Dalmatian Dog Description
The Dalmatian is a mid-size breed. They are a very muscular breed, yet they are also elegant. The breed is particularly known for its great endurance. Originally used as working dogs, the breed is quite versatile. They were used to herd sheep, hunt rodents, and as a bird dog. They are most commonly associated, though only in the United States, as being firehouse dogs. Today, their duties as a firehouse dog are limited. Used mostly as a mascot now, the breed once acted as a guard dog to protect the firehouse.
The exact origin of the Dalmatian is unknown and much debated, but it is thought to be Dalmatia, Croatia. In 1956 the book One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith was published causing a massively huge gain is popularity for the breed. The Dalmatian continues to remain one of the most well know and popular breeds of dog to this day.
Although the exact origins of the Dalmatian are shrouded in mystery, there are ancient Egyptian tomb paintings that depict a spotted dog running by chariots. Researchers for many years have tried to trace the history of the breed to various areas of Europe including Croatia, Asia and Africa without successful results.
German and Italian paintings from the 16th century depict spotted dogs that greatly resemble the present day Dalmatian. The Dauphin of France (1655-1732) is painted petting a Dalmatian and the breed can also be found in paintings from Denmark during the same period.
The reasoning behind the wide spread popularity of the Dalmatian during this time is believed to be because the breed was very popular with traveling bands of Romanies.
There are many experts who claim the province of Dalmatia should be recognized as the birthplace of the Dalmatian as a breed. This province is located in the costal region of Croatia along the Adriatic coast. The Dalmatian was used as a dog of war and as a sentinels between borders.
The breed’s first case of public popularity occurred in England. It is suggested that having been brought by gypsies and used as clowns, performers, guardians and companions, the public recognized the intelligence of the breed and became an instant hit with all who saw them. Through the years the Dalmatian has had many nicknames among the British people. A few of these are the English Coach Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and even the Spotted Dick.
The British nobility soon found out the Dalmatian was excellent with horses and it became a common scene to see one running beside a carriage or even behind the horse’s heels and under the axles of a carriage.
In America, records indicate Dalmatians were available even during the American Revolution. There are letters that exist in which George Washington requested a Dalmatian stud be found for his bitches.
The first Dalmatian registered with the American Kennel Club was “Bessie” in 1888. The Dalmatian Club of America was organized in 1905
During the centuries, the Dalmatian has engaged in a wide variety of activities. He has not only been used as sentinels and guard dogs, but also as draft dogs and shepherds. Known as excellent ratters and has long been the firehouse mascot. He has been used as a bird dog, a retriever and even for boar and stag hunting.
The Dalmatian is famed for his retentive memory and has been a favorite performer for stage and circuses.
Physically, he is fitted for roadwork with a great stamina for traveling long distances. The Dalmatian is a very picturesque dog with a look entirely his own.
Born solid white, puppies will develop clearly defined round spots of jet black or dark brown (liver variety). Normally a quiet dog, the Dalmatian can be the ideal guard dog by being able to distinguish between barking for fun and for warning. He has a protective nature and the courage to defend what he considers his own.
Requiring minimal care, the Dalmatian is a hardy dog that can be suited to any climate. With the exception of cleanliness and possibly long nails, the breed is usually ready for the show ring as nature made him.
There are certain health and genetic problems associated with the breed. Reputable breeders will have puppies checked for hearing ability at two to three weeks of age as deafness has increasingly become a problem due to indiscriminate breeding. Blindness has also become a problem so puppies should be observed to ensure there are no problems in that area. Some Dalmatians can have build ups in uric acid and veterinary care and specialized diets may be required to prevent the production of crystals. Other problems often seen in veterinary clinics are thyroid inadequacies and skin allergies.
Due to the Disney movie influence and improper breeding to supply sudden demands for puppies, temperament problems can occur and it is highly recommended that parents be observed and interacted with to help insure stable, dependable specimens.
The AKC standards require an alert, distinctively spotted dog that is muscular and active. He should be free of any shyness and have an intelligent expression.
Males and females are to be between 19 and 23 inches when measured at the withers with any height over 24 inches a reason for disqualification. The overall length of the dog from forechest to buttocks should be approximately equal to the height.
Although he should show good, sturdy bone structure, he should never appear coarse. The head should be in balance with the rest of the dog and lacking in any loose skin.
The Dalmatian’s eyes should be set well apart, medium sized and slightly rounded in appearance. Being set well into the skull, the eyes can be brown, blue or any combination of the two. Dark eyes are preferred and seen more often in the black spotted dogs.
The nose should be black in black spotted dogs and brown in liver ones. Lack of proper pigmentation of the nose is a major fault. Lips are close fitting and the teeth should have a proper scissors bite. Over or undershot jaws are automatic disqualifications.
Necks in Dalmatians should be arched and blend smoothly into the shoulders which in turn starts a smooth topline from withers to croup.
The chest is deep with moderate width but not barrel shaped with an underline that ends with a slight tuck up.
The feet are an important quality during judging. They should be round and compact with well-arched toes. The pads of the feet should be thick and elastic like. Toenails can be black or white in black spotted dogs, brown and white in the liver ones. Dewclaws can be removed but are not counted against the overall dog.
A Dalmatian’s coat is short but dense. It should be neither wooly or silky but sleek and glossy with an overall healthy appearance.
The base or background color of the Dalmatian’s coat is pure white. He should have spots that are jet-black or liver colored varying in size from a dime to the size of a half-dollar. The spots should be round and well defined, well distributed over the entire dog with a preference for not intermingling. The spots on head and legs are usually smaller than on the body.
Patches are a disqualification. They are considered a solid mass of black or liver color without any white. Unlike spots, patches are usually present at birth.
Although rare, a dog is occasionally tri colored. In these specimens, tan markings can appear on the head, neck, chest, legs or tails. This is an automatic disqualification. Fading of the black or liver spots due to environmental conditions or normal coat changes is not a disqualification because it is a natural process in the coat’s changes.
American Kennel Club
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Dalmatian Club of America’s quarterly magazine The Spotter
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Parma, OH 44134
Dalmatian Club of America
Breeder referral service
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Dalmatians are an affectionate and loyal breed. Their intense loyalty to their owners can sometimes turn into jealously which may lead to aggressiveness. Households with young children, babies especially, are not suited for the Dalmatian Dalmatians require a great deal of companionship, without it they can become depressed. The breed tends to prefer human companionship to the companionship of other dogs. In fact, the Dalmatian is best suited in a single dog household. Often the breeds quirk of “smiling” is confused with snarling and can frighten some, in actuality, it is a sign of submission.
Dalmatians are prone to deafness, a problem that commonly occurs in white dogs. Dalmatians also lack uricase, which is an enzyme that breaks down the uric acid. The buildup of uric acid can cause bladder stones and gout. To avoid this buildup Dalmatian owners must limit their dog’s intake of purine.
Dalmatians require a good deal of exercise. Young Dalmatians are very playful and energetic. If the breed does not get frequent exercise, in the form of long runs or walks, they tend to turn disobedient. Dalmatians enjoy games such as fetch and tug of war. A Dalmatian prefers to engage in playful activities with its owner rather than with other dogs or alone.
The Dalmatian requires very little grooming. To reduce shedding it is recommended that you bathe your dalmatian once or twice a month. A finishing spray or dog cologne can help keep your Dalmatian’s coat healthy and add shine