Any animal with white fur can suffer from deafness, in one or both ears. It is therefore important to ensure that our dogs can hear in at least one ear.
The following has been written as a guide on what to expect when puppies or Adult dogs are taken for BAER (Brain Audible Electronic Response) hearing testing.
That said, these details are not prescriptive and there will be variations depending on who is performing the testing and where the testing is being performed, so please bear this in mind and don’t shoot the author!
Being Prepared If you are taking a litter of puppies to be hearing tested it would help greatly if you are able to uniquely identify each puppy.
If by the time the testing day arrives you are able to identify each puppy individually then that’s great, if not you will need some sort of mechanism to be able to tell who is who.
There are various methods that can be used:
- Tie a different coloured piece of wool round each puppy’s neck, may be difficult if it is a large litter.
- Tie a piece of wool round puppy’s neck with a different number of knots in for each puppy, remember to note down which puppy has which number of knots.
- If the coat is predominately white it is possible to use a permanent marker to write the puppy’s initial or a number on its coat. Even though the pen will say it is permanent, the mark usually comes off after a few days.
- If the puppies are from a long coated breed, shapes can be cut into the fur to identify each one.
After the puppies have been tested, some Testers will mark the puppy so that they know who has been tested and won’t test them again.
If you have a puppy pen or a large crate that you can take with you to the testing session to put the puppies in whilst they are waiting that would be ideal.
Also take newspapers / puppy trainer pads and some baby wipes / kitchen towels to help with clearing up any accidents that puppy may have.
It is not uncommon for puppies to be sick in the car on the way to testing, the baby wipes will come in very useful if this does occur.
Take all the necessary paperwork with you, if you have it, including the puppy’s pedigrees. If you don’t
have these by the time testing occurs don’t worry they can always be sent on later if requested by the Tester.
Check at the time of making the booking what paper work you will need to take with you on the day.
Take a helper with you if you can, to read the map if nothing else!
Some find it helps to settle the puppies if they are given a small feed when the puppies arrive, others don’t. Remember to take some cooled, boiled water with you as well. The puppies will enjoy this especially if it is a warm day, and a bowl to put it in.
It is not necessary for the bitch to go with the puppies when they are taken for their testing unless of course you are having her hearing tested at the same time.
Ideally all breeding stock should be tested before the mating occurs but as always better late than never!
On arrival, check where the puppies need to go and complete any paperwork that may be necessary.
The Testing Process
The hearing of the puppy is tested by placing 3 ultra fine needles under the puppy’s skin, they do not feel it and it is not distressing to them, they are like acupuncture needles. One needle is placed by each ear and one in the middle of the forehead.
It is best if the puppy is kept still during this process to obtain the optimum results. Some will settle quite happily sitting on your lap. If they are a bit wriggly then stand with the puppy laying on your arm, away from your body and facing the Tester (this also works when trimming nails) and they usually settle.
One ear will be tested first and then the other by having a frequency passed between each of the needles, usually a cup shaped ear muff is used for this purpose, and the Audible Response is recorded.
Fingers crossed and puppy will pass with bi-lateral hearing, that is able to hear in both ears.
If puppy only responds in one ear, that is uni-lateral hearing, it’s not a problem as they will still be able to live as a loving pet and their hearing will still be greater than any humans.
If a puppy's response is negative in both ears it is bi-laterally deaf. This is a very upsetting result for something so small and precious that you have already come to love so much. You must think carefully about how you will, and to what extent you will be able to, manage such a puppy.
Please think very long and hard before taking on a deaf puppy. Yes they can be trained but it takes an awful lot of hard work, patience and dedication.
The Breeder is solely responsible for all deaf puppies that they breed and should not expect someone else to take it over, when they find they have a problem.
Once testing is complete, don’t forget to collect all your paperwork including a certificate for each of the puppies tested and pay the bill!!
The testing process is much the same for Adult dogs, the only difference being that they should not be fed before attending as they may require a light sedation to stop them fidgeting whilst the test is performed.
When all has been completed, take everyone home and put your feet up with a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit. Note; the tea is for you and the biscuit is for the dogs!