Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You
BAER Hearing Tests. BAER, or Brainstorm Auditory Evoked Response, is a hearing test to diagnose deafness in dogs. OFA recommends that BAER hearing tests be performed by board-certified veterinary neurologists, but it will accept BAER tests administered by veterinarians, neuroscience professionals, and audiologists. BAER testing only needs to be done once during the dog's life, after he is at least 35 days old. During a BAER hearing test, insert earphones are used to administer auditory stimulation between 70 and 105 decibels, which is considered the normal hearing range for dogs. The test evaluates response to stimuli. Bilateral hearing, or hearing in both ears, passes the test. Unilateral or bilateral deafness, deafness in one or both ears, fails the test. Pigmentation is related to one of the most common causes of congenital deafness. Dogs with unpigmented skin in the inner ear typically have nerve endings that atrophy and die within the first few weeks of the puppy's life. Dogs who have unpigmented skin on other parts of their bodies may also have unpigmented skin in their ears, and it's especially important to have these dogs BAER tested to determine whether they suffer from congenital deafness. White fur may indicate unpigmented skin, although not all dogs with white coats lack skin pigmentation. There is no way to tell whether a dog has unpigmented skin in his inner ear just by looking at the ear, which is why BAER testing is recommended. Be Alert to Misinformation About Health Issues. For a variety of reasons, breeders don't want to acknowledge potential health issues in their purebred puppies. Sometimes breeders simply don't know about the breed-specific health problems, because they're not well educated about breeding or their breed. In some cases, the breed club as a whole has decided to minimize the discussion about breed-related health problems to avoid giving their breed a 'bad name.' In other cases, a specific breeder may want to downplay health issues because if people knew about how unhealthy the breeder’s dogs really are, they would be less inclined to buy them. In any of these cases, you're likely to encounter misinformation about the breed's health issues and should look for independent third party information to learn about each breeds health problems. Due to the high number of health-related problems in purebreds resulting from either inbreeding or deliberately creating breeds with exaggerated physical features, prospective dog owners should assume that any purebred may have breed-related health problems. It is vital to conduct independent research to determine the typical health problems associated with each breed and therefore potentially in each dog of the breed. The Breed Selector software provides information on many of the diseases suffered by each dog breed.