Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round


A dog born without eyes is finding his way in life after teaching himself to ‘see’ like a BAT – using echolocation.

Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round

Rowan, a German Spitz, barks and then listens to the echoes to help him tell where he is in relation to his surroundings.

Owner Sam Orchard, 41, was shocked when a congenital defect caused Rowan to be born without eyes.

But the 18-month-old is now almost indistinguishable from a sighted dog after learning to navigate using his barks.

Sam, who breeds dogs and runs a boarding kennel at her home in Potton, near Biggleswade, Beds., was stunned when she realised that Rowan was using echolocation.

Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round

She said: ”When he first started going out there were no leaves on the trees but when the leaves grew there was the rustling and we noticed the change in his behaviour.

”He barks to judge the lay of the land and then when I call his name he knows exactly where I am and comes running.

”People who meet Rowan can’t tell that he’s blind at first – they usually just ask why he’s got his eyes shut.

”He’s just amazing. He’s so independent and he has a really good life. He’s just like one of the other dogs.”

Sam, who runs the Spilmah Home Boarding kennel, breeds rare German Spitz dogs and lives with her two children, 11 and 18, and husband Phil, 48.

Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round

Rowan was born in a litter of two in April last year and Sam became concerned when he had not opened his eyes after ten days.

She took him to a vet who told her that the meeting of Rowan’s father’s bloodline with his mother’s had created a polygene which meant he was born with no eyes.

Sam added: ”It was a real surprise when he told me that not only would they not be opening, they didn’t exist – he was born without eyes.

Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round

”People told me that I should think about putting him to sleep but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

”I was shocked but I decided that I would just do the best I could for him and now he is just like the others. He an incredible chap.”

Blind German Spitz dog uses echoes to find his way round

Rowan has even completed a Good Citizen Bronze award for obedience, although he cannot compete in dog shows because of his appearance.

He lives with his two grandmothers, his grandfather, his aunty and his mum, four-year-old Badger plus two Dalmations and two Borzi.

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  1. Rowan is lucky that Sam has such a fondness for German Spitzs (and Dalmatians too). For every dog Sam breeds, one will die in a shelter. Let’s hope that no more are born with birth defects – Sam’s patience may run out, defective dogs are no good for breeding as adults, right Sam?

  2. I guess that dog did not have “millions of years to evolve” in order to adjust to its condition!
    One more proof against the Religion of Evolution…

        • The part where she called evolution a religion. From my past experiences, including having once been a devout hardcore Christian, I know that it’s a very common tactic for religious people to try and make false equivalencies.For instance, asserting that evolution, a theory that has been vigorously subjected to the scientific process for more than a century, is somehow on the same level as a religion which cannot be proven whatsoever, is a common tactic.Does that adequately satisfy your exceptional curiosity?

        • Why yes I am. Why don’t you tell me about a theory that doesn’t involve the evolution of species and doesn’t require a giant invisible deity creating things (e.g. Creationism and Intelligent Design)And no, sorry, I absolutely won’t accept “Why don’t you do some research?” as a valid answer. You’re asserting my lack of knowledge on the subject, so please, feel free to inform me.

    • All you have proved here is that you are a person who has strong opinions about things you don’t know anything about.

      I imagine you think sickle cell is evidence against evolution as well…..

      Also that all those scientists who spend their entire lives studying the intricate details of biological processes must be the stupidest people, since you clearly have this whole evolution fraud figured out.

    • Ultimately the bickering can go back and forth, but the ultimate distinction between religion and science is:Science is fallible and religion is infallible. This means you can always prove something in science wrong revise and continue better than you were before, in contrast to established religions which are told from 1500-6000 year old tombs and are considered heresy to question their words. You tell me which one has the greater potential to explain our origins and what happens to us after we die.

    • He is a wonderful little boy, always has a smile on his face, is full of life and loves to fill every waking moment of his life with what ever he can get into, and that could be anything to running around the woods with the rest of his doggy family or getting in to the water buckets LOL. And just for the record, he is NOT interbred!.

      I would never put down a healthy dog!! there is no health problems at all (he just cant see) and he as been castrated. He has plenty of unconditional love and cuddles to give.


  3. I like Rowan, I think he should still live his life to the fullest even though he has no eyes.
    I could tell just from watching the short video clip that he definetly knows his surroundings by barking. Rowan is such a cute dog! He’s got a great smile to!
    He’s an awesome and cute dog!

  4. What a wonderful story and one I can definately relate to as I have a Jack Russell Terrier “Spirit” that was born with the same condition. How heartless can some people be to believe that a dog like this would be better off put to sleep? Do you put humans to sleep when they are born with defects? In actuality these dogs are just as good if not better than all the rest. They are able to do just about all the same things as dogs with eyes just in a different way. Due to their lack of eyesight they have extremely enhanced other senses that more than compensate. My “Spirit” has enlarged ears and can almost literally hear a pin drop as he has many times showed when he’s alerted us to people around the house well before we knew it. He also has a great sense of smell which no doubted helps to guide him as well. He is perfectly able to navigate himself around without running into things with these senses alone and only has problems when those senses are not available such as when theres loud noise or scents in the air. Otherwise he is just as kind and lovable as any other pet just like my other Jack “Skippy”. My heartfelt congrats to Sam for sharing his story and letting it be known that a small defect does not mean an unmeaningful life for the pet. Btw “Spirit” is going on 4 yrs old now ….a long ways from the recommendation of the vet to just put him to sleep. He has spread so much love and meaningful interaction throughout his years I can’t imagine what I would do without him. Please people, think before you just discard a life because its alittle different….if you do you may never know just how much of a difference that little one may have on you and others around you.

    Sincerely a pet lover that knows what true unconditional love is,

    • Thank you Todd for sharing your story, its so nice to know that there are people around like me and feel it right to keep their little lives going, Rowan enjoys every moment of his life, and I enjoy sharing it too 🙂

      Kind regards Sam ( & Rowan )

      • Very welcome Sam & Rowan. Kind regards to you and yours from Todd, Spirit, Skippy, & Family. Thanks again for your story and kindness.


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