Feb. 10, 2005 - If Spot never seems to come when you call, obedience class may not be the answer.
The dog may be suffering from a hearing problem and could be deaf in one or both ears, and certain breeds of dog are more prone to acquire a hearing problem.
Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University are currently investigating a common problem of deafness in popular breeds such as Dalmatians and English Setters.
Dr. Keith Murphy, a geneticist in veterinary pathobiology, began the study on genetic canine deafness in 1999. "Our major goal is to understand the basis for hereditary deafness in certain breeds, and use that information to reduce the prevalence or even prevent future deaf offspring," Murphy said.
Murphy and his team of researchers have discovered that deafness in Dalmatians and English Setters does not follow a simple pattern of inheritance.
To solve the mystery of why approximately 30 percent of Dalmatians and 14 percent of English Setters are born deaf in one ear or both ears, the researchers must first identify the genes responsible for the problem.
"We don't know what exactly we are going to find, so we are studying the entire canine genome," Murphy said.
The researchers have collected information on 75 Dalmatians and 30 English Setters from across the United States. Murphy hopes to identify the inherited deafness genes by using a painless hearing test and collecting pedigree information on each dog.
The Texas A&M researchers are especially interested in collecting more data on English Setters with bilateral or unilateral deafness.
By using such researchers, the veterinarians hope to learn more about deafness in dogs and what might be done to alleviate hearing problems that certain breeds are likely to experience.
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