It is a sad fact that koolies are sometimes born deaf, this is not to say it is a common occurrence in the Koolie breed, certainly not as common as some other breeds. Many breeders have only ever had one or two after several litters. Usually it is not difficult to predict which in a litter are going to suffer this defect. White around the head, particularly over the ears and around the eyes are indications that the puppy should be carefully checked for the ability to hear and see before being sent to new homes. A lack of pigment in the hair in the ears makes it impossible for sound to be transmitted along the hair into the inner ear. Sometimes though it is not so obvious and all conscientious breeders will be aware anyone can breed an affected puppy. Occasionally a puppy that is strongly coloured can be deaf. Most cases of deafness are caused by the puppy being a homozygous merle (MM) where the mating was merle to merle and the puppy has inherited the merle gene from both parents. Heterozygous merles (Mm) usually have no problem, but deafness can be from other causes although less common. Homozygous merles are also often quite pale in their merling and often have large areas of white over the body apart from what is often around the chest, collar, stomach and socks usually called Irish Trim. Some are all white with just a touch of colour or merling here and there. This isn't a guarantee of problems, sometimes these dogs can hear and see OK but they are more than likely homozygous merle anyway and should not be bred to another merled dog. Certainly dogs of this colouring that are not affected still can make very good working dogs, agility, obedience or companion dogs.
Hi, I am Liz & my husband Joe, we have 2 stunningly gorgeous DEAF koolies (deliberately taken & knowing they were deaf). Shep - 8mths & Angel 4mths whose registrations should be happening now.
Shep's colouring is unreal & he should not be deaf, but is & Angel is 95% white & that said deaf.
I realise that deaf dogs are harder for breeders to place, BUT I consider them to be smarter than a hearing koolie & Shep & Angel have proved that to me e.g. Shep learnt to play fetch from seeing a lady warm her dog up for the herding ring (10minutes), I only had to teach him to release the toy, Angel watched Shep for the first 24hrs we had her & has ever since played fetch & released the toy. Shep also loves to play fetch in the dark, he tracks the ball or fetch toy to bring it back. I have also watched Shep herd in tandem with another koolie to keep Angel from getting to me - he has never been trained to herd. The other koolie was a rescue off a farm & had had herding training & they worked together for 10mins before I jumped in to get Angel (she was 9 weeks & only 12hrs with us) as she was getting distressed.
Also I would love to see some info re deaf koolies on the web sites & do not mind having people contact me re a deaf dog, as I consider them to be MUCH more loving & very much more tuned to their owners & definitely very feely/touch dogs. Ours just love to snuggle up in bed early of a morning for a cuddle with us before it is time to get up & go for a walk.
Liz & Joe with Shep & Angel
In our quest to bring our first Koolie into our lives after a long-term fascination with the breed, we looked at a number of available Koolies all of which were hearing ones. As an animal trainer I really wanted my first Koolie to be trainable but also challenge my abilities & this led me to look at acquiring a deaf Koolie knowing that we could provide an excellent home, be able to train it & it would be needier of a home compared to the hearing dogs on offer. Our enquiries led us to find our beautiful deafie Keira who had been rescued by DCH Animal Adoptions & was in foster care with Liz & Joe Grewal. From the moment she arrived I knew I had found the ideal dog for us & whilst she was deaf & does have sight problems also from the merle gene, she has been nothing other than a pleasure to own & train & surprisingly easy to live with for our first deaf dog.
Keira progressed through 'Trick' training with ease, using hand signals & obviously the Koolie intelligence & ability to learn. She has blown us away with her talent & the fact that she is deaf has proven to be of an advantage as a public performing dog as she is not distracted by crowds & noises.