Let’s Talk Breed Education!
DALMATIANS: ANCIENT BREED TO MODERN VERSATILITY COMPANION
by THE DALMATIAN CLUB OF AMERICA
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.
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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
“THE DALMATIAN IS CAPABLE OF GREAT ENDURANCE, COMBINED WITH A FAIR AMOUNT OF SPEED.”
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
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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.
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KEN & EVA BERG Ken and Eva Berg
American Cocker Spaniels with my first dog coming from the Maribeau Kennels near my childhood home in Detroit, Michigan. I finished many championships under that prefix before breeding on my own under the prefix of Lancer Kennels. Besides Cockers, in the 70s I began breed- ing and showing Pointers to American
have exhibited Dal- matians in conforma- tion and obedience since 1967. They have bred more than 100 champions, many nationally ranked, and numerous obedience
and Canadian championships. I then spent many years as an AKC licensed handler before beginning to judge in 1988. As I became more involved in judging, I closed my breeding program. I am currently approved, under the AKC system, to judge All Breeds including Best in Show. I have had the honor of judging at the American Span- iel Club Cocker National six times, plus numerous other breed Nationals in the US and Canada. I have judged on six continents, 30 countries throughout the world, several multiple times. MARY MILLER
titleholders. They owned the top Dalmatian in America for 1991, 1992 and 1993. Both have served on the Board of Gov- ernors of The Dalmatian Club of America and have chaired the National Health and Research Committee. Eva has also chaired the National Judges Education Committee and Ken the Top-20 Committee. Eva and Ken have both been President of the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation. The Bergs are also members of the Dalmatian Club of Northern California as well as serving as Officers in a prestigious all breed kennel club. Ken is a fire protection engineer who was President of his own national consulting firm. He is now retired from a pri- vate consulting practice. Eva is a former high school teacher and has instructed in a noted Obedience School. They have two children and five grandchildren. Eva judges the Sporting, Hound, Working, Toy and Non-Sporting groups and several Herding breeds, while Ken judges the Sporting, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting groups. They have have judged a number of Non-sporting, Toy, Hound, Sporting and Working breed Specialties. Eva was selected as the primary judge at the 2002 and 2010 Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty shows. She has also judged National Specialty shows in Bel- gium, Brazil, Canada and Thailand. Ken has been honored by being selected to judge the Centennial 2005 Dalmatian Club of America National Specialty show and the 2016 National Specialty. While judging on several continents, Ken and Eva became proficient in applying local and FCI Standards. In addition, they have judged entire Rare Breed dog shows. They have presented breed seminars for judges on numer- ous occasions in many countries. In addition to their involve- ment in Dalmatians, the Bergs have owned several other breeds, including Portuguese Water Dogs, Poodles, Scotties and Boxers. GLORIA GERINGER I live on five acres in southwest Louisiana with my hus- band, Lucas, and two retired mini long haired Dachshunds. My life in purebred dogs began in 1963 with parti-color
Mary Miller began her longstanding involvement in purebred dogs when she attended and won at her first show dog show with her Dalmatian in the early 1970s.
She became a licensed Junior Show- manship judge in 1978 and followed approval for the Non-Sporting group and currently has permits for several Hound breeds. Employed at Mill Ridge Farm for 30 years, she is the Equine Operations coordinator for the thoroughbred farm. She is a life member of the Lexington Kennel Club, a mem- ber of the Dalmatian Club of America where she has served as Board Member, Junior Showmanship and Show Chairman. Also, she takes great pride in serving as a Board of Trustee for Take The Lead.
1. Describe the breed in three words. K&EB: Distinctively-spotted, strong-muscular and great endurance. GG: Swift, sturdy and friendly. MM: Type, balance and soundness.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? K&EB: Effortless gait, distinctly spotted, overall balance, and a stable and outgoing temperament. GG: Correct size, correct color and spots and reach and drive. MM: The Dalmatian should be free of being coarse and able to travel a long distance with a fair amount of speed.
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dalmatian Q&A WITH KEN & EVA BERG, GLORIA GERINGER AND MARY MILLER
3. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? K&EB: Unfortunately, there are several: over or under mark- ing (density), spots too large (specified as from the size of a dime to a half-dollar), restricted front movement, exces- sive body length (almost square breed!) and long in loin. GG: Lack of balance. MM: I have noticed more coarse dogs than I would like to see. 4. Gait is so important in the Dalmatian. Do you value sidegait or down and back more when evaluating? K&EB: We value them equally. The moderate, workman-like sidegate with good reach and drive is essential for the Dal to perform his function of long distance trotting with a horse or carriage. A clean down and back is necessary for energy-efficient movement necessary for long distance work. GG: This question is like the chicken or the egg first. In my opinion you must evaluate them equally for with a clean down and back without good sidegait, the whole picture is distorted. Likewise, good sidegait and faulty down and back, endurance is affected. MM: Again, movement is very important to the Dalmatian as they were used as a “coach dog” which required them to cover great distance effortlessly. Side gait as I love to see a Dalmatian move around the ring properly with great reach and drive. Also, you will be able to see if the dog has a level topline and moves with the head down. 5. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? K&EB: There has been a trend towards larger spots with greater density than is described in the Standard. Also, some breeders and judges are valuing extended reach and drive that looks great going around the ring a few times, but cannot be maintained for long distances. Our standard has a great latitude in size; 19" to 23" for both dogs and bitches with those over 24" being disqualified. That allows both large and small dogs and bitches, but some dogs are excessively large and coarse, and some dogs and bitches are too small and are overly refined. The Dal should have good substance and be strong and sturdy in bone. GG: Size and heavy markings, spots coming close to patches MM: Rear angulation, I am seeing very over angulated rears. 6. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? K&EB: Better and more uniform. When we first started judg- ing Dalmatians, every region in the Country appeared to have a different Dal Standard—some were big, some very lightly marked, some heavily marked, some with distinctively different heads, some very long backed, etc. Since then, with the increased popularity of frozen and fresh-chilled breeding and increased traveling by exhibi- tors to National and Regional specialty shows, the breed
has become much more uniform with the Standard being adhered to in greater detail. GG: I don’t think the dogs are any better or worse overall than in the past. Each has or had dogs on all levels of quality and hopefully the good dogs rise to the top. MM: In my 40 years in showing and judging the Dalmatian, we have gone through many changes but overall I think that the dogs back than when I first started would be equally competitive in the rings today. 7. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? K&EB: Many new judges are overly concerned about identi- fying a patch. The reality is that a patch is almost never seen in a AKC conformation ring. A patch is clearly evi- dent; spots that intermingle are not patches. The working heritage of the Dalmatian should be identifiable both statically and dynamically. GG: Importance of correct spots and importance of proper gait and endurance. MM: The point scale in our breed standard gives 25 points towards importance to color and markings. Please do not get hung up on spotting with this breed. Keep in mind what this dog was bred to do. 8. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. K&EB: Some judges have been taught to first judge the dog, then add the spots. We believe that this practice can adversely affects the breed type detailed in the Standard. Our Standard states that color and markings account for 25% of the evaluation of the Dalmatian, and should be part of the overall evaluation of the exhibit and therefore, should be one of the priorities in the overall judging of the dog. First find breed type (what makes this breed unique), then find soundness in movement, since that is also a part of breed type in order for the Dal to do their job. MM: This is a fun breed to judge—as they say with all short haired dogs “what you see is what you get”. So enjoy those spotted dogs in your ring. 9. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? K&EB: Early in our career, while showing a Dalmatian puppy bitch, the judge reached around to determine mus- culature in the hind quarters and whoops, she peed in his hand. The judge in questions remembers this incident to this day and always enjoys a good laugh with us when he sees us. GG: A woman came in my ring showing a dog and had no one apparently to tend to her baby. She packed the baby on her back, papoose style and continued around the ring.
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SPOTLIGHTING DALMATIAN THE by JAN WARREN LINNÉ for the Dalmatian Club of America
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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A FORUM on the DALMATIAN
MEG I. HENNESSEY
on the Board of Trustees for Take The Lead and am a member of the Dalmatian Club Of America. JUDY ENGLISH MURRAY
I’m a retired schoolteacher and I get to do anything I want! I like to travel, garden and cook, but those activities are sec- ond to my dogs. I’ve been in the sport for 50 years, showing for 34 years and judging for the past 17 years. JOAN LESTER
We live in Walkerton, Indiana, a small community near South Bend and enjoy the solitude on several acres. Of course my favorite college teams are Notre Dame for football and University Of Kentucky for basketball. My husband Steve and I enjoy spending time with our grandchil-
I live near Oswego, Illinois, approxi- mately 45 miles west of Chicago. I work for a matrimonial law firm. I am active in the Order of the Eastern Star, having served twice as Worthy Matron of a local chapter. When time allows, I enjoy bak- ing, swimming and gardening, but most
dren, gardening and traveling. I’ve been breeding and exhib- iting Dalmatians for over 40 years, judging for about 28. I joined the Dalmatian Club of America in 1972, and currently am a member of the Top Twenty Committee, which I thor- oughly enjoy. Please bear with me as you encounter my sur- vey responses--I may hop on my soapbox and expound on a subject that is very, very close to my heart. PATTI STRAND Rod and I have lived in Portland, Ore- gon since we began in Dalmatians. Rod is a real estate broker and I am the volunteer president of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a group that advocates for pure- bred dogs and the human animal bond. Rod and I got our first Dalmatian in 1969 and earned our first championship in the early 1970s. We got our judging licenses for Dalmatians about 25 years ago.
of my spare time is spent being with my dogs and learning more about other breeds. My husband and I acquired our first Dalmatian 45 years ago. We showed him in obedience and then acquired our first conformation puppy 3 years later. I have been judging for 25 years. MARY MILLER I live in Lexington, Kentucky. I enjoy gardening and horse racing. I bought my first Dalmatian 46 years ago and started showing at that time. I received my Junior Showmanship license 38 years ago and breed license several years later. I currently judge the Non-Sporting Group and several Hound breeds, am a lifetime member of the Lexington Kennel Club,
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1. Describe the breed in three words. MH: Spotted, elegant and athletic.
intelligent expression. This is a trotting breed and must be done efficiently. I prefer dark eye color in both the liver and black. However, all things considered, I will reward a single or double blue eye. Note that I haven’t mentioned spotting—to me, that’s icing on the cake. A Dalmatian doesn’t gait on its spots. Yes, like everyone else I like a well-spotted dog, but will take conformation and correct movement over a well-spotted dog. Also, I don’t mind if spotting runs together. PS: Good temperament is the indispensable first trait, but after that, balance and good running gear are mandatory. Beauty and spotting are vital, too, but if you don’t have a sound, balanced, good moving dog, spotting—no matter how perfect—won’t save it. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? MH: I find that a lot of people confuse running like mad and reach and drive. You can have reach and drive at an easy trot. The Dalmatian drops his head; the front feet hit the ground under his nose. The rear matches the front. You don’t need a kick; fast, choppy little legs aren’t reach and drive. JL: Rear angulation: the Dalmatian is a square dog (the over- all length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately equal to the height at the withers). He should be symmetrical in outline, without exaggeration. Although not specifically described in the standard as such, the rear toes are to be slightly behind the point of the rump. MM: Fronts too far forward, lack of forechest, sloping toplines, lack of angulation and correct turn of stifle. JEM: As a breeder I believe spotting is becoming a major problem. I agree that a clear white background on a beautifully hand painted spotted dog is a thing of beauty. Spotting is 25% of our written standard. continued on page 260 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& + 6-: t
JL: Dotted, athletic and loyal. MM: Spotted, active and sound.
JEM: Three words that come to mind when describing the Dalmatian are movement (trotting), soundness and sym- metry. Why, one may ask? A Dalmatian was bred to be a coaching dog, so correct movement is necessary. Sound- ness is because if a Dalmatian isn’t built properly, then they will not be able to follow a coach or carriage for the many miles required. Picture a Smooth Fox Terrier with their straight fronts. How long before they break down? Symmetry to me means angles both fore and aft that will, or should be, equally balanced. A well-balanced dog will have a steady and effortless cadence trot with a powerful drive coordinated with an extended reach in front. As the Dal begins to trot, the head drops slightly to facilitate an easy stride. There is a tendency to single track as the speed increases and can be evaluated on the down and back. PS: Moderate, balanced and athletic (wrapped in a spotted package). 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? MH: I look for the profile. If they have the correct profile, then they will move correctly. Spots are the icing on the cake; spotting is a part of breed type, but so are profile and movement. JL: Balance, soundness in body and in mind and a pleasing spotting pattern. MM: Breed type, soundness, pleasantly marked, correct size, balanced and good temperament. JEM: What I look for when judging a Dalmatian is one that is strong, muscular, good shoulder lay back, strong level topline (both standing and moving), one that looks capable of great endurance (not speed) and an
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SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2022 | 197
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Individuals forget that size, proportion and substance is 10%; head is 10%; neck, topline and body are 10%; the gait is 10%; temperament is 10%. Those add up to 50%, which in my mind outweighs the spotting of 25%. I’ve spoken to judges regarding our breed standard and ask why they awarded a certain Dal. Their comment was 25% is spotting and to change our standard if DCA want us to judge otherwise! I’ve expressed that the rest of our standard adds up to 75%. My suggestion to anyone who may be confused about spotting is to reread our standard and understand it completely. PS: Actually, Dals are less exaggerated today than in past decades, but low tail sets and steep shoulders remain a perennial problem. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are bet- ter now than when you started judging? MH: I think there is overall improvement in the breed. When I first started showing, there were many dogs that you couldn’t touch because of sharp temperaments. When I judged the DCA National last year, I didn’t have a sharp dog at all. JL: Coloring and markings seem to be very cyclical. Over the years they have gone from what we now would call “very light” to dark spotted and then back to lighter spotted dogs and anything in between. Several Dals that old-time breeders would have classified as pet quality, based on their dark spotting patterns alone, have now been shown and have earned their championships. Proper shoulder layback and short upper arms are still a problem, but are improving. MM: No. When I first started to judge there were many wonderful dogs being shown and today I can say I have found equally as nice individuals. We are all looking for that perfect dog and I compliment the breeders past and present for all their dedication to the Dalmatian. Certainly there are areas where I would like to see improvement, but I think that will always be the case. JEM: I think today’s judging compared to yesteryear is about 50-50--depending on the area you are judging in. Again with spotting, I see some Dalmatians that have fantastic open spotting, but they lack the conformation necessary to be a true coaching dog. Sad to say, but I’ve witnessed judges totally ignore a dog with the correct—or very close to it—conformation and gait because of some spots running together (called confluence) instead of open, well-rounded spots. I believe the judges of 20-plus years ago were more likely to judge the dog on conformation first because they understood our standard. Today it seems that the majority of judges are judging completely on the spotting pattern. If we don’t have the conforma- tion and required trotting gait (not speed), we will lose the Dalmatian coach dog completely.
PS: They are better tempered and conditioned today than they were when we started. Dals were a popular, top 10 breed when Rod and I first started judging so there were many more to choose from than there are today, but the percentage of truly outstanding Dalmatians remains about the same. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? MH: I think new judges worry too much about spotting and color. They think they are going to miss a patch or a tri-color dog. A patch is going to have smooth edges. Spots that run together have rough edges. I’ve seen two tri-color dogs since I starting showing in 1982, and they weren’t in the ring! JL: Color and markings are misunderstood. In the scale of points, color and markings are given 25 of the total 100 points. Yes, there are a substantial amount of points being allocated for spotting, but you have to consider the other features that make up the remaining 75 points. Judge the dog first and then consider the spots, remem- bering that spotting is a hallmark of the breed. You have to bake the cake before adding the frosting. MM: I feel new judges are getting caught up on markings. Remember, this dog has to function as a working dog. JEM: Unless it’s a breeder, I firmly believe that the majority of today’s breed judges read our standard and only the 25% for spotting, the faults and DQs stick in their mind. They completely forget that if a Dalmatian is constructed with a strong level topline, a neck that is fairly long and blends smoothly into well laid back shoulders, has good strong sturdy bone, with short and flexible pasterns, and a rear that has well defined muscles, well bent stifles and hocks well let down which is correct for endurance. This represents a well-constructed dog. The Dalmatian was bred to trot with coaches for miles and miles over rough terrain. They must be aware of its surroundings at all times, thus must be intelligence. Therefore a true coaching dog requires well-padded feet, solid bone and a capacious chest—a dog of endurance. One should see this on the first go ’round. If a judge will have a picture of a perfectly constructed Dal without spots in their mind’s eye and add the spots later it may help them understand the Dalmatian breed. It’s my understanding we are to judge breeding stock and from a breeder’s standpoint it is much harder to get the correct shoulder layback than spotting. I’d like to remind judges and breeders alike to evaluate the entire dog/puppy. It must be judged on both spotting and soundness as both are essential parts of correct Dalmatian type and one must not be over-empha- sized at the expense of the other. In 2013, AKC and the Dalmatian Club of America agreed on a judge’s guide. It is available for download in PDF form at thedca.org for both judges and breeders alike.
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several with individuals that wanted a jogging compan- ion. That’s what they were initially bred for. Our 12-year- old would never leave the unfenced yard and was always helping me weed, plant flowers or just sit with me on the patio. She stayed right by my side. One day I went inside for a second, “Care Bear” would usually wait by the door in case I brought her a treat. This day she was nowhere to be seen. We called and called, walking the fields and wooded area. Care Bear was gone. Three hours later, while we were still searching, a pickup truck pulled in the drive and as the driver got out, here comes Care Bear. We asked where he found her and he said he lives about five miles away and found her on his road. He knew she was ours because he’d seen her in our yard before. Five miles in three hours, that old girl was still in good shape. PS: Of course Dalmatians should be beautiful and well spot- ted, but the key to judging them well is to assess spotting after finding a moderate, well-balanced, athletic dog capable of trotting all day long. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? MH: There are a lot of tales I could tell on myself and others, but I won’t. However, I do remember showing in a group in the rain before we worried about getting wet. All the Non-Sporting dogs were soaked and all the grooming on the long haired dogs was in ruins! The Dalmatian won the group that day and that made me very happy! JL: I had a young junior handler in my ring and I was about to check the dog’s bite; I asked the young man if I could see his dog’s bite and he replied, “Yes” and continued to stand by his dog’s side. (I had to chuckle—he answered my question, but he did not realize that I was actually asking him to show me his dog’s bite.) JEM: True story—many years ago, while living in Louisville, Kentucky, one of my favorite shows to attend was the Lexington KC because it was outside in a grassy area with lots of shade trees. It was a beautiful site. I had entered my dog and the day before the show no one could go with me to take care of my 10-month-old baby girl while I was in the ring. I arrived and contacted the show chair and we agreed my daughter would be safe if placed in a spotless ex-pen on a blanket with her toys while I was in the ring for four minutes and she was within eyesight the entire time. My dog lost, but the baby had fun with her many admirers. A photo of her in the ex-pen ended up in the Lexington Herald on Sunday. Can you imagine doing this today? It would be called child abuse or neglect. PS: One year long ago, the show rings were inadvertently set up over a very active gopher colony at Richland Wash- ington. You probably needed to be there to appreciate it, but it was hysterical watching exhibitors trying to keep their dogs under control as one gopher after another popped up.
“I LOVE DALMATIANS.
i cAn’t imAgine not hAving one At the house! they Are funny, energetic And
beAutiful to WAtch. THEY MAKE ME SMILE.”
PS: New judges sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees. They get hung up on a specific feature, worry about spots running together, try to judge the breed based on priorities from another breed, expression or head type, for instance, and wind up rewarding a poorly made, flat-footed, out-of-balance Dalmatian that could never do the work it was intended to do. Dals are supposed to be able to trot great distances. Dals that are out of balance, unsound and/or lacking in muscle, cannot do this. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? MH: I love Dalmatians. I can’t imagine not having one at the house! They are funny, energetic and beautiful to watch. They make me smile. JL: The Dalmatian is a very versatile dog; he will do what- ever you want—he is happy to sit on the coach as well as work in obedience, agility, tracking, barn hunts, cours- ing; anything you want to do, he will be happy to do it with you. Contrary to public opinion, most Dals are very intelligent and are good with young children—just look out for the wagging tails! MM: I feel the breed is a hidden gem among breeds. JEM: The Dalmatian, besides being distinctive, is an active dog that requires a large fenced yard for exercise because if they get loose they will run for miles. I’ve placed
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moRe Than JusT a PReTTy sPoTTed FaCe: WHAT DALMATIANS DO
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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A SPOTTY POINTER OR A DALMATIAN?
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,
“THE DALMATIAN IS QUITE OFTEN REFERRED TO AS A ‘COACH DOG’
BECAUSE OF HIS ABILITY TO RUN WITH HIS MASTER’S COACH FOR LONG HOURS.”
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