rec.pets.dogs: Dalmatians Breed-FAQ

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Robert von Mayr

Apr 17, 2004, 7:26:37 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/dalmatians
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.



* Jan Cranny
* Corinne James
* Carol Russo
* Sylvia Strawbridge
* Robert von Mayr
* Maria Zorka

Copyright 1995.

* November 1997


Table of Contents

* Physical Description
* Characteristics and Temperament
* Dalmatian Activities
* Frequently Asked Questions
* Dalmatian Breed History
* Special Medical Problems
* Questions for the Prospective Dalmatian Owner
* Questions to ask a breeder when selecting a Dalmatian
* Appendices
+ References
+ Other available references
+ Online references
+ Periodicals
+ Dalmatian Club of America
* About the Authors


Physical Description

Dalmatians are medium-sized, short coated dogs. The accepted size in
the USA is between 19-24 inches at the shoulder. Weight ranges from
40-70 pounds. Females are generally smaller than males. Today, many
Dalmatians are much larger than the accepted breed standard. Males can
be seen as large as 27 inches and weigh 90 pounds. In Great Britain,
Dalmatians are usually larger than in the States. The Dalmatian is
built for long distance endurance. It is well-muscled, without being
coarse, with a capacious, deep chest. The coat is quite short and
predominantly white with distinctive round spots in either black or
liver (brown). The spots range in diameter from the size of a dime to
the size of a half-dollar. Some Dalmatians have one or more 'patches'.
These are large unbroken areas of black or brown, which are silkier in
texture. Although the spots are already present as skin spots at
birth, Dalmatians are born with pure white fur, unless patched. These
patches are silky large areas of black or brown. Patches disqualify a
Dal from the conformation show ring, but have no impact on the dog's
quality as pet. Many pet owners find patches to be very attractive.
Other physical disqualifications in the US breed ring are over size
(over 24") and undersize (under 19"). Other (disqualifying) spotting
colors are tri colors and lemons. Tri coloration is where both black
and liver colored spots exist on the same dog. Lemon spotting is a
faded beige or orange-beige coloration.

Characteristics and Temperament

The Dalmatian is an active, energetic dog that enjoys lots of
exercise. Dalmatians are people-like and people oriented. They do best
when given the opportunity to spend lots of time with and around their
families. Dalmatians are rather sensitive, too - they can sulk when
scolded, and "talk" up a storm when they're happy or want your
attention. If a Dal is what you crave, be prepared to make him a part
of your life, both outdoors and indoors. Dals love to play ... and
play ... especially as youngsters. Bred to run for hours under, or
alongside the axle of a horse-drawn coach, most Dalmatians do not tire
easily. However, they do poorly as full-time outdoor dogs. Their
sensitive skin and short hair does not allow them to handle weather
extremes well, and they will pick up fungi from moist soil and grass;
not to mention fleas and ticks!

Carefully bred, Dalmatians are "up" dogs, as bold as their unique
spotting exemplifies! They are the clowns of Dogdom. But parents with
small children (under 6 yr.) should be aware that Dals are very
exuberant and will want to consider their potential reaction when the
dog accidentally knocks a child down. Mind you, small children must be
taught not to poke at eyes or pull tails; both Dal and child need to
learn proper behavior! Because of their intelligent and exuberant
nature, early obedience training is *essential* for Dalmatians.
Dalmatians usually get on well with other dogs and are great in multi
pet households. It is desirable to socialize puppies with children,
adults, and with other dogs from an early age. Dals can also get along
splendidly with cats if introduced appropriately. A well-bred
Dalmatian may be aloof with strangers, but never shy or aggressive.
Once they get to know a stranger, that person may be treated to the
full toothed smile or, "smarl" - a combination of a smile and a snarl
that can be disarming to one unfamiliar with the ways of a Dal! Dals
can also be very vocal. They coo and grunt and will give you a
whistling yawn when attempting to avoid a scolding! As former guard
dogs, Dalmatians make good watchdogs. Sensible and alert, they are
usually not hysterical "yappers" but will bark only when necessary.

Are Dalmatians stupid? Definitely not. On the contrary, they are
extremely intelligent and creative! They are often smart enough to
recognize a situation where the owner is unable or unwilling to
enforce a command. They ARE often headstrong. If you do not give them
consistent, firm training and boundaries as puppies, you will wind up
with an unmanageable adult. Dalmatians may also be easily bored.
Males, in particular, may have an independent streak. For these
reasons, Dalmatians often respond best to more positive training
methods, as opposed to methods which rely primarily on scolding and
telling the dog what NOT to do.

Dalmatian Activities

The AKC has placed Dalmatians into the "Non-Sporting" group. Breeds
with assorted "talents" are placed in this selective group. Dalmatians
have been used as hunting dogs, as soft mouthed retrievers, as
pointers, herding and even as watch dogs. During both World Wars and
during Vietnam, Dalmatians were used to guard the camps of US
soldiers. Dalmatians are also excellent tracking and Search and Rescue
dogs. Their strong "scenting" tendencies can be traced back to the
introduction of the white Pointer, far back in the Dalmatian's

In keeping with their early utilization as carriage dogs, Dalmatians
have earned the titles of Road Dog (RD) and Road Dog Excellent (RDX)
from The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA). Road trials are held in
conjunction with the DCA National Specialty and with some other
regional Dalmatian club specialties. The Road Dog titles are earned by
dogs who accompany horses or carriages for distances of 12.5 miles
(RD) and 25 miles (RDX), (~20 and 40 km) and perform some off-leash
obedience work. Competitors need not be members of these clubs. In
fact most are pet owners who enjoy working with horses and their dogs.

Dalmatians also can do well in obedience competition, when given
positive training. Some folks say that to own a Dalmatian requires a
sense of humor; which certainly helps in obedience competition! Many
Dalmatians successfully complete their Companion Dog (CD) and
Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) Obedience degrees; some also have
completed Utility Dog (UD) and Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) degrees and
one or two have completed Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) degrees as

Obedience training methods that work best with the Dalmatian minimize
repetition and maximize variety. Dalmatians get bored easily and will
then begin to *modify* the exercise to introduce some excitement! Dals
do not generally respond well to harsh, inflexible training methods.
Praise, play and food reinforcement ensure better results.

Dalmatians also enjoy agility as it suits their athletic natures. They
make excellent hiking and backpacking dogs. Many Dals are talented
flyball and Frisbee retrievers since these skills add a bit of whimsy
and "theater" to their repertoire.

Frequently Asked Questions

_Is it spelled Dalmatian or Dalmation? I've seen it both ways._

It is spelled DalmatiAn, with no O - named after the province of

_Do Dalmatians shed?_

Yes. Dalmatians shed lots of hair year-round Their stiff short
hairs cling to most surfaces and weave their way into fabrics
making them difficult to remove. Shedding can be reduced by giving
the dog a brisk five minute daily brushing outdoors.

_How much grooming is required for a Dalmatian?_

Dalmatians are natural dogs, cat-like in cleanliness and free of
doggy odor. Their toenails should be kept trimmed, as they grow
rapidly. Long nails are understandably uncomfortable for any dog.
Dals may object to having their nails trimmed, unless they are
trained early. But it must be done.

Frequent brushing helps to keep them clean without disturbing their
protective skin oils. During their daily brushing, check eyes and
ears for irritation. Also, during warm weather, check for fleas and
ticks while outdoors. Frequent bathing, especially with harsh soaps
can lead to dry skin and skin problems in Dalmatians. Most Dals
clean up well with a damp towel or the use of a plain gentle soap.
Be sure to rinse very well, as soapy residue will irritate the
skin. Ask your vet to show you how to empty the anal sacks. This
procedure should be done whenever you bathe your Dalmatian in order
to avoid infection.

_How much exercise is required?_

Here is a report from one Dalmatian owner: "In addition to plenty
of play time in the yard, we walk our Dalmatian, Chili, three times
daily - in the morning, at dinnertime, and before bed. It adds up
to about two miles (3 km)." And another owner says: "In the summer
they get about 3 miles a day; come winter I will have to increase
this to about 5 miles." Dal owners must take an active part in
exercising their dogs; having a fenced yard is not enough - they
will not usually get enough exercise themselves. Long walks are not
the only way to provide the exercise required; another canine
playmate can help, or playing fetch in the yard can also serve as
the major portion of their exercise. But do keep in mind, that as
important as exercise is the quality time a Dal spends with his
human family.

As much as a Dalmatian needs exercise, dogs under a year should
self-exercise with a doggy or human playmate. When doing so, the
youngster will stop to rest when tired. Allow your Dal to exercise
on soft ground (grass or dirt), rather then asphalt or concrete,
when young. Exercising on soft ground is a good idea even as an

_What kind of food should I feed my Dalmatian?_

There are as many brand preferences as there are Dalmatian
breeders, but there are some generalizations that can be made. The
authors and other breeders have had good success with premium dry
type foods (Pro Plan, Nutro, Eagle, Purina ONE, Natures Recipe,
etc.) because they contain high quality ingredients like real meats
instead of meat meal and because they minimize the amount of
purines, corn meal, soy meal, meat by-products and preservatives.
The dog seems to make better use of the premium brand foods,
therefore generating less fecal waste. Dalmatians do not generally
require canned dog food, however, it is sometimes useful in
encouraging the finicky eater. Do not feed your Dalmatian foods
with "cute" colors and shapes as these require additives that may
cause or aggravate skin allergy conditions. Further information on
food choices may be found in the medical problems section under the
discussion of the unique urinary characteristics of the Dalmatian
Breed. Please feel free to share your food success stories with us,
especially if you live in a country other then the United States.

_Should I give my Dalmatian "people food"?_

Dals love most foods. In fact it is a very effective training
method to reward good behavior with food. Human food may be OK, in
VERY small amounts. Always avoid foods high in purines, such as
liver or other organ meats. Avoid chocolate, which is toxic to
dogs. Remember that people food has calories too!

_How often should my Dalmatian be fed?_

Dalmatians usually eat very quickly and most seem to be always
hungry, and as a result do not do well with self-feeding. This can
lead to overweight dogs with higher incidences of medical problems
later in life. Adult Dals should be fed either once or twice
(preferred) a day,from 3 to 6 cups total, depending on their weight
and activity level. Some adult females do well on as little as 2
cups of food per day. Most puppies do better with 3-4 smaller daily

Your breeder should tell you how often & how much they were feeding
when you pick up your puppy.

_Do Dalmatians make good apartment dogs?_

Don't be put off, apartment dwellers - you can still have a Dal in
your life If you're willing (and able) to walk your Dal during the
week and have access to an open area where he can be set loose
(provided he is off-lead trained) to let out steam on weekends.
Make friends with dog owners who have fenced yards! A Dalmatian
looks great trotting alongside a bicycle - think of the attention
you'll attract while you both stay fit! Your Dal will enjoy and
benefit from long daily walks.

_Are Dalmatians hyper?_

Most Dals are very active and if they are ignored or not exercised
enough they can become high strung. Obedience training is extremely
important in order that the Dal learn boundaries and do that what
is expected of him. Poorly bred Dalmatians may be genetically
predisposed to having excessive hyperactive or even neurotic

_What should I look for when selecting a puppy?_

The increased popularity of the breed following Disney's "101
Dalmatians" has had a largely negative effect. Too many people saw
money in Dals and began breeding with no thought about stable
temperaments, or of improving the breed. Follow all the good advice
in the "Getting a Dog" FAQ. In addition, see the
special medical problems, the questions to ask your breeder, and
the questions to ask yourself sections of this FAQ. A list of US
breeders can be obtained by writing the Secretary of the Dalmatian
Club of America whose address is in the appendix.

_Should I adopt an adult dog?_

Because Dalmatians can take two to three years to mentally mature,
uneducated or "untrained" owners may put adolescent or adult Dals
up for adoption who were too much for them to handle. In addition,
retired show dogs, and adolescents who do not "pan out" for the
show ring sometimes become available from very good breeders.
Contact your local humane society, Dalmatian Rescue and your local
Dalmatian or kennel club about Dals in need of a home. Adopting an
adult dog can be very rewarding. Be sure to ask the owners for a
medical history. Do inquire about the reason why the dog is being
placed. Remember that it is harder to retrain than it is to train,
especially a dog with bad habits. Be prepared to spend the extra
time required to gain the trust and positive behavior you desire.

Although Dalmatians tend to be very loyal to their owners, it does
not take them long to realize who their adopted owners are.
Dalmatians are very good "people psychologists". Be consistent and
firm, yet gentle, and the rewards will far exceed your efforts!

The Dalmatian List server on the Internet is in the process of
setting up a rescue list. Please see the question below about
online resources for more information on the List server.

_Do Dals like to swim?_

Dals are usually good swimmers who love the water. If your Dal
swims a lot, pay attention to his ears. Wet ears can trigger a
painful ear infection.

_Do Dalmatians do well in colder climates?_

Dalmatians should get lots of indoor time for both physical and
emotional reasons. They should not be left out in the cold for long
periods. One vet in Minnesota reports seeing more Dals with
pneumonia than any other breed. A Dalmatian will enjoy short
periods out in the snow and ice, but should be brought in when it
gets cold.

_Is obedience training recommended for Dals?_

Dalmatian breeders either require or highly recommend that each
owner bring their dog through basic obedience classes. Dalmatians
have minds of their own, and like children, they tend to see how
much they can get away with, while testing the boundaries of
behavior. Basic obedience training will allow you and your dog to
bond together and will assist you in setting house rules. It will
also make your walks with your dog much more enjoyable. Most
breeders and dog clubs will be able to recommend a good trainer.
You can expect most classes to cost less than $60.00. Large pet
stores and community education organizations also run training
classes that are reasonably priced.

_Should I crate train my Dalmatian?_

Many people think it is cruel to keep a dog in a crate even for
reasonable amounts of time. However, when properly trained, a Dal
sees his crate as his space, his own room. Due to the highly active
and easily bored nature of the typical Dalmatian, it is not a good
idea to give your Dal free run of the house in your absence. Most
breeders recommend that your Dal be crate trained in order to
protect your valuables and to protect your dog. Crate training is
also an excellent beginning to house training. Refer to the crate
training FAQ in to obtain recommended crate
training methodologies. Fresh water should be supplied to
Dalmatians at all times, even when they are crated. They should not
be crated over too long a period of time, since concentration of
the urine could lead to stone formation. For Adult dalmatians, 8 to
10 hours is the longest amount of time that they should be crated
on a regular basis. Puppies should be given the opportunity to
relieve themselves every 2-3 hours, gradually increasing until they
are 6 months old to 6-8 hours. For more information on bladder and
kidney stones,see the special medical problems section of this FAQ.

_Should I consider breeding my Dalmatian?_

In addition to the information found within the
"Breeding your dog" FAQ, there is the unique Dalmatian problem of
deafness, discussed in detail in the special medical problems
section. Breeding Dalmatians brings the added responsibility of
dealing with deaf puppies. The Dalmatian Club Of America's
position, supported by reputable breeders, is that all deaf pups be
humanely euthanized, not placed in homes. If you decide to breed
your Dalmatian, you must be prepared and able to deal with the
consequences of whelping a deaf puppy and having it euthanized. In
addition, should you decide to breed, make sure that you know the
hearing status of both the sire and the dam. To reduce the
likelihood of having deaf puppies, both parents should have
bilateral hearing, i.e., hearing in both ears as determined by BAER
testing. Both sire and dam should have sound hips and have had hip
x-rays which have been evaluated by the OFA and given a passing
grade. Plan also to do a complete thyroid workup. Since genetic
defects are passed on to the offspring, both parents should be
excellent breed specimens, reasonably free of genetic defects.

_Where is more information available on line?_

There is a group of Dalmatian enthusiasts that maintain a List
server for discussions related to the Dalmatian breed. It is
located at, and you may subscribe by sending
a message to with a blank subject line
and the message "subscribe dal-l " as the body of the text. As an
example, a person named John Doe would send a message with the text
"subscribe dal-l John Doe". In addition, there is a WWW home page
at Most of the
commercial on line services also have pet bulletin boards where
Dalmatian fanciers gather. There is a web page dealing with the
unique urinary problems of the Dalmatian at

For more, see Online references below.


Dalmatian Breed History

Many people believe that the first established home of the Dalmatian
is Dalmatia, a section of Yugoslavia that was once part of Austria.
References have been made to the breed since the mid 18th century, but
its roots almost certainly go back a long time before that.

The oldest activity that the Dalmatian is known for is coaching. Early
engravings and drawings show spotted dogs accompanying Egyptian
chariots. The size, stamina and guard dog abilities made them popular
with the English aristocracy to accompany horse drawn carriages. Their
size allowed them to fit under the rear axle of the coach, where they
often ran. Their stamina allowed them to keep up with the horses and
guard dog tendencies allowed the owners to leave the coach without
worrying about their possessions. It was often said that a coach was
better left in the care of the dogs than the coachman, who could
easily be distracted by highway robbers.

The Dalmatian is most famous for being the fire house dog. This
probably started in London where they were first acquired as
"ratters", to kill vermin in London's stables and firehouses. Soon
they were running alongside the fire engine. To this day, many
firehouses in Great Britain and the USA have a Dalmatian, although
now, they are more likely to been seen riding on the fire truck
instead of along side it.

The breed's first appearance in a dog show was in Great Britain in
1860. The first American show appearance was in 1926, when the
Dalmatian Club of American held its first National Specialty Show.

Special Medical Problems

Hereditary deafness

Hereditary deafness is a condition prevalent in Dalmatians. This is a
polygenic problem, which means that it CANNOT currently be bred out of
the breed. ALL Dalmatian bloodlines suffer from deafness. There are
some individual dogs who produce few deaf puppies in their offspring.
Approximately 8% of the breed are born completely deaf, and another
22% to 24% are born with unilateral hearing, or hearing in one ear
only. Normal puppies will have hearing in both ears, known as
bilateral normal hearing. All puppies are born with their ear canals
closed; these should be open at 12-16 days. The deafness is
characterized by the permanent deterioration by the age of six weeks
in the organs of Corti, the group of nerve cells inside the cochlea
that detect sound. The loss cannot be reversed or corrected.

All Dalmatian puppies should be definitively tested for deafness.
Stomping on the floor, clapping hands or rattling keys make for
unreliable hearing tests, since deaf pups can pick up the vibrations.
A deaf puppy will compensate for the hearing loss, thereby making it
difficult to detect. A scientific test, known as the BAER (Brainstem
Auditory Evoked Response) test, should be administered, in order to
objectively determine the hearing status. This test may be done after
five weeks of age. It measures the brain response to auditory stimuli
in each ear. The test can detect any impairment or loss of function in
either ear. The equipment required to complete the BAER test is
expensive and is generally located at veterinary teaching schools or
through specialty vets. It is not available in all areas. If a breeder
tells you this is the case in your area, confirm it by calling other
breeders and/or some local vets. Since there are about 3 unilaterally
deaf Dals for every totally deaf Dal, the BAER test is important for
identifying dogs that appear to hear normally but that would, unknown
to the breeder, pass on a genetic defect.

A reputable breeder will know that BAER testing is the only reliable
method of testing hearing. The breeder should have the test conducted
on both the sire and dam as well as all the puppies in every litter. A
reputable breeder will also not sell or give away deaf puppies. A
written purchase contract between the puppy buyer and the seller is
highly recommended when you purchase any pup. Buyers of pups that have
not been BAER tested should insist that the purchase contract have
specific conditions for dealing with a deaf puppy. The contract should
allow the buyer to exchange the pup for one who can hear or your money
should be refunded.

The adoption of deaf dogs is a controversial issue. Some deaf dogs do
live long lives as beloved family members (as one of our faq authors
can attest) and some deaf dogs do develop dangerous behavior problems
which force the owner to make the difficult choice between controlling
the deaf dog's environment 100% of the time or euthanizing the dog (to
which another of our faq authors can attest).

Deaf dogs can be trained to respond to hand signals, but because the
dog can only see the signals if he/she is looking at you, deaf dogs
must be kept under strict control at all times. In addition, deaf dogs
cannot hear danger sounds such as car horns honking and require extra
security measures for their own safety.

The Dalmatian Club Of America strongly opposes placement of completely
deaf puppies, a stance that is supported by many experienced breeders
and by some former owners of deaf dogs. This position is taken because
these groups feel that deaf dogs are more likely to develop behavior
problems and, in particular, bite humans, than are hearing dogs. They
feel that deaf puppies should not be sold or given away, but
euthanized as soon as their deafness is confirmed. There has been no
scientific study which can give guidance as to whether deaf dogs are
more likely to bite than are hearing dogs. The position taken by this
group is presumed to be based upon their many years of collective
experience. Many people who oppose the adoption of deaf dogs also feel
that the extra effort and commitment which a deaf dog requires is more
than most pet owners are prepared for and that because of this a deaf
dog may be more likely to be subject to a life of neglect, abuse or of
bouncing from home to home.

There is a group of deaf dog owners who participate in a mailing list;
to join the mailing list send mail to The instructions for joining the
mailing list are also located in the deaf dog web page whose address
is shown in the reference section.

This group feels strongly that deaf dogs are no more likely to have
behavior problems than hearing dogs. Many members enjoy the challenge
of training their deaf dogs. They feel that problem deaf dogs are
those whose owners did not initially realize they were deaf and did
not have the inclination to properly train them or are dogs who would
have developed problems even if they had been able to hear. These
successful deaf dog owners report that the rewards of owning and
caring for their deaf dogs make the extra commitment worthwhile.

Until a thorough scientific study is carried out, following equivalent
groups of deaf and hearing Dals through their entire lives, it is
impossible to know which of these positions is correct. It is certain
that ownership of a deaf dog will require a strong commitment on the
part of the owner in ensuring the safety of the dog and in finding
qualifed help with training. In addition, should the owner ever be
forced to give up the dog, it will be very difficult to find a new
home for it. Many Dal rescue groups are currently overwhelmed with
homeless adult Dals who have no special needs; trying to find homes
for deaf dogs is out of the question for many.

Dogs with hearing in only one ear (unilateral) make perfectly
acceptable pets and are generally indistinguishable from dogs with
hearing in both ears. While the genetics of the inheritance of
deafness are not completely understood, in general, dogs with
unilateral hearing should not be used for breeding because they pass
on an highly increased probability of complete deafness. Responsible
breeders frequently sell unilaterally deaf animals with a spay/neuter
contract to insure that affected dogs are not later bred.

The Dalmatian's Unique Urinary System

The Dalmatian has a urinary system unique among dogs. The condition
urolithiasis occurs because Dal urine contains uric acid, instead of
urea or allantoin. Bladder and kidney stones (Infrequent) are formed
from salts of the uric acid. Large stones can lodge in the urethra,
and small stones, or "gravel", may pass with the urine. Complete
blockage of the urinary tract by stones is fatal if not treated

All Dalmatians are susceptible to urinary stones. Careful Dalmatian
owners will seek out a diet which does not contain proteins high in
purines. Organ meats, especially liver, and beef, are major sources of
purines and should be avoided. Lamb, poultry, eggs and most vegetables
are lower in purines.

Adequate water should be provided at all times as well. Some Dal
owners 'float' their dog's dry food in 2 or 3 cups of water to ensure
adequate water intake. Dalmatians should also be given frequent
opportunities to urinate in order to flush their urinary tracts of any
crystals. Regular urine samples can be checked by your veterinarian
for urate crystals. There is a lot of research being done in this
area; it is not unreasonable to ask your vet if she/he will consult
with either with Dr. Gerald Ling at University of California at Davis
or with Dr. Carl Osborne of the Minnesota Urinary Stone Center at
University of Minnesota veterinary school, both of whom specialize in
urinary stone formation research.

Skin allergies

Many Dals suffer from skin allergies which add a pink or red rash or
hives to the skin. Untended allergic reactions can lead to a brownish
red tinge to the fur and skin, which may be an indication of a staph
infection. These symptoms are generally referred to as "bronzing". If
the dog shows signs of a staph infection, obtain treatment from an
experienced veterinarian who will probably prescribe antibiotics.
Repeated staph infections can be an indication of an autoimmune
disorder and extremely painful.

Food allergies can sometimes be controlled by the dog's diet. Low
protein diets seem to help. Supplementation of the dog's diet with
fatty acids may also help - products like Derm-caps, lipiderm and
others. Switching from foods that contain, beef, soy meal, or corn
meal to those using lamb, turkey, chicken, barley, rice, or other
uncommon ingredients like venison can help if the allergic reaction is
food based. Many food related allergies have cleared up when the diet
has been changed.

Allergies are made worse by the presence of fleas due to the dog's
tendency to lick and bite at the affected area. Prevent fleas from
infesting your Dal, as it's a lot easier than eliminating them. Do not
use medicated shampoos or flea shampoos; these are too harsh and can
lead to skin problems. Buy a bottle of pesticide-free flea mist and
use it in the summer time. It also helps to protect your Dal from
flies and mosquitoes. By using the spray, and a flea comb, you may
prevent the fleas from coming home with your Dalmatian!

A new flea control drug has recently been approved for use in the
United States. PROGRAM is a tablet that is given to your dog once a
month. It's active ingredient (lufenuron) prevents the young flea from
being able to develop it's tooth, therefore preventing it from being
able to hatch from the egg. It will not kill adult fleas, but will
prevent your house and yard from becoming infested. It has been
available in some countries for a number of years and has no reported
side effects. It is recommended that your dog start taking the tablet
before the start of flea season. Further information on fleas can be
found in the Fleas/Tick FAQ.

Hip Dysplasia

Medium to large breeds of dogs are more susceptible to hip dysplasia.
Therefore, reputable breeders breed only those individuals that are
Certified with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This entails
having the dog's hips x-rayed after the age of two. The x-rays are
then read by three OFA radiologists and graded with respect to proper
formation of each hip joint.

Questions for the Prospective Dalmatian Owner

(Is the Dalmatian the breed for me ?)
1. Am I able to keep the dog indoors ?
2. Am I willing to spend at least one hour a day exercising the dog?
3. Do I want a dog that is very dependent on me?
4. Am I willing to spend the time necessary to train the dog ?
5. Am I willing to spend time playing with the dog ?
6. Am I willing to put up with the shedding ?
7. Am I physically strong and active enough to control and train a
lively dog of considerable strength and energy?
8. Have all my household members recently spend time indoors with a
Dalmatian to be certain no one has an allergic reaction to them?


Questions to ask a breeder when selecting a Dalmatian

(Is this the right breeder for me?)
1. _Do you have evidence of the pups BAER tests ? Do you have the
results? Will you provide me a copy of the puppy's test results?_
_This is extremely important in ensuring that you do not receive a
deaf puppy._
2. _How many of the dogs in the pedigree are you actually familiar
with in respect to temperament and genetic defects?_
3. _What is the incidence of deafness, allergies, infections, thyroid
dysfunction, seizures, stone formation, hip dysplasia, etc., in
the pedigree?_ Genetic defects (such as Canine Hip Dysplasia, and
those related to immune dysfunction, such as allergies, and
hypothyroidism), are surfacing in alarming numbers. This problem
is more evident now that reputable, serious breeders are openly
sharing and comparing data. Therefore, feel free to seriously
question the breeder about occurrences of these faults in the
puppies' ancestry.
4. _Were there any temperament problems in the ancestry of the
puppies? Have the sire and the dam been temperament tested?_
5. _How much time do you spend planning your litters and rearing the
pups ?_
6. _Are the sire and dam OFA Certified? BAER tested? Do you have
certificates for me to see ?_ This is important because it tells
you a lot about the dedication of the breeder to eliminate
deafness and other genetic problems in the breed.
7. _Do you offer a Health/Hearing/Temperament guarantee with your
8. _Are you knowledgeable about Dalmatians? Can you/will you answer
my special medical, food & training questions? Will you tell me
when you don't know an answer? Do you have access to resources
when the questions stretch beyond your knowledge?_
9. _Are you able and willing to answer my questions for the life of
the dog?_
10. _Do you require a spay/neuter agreement on pets?_ (This is good.)
11. _Will you ask me lots of questions to determine if I am, in fact,
the right kind of person for a Dal; that I have the facilities to
keep it safe and the finances to properly feed & vet it? _This
will help you find a puppy for me whose temperament matches my
12. _What are the most important things you are striving for in your
breeding program?_ (Temperament should be first!)
13. _Will you supply at least a 4 generation pedigree, the puppy's
health record & instructions on how to properly take care of my
new dog?_
14. _Will you assist me if I cannot keep the dog?_ A good breeder can
assure you of this as he/she knows that careful screening and
education has made it unlikely that you will ever want to part
with your new spotted friend.




1. Ditto, Tanya B. _Dalmatians_. New York: Barron's, 1991.
2. Nicholas, Anna Katherine. _The Dalmatian_. Neptune City, NJ:
T.F.H. publications, Inc., 1986.
3. Treen, Alfred and Esmeralda. _The Dalmatian: Coach Dog, Firehouse
Dog_. New York: Howell Book House, 1984.
4. Treen, Alfred and Esmeralda. _The New Dalmatian: Coach Dog,
Firehouse Dog_. New York: Howell Book House, 1993.
5. Weiss, Carroll H., "Diets for Stone Forming Dals" _The Dalmatian
Quarterly_, pp. 23-27, Summer 1994
6. "A Primer on Urinary Stones for Dalmatian Breeders and Fanciers",
compiled by Carroll H. Weiss in cooperation with the Minnesota
Urolith Center (Carl A. Osborne, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor and
chief) and California Urolith Center (Gerald V. Ling, D.V.M.,
professor and chief), March 1992.
7. Strain, George, Ph.D. "Aeitolology, Prevalence, And Diagnosis of
Deafness in Dogs And Cats", _British Veterinary Journal_, 1995, In
8. Strain, George M., personal communication, 17 March 1995. Dr.
Strain may be reached at STR...@VT8200.VETMED.LSU.EDU.
9. _The Official Book Of The Dalmatian_, Dalmatian Club Of America,
T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1997
10. _Living With A Deaf Dog_, Susan Cope Becker, Direct Book Service
11. _The Dalmatian_, Charlotte Wilcox, Capstone Press, 1997
12. _The Dalmatian : An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet _Rod &
Patti Strand, Howell Book House, 1995

Other available references

1. Eleanor Frankling, _The Dalmatian_, Popular Dogs Publishing Co.
(London), 1987.
2. Beverly Pisano, _Dalmatians_, T.F.H. Publications, 1990.
3. Milo G. Denlinger, _The Complete Dalmatian_, Denlinger's, 1947.
4. Franklin J. Willock, _The Dalmatian_, Ernest R. Gee Pubs, 1927.

The last two are sometimes available on limited edition reprints.

Online references

The Internet is always changing, and there are lots of places to get
good information. We provide a few links here to get you started; you
will spend many hours "spotting" other Dalmatian related links:
* Dalmatian Club Of America Home Page:
* DOTTERS Links Page:
* Deaf Dog Home Page:
* Dog FAQ Home Page:


1. "The Dalmatian Quarterly", -- $40.00 per year 4401 Zephyr St.,
Wheatridge, CO 800333-3299 USA
2. "The Spotter", the official organ of the Dalmatian Club of America
(available to DCA members only.)
3. "Road Trial Ramblings" -- $8.00 per year Peggy Ann Strupp, Editor
1224 Creek Road, Soda Springs, ID 83276 Telephone # 1-208/547-3077
4. "Firehouse Quarterly" A new newsletter. $25.00 per year Post
Office Box 11262, Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-1262 Telephone #

Dalmatian Club of America

Dalmatian Club of America
Mrs. Irvin D. Fleming, Secretary
4390 Chickasaw Rd.. Memphis, TN 38117

Many areas have local Dalmatian Clubs where a good deal of information
and assistance with Dals may be found. Most of these clubs publish
newsletters with information of interest to almost all Dalmatian
owners. The regional Dalmatian clubs are listed on the DCA home page.

About the Authors

This FAQ was a team project, written by Dalmatian owners: (Please feel
free to send us e-mail at the addresses given if you have more

JAN CRANNY lives in South Florida with her two adopted Dals, Domino
and Checkers. Both dogs get to enjoy plenty of long walks, and swim in
the ocean. (

CORINNE JAMES and her husband Bruce Biederman live near Corvallis,
Oregon with two Dalmatians: Kenai (Kenai Lime Pie, CDX) and Chamois
(Dalstar's Daydream Chamois). Kenai & Chamois do lots of walking and
running with their owners in the coast range mountains and also work
in their spare time on AKC obedience (Kenai, & Chamois) and
conformation (Chamois) and maybe someday tracking.

CAROL RUSO is a librarian who lives in South Florida. She is owned by
two Dalmatians, "Chili" (Spotlight's Chili Pepper) and "Buster"
(Spotlight's New Addition). They enjoy romping in the park, playing
Frisbee, and riding in the car on "mom's" lap (yeah, BOTH of them!).

SYLVIA STRAWBRIDGE from Jonesboro, Arkansas, shares her heart and her
home with J. T. (4/20/90 and deaf) and Sophie Tucker (9/14/92 and very
verbal). They enjoy long walks, playing chase in the backyard and
going anywhere in the VW Beetle. (

ROBERT VON MAYR (Paradox Dalmatians) lives near Dallas, Texas with his
wife Lynne and liver Dalmatians Rover (Paisley's J. Rover Brown),
Sable (Ch. Aviator's Impromptu), Bingo (Mythago Marksman PX), Henri
(Mythago Maserati PX) & Ch. Paradox Pop Quiz. The black spotted
members of the family are: Ch. Paradox Country Style, Paradox Back In
Black, TCJ Paradox So Divine, and Ch. Paradox Ropin' The Wind. Robert
& Lynne are active in conformation and obedience careers are planned.
Tracking is something Robert is interested in at some point, but the
dogs aren't sure! ( or (

MARIA ZORKA founded Bell Ringer Dalmatians in 1969. She and her
husband Art, live in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. USA. Maria
has bred many Dalmatian champions, including an All-Breed Multi Best
in Show winner. She has also bred top ranking Obedience winners and a
DCA High in Road Trial RDX Champion. She co-founded the Dalmatian Club
of Greater Atlanta and was a principal author of its Code of Ethics,
which was later adopted by the Dalmatian Club of Canada. She was the
editor/publisher of the 1980 Dalmatian Club of America's Commemorative
Keepsake. Maria also co-founded the Georgia Coalition of Dog Clubs.

Special Thanks to Art Zorka for his many hours assisting with
editorial tasks and computer/on-line skills.

Thanks to others for additional comments and helpful suggestions

* Valerie Whitmore & Chili in Minneapolis, MN
* Jeri Jennings, Northstar Dalmatians, Alemeda, CA
* Janice Maguire & Chips in Missouri (
* Wendy Sol & Clown & Tinker in Los Alamos, NM (


Dalmatian FAQ
Robert von Mayr,

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