Dalmatian

Dog Dalmatian Breed

Beauty dalmatian dog, isolated on white background

Characteristics

Two things are important for this eye-catching pedigree dog: first of all, proximity to its family and second, lots of activity. Dalmatians are very lively family dogs that can be calm and cuddly at home, but come into their own in the great outdoors. These active, sporty dogs are true stamina artists and take great joy in running alongside the bike for hours or keeping their owners company jogging. Along with numerous types of dog sports, swimming, fetch, playing or long walks in forest and fields where they can run free are possible activities. This intelligent black-and-white bundle of energy wishes to be both mentally and physically stimulated and shows itself to be very motivated to learn, even for little tricks.

A dog with a strong joie de vivre

Dalmatians enjoy company, be it that of their family or of other animals. They are happiest being involved with everything and are considered very adaptable and pleasant companions – as long as they are both physically and mentally challenged. They are very sensitive and prefer to withdraw if there are family tensions. Their need for love is evident in training too, as they react much better to praise and lovable affirmation than excessive severity. When under duress or too much pressure, the self-confident Dalmatian goes into stubborn mode and in this case very much acts independently – which in most cases isn't in the interest of its owner.

Friendly temperament

When in the hands of a good owner that consistently but lovingly shows the dog the way and provides sufficient exercise and activity, the Dalmatian shows itself to be a friendly, open family dog. Visitors will instantly be clocked, but aggressive or fearful behaviour is totally alien to this pacific pedigree dog. They are very patient and playful when living with children, but do not wish to be misused as “toys”.

Appearance

The Dalmatian's defining characteristic is undoubtedly its white fur with black/brown spots. This is a one-off amongst all dog breeds and came about through a genetic mutation. The unique dark spots are ideally distributed across the whole body symmetrically and mark a clear contrast to the otherwise short and pure white fur. The round spots ideally have a diameter of 2-3cm and should be entirely black or liver-brown in colour.

Typical spots

Dalmatians are initially born pure white in colour and only start to show the first signs of the typical spots at the age of 10 to 14 days. All spots have developed by the end of the first year in age. Dogs that are already born with a few large black spots have a disc-like colouring, which is regarded by the breed standard as an error, therefore is excluded from the breed. The Dalmatians' eye colour also varies depending on the colour of the spots. They should be dark brown for dogs with black spots and amber-coloured for those with liver-brown spots.

Athletic physique

The Dalmatian's short, flat white hair is very thick, but doesn't have an undercoat for additional warmth. This emphasises the well-proportioned and athletic physique, which lends the Dalmatian a very elegant gait. Its slim body reveals a strong back with a straight spine and muscular shoulders. The throat is long and powerful and like the head, has no skin folds whatsoever. The rounded lop ears are set high on the narrow skull and lie close to the head. The sickel-shaped tail that tapers at the tip can reach down to the ankles.

Weight and Height

With males ranging from 56 to 62cm in height, Dalmatians are considered a medium to large dog breed. Females are somewhat shorter at 54 to 60cm and are thereby slightly lighter. Whilst males weigh 27 to 32kg according to the breed standard, the weight of an adult female should ideally range between 24 and 29kg.

History

The origin of the Dalmatian is unexplained up to this very day. Numerous theories are based merely on presumptions. Hence, Italy, Britain, Turkey and northern India are discussed as possible countries of origin, along with the Dalmatian region on the Croatian coast. Drawings on Greek frescoes and ancient Egyptian pharaohs' tombs suggest that the ancestors of these spotted dogs lived over 1,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the exact origin of the name and the purpose and tasks they originally had are not known.

Coach companions and fire brigade mascots

Old historical works in which the Dalmatian is listed as Turkish Dog, Dalmatian Dog, Petit Danois, Tiger Dog or Bengal Harrier at least prove that these characterful black-and-white dogs were already around in the Middle Ages and that particularly at the end of this period they were popular in the European nobility and higher social classes. Especially in Britain, they were deployed as elegant and protective companion dogs on coaches. In the US, they made a name for themselves accompanying fire engines, which were originally pulled by horses. The striking Dalmatian ran ahead barking and to put it one way, acted as a “live siren” to ensure trouble-free passage. Even to this day, they act as mascots for some American fire brigades.

101 Dalmatians

When pedigree breeding commenced in the 19th century and certain standards for the many different dog breeds were established, Dalmatians were finally recognised as an independent breed. In 1890, the first official, uniform standard was set out. Despite the chaos of the First and Second World Wars and the loss of its occupation as a coach companion dog with the onset of motorisation, Dalmatians were able to show their resilience as pedigree dogs. Nowadays they don't have a special field of work, but they are extremely popular as companion and family dogs. Demand for this distinctive pedigree dog has now returned to a normal level after experiencing a real boom following the famous film “101 Dalmatians”.

Health and Breeding

However, the path to fashion dog status has brought disadvantages for most breeds. When it comes to an augmented breed where the primary concern is profit, important characteristics such as health and a stable character often go by the wayside. Hence, it is certainly gratifying to see that the Dalmatian boom following the film has now subsided. After all, breeding these special dogs requires farsightedness and a great sense of responsibility, especially because the Dalmatian has to contend with some diseases typical of the breed.

Deafness

In comparison to other dog breeds, an above-average number of Dalmatian puppies are born deaf. Scientists established early on that deafness amongst dogs is linked to white fur. Hence, the onset of deafness increases proportionally to the amount of white in the fur for other breeds too, not just for Dalmatians. Despite this early discovery, no genetic test for a predisposition to deafness has yet been developed. The reason for this is the complex inheritance of deafness, which involves many genes. As a result, the parents of deaf dogs may be in perfect physical health, whilst two deaf parent animals could breed offspring with no hearing problems. In order to rule out your puppy being affected by deafness, you should absolutely insist on seeing the results from hearing examinations when purchasing a puppy.

Dalmatian syndrome

A low-purine diet is recommended for Dalmatians. By avoiding purine, which is found in beef, offal, fish and yeast, the uric acid level can be reduced and thereby the risk of urinary stones. Since Dalmatians are also frequently affected by allergies, special diet foods prove successful with many dogs. Customary dry food with a low raw protein content of 15 percent may work, but such standardised dog food will generally not meet the Dalmatian's special requirements. It's always helpful to discuss an exact nutrition plan with the vet or breeder.

Nutrition

A low-purine diet is recommended for Dalmatians. By avoiding purine, which is found in beef, offal, fish and yeast, the uric acid level can be reduced and thereby the risk of urinary stones. Since Dalmatians are also frequently affected by allergies, special diet foods prove successful with many dogs. Customary dry food with a low raw protein content of 15 percent may work, but such standardised dog food will generally not meet the Dalmatian's special requirements. It's always helpful to discuss an exact nutrition plan with the vet or breeder.

Keep well hydrated

Regardless of whether you opt for dry food, wet food or fresh food straight from your kitchen, it's important that your Dalmatian has lots to drink and is provided with sufficient fluids. Dogs that urinate frequently develop urinary stones less often than those that only need one toilet trip per day. Furthermore, only giving Dalmatians one meal a day (ideally in the afternoon) has proved to be a success.

Grooming and Housing

Along with proven healthy genes, species-appropriate housing and a healthy diet are also key to ensure your Dalmatian lives a long and healthy life. For Dalmatians, species-appropriate primarily means that they get lots of exercise and activity. Free run of the garden and a little walk are nowhere near enough for these sporty and durable dogs. Dalmatian owners need to find at least two but ideally three to four hours per day for their dog's sporting schedule. Long walks in the great outdoors, swimming in streams or lakes, jogging and cycling or riding excursions are just a few examples of how you can get your Dalmatian on the go and keep it happy. These eager to learn and agile dogs are equally fans of canine sports such as clicking, dog dancing, agility, obedience or search games.

No dog for couch potatoes

It's self-evident that a dog with these requirements is no sofa companion for couch potatoes. A Dalmatian needs an active family that shares its thirst for activity. Along with the joy of doing sporting activities together with their dog or going on outdoor excursions, the family should also spend a lot of time with their pet. Full-time employees are definitely not suitable owners for these highly active dogs. In addition, you should be willing to integrate your dog as a fully-fledged member of the family. Although they are of course the lowest-ranking in the family pack, these sociable dogs need close contact with their owners and lots of love and attention. Being alone for too long or even being kept in a kennel won't do for a Dalmatian.

Time-consuming but easy to groom

In contrast to the physical and mental challenges that keeping a Dalmatian presents, grooming is really easy. It's sufficient to brush the short, flat fur occasionally and to rub it with a damp towel. It should be cleaned daily with a rubber curry comb or nopped glove on a daily basis only during the moulting period (twice a year). Along with coat care, the eyes, ears, teeth and claws should be checked and cleaned regularly. The more you carry out these short check-ups and grooming sessions on a routine basis, the more relaxed your dog will be during the process. And this means more time for sporting activities with your spotted canine!

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