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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