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
270 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2017
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