Waardenburg Syndrome Brief Overview

Example of a "Blaze" with the distinct white line between the eyes.

Waardys or ferrets expected to have a condition referred to as Waardenburg Syndrome typically have a wide face and Blaze coat pattern and a wider face.

Waardenburg syndrome is often associated with deafness, social awkwardness, and is often incorrectly referred to as down syndrome like due to the wider face, however, most humans diagnosed with Waardenburg syndrome have do not have neurological deficits.

Hearing Impairment Brief Overview

Deafness in ferrets appears to have a strong correlation with "rare" or more praised coat patterns, such as blaze and panda, however, hearing impairment is not always easy to notice or diagnose. Ferrets are known for being extremely inquisitive animals and use all of their senses to understand an environment so even with a hearing impairment they may use vibration and visual cues more than simply hearing danger.

Waardenburg Syndrome In-depth

Waardenburg Syndrome is a genetic disorder officially only diagnosed in humans.

  • Very pale or brilliantly blue eyes, eyes of two different colors (complete heterochromia), or eyes with one iris having two different colours (sectoral heterochromia)[2]
  • A forelock of white hair (poliosis), or premature graying of the hair
  • Appearance of wide-set eyes due to a prominent, broad nasal root (dystopia canthorum)—particularly associated with Type I) also known as telecanthus
  • Moderate to profound hearing loss (higher frequency associated with Type II);[2]
  • A low hairline and eyebrows that meet in the middle (synophrys)
  • Patches of white skin pigmentation, in some cases
  • Abnormalities of the arms, associated with Type III
  • neurologic manifestations, associated with Type IV


That being out of the way many owners have noticed their pets having very similar traits and have thusly self-diagnosed them. Because there is no treatment or risk for misdiagnoses some vets may agree with the owner's diagnoses.

The true difference between a ferret diagnosed with deafness and "Waardenburg syndrome" is cosmetics.