Showsight Presents the Dalmatian

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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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