Dalmatian Breed Magazine - Showsight

Dalmatian Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Dalmatian General Appearance: The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; poised and alert; strong, muscular and active; free of shyness; intelligent in expression; symmetrical in outline; and without exaggeration or coarseness. The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with fair amount of speed. Deviations from the described ideal should be penalized in direct proportion to the degree of the deviation. Size, Proportion, Substance: Desirable height at the withers is between 19 and 23 inches. Undersize or oversize is a fault. Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers is disqualified. The overall length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers. The Dalmatian has good substance and is strong and sturdy in bone, but never coarse. Head: The head is in balance with the overall dog. It is of fair length and is free of loose skin. The Dalmatian's expression is alert and intelligent, indicating a stable and outgoing temperament. The eyes are set moderately well apart, are medium sized and somewhat rounded in appearance, and are set well into the skull. Eye color is brown or blue, or any combination thereof; the darker the better and usually darker in black-spotted than in liver-spotted dogs. Abnormal position of the eyelids or eyelashes (ectropion, entropion, trichiasis) is a major fault. Incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims is a major fault. The ears are of moderate size, proportionately wide at the base and gradually tapering to a rounded tip. They are set rather high, and are carried close to the head, and are thin and fine in texture. When the Dalmatian is alert, the top of the ear is level with the top of the skull and the tip of the ear reaches to the bottom line of the cheek. The top of the skull is flat with a slight vertical furrow and is approximately as wide as it is long. The stop is moderately well defined. The cheeks blend smoothly into a powerful muzzle , the top of which is level and parallel to the top of the skull. The muzzle and the top of the skull are about equal in length. The nose is completely pigmented on the leather, black in black-spotted dogs and brown in liver-spotted dogs. Incomplete nose pigmentation is a major fault. The lips are clean and close fitting. The teeth meet in a scissors bite . Overshot or undershot bites are disqualifications. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is nicely arched, fairly long, free from throatiness, and blends smoothly into the shoulders. The topline is smooth. The chest is deep, capacious and of moderate width, having good spring of rib without being barrel shaped. The brisket reaches to the elbow. The underline of the rib cage curves gradually into a moderate tuck-up. The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level with the back. The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too low down. It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward curve but should never curl over the back. Ring tails and low-set tails are faults. Forequarters: The shoulders are smoothly muscled and well laid back. The upper arm is approximately equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an angle sufficient to insure that the foot falls under the shoulder. The elbows are close to the body. The legs are straight, strong and sturdy in bone. There is a slight angle at the pastern denoting flexibility. Hindquarters: The hindquarters are powerful, having smooth, yet well defined muscles. The stifle is well bent. The hocks are well let down. When the Dalmatian is standing, the hind legs,

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viewed from the rear, are parallel to each other from the point of the hock to the heel of the pad. Cowhocks are a major fault. Feet: Feet are very important. Both front and rear feet are round and compact with thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet are a major fault. Toenails are black and/or white in black- spotted dogs and brown and/or white in liver- spotted dogs. Dewclaws may be removed. Coat: The coat is short, dense, fine and close fitting. It is neither woolly nor silky. It is sleek, glossy and healthy in appearance. Color and Markings: Color and markings and their overall appearance are very important points to be evaluated. The ground color is pure white. In black-spotted dogs the spots are dense black. In liver-spotted dogs the spots are liver brown. Any color markings other than black or liver are disqualified. Spots are round and well-defined, the more distinct the better. They vary from the size of a dime to the size of a half-dollar. They are pleasingly and evenly distributed. The less the spots intermingle the better. Spots are usually smaller on the head, legs and tail than on the body. Ears are preferably spotted. Tri-color (which occurs rarely in this breed) is a disqualification. It consists of tan markings found on the head, neck, chest, leg or tail of a black- or liver-spotted dog. Bronzing of black spots and fading and/or darkening of liver spots due to environmental conditions or normal processes of coat change are not tri-coloration. Patches are a disqualification. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined, smooth edges. Patches are present at birth. Large color masses formed by intermingled or overlapping spots are not patches. Such masses should indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered throughout the mass. Gait: In keeping with the Dalmatian's historical use as a coach dog, gait and endurance are of great importance. Movement is steady and effortless. Balanced angulation fore and aft combined with powerful muscles and good condition produce smooth, efficient action. There is a powerful drive from the rear coordinated with extended reach in the front. The topline remains level. Elbows, hocks and feet turn neither in nor out. As the speed of the trot increases, there is a tendency to single track. Temperament: Temperament is stable and outgoing, yet dignified. Shyness is a major fault. Scale of Points General Appearance 5 Size, proportion, substance 10 Head 10 Neck, topline, body 10 Forequarters 5 Hindquarters 5 Feet 5 Coat 5 Color and markings 25 Gait 10 Temperament 10 Total 100

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Disqualifications : Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers. Overshot or undershot bite. Any color markings other than black or liver. Tri-color. Patches.

Approved July 11, 1989 Effective September 6, 1989

More than Just their spots Judging the dalMatian By Timothy S. Robbins D almatians are much more than their spots. Spotting is like the icing on a cake. It goes on last, and helps to create a requires a strong, muscular and active dog, that is free of shyness. ent breed. Any dog over 24 inches at the withers is to be disqualified.

One of the mental tests that I like to use when judging is to imagine the dogs without their spots. Does this “solid white” dog look like a di ff erent breed? Perhaps a Pointer, a Labrador, a Whip- pet, or something in between? If you can’t recognize a dog without spots as a Dalmatian, then something is definitely wrong with the shape, size, balance and proportion of that Dalmatian. Th e AKC standard requires overall length of body from forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers. Th e topline is smooth, the chest is deep, with the bris- ket reaching to the elbow. Th e underline of the rib cage curves gradually into a moderate tuck up. Th e back is level and strong, with the croup being nearly level with the back. Th e tail is a natural exten- sion of the topline, and is carried with a slight upward curve, but should never curl over the back. Deviations from this description of the shape of a Dalmatian will result in a dog that starts looking like a differ-

Most of the components of correct structure can be seen in the side gait of a Dalmatian. Balanced angulation fore and aft combined with powerful muscles and good condition produces smooth, efficient action. There should be powerful drive from the rear coordi- nated with extended reach in the front. The topline remains level while the dog is moving. Because of their natural “coaching” instinct, a Dalmatian may drop its head while moving at a steady pace. The head carriage, topline, and tail carriage should create a continuous, smooth outline. This type of move- ment should be rewarded. Flashy, high head carriage, commonly seen in other breeds is not correct, nor preferred in the Dalmatian. Th e Dalmatian is not a “head” breed. Th e head is in balance with the over- all dog. Expression should indicate an alert, intelligent dog with a stable tem- perament. Th e standard requires a scis- sors bite. Overshot or undershot bites are disqualified.

beautiful sight to behold. I say this up front because many new judges think that a Dalmatian’s spots are the most important feature of the breed. Quite the contrary. Th e Dalmatian Club of America’s (DCA) judge’s educational materials emphasize that there are three elements to correct Dalmatian type: 1. Body shape and symmetry. 2. Steady, e ff ortless movement with reach and drive. 3. Spotting pattern. (A dog with a messy spotting pattern may have the best structure and movement, and shouldn’t be overlooked.) Looking back at the Dalmatian’s history, we find a dog that is mentioned throughout history as a coach dog. To be a coach dog requires a dog is capable of running long distances, of great endurance, combined with a fair amount of speed. To do this

“If you can’t recognize a dog without spots as a Dalmatian, then something is definitely wrong with the shape, size, balance and proportion of that dalMatian.”

Dog with run together spots — not a Patch. Notice dark areas on neck and underbelly.

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Deviations from Correct Type

Not sturdy in bone (too fine boned), exaggerated tuckup.

Body is longer in loin than desired, topline is not smooth, croup not nearly level with back.

Too coarse, front and rear not balanced, stifles not well bent.

Sloping topline, over-angulated rear, high hocks.

“The head is in balance with the overall dog. expression should indicate an alert, intelligent dog with a stable teMperaMent.”

Most new judges probably worry too much about the color and markings of Dalmatians. Patches, Tri-color and any color other than black or liver are to be disqualified. In my twenty five years of judging Dalmatians, I have never wit- nessed a true Patch, Tri-color or any oth- er colored Dalmatian appear in a confor- mation ring. Patches are NOT run together spot- ting. Tri-color is a pattern, as seen on a Bernese Mountain Dog, with tan mark- ings on the face, chest, legs or base of

tail. Di ff erent shades of liver brown does NOT consitutue a Tri-color. Tri-colors must have tan markings in addition to the black or liver spotting. Any other colors include lemon, orange or blue, but these rarely occur within our breed. Present day Dalmatians that are being shown are exhibiting more color than in years past. Spotting patterns can range from very few spots to an over abun- dance of spots. Ideally most breeders would prefer the patterns to be some- where in the middle, with nicely placed,

individual spots. A perfectly spotted dog, however, is not always the best Dal- matian in the ring. I frequently get questions about dogs with what appear to have solid black or solid liver ears. Th ey are often confused with being a Patch. When looking at a Dalmatian ear, I always suggest look- ing at the underside of the ear, as well as the part that is visible. Check for white “guard hairs” or any evidence of what appears as faint outlines of spots that have run together (this appears like

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A liver bitch with nice side gait.

veining in marble). Dogs with solid colored ears, containing a few white guard hairs are well within the standard and should be judged on their overall merit, and not ignored simply because of their dark ears. Other overly spotted areas on the dog that might cause concern for newer judg- es can be the throat, the neck, and under- belly. Spotting in these areas tend to run together. Th is is okay. When thinking of a Patch, think about a Pointer or a Ger- man Shorthaired Pointer. Patches do not look like a cluster of spots that have run together and are touching. Patches are larger areas, with smooth edges, and do not contain white hair or white veining within the solid area. Although the AKC standard calls for dogs and bitches to be between 19-23 inches, any dog over 24 inches at the withers is to be disqualified. In reality, bitches are usually somewhat smaller than dogs. However, the Dalmatian has good substance, and is strong and sturdy in bone, but never coarse. It is possible to have too much bone and substance; this would produce a dog that is too coarse. Refined bone would prevent a Dalmatian from being capable of great endurance. Overall symmetry in outline, without exaggeration is desirable. Shoulders are smoothly muscled and well laid back. Th e upper arm is approximately equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an angle su ffi cient to insure that the foot falls under the shoulder. Th e hindquar- ters are powerful, with smooth, yet well defined muscles. Th e stifle is well bent. Feet are very important. Both the front and rear feet are round and com- pact, and should have thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet and

Nice photo of dark ears³not a patch Notice the white hairs in the brown ear.

cow hocks are major faults, as they will a ff ect the dog’s ability to have powerful, e ffi cient movement. I suggest to anyone who wants to judge the Dalmatian, to first find the dogs that have the correct balance and shape. Th en find the dogs that have a powerful, balanced side gait, including a level topline while moving. Lastly, look for a spotting pattern that is within the boundaries of the standard, and a pattern that is not distracting to you. When in doubt, remember the original purpose of the Dalmatian, and move them around the ring one more time. Th e really good ones should be easy to find. Dalmatians are much more than just their spots.

BIO Tim Robbins obtained his first Dalmatian in 1967, while in high school. In 1970 he finished his first home- bred champion. He was hooked

on dog showing, and breeding qual- ity Dalmatians under the Robbsdale prefix. Tim became an AKC judge in 1990, and has judged the Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty show twice, and continues to breed a litter occasionally.

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T he Dalmatian breed is easily identifiable by almost anyone of any age, but how much do you really know about it? This article seeks to highlight its pos- sible origins, capabilities, key points of the AKC standard and the health of the breed. WHERE DID DALMATIANS ORIGINATE? “A good deal of uncertainty as to the origin shrouds the undoubted antiq- uity of the Dalmatian dog.”—Herbert Crompton, 1904. Most canine historians link the origi- nation to Dalmatia, a state in modern day Croatia. However, there is little evidence that the breed was ever really there! The name may have come from a religious vestment—a tunic type gar- ment called a Dalmatic developed in Dalmatia that sometimes was trimmed in ornamental bands of ermine—a spotted creature. The earliest illustration of a spotted dog dates back to 3000 BC in the tomb of Redmera at Thebes. It is unlikely that this was a Dalmatian, but it may have been a forbearer of the breed we know today.

1700 BC—A fresco at Tyrnia, the birthplace of Hercules, depicts a stag hunting scene with a large number of dogs very closely resembling Dalmatians. 1556—a print was published of a “recently imported Indian dog” that was white and covered in small black spots. ROMANY GYPSIES MAY HAVE PLAYED A ROLE Some evidence exists that Dalma- tians were a favorite of Gypsies who migrated from the Upper Himalayas into Western Europe in the late 15th Century. Dalmatians hunted, guarded, and because of their striking appear- ance, provided moneymaking enter- tainment for their Gypsy masters. Their association with the nomadic Gypsies may well explain why they appear in so many geographic regions historically with no one single source of origin. WHAT WE DO KNOW 1560—Dalmatians were imported from France to England 1665—Dalmatians were used in Italy as hunting dogs dating at least from the early 1600’s.


1780—Dalmatians were kept as “coach- ing dogs” by genteel houses. 1780—The first printed use of the word Dalmatian in the English language. 1787—George Washington purchased a Dalmatian stud dog. 1862—Dalmatians were first “shown” in a dog show in England. 1888—The first Dalmatian was regis- tered with the AKC. 1904—The Dalmatian Club of America was founded. 1906—The first Road Trial for Dalma- tians was held in America. Dalmatians were used as hunting dogs by Gypsies, in Italy, in France, in Spain, and in the US by none other than George Washington. Their coaching heritage developed largely in England. They served mul- tiple purposes in this role as compan- ions for the horses, guards for the coach and its cargo, and status symbols for the owners. HUNTING DOGS? COACHING DOGS? FIREHOUSE DOGS? Their position as a Fire House dog is uniquely a US phenomenon and dates back to the days when fire trucks were horse drawn wagons. The Dalmatians cleared the way for the fire wagons run- ning ahead and sounding the alarm. One thing is clear. The Dalmatian is a versatile, highly trainable breed that likes to have a job! They are also an intelligent and affectionate breed, which means constant companionship, love and attention—often expressed by following their humans from room to room. Dalmatians are one of the first breeds of dogs children are able to iden- tify by name due to the popularity of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians and “Marshall the Fire Dog”. The Dalmatian’s most unique physical feature is, of course, his spots. “Any color markings other than black or liver are disqualified. Spots vary from the size of a dime to the size of a half-dollar. Patches are a disqualifi- cation. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined, smooth edg- es. Patches are present at birth. Large color masses formed by intermingled or overlapping spots are not patches. Such masses should indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered throughout the mass.” While the AKC breed standard places the highest weighting on “color and markings”, Dalmatians are much more than just spots! In fact, adding together other factors in the standard such as 276 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2018


hindquarters, forequarters, proportion, feet and gait—the factors that contrib- ute to balanced movement—movement is actually the most important charac- teristic of the Dalmatian. “The Dalmatian is capable of great endurance, combined with a fair amount of speed.” Dalmatians are medium in size, usu- ally between nineteen and twenty-three inches when measured at the shoulder. “Any dog or bitch over 24" at the with- ers is disqualified. The overall length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers. The Dalmatian has good substance and is strong and sturdy in bone, but never coarse.“Males and females vary in weight, but the most common range is 40-60 pounds. Their bodies are athletic with short coats requiring little maintenance beyond the occasional bath and brushing.

Of both sporting and working heri- tage, Dalmatians are eager participants in a wide variety of different perfor- mance events: agility, rally, barn hunt, lure coursing, dock diving, road trials of up to 25 miles with horses, scent work, farm dog, and obedience. Some are cer- tified therapy dogs. And every single one of them is dependable and sensible enough to let you know when guests or the mailman arrives—even before the doorbell rings. The Dalmatian does it all! Dalmatians are good competitors in the Non Sporting Group historically placing 37% of the time in the group ring. Last year the breed finished 138 new AKC Champions and 93 Grand Champions. The breed enjoyed seven BIS wins, six RBIS wins, and 17 NOHS BIS wins in 2017. However, companion events are an ever-increasing endeavor for Dalmatian owners producing 831

new Obedience, Rally, Tracking or Agility titles last year. The Dalmatians themselves are delighted that so many of their owners are helping them dem- onstrate their versatility! Today, there are 28 active regional Dalmatian clubs that host a variety of competitions throughout the year and around the United States. The Dalma- tian Club of America has approximately 800 current members. The Dalmatian, as noted at the out- set, has been around for hundreds of years. It is a relatively healthy breed with few widespread life-threatening issues. However, all responsible breed- ers work toward genetic health for the breed, investigating potential sires and dams for sound temperaments, as well as testing hips, eyes, ears, and thyroid. Congenital deafness in one or both ears at birth is the most common health anomaly in the breed, and all


responsible breeders conduct a BAER hearing test on all their litters. The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA) places a strong emphasis on pre- serving the health of the Dalmatian. The DCA encourages all breeders to secure CHIC numbers for their breed- ing stock and offers generous cash bonuses to breeders of the National Spe- cialty Futurity winners whose sire and dam have their CHIC numbers. Through the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation (DCAF), DCA partners with the AKC Canine Health Foundation to sponsor research into emerging health issues. Since it’s cre- ation in 1995, DCAF has funded nearly a half million dollars of health research projects. DCAF also sponsors the James W. Smith Memorial Health Clinics annually at the DCA National Specialty offering participants a convenient and economical way to complete health testing and pays the OFA submission fees for full litter submissions of BAER test results and full litter DNA blood samples for the CHIC DNA Database. There are more than 1,300 Dalmatians in that database available to genetic researchers worldwide. When you consider the Dalmatian— whether looking for your next breed or preparing for your next judging assign- ment—consider this uniquely spotted breed as a strikingly beautiful ancient dog built for endurance, capable of great athleticism, devoted to its people and eager to please.

*Portions within quotations are direct quotes from the AKC standard.




T he perfect tail carriage of the Dalmatian is a natural exten- sion of the topline, carried with a slight curve but never curled over the back as a “ring tail” (fault) or low-set tail (fault). Tail carriage can also be from the natural extension to 45° with a slight curve as it rises without curling over the back creating a “ring-tail”. Th ese degrees of tail carriage are describe as “high tail” carriage, not “ring tails”. Th ese tails can have the correct tailsets but when in motion the tail starts to rise above the topline with a slight curve. Th ese “high tail” carriages can be atti- tude, a happy dog with a good tempera- ment. Males are prone to carry tails high when bitches are in season or when they become interested in di ff erent surround- ings and objects. Agreed, the perfect tail carriage is desired, but these “high tail” carriages are not a fault, just undesirable. What about “low set” tails? Th ey do not seem to be criticized as much as the “high- set” tails. Just as fault as “ring tails”, they can create the imperfect picture and can influence the rear quarter drive. Th e angle of the croup determines the tailset. Referring to the Scale of Points for the Dalmatian: Th e neck, topline and body total 10 points. Th is section of the Standard describes the six parts: the neck, topline, chest, loin, croup and tail. Th ese parts are related, making the tail one- sixth of the 10 points. Th e tail should be judged accordingly. We all agree on the perfect tail car- riage and the proper tailset. When these are faulty, they should be evaluated against the other good parts. Evaluate the whole dog.

Top to bottom: “Low-tail” carriage: fault. “Ring-tail” carriage: carried up around, almost in a circle; fault. “High-tail” carriage: not a fault.




A lthough the breed is traditionally consid- ered to be from the country of Dalmatia (now Croatia), in actuality the breed’s beginnings have been shrouded in mys- tery over time and are virtually unknown. Spotted dogs of similar type have been recorded in countries all over eastern Europe and even into India. Although their breed beginnings may be in doubt, what cannot be disputed is that they came into their own thanks to the English who recognized their unique bond with horses and their striking good looks. Thus, the breed’s coach dog career was born. Not only were they functional and served guard duties with their owners’ horses and property while on the road, their beauty promoted them to status symbol standing among the wealthy. In America, with its lack of nobility, bold nature and lack of affectation, the Dalmatian became a true working dog. Because of the breed’s affinity with horses, they became a natural in the firehouse with its horse-drawn fire wagons. Although they served pri- marily as guard dogs at the fire, watching the horses and equipment, they even went so far as serving as the original “siren” by running ahead of the horses, clear- ing the way. Although that duty has been relegated to the history books, to this day they are considered the official mascot of the fire department.

Fast forward 100+ years and the obvious advances in technol- ogy have put the Dalmatian out of work—at least in its histori- cal roles. Today, their primary job is that of family compan- ion, which is a role they truly embrace. But thanks to his versa- tility, athleticism and intelligence, the Dalmatian excels in so many other venues. In addition to the Conformation ring, dogs are now being titled in a wide variety of canine sports—Therapy Dogs, Obedience, Rally, Agility, Dock Diving, CAT Trials, Barn Hunts, Road Trials and Tracking. You name it, the ever-resourceful Dal- matian can do it all.

© Spot Shots

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In addition to their flashy good looks, the breed is extremely intelligent. This particular trait, however, may create a contradictory image for them. Their

high intelligence can be a double-edged sword and may get them labeled as “dumb” by an owner or trainer unfamiliar with the breed. Patience and creative training—with lots of fun and food included—usually creates a willing and eager stu-

dent. And don’t tell a Dalmatian he can’t do some- thing—it will be considered a challenge and he

will probably complete his task in high style. As we know, regardless of breed,

puppies love everyone. However, as they mature into adulthood it’s common for Dalmatians to become more reserved with strangers. They are not Goldens or Labs who see the world through rose-colored glasses and love everyone in it. A Dalmatian’s guard dog heritage tells him to be alert and aware of his surroundings, making him more of a canine realist. They should always be civil and courteous to people they meet but they are not an every-man’s dog, reserving their devotion and dedication to a select few. Dalmatian fanciers prefer to consider them more discriminating and discerning when they bestow their affections. It’s not unusual for them to be completely devoted to one family or even one specific family member.

There is an old adage that “form follows function;” however this is not an easy formula to calculate when considering the Dalmatian. It is true, the Dalmatian should be regarded as a high-level canine athlete and it is vital the dog have the appropriate form with which to perform his func- tion—that of a long-distance runner. Whether traveling with a coach and four or, nowadays, as a faithful jogging companion, he is a marathoner and must have the correct physical structure in order to perform these duties. Shoulders, rears, toplines and feet must all be correct for him to function properly. However, there is more to a Dalmatian than simply the ability to move properly and efficiently. The very first line of the AKC Breed Standard for the Dalmatian begins, “The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog.” In addition to its ability to move efficiently and for long distances, it’s equally important that the dog be marked in a pleasing and proper manner. After all, it is the only truly spotted dog and spotting is its claim to fame. Getting both correct in one dog can be a challenge but it is the ideal that should be sought. Structurally, a Dalmatian should appear as a streamlined athlete with the ability for abundant endurance. He should not present the leanness and appearance of immediate speed as seen in the sighthounds. Nor, should he

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© Spot Shots

be overly muscled and robust in appearance like some of the breeds who depend on pure strength to accomplish their purpose. Shoulders should be well-laid back

to permit appropriate reach while rears should be adequately angled to provide proper thrust, serving to balance both front and rear action. Feet should be rounded and cat-like in appearance, serving to cushion the ongoing, repetitive stress endured by their feet and legs as they go about their duties.

However, more is not better and a Dal should never present exaggeration in any of its physi- cal features. Accordingly, the word “moder- ate” is used multiple times within the breed standard in describing the ideal aspects of the Dalmatian. Spotting, as described in the breed standard, is equally as important. With a pure white ground color, the spots— acceptable in only two colors: black and liver—define the essence of the breed and should range in size from that of a dime to a half-dollar. They should also be pleasingly and evenly distributed over the body so that the pattern presents a balanced appearance. A cluster of overlapping spots should never be considered a disqualifying patch, which typi- cally has a smooth, defined edge and lacks the white hairs scattered throughout the area that you will see when spots converge. It is indeed a fine line to be walked when evalu- ating a Dalmatian. They should be so much more than just another pretty face and should absolutely

have the ability to perform their historical duties. However, their spotting is truly the very hallmark of the breed and cannot and should not be considered any less than their physicality and their long-distance abilities. Temperament, as noted above, is often reserved and dignified in this breed but they can also be known for their fun-loving antics. Very often clownish in nature, most Dalmatians love a good romp and they play with great gusto and enthusiasm. While as marathoners, they do have a high-energy level; this should never to be confused with or considered “hyper,” which is more of a mental attitude—an inability to focus and perform, much like ADHD in humans. While built to be “on the go,” a Dalmatian can also embrace its inner couch potato and can often be found sharing quiet times with its human. Their primary focus and desire is to simply “be” with their people and supersedes most of their other wants. A Dalmatian’s loyalty and devotion to its family is total and unrivaled by any other breed of dog and a life spent with a Dalmatian is a life well spent.

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by Janey RandleTT & Tina Thomas BaTCheloR

When coaching with a horse and carriage the dog may be positioned next to the horse or carriage, never in front.

“ W hy that’s as cute as a speckled pup!” states the popular compliment, but any Dalmatian owner will tell you that their Dal is more than just a pretty cute and spotted face! Rare is the Dalmatian that is content to be just a pretty couch potato! They are energetic, athletic and prefer to be engaged in important work on a daily basis. The breed came into its modern day form at a time in his- tory when the most common form of travel for people was by horse-drawn vehicle. These vehicles were large

enough to carry the travelers and driv- ers and a few possessions, yet not much else. Soon there evolved the need for a dog to accompany them as protection for the travelers, a watchdog from ban- dits, a guard for valuable possessions and a companion to the drivers and the horses. Such a dog also needed to have the stamina to trot on its own for the daily traveling distance of 25 or so miles, bed down in the comfort of a stable, and get up and do it again the next day—day after day. To the fashion conscious English aristocrat, it was also important that the dog be attractive

and flashy, a perfect compliment to a well turned out rig for impressing the young ladies and the neighbors on Sun- day afternoon outings! EntEr thE Dalmatian Early breeders selected traits for form to follow function, giving the breed the characteristics to exuber- antly trot beside a horse and carriage day after day. Today people no longer travel by horseback or coach, of course, but the Dalmatian has retained the characteristics of those days gone by: the ability to develop a sense of team- work coupled with the rare sensibili- ties of independent thinking that a true coach dog needs, all the while paying attention to verbal commands of the human member of his team. Dalmatian enthusiasts have developed events that are designed to gauge the Dalmatian’s ability to perform those tasks it was originally bred to do. They are called Road Trials and are sanctioned by the breed’s parent club, The Dalmatian Club of America. Road trials began in America in the early 1900s when the dogs were tested on their ability to run beneath or beside an actual horse-drawn coach

The hock exercise with a rider and horse rider and dog checking in with each other. (Photo © Kathy Clark Photography)

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A specialty club or a group of enthu- siasts may make an application to the Dalmatian Club of America to host a road trial. Also the DCA’s national spe- cialty show includes a road trial. Dogs completing these requirements are awarded these titles by the Dalmatian Club of America and can then have the titles recorded by the American Kennel Club for their dogs in accordance with the AKC’s recording of a parent club title procedure. The rules and regulations of a Dalmatian road trial are under the aus- pices of the Dalmatian Club of America. These rules and much more information on road trials can be found on the DCA website at www.thedca.org. It is no easy feat to train a Dalmatian to be reliable off-lead beside a horse, even though they often instinctively choose a position by the side or behind the horse and/or carriage. Yet most Dal owners will confess that the sense of accomplishment they feel with their Dal when together they earn a road dog title. It’s worth every early morn- ing sunrise practice session and every dismount for a correction they have to do. And pretty? Go see a road trial, not much in this world is more breathtak- ing than seeing a pretty spotted dog trotting beside a nice moving horse as both move in tandem through a mead- ow of green with the sunlight breaking through the cover of leafy trees, a dog effortlessly and easily doing naturally what it was bred to do. That is after all what makes our dog world go round!

a safe hocking distance when working in the field. (Photo © Kathy Clark Photography)

or carriage. These early events appar- ently died out without leaving much information about them but new rules were drafted in the 1940s that included competitions for riders on horseback with no cart or carriage. Dogs coached by trotting at the side of the horse. After a short revival of road trials in New Eng- land and Long Island they again died out. In 1989, the road trial mostly as we know it today was recreated by a small group of Dalmatian enthusiasts who studied the early trials and paired them with how we test dogs today to be reliable off-lead, attend to the job at hand, and show possession of stamina to trot/run long distances daily. This is the road trial as we know it today! A modern road trial involves sev- eral obedience tests from horseback or cart/carriage (always off-lead). Dogs are judged in the hock exercise (which is similar to the heel exercise in obedi- ence with the dog staying at the hock of the horse) for correct positioning to the horse and ability to keep up, the recall, the stay (dog stays for one minute in a sit or down), the hock with distraction, and the speed exercise. After comple- tion of these exercises that show the owner/rider/driver has complete con- trol of the dog by voice commanding only, the competition continues with a timed endurance portion of the trial, as the team is asked to travel a marked trail for either 12.5 miles (to be com- pleted within 3 hours) or 25 miles (to be completed within 6 hours). Dogs which qualify by passing the exercises and completing the trail within the 3 hours earn a Road Dog or RD title. Dogs which qualify and go the 25 miles earn a Road Dog Excellent or RDX title. A dog which earns three RDs then is awarded

the rare and coveted title of Road Dog Champion or RDCh. Similarly, a dog which earns three RDXs can then be awarded the Road Dog Excellent Cham- pion title or RDXCh. Dogs may also be entered in a road trial in the exercise portion only, exclud- ing the endurance trail portion and if successful in qualifying would earn a Coaching Certificate or CC. An owner may choose to compete for a CC when they want to show their dog has the abil- ities and instincts of a true coach dog, but for some reason they cannot train for the endurance portion. Horses must be used as part of the trial to showcase the Dalmatian’s affinity for and ability to work with the horse. They must be rid- den or pull a cart or carriage for the dog to coach to in order for the team to suc- cessfully compete in a road trial.

The hock exercise as seen from the rear. (Photo © Kathy Clark Photography)

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di ff erent than that of the Dalmatian. He must move smoothly through the fields, with agility and grace. His head is car- ried high and proudly, scenting out his game. When it is discovered, he freezes on point. Th e tail moves side to side rhythmically with the pace. Ideally it is carried level with his back. Th e Pointer gives the impression of a well-balanced, strongly built hunting dog capable of top speed combined with great stamina. He has a muscular body representing staying power of his point. Th ese are the charac- teristics of type that have been written into the Pointer standard, presenting an individual breed unlike the Dalmatian. Knowing that the Dalmatian originat- ed from dogs of sporting dog type, such as the “Spanish Pointer”, there are definite Pointer characters of type that we must avoid in judging and breed the definite. Th e Dalmatian must be of his own breed type. Some of the early standards describ- ing the Dalmatian actually compare him to the Pointer. Such as, “ Th e head very much resembles that of a Pointer, but is neither quite so deep nor so broad in muzzle,” and another, “ Th e neck should be arched like the Pointer.” In today’s standards of the Dalmatian and Pointer, the di ff erence is described very distinctly to separate both breeds. Th ere is a distinct di ff erence of toplines. Th e Dalmatian’s back is powerful with a strong, muscular, slightly arched loin. Th e pointer’s back should also be strong, by WENDELL SAMMET

O ne cannot judge or breed intelligently if he does not recognize breed type. Breed type is the written standard based on the function that particular breed had to fulfill. Each standard is describe to create each breed as an indi- vidual specimen. Th ese reflect the original purpose of the breeds, the Dalmatian’s ability to cover long miles on the road and Pointer’s ability to quarter the fields to locate and mark the bird. We realize that most breeds of today are not used for their original function. But, does that mean that the breed’s type should be erased and changed? No! Th e purpose for writing the standards in the creation of a breed is to set the characteristics of type. To understand these characteristics of type you must study the breed’s history. What was its function? And what di ff erent breeds were introduced to create the individual breed? Although an individual breed may have been derived from several other breeds, the standard describes it to distinguish that breed from all others, presenting an individual animal with its own unique breed type. All breeds, large and small, have the same total number of bones that make up their conformation. Th ese bones, long and short, narrow or wide, but arranged di ff erently according to its breed func- tion, help establish that breed’s type. For example, there are the same number

of vertebrae in the spinal column of the Greyhound, Point and Dalmatian, but each of their standards describes a di ff er- ent type of topline, characteristic of its own breed type. An animal is not typical of the breed if any of its components are exaggerated. Th e exaggerated animal’s faults and virtues are much more noticeable than the functional and well-balanced dog. Th e balanced dog is smoother in outline and his parts are proper to him. True type, because it is functional, is always in balance. Th e Dalmatian is quite often referred to as a “coach dog” because of his abil- ity to run with his master’s coach for long hours. Th is is his function, which created his breed type. He should be the proper size, appear strong, muscular and active. When in motion, he must have an even gait with reach and drive, showing his great endurance. His side movement should picture him with this head carried up and slightly thrust out, but not high in the air, and carrying the proper topline; neither slanting towards the withers or roached. His tail, which is an extension of the spine, is carried with a slightly curve and never curled and never over the back. Either black and white or live and white, his markings should be definite, round and of proper size, not intermingled. Th is is what makes the Dalmatian a unique specimen of its breed type. Th e Pointer is primarily bred for sport in the field which is his function,




but with a slight rise to the top of the shoulders and the loin of modern length, powerful and slightly arched, with the group falling slightly to the base of the tail. Comparing these two toplines, they both describe the loin as slightly arched. Th e Dalmatian should never have a slight rise from the croup to the top of the shoulders. Th is is typical of the Pointer. Th e Pointer’s croup should fall slightly to the base of the tail. Th e croup is not men- tioned in the Dalmatian standard, but it does state that the tail should not be set too low down. A low tail set on a Dalma- tian is a fault. Th e Dalmatian’s chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs well sprung, but never rounded (indi- cating want of speed). Th e Dalmatian’s function does not require speed, but long, hard hours of endurance. Th e Point’s chest is deep and must not hinder the strong leg action by being too wide; the breastbone bold, without being unduly prominent; the ribs well-sprung, descending as low as the elbow. Th e Dalmatian’s and Point- er’s chest does not di ff er that much, but both breeds state the same faults: narrow- chested, shallow and shelly. Too wide a chest is a fault, as this results in being out at the elbows and barreled ribs. Th e Dalmatian is a squarely built animal without appearing leggy. Both these breeds when too fine boned, with their chests narrow and not reaching to the elbow accompanied with a relatively extreme tuck-up as a Greyhound will give the appearance of being leggy even though they may measure square. Th ese are faults in both breeds. Legs and feet are most important in the Dalmatian as a running dog. Th e Dalmatian’s forelegs should be straight, strong and heavy in bone, yet not coarse or lumbery. Th e elbows should be tucked close to the body. Crooked and bow legs, out at the elbows, accompanied with coarse bone, hinders his running ability. Compact feet with well-arched toes and elastic pads, joining the proper foreleg is a great asset to the running Dalmatian. Flat feet are a major fault. Th e Dalmatian with thin pads and weak or too-straight pasterns could not function properly over rough terrain and would tire easily. Th e Pointer’s forelegs are to be straight. He must have oval bone of the proper strength, giving him the ability to work


in the field. Coarse, fine or spindly bones do not give him strength. Heavy bone in a Pointer is a fault. But heavy bone which is not coarse or lumbery is desired in a Dalmatian. Th e Pointer’s elbows are well let down, directly under the with- ers. Th is description of the elbow place- ment describes the proper angulation of the front assembly, which would be most important to the well-defined Pointer’s front action and function. Th e pasterns should be of moderate length, not long and sloping, nor short and straight. Th ey should be perceptibly finer in bone than the leg and slightly slanting, giving him spring and grace. His feet are oval, well- padded and deep to withstand the stub- bles and stones in the rough fields. Th e toes are long, arched and closely set. Cat feet and splay feet, thin pads and soft pads are faults. Th e properly constructed fore- legs of the Pointer give him the free action that is desired to function in the field as a hunting dog. Th e Dalmatian’s hind legs must be clean with well defined muscles. His hocks are well let down. Over-developed muscles (muscle bound) do not have the elasticity or freedom of movement. Cow hocks are a major fault. Th ey are weak and have no endurance. Stifles are not mentioned in the Dal- matian standard, but we assume what they should be because of other descrip- tive parts of the standard. We assume they should be neither straight nor over- angulated because neither construction would contribute to the steady rhythm

of “1, 2, 3, 4” with drive that is required. Th is gait is a characteristic of the Dalma- tian’s breed type, which points out that his function is to run many miles with a steady, even gait, showing endurance without tiring. Th e Pointer’s hindquarters are mus- cular and powerful with great propelling leverage, thighs long and well-developed, remind us that the Pointer must leap, twist and turn while functioning in the field, quite unlike the Dalmatian. Th e Pointer’s long and well-developed thighs, with a well developed stifles, are a mark of power and endurance. Joined by clean and parallel hocks gives him strength and movability. Pointers are seen in liver, lemon, black and orange; either in combination with white or solid colored. A liver Pointer can- not be a bad color. Th is is quite opposite to the Dalmatian. Th e color and markings of the Dalma- tian are of great importance, counting for one-quarter of the standard’s scale of 100 points. Th e ground color in both the black and liver spotted is always pure white. the spots should be round and evenly distrib- uted over the body. Th e spots on the head, ears, legs and tail are to be smaller than those on the body. Spots that are adjacent to each other and ticking that is smaller than a dime are undesirable. Patches, tri- colors and any markings other than black or liver are a disqualification. It is interesting to note that Dalziel’s book on “British Dogs”, 1889, mentions Dalmatian of many colors. He describes


the color and markings of the Dalmatian as giving it a distinct character and are properly very highly valued. He says the body must be pure white, single black hairs, running through the ground col- or giving a grayish hue are considered a very serious fault. Th e purer and bright the white, the better the black and liver spots look by contrast. Th e color of the spots should be pure black, blue-black or rich reddish liver. He mentions that the handsomest dogs are the tri-colors, with black spots on the body and bright, back or the rear legs, inside the front of the thighs and sometimes under and on the sides of the jaws. Of course, these tri-col- ors and blue-blacks are a disqualification under today’s standard. Dalziel men- tions that some of the earlier winners had distinctly tanned faces, but those and black patches were even then (1889) objectionable, “although less so than the dark ridge of conglomerated spots that often runs down the back.” Th e more distinct and clearly defined spots at this time were the best. Th e size of the spots desired then was the same as today, and the rounder the better. He mentioned that the larger ones generally ran into each other and when too small they gave a freckled (ticking) appearance. Dalziel, in speaking of colors of the Pointer, says that there is no preference, just whatever is in fashion. “A predomi- nance of white has been thought to be best because it assists the sportsman in detecting the whereabouts of his dog in high cover.” Walsh in 1867 and Dalziel in 1879 have similar descriptions of the Dalmatian. Th ey both mention that the Dalmatian head is similar to the head of the Pointer, but without the Pointer exaggeration. Th e Dalmatian’s head is of fair length, flat skull, proportionally broad between the eyes and moderately defined at the

temples. Th e markings on the head should be smaller than the body markings. Patches on the head, or anywhere else, are disqualifications. Th e Pointer skull is of medium width, approximately as wide as the length of the muzzle, giving the impression of length rather than width. Th e Dalmatian standard mentions nothing about the stop, but states the head should not be a straight line from the occiput to the nose as required in the Bull Terrier. At one time, it was believed that the Bull Terrier was introduced into the breed of the early Dalmatian. Th e desired characteristic of type in the Bull Terrier is undesirable in the Dalmatian head, once again placing emphasis on making the Dalmatian an individual breed on its own. Th e Pointer should have cheeks that are cleanly chiseled and should have a slightly furrow between the eyes with a pronounced stop. From the stop forward, the muzzle should be good length with the nasal bone so formed that the nose is slightly higher than where the muzzle meets the stop. Th is describes a “dish face.” Th e dish face is desirable in the Pointer, but not in the Dalmatian. Par- allel planes of the muzzle and skull are also desirable. In the Pointer, the muzzle should be deep without excessive flews. Th e Dalmatian’s eyes are set moder- ately wide apart, round and medium in size. Th ey should be sparkling with an intelligent expression. Th e color of the eyes depends upon the color of the dog. Th e black-spotted should be black, brown or blue. Th e liver-spotted should be gold- en, light brown or blue. Lack of pigment around the eyes is a major fault. Th e Pointer’s eyes are of ample size, rounded and intense. Eye color should be dark in contrast with the color or the markings, the dark the better.

Th e Dalmatian’s ears are set rather high, but not at the top of the head; wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point; carried close to the head, thin and fine in texture. Th ey should not be set low, long or folding. Th e markings on the ears must be smaller than the body mark- ings. A patch on the ear is a disqualifi- cation. Spotted ears are desired, but very di ffi cult to get. Th ey generally go with a lightly marked dog. The desired Pointer ear is set on at eye level. When hanging naturally, the tip should reach just below the lower jaw and close to the head, with little or no folding. They should be pointed at the tip, not rounded, and thin and soft in texture. Th e Dalmatian’s nose must always be self-colored, never butterfly or flesh-col- ored, which is a major fault. In the darker-colored Pointers, the nose should be black or brown; in the lighter colors, it may be lighter or flesh colored. So we see that many of the desirable colors and markings in the Dalmatian are permissible in the Pointer, such as lemons, patches of color and tickings. Once again, the Dalmatian is distinct in his markings, which are a very important characteristic of the breed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Wendell Sammet © AKC

is arguably one of the most respected breeders, exhibitors, and dog men in the history of our sport,

with impact spanning numerous breeds and with a list of fans and friends that is long and impressive. Wendell is co-author of “ Th e Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog” (Howell Book House) and was named AKC Breeder of the Year in 2002.



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