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Deafness in Chihuahuas

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Chihuahua deaf

Have you ever had a deaf Chihuahua? Unlike humans, deafness is a little harder to deal with since dogs can’t talk. Fortunately, dogs will pick up cues from us and can even learn a type of sign language.

Deafness is defined as partial or complete hearing loss. Levels of hearing impairment vary from mild to a total loss of hearing. Dogs of any breed can be affected with hearing loss or deafness from a variety of causes, but breeds with white pigmentation are most often affected. The Chihuahua is among the list of dog breeds that present congenital (at birth) deafness (Strain, G.M.)


Congenital Deafness. Some dogs are born without the ability to hear in one or both ears. In these cases, the disease is inherited and irreversible. Congenital deafness is most commonly identified in dog breeds with white pigmentation and blue eye color; however, albinism is not usually associated with deafness.

Obstructive Deafness. In this case, deafness or hearing loss results from obstruction of the sound transmission as a consequence of occlusion of the outer or middle ear. Otitis of the middle or external ear can cause an excessive build-up of earwax that occludes the outer and/or middle ear.

Age-related Hearing Loss. As dogs age, it is common that they lose their hearing progressively and this is not related to trauma, genetics, or other diseases. Even though this occurs progressively, most owners perceive the hearing loss as an acute event because most animals only show signs of deafness when they have a complete loss of their hearing ability.

Toxicity. Certain drugs such as antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapeutics can cause hearing loss. The hearing loss may be reversible if diagnosed early but will, in most cases, result in permanent hearing deficits. Some of the drugs that may cause hearing issues are: aminoglycoside antibiotics, tetracyclines, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, cisplatin, vinblastine, vincristine, furosemide, benzalkonium chloride, digoxin, insulin, potassium bromide, prednisolone, and salicylates.

Other Causes. Exposure to intense sounds may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Other possible causes of deafness are trauma, infection, anoxia, and anesthesia.


• He or she is unresponsiveness to everyday sounds
• Your Chihuahua turns the wrong way when you call him or her
• Your Chi does not wake up when there is a loud noise
• Constantly shakes his or her head
• Your dog doesn’t respond or seems confused when given familiar vocal commands.
• Excessive barking
• Your dog has itchy, painful ears
• A smelly discharge comes from his or her ears (could be a sign of ear infection)


If you identify any of the above signs you can test your dog’s hearing by stepping quietly behind him and clapping once loudly to check his/her response. Any deafness present in the dog at birth is irreversible and these dogs should not be bred but of course, they still can make great pets.

The treatment of temporary deafness depends on the cause. If hearing loss is caused by an inflammation of the ear it can be treated with antibiotics and analgesics. If your dog has wax build-up in his ears, he/she will need daily ear cleaning with a prescription wash.


Dogs that are genetically predisposed to deafness should not be bred. Appropriate ear hygiene and care are essential to prevent hearing loss. Whenever your dog is groomed you should clean the external ear (only the visible part of the ear) using a small gauze or cotton ball and mineral oil in order to prevent excessive earwax buildup. Whenever you visit your veterinarian, make sure that they check your Chihuahuas’ ears.

Chihuahua peeking out of basket

How Can Pet Parents Help Their Dogs With Hearing Loss?

• Deaf dogs can be trained to understand hand signals.
• A flashlight or laser penlight can be used to get your dog’s attention.
• Let your dog know that you are entering or leaving a room by tapping him/her gently on the back or shoulder.
• Never let a hearing-impaired dog go unleashed outside the house because they won’t be able to hear traffic.

So, have you had to deal with deafness in your Chihuahua or any other dog you have had? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let us know!


ASPCA. Deafness. Retrieved from:

Strain, G.M. (2013). Deafness in Dogs and Cats. 2013 SAVMA Symposium, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, US.

female vet holding fuzzy dog

Dr. Sara Ochoa


This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

I have a 6 month old Blue Merle Chi with blue eyes, and up to this point I was convinced he has either stubborn or deaf. But lately he has been responding just having trouble figuring where the sounds is coming from. Is it possible that is hearing is just now developing.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

I have never heard of it developing that late but who knows? It could be that he only hears in one ear which could cause him confusion where the sound is coming from.

Judy Weikum

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

I adopted an 8week old Chihuahua. He never responded to me. I'm so thankful I put a bell on his collar. The vet and I know he isn't totally deaf. I will do whatever I can to train him. There is an advantage. Willy never hears the neighbors' dogs barking throughout the day!!


Tuesday 16th of November 2021

LOL, that's a positive way to look at it. I keep a bell on Bear's collar too. He isn't deaf but he's totally black and at night, if he's outside you can't see him at all.


Saturday 18th of July 2020

My 13 year old chihuahua, Trixie, is nearly deaf. Since this, she doesn’t get out of my way like she used to. She can see me and everything. She just stays closer to me as she’s walking in front my of me, while she looks back to see if I’m still there. I nearly step on her!


Saturday 18th of July 2020

I go through the same thing with our big dog Roxy (who's deaf). She loves to walk in front of me and just stop. I have tripped over her more than once.


Saturday 18th of April 2020

Our 14 year old Chihuahua, BlueBell, has suddenly become deaf (or so we thought) and it has made us very sad. All she wants to do now is sleep. Doesn't act very interested in eating but will eat eventually. She used to be our most lively, fun personality but acts like she is just existing. We are not sure if we are doing the right thing by not wanting to put her down.


Monday 20th of April 2020

I know, it's so hard to know when it's time to let them go. If she's not in any pain, I don't think you need to do it yet.


Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Princess rescued us after we lost our Tinker Bell to seizures. It was a couple of weeks before we realized she was deaf. She had just come to our local rescue from West Texas and we don’t think they even knew it. She is absolutely the love of our life & wouldn’t think of trading her for a hearing baby. She is so smart & we only have two regrets: our fear of losing contact outside (take great care not to let her get loose) & that she can’t hear us even though we talk to her just like she could (swear she can read lips). Up side is that she has no fear of fireworks, lightening, screaming kids or traffic noise when we travel. We live in a fifth-wheel & she loves to go. She gets plenty of exercise “chasing cars or anything else up & down the RV since the windows go to the floor. So many praises, don’t know where to stop. She is the most lovable fur baby ever.


Tuesday 15th of October 2019

I'm glad Princess found such a great family! Do yall use any hand signals with her?