November 10, 2018

The Relationship Between Genetic Deafness and Fear-Related Behaviors in Nervous Pointer Dogs

In 1987, Ehud Klein et al. attempted to explain why certain strains of pointer dogs are nervous. Differences in behavior in pointer dogs have been described in detail and, as a result of selective breeding, two strains of pointer dogs, nervous and normal, have appeared (Klein et al. 307). These researchers theorized that this nervousness could be a result of deafness in the nervous strain. Therefore, they created two groups of dogs, an experimental group of 28 nervous pointer dogs and a control group of 27 normal pointer dogs; however, when they started testing only 27 nervous dogs and 16 normal dogs were chosen (Klein et al. 308). Ehud Klein et al. then tested all dogs for hearing loss using a BAER test and then subsequently ranked their level of nervousness using morbidity scores, motor activity score, nervousness scores, and a general checklist of normal and abnormal dog behaviors (Klein et al. 308).

Results found that of the dogs tested 20 of the 27 nervous strain dogs had deafness in both ears, meanwhile only one of the 16 normal strain dogs showed hearing loss in on of his ears (Klein et al. 209). This means that the selective breeding used to create this strain had also selected for genes that cause hearing loss. However, within the nervous dog group, there was no significant difference between the behavior of deaf and nondeaf dogs (Klein et al. 311). So, although the difference between strains was pronounced, there are no intrastrain differences due to hearing loss.




Klein, Ehud, et al. “The Relationship between Genetic Deafness and Fear-Related Behaviors in Nervous Pointer Dogs.” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 43, no. 3, 1988, pp. 307–312., doi:


Reviewed by Ian J. Sessions | 11 November 2018