause a change of your Dalmatian’s eye color to give it a bluish hue.
If your Dally was born with brown eyes which may then start changing color, you should give your vet a quick visit for a check-up.
What causes deafness in Blue-eyed Dalmatians?
If you suspect that your Dalmatian may be having a hearing impairment, your next course of action should be booking a BAER hearing test with your veterinarian.
Hearing impairment does not have a definitive cure but some treatments and therapies can be undertaken for the root cause of the hearing loss which should help your four-legged friend hear and respond to you better.
Some of the common causes of deafness in blue-eyes dals are;
- Dead cochlea nerve cells.
- Closure of the ear canals.
- Extreme white pigmentation due to the piebald gene.
- Damage of parts of the ears such as the eardrum by external stimuli.
- Ear infections, inflammation, or a torn eardrum due to excessive build-up of earwax.
- Old age.
How to live and take care of a deaf Dalmatian
- The most difficult encounter you will have while living with a Dally that had a hearing impairment is training. However, you can train him to pay attention and respond to your facial, hand gestures, and other signals.
- Training a deaf dog to respond to gestures will be difficult but with the right circumstances, clarity, patience, and consistency it can be successfully done. You can also seek the help of a professional.
- Always leash the dog when you are outdoors to have better control and also use a tag on the harness or the collar to let people know that the dog is deaf.
- Ensure your home is well-fenced and that there are not spaces where he can escape.
- To draw your Dalmatian’s attention to you, you can use a flashlight, a gentle rub, or stamping your feet on the floor.
- Attach a small bell on the dog’s collar to monitor his movement as verbal recall will be virtually impossible.
- Never use a shock collar. A vibrating collar will be better for paging but is not recommended.