Bob Franklin, CT
thought it would be interesting to test Jack Russell Terrier owners
and breeders to see if they could determine whether a terrier has a
deafness problem just from its appearance. We ask that each of you look
at the photos of these 10 Jack Russells and decide which ones have normal
hearing, which ones have unilateral hearing (determine which ear, too,
if you can) and which ones are bilaterally deaf. The key is below the
photos but please don't look until you decide to try for yourself. Correct
terminology to use is: N for normal hearing; UDL for deaf in left ear;
UDR for deaf in right ear; and D for totally deaf.
almost 8 years old in these photos and shown as Dog #4 above, was over
3 years old when she whelped her only litter of puppies. The father
of these puppies was Kermit shown as Dog #3 and his hearing is normal.
That litter of 4 puppies had 2 deaf, one uni and one normal puppy and
was the litter that brought up the issue of deafness in Jack Russell
Terriers in 1994. Snowflake (who was discovered to be UDL at the time)
was and still is wonderful in obedience, has done well nationally in
USDAA agility and was Trailing and Locating winner at the JRTCA National
Trial. We had no idea she was a "uni" until she was BAER tested
after having that problem litter.
(UDR) show as Dog #10 gave no indication that he was a "uni"
until we tested him at 3 years of age along with all of the other dogs
that came to one of our JRT fun days a month or so after we discovered
that Snowflake was UDL. Mickey shown as Dog #9, is Peewee's son by a
BAER Normal bitch and has Normal hearing, but Mickey has produced "uni"
puppies. Unfortunately, Mickey's litter was whelped about a month before
we knew Peewee was UDR. In Duffy, shown as Dog #8 and bred from two
normal hearing parents, we thought we had a wonderful puppy until we
tested his litter at 8 weeks of age and he turned out to be totally
deaf. The rest of Duffy's litter tested BAER normal. Wendy, shown as
Dog #7, has normal hearing, but she had a single littermate with a brown,
half face mask on the right side which was UDR.
opinion seems to be that white dogs are most apt to be deaf. However,
keep in mind that the Jack Russell Terrier is essentially a white breed
anyway. But, as you can see from the photos, Jack Russells with considerable
color can also be deaf. The only accurate way to determine if the dog
is deaf is to have it Baer tested. Before you purchase a puppy, ask
the breeder if both parents were BAER tested and if the entire litter
was BAER tested and what the results were. Breeders must BAER test all
breeding stock and all puppies from all litters to know for certain
the hearing status of each individual and get in understanding of whether
or not their lines are producing deafness.
article was originally printed in True Grit in August, 1994.