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rec.pets.dogs: Dalmatians Breed-FAQ


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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/dalmatians
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Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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                                  Dalmatians
                                       
Authors

     * Jan Cranny
     * Corinne James
     * Carol Russo
     * Sylvia Strawbridge
     * Robert von Mayr
     * Maria Zorka
       
   Copyright 1995.
   
   Revisions
     * November 1997
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Table of Contents

     * Physical Description
     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Dalmatian Activities
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * Dalmatian Breed History
     * Special Medical Problems
     * Questions for the Prospective Dalmatian Owner
     * Questions to ask a breeder when selecting a Dalmatian
     * Appendices
          + References
          + Other available references
          + Online references
          + Periodicals
          + Dalmatian Club of America
     * About the Authors
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Physical Description

   Dalmatians are medium-sized, short coated dogs. The accepted size in
   the USA is between 19-24 inches at the shoulder. Weight ranges from
   40-70 pounds. Females are generally smaller than males. Today, many
   Dalmatians are much larger than the accepted breed standard. Males can
   be seen as large as 27 inches and weigh 90 pounds. In Great Britain,
   Dalmatians are usually larger than in the States. The Dalmatian is
   built for long distance endurance. It is well-muscled, without being
   coarse, with a capacious, deep chest. The coat is quite short and
   predominantly white with distinctive round spots in either black or
   liver (brown). The spots range in diameter from the size of a dime to
   the size of a half-dollar. Some Dalmatians have one or more 'patches'.
   These are large unbroken areas of black or brown, which are silkier in
   texture. Although the spots are already present as skin spots at
   birth, Dalmatians are born with pure white fur, unless patched. These
   patches are silky large areas of black or brown. Patches disqualify a
   Dal from the conformation show ring, but have no impact on the dog's
   quality as pet. Many pet owners find patches to be very attractive.
   Other physical disqualifications in the US breed ring are over size
   (over 24") and undersize (under 19"). Other (disqualifying) spotting
   colors are tri colors and lemons. Tri coloration is where both black
   and liver colored spots exist on the same dog. Lemon spotting is a
   faded beige or orange-beige coloration.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Characteristics and Temperament

   The Dalmatian is an active, energetic dog that enjoys lots of
   exercise. Dalmatians are people-like and people oriented. They do best
   when given the opportunity to spend lots of time with and around their
   families. Dalmatians are rather sensitive, too - they can sulk when
   scolded, and "talk" up a storm when they're happy or want your
   attention. If a Dal is what you crave, be prepared to make him a part
   of your life, both outdoors and indoors. Dals love to play ... and
   play ... especially as youngsters. Bred to run for hours under, or
   alongside the axle of a horse-drawn coach, most Dalmatians do not tire
   easily. However, they do poorly as full-time outdoor dogs. Their
   sensitive skin and short hair does not allow them to handle weather
   extremes well, and they will pick up fungi from moist soil and grass;
   not to mention fleas and ticks!
   
   Carefully bred, Dalmatians are "up" dogs, as bold as their unique
   spotting exemplifies! They are the clowns of Dogdom. But parents with
   small children (under 6 yr.) should be aware that Dals are very
   exuberant and will want to consider their potential reaction when the
   dog accidentally knocks a child down. Mind you, small children must be
   taught not to poke at eyes or pull tails; both Dal and child need to
   learn proper behavior! Because of their intelligent and exuberant
   nature, early obedience training is *essential* for Dalmatians.
   Dalmatians usually get on well with other dogs and are great in multi
   pet households. It is desirable to socialize puppies with children,
   adults, and with other dogs from an early age. Dals can also get along
   splendidly with cats if introduced appropriately. A well-bred
   Dalmatian may be aloof with strangers, but never shy or aggressive.
   Once they get to know a stranger, that person may be treated to the
   full toothed smile or, "smarl" - a combination of a smile and a snarl
   that can be disarming to one unfamiliar with the ways of a Dal! Dals
   can also be very vocal. They coo and grunt and will give you a
   whistling yawn when attempting to avoid a scolding! As former guard
   dogs, Dalmatians make good watchdogs. Sensible and alert, they are
   usually not hysterical "yappers" but will bark only when necessary.
   
   Are Dalmatians stupid? Definitely not. On the contrary, they are
   extremely intelligent and creative! They are often smart enough to
   recognize a situation where the owner is unable or unwilling to
   enforce a command. They ARE often headstrong. If you do not give them
   consistent, firm training and boundaries as puppies, you will wind up
   with an unmanageable adult. Dalmatians may also be easily bored.
   Males, in particular, may have an independent streak. For these
   reasons, Dalmatians often respond best to more positive training
   methods, as opposed to methods which rely primarily on scolding and
   telling the dog what NOT to do.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Dalmatian Activities

   The AKC has placed Dalmatians into the "Non-Sporting" group. Breeds
   with assorted "talents" are placed in this selective group. Dalmatians
   have been used as hunting dogs, as soft mouthed retrievers, as
   pointers, herding and even as watch dogs. During both World Wars and
   during Vietnam, Dalmatians were used to guard the camps of US
   soldiers. Dalmatians are also excellent tracking and Search and Rescue
   dogs. Their strong "scenting" tendencies can be traced back to the
   introduction of the white Pointer, far back in the Dalmatian's
   lineage.
   
   In keeping with their early utilization as carriage dogs, Dalmatians
   have earned the titles of Road Dog (RD) and Road Dog Excellent (RDX)
   from The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA). Road trials are held in
   conjunction with the DCA National Specialty and with some other
   regional Dalmatian club specialties. The Road Dog titles are earned by
   dogs who accompany horses or carriages for distances of 12.5 miles
   (RD) and 25 miles (RDX), (~20 and 40 km) and perform some off-leash
   obedience work. Competitors need not be members of these clubs. In
   fact most are pet owners who enjoy working with horses and their dogs.
   
   Dalmatians also can do well in obedience competition, when given
   positive training. Some folks say that to own a Dalmatian requires a
   sense of humor; which certainly helps in obedience competition! Many
   Dalmatians successfully complete their Companion Dog (CD) and
   Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) Obedience degrees; some also have
   completed Utility Dog (UD) and Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) degrees and
   one or two have completed Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) degrees as
   well.
   
   Obedience training methods that work best with the Dalmatian minimize
   repetition and maximize variety. Dalmatians get bored easily and will
   then begin to *modify* the exercise to introduce some excitement! Dals
   do not generally respond well to harsh, inflexible training methods.
   Praise, play and food reinforcement ensure better results.
   
   Dalmatians also enjoy agility as it suits their athletic natures. They
   make excellent hiking and backpacking dogs. Many Dals are talented
   flyball and Frisbee retrievers since these skills add a bit of whimsy
   and "theater" to their repertoire.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Frequently Asked Questions

   _Is it spelled Dalmatian or Dalmation? I've seen it both ways._
   
     It is spelled DalmatiAn, with no O - named after the province of
     Dalmatia.
     
   _Do Dalmatians shed?_
   
     Yes. Dalmatians shed lots of hair year-round Their stiff short
     hairs cling to most surfaces and weave their way into fabrics
     making them difficult to remove. Shedding can be reduced by giving
     the dog a brisk five minute daily brushing outdoors.
     
   _How much grooming is required for a Dalmatian?_
   
     Dalmatians are natural dogs, cat-like in cleanliness and free of
     doggy odor. Their toenails should be kept trimmed, as they grow
     rapidly. Long nails are understandably uncomfortable for any dog.
     Dals may object to having their nails trimmed, unless they are
     trained early. But it must be done.
     
     Frequent brushing helps to keep them clean without disturbing their
     protective skin oils. During their daily brushing, check eyes and
     ears for irritation. Also, during warm weather, check for fleas and
     ticks while outdoors. Frequent bathing, especially with harsh soaps
     can lead to dry skin and skin problems in Dalmatians. Most Dals
     clean up well with a damp towel or the use of a plain gentle soap.
     Be sure to rinse very well, as soapy residue will irritate the
     skin. Ask your vet to show you how to empty the anal sacks. This
     procedure should be done whenever you bathe your Dalmatian in order
     to avoid infection.
     
   _How much exercise is required?_
   
     Here is a report from one Dalmatian owner: "In addition to plenty
     of play time in the yard, we walk our Dalmatian, Chili, three times
     daily - in the morning, at dinnertime, and before bed. It adds up
     to about two miles (3 km)." And another owner says: "In the summer
     they get about 3 miles a day; come winter I will have to increase
     this to about 5 miles." Dal owners must take an active part in
     exercising their dogs; having a fenced yard is not enough - they
     will not usually get enough exercise themselves. Long walks are not
     the only way to provide the exercise required; another canine
     playmate can help, or playing fetch in the yard can also serve as
     the major portion of their exercise. But do keep in mind, that as
     important as exercise is the quality time a Dal spends with his
     human family.
     
     As much as a Dalmatian needs exercise, dogs under a year should
     self-exercise with a doggy or human playmate. When doing so, the
     youngster will stop to rest when tired. Allow your Dal to exercise
     on soft ground (grass or dirt), rather then asphalt or concrete,
     when young. Exercising on soft ground is a good idea even as an
     adult.
     
   _What kind of food should I feed my Dalmatian?_
   
     There are as many brand preferences as there are Dalmatian
     breeders, but there are some generalizations that can be made. The
     authors and other breeders have had good success with premium dry
     type foods (Pro Plan, Nutro, Eagle, Purina ONE, Natures Recipe,
     etc.) because they contain high quality ingredients like real meats
     instead of meat meal and because they minimize the amount of
     purines, corn meal, soy meal, meat by-products and preservatives.
     The dog seems to make better use of the premium brand foods,
     therefore generating less fecal waste. Dalmatians do not generally
     require canned dog food, however, it is sometimes useful in
     encouraging the finicky eater. Do not feed your Dalmatian foods
     with "cute" colors and shapes as these require additives that may
     cause or aggravate skin allergy conditions. Further information on
     food choices may be found in the medical problems section under the
     discussion of the unique urinary characteristics of the Dalmatian
     Breed. Please feel free to share your food success stories with us,
     especially if you live in a country other then the United States.
     
   _Should I give my Dalmatian "people food"?_
   
     Dals love most foods. In fact it is a very effective training
     method to reward good behavior with food. Human food may be OK, in
     VERY small amounts. Always avoid foods high in purines, such as
     liver or other organ meats. Avoid chocolate, which is toxic to
     dogs. Remember that people food has calories too!
     
   _How often should my Dalmatian be fed?_
   
     Dalmatians usually eat very quickly and most seem to be always
     hungry, and as a result do not do well with self-feeding. This can
     lead to overweight dogs with higher incidences of medical problems
     later in life. Adult Dals should be fed either once or twice
     (preferred) a day,from 3 to 6 cups total, depending on their weight
     and activity level. Some adult females do well on as little as 2
     cups of food per day. Most puppies do better with 3-4 smaller daily
     servings.
     
     Your breeder should tell you how often & how much they were feeding
     when you pick up your puppy.
     
   _Do Dalmatians make good apartment dogs?_
   
     Don't be put off, apartment dwellers - you can still have a Dal in
     your life If you're willing (and able) to walk your Dal during the
     week and have access to an open area where he can be set loose
     (provided he is off-lead trained) to let out steam on weekends.
     Make friends with dog owners who have fenced yards! A Dalmatian
     looks great trotting alongside a bicycle - think of the attention
     you'll attract while you both stay fit! Your Dal will enjoy and
     benefit from long daily walks.
     
   _Are Dalmatians hyper?_
   
     Most Dals are very active and if they are ignored or not exercised
     enough they can become high strung. Obedience training is extremely
     important in order that the Dal learn boundaries and do that what
     is expected of him. Poorly bred Dalmatians may be genetically
     predisposed to having excessive hyperactive or even neurotic
     behavior.
     
   _What should I look for when selecting a puppy?_
   
     The increased popularity of the breed following Disney's "101
     Dalmatians" has had a largely negative effect. Too many people saw
     money in Dals and began breeding with no thought about stable
     temperaments, or of improving the breed. Follow all the good advice
     in the rec.pets.dogs.info "Getting a Dog" FAQ. In addition, see the
     special medical problems, the questions to ask your breeder, and
     the questions to ask yourself sections of this FAQ. A list of US
     breeders can be obtained by writing the Secretary of the Dalmatian
     Club of America whose address is in the appendix.
     
   _Should I adopt an adult dog?_
   
     Because Dalmatians can take two to three years to mentally mature,
     uneducated or "untrained" owners may put adolescent or adult Dals
     up for adoption who were too much for them to handle. In addition,
     retired show dogs, and adolescents who do not "pan out" for the
     show ring sometimes become available from very good breeders.
     Contact your local humane society, Dalmatian Rescue and your local
     Dalmatian or kennel club about Dals in need of a home. Adopting an
     adult dog can be very rewarding. Be sure to ask the owners for a
     medical history. Do inquire about the reason why the dog is being
     placed. Remember that it is harder to retrain than it is to train,
     especially a dog with bad habits. Be prepared to spend the extra
     time required to gain the trust and positive behavior you desire.
     
     Although Dalmatians tend to be very loyal to their owners, it does
     not take them long to realize who their adopted owners are.
     Dalmatians are very good "people psychologists". Be consistent and
     firm, yet gentle, and the rewards will far exceed your efforts!
     
     The Dalmatian List server on the Internet is in the process of
     setting up a rescue list. Please see the question below about
     online resources for more information on the List server.
     
   _Do Dals like to swim?_
   
     Dals are usually good swimmers who love the water. If your Dal
     swims a lot, pay attention to his ears. Wet ears can trigger a
     painful ear infection.
     
   _Do Dalmatians do well in colder climates?_
   
     Dalmatians should get lots of indoor time for both physical and
     emotional reasons. They should not be left out in the cold for long
     periods. One vet in Minnesota reports seeing more Dals with
     pneumonia than any other breed. A Dalmatian will enjoy short
     periods out in the snow and ice, but should be brought in when it
     gets cold.
     
   _Is obedience training recommended for Dals?_
   
     Dalmatian breeders either require or highly recommend that each
     owner bring their dog through basic obedience classes. Dalmatians
     have minds of their own, and like children, they tend to see how
     much they can get away with, while testing the boundaries of
     behavior. Basic obedience training will allow you and your dog to
     bond together and will assist you in setting house rules. It will
     also make your walks with your dog much more enjoyable. Most
     breeders and dog clubs will be able to recommend a good trainer.
     You can expect most classes to cost less than $60.00. Large pet
     stores and community education organizations also run training
     classes that are reasonably priced.
     
   _Should I crate train my Dalmatian?_
   
     Many people think it is cruel to keep a dog in a crate even for
     reasonable amounts of time. However, when properly trained, a Dal
     sees his crate as his space, his own room. Due to the highly active
     and easily bored nature of the typical Dalmatian, it is not a good
     idea to give your Dal free run of the house in your absence. Most
     breeders recommend that your Dal be crate trained in order to
     protect your valuables and to protect your dog. Crate training is
     also an excellent beginning to house training. Refer to the crate
     training FAQ in Rec.pets.dogs.info to obtain recommended crate
     training methodologies. Fresh water should be supplied to
     Dalmatians at all times, even when they are crated. They should not
     be crated over too long a period of time, since concentration of
     the urine could lead to stone formation. For Adult dalmatians, 8 to
     10 hours is the longest amount of time that they should be crated
     on a regular basis. Puppies should be given the opportunity to
     relieve themselves every 2-3 hours, gradually increasing until they
     are 6 months old to 6-8 hours. For more information on bladder and
     kidney stones,see the special medical problems section of this FAQ.
     
   _Should I consider breeding my Dalmatian?_
   
     In addition to the information found within the rec.pets.dogs.info
     "Breeding your dog" FAQ, there is the unique Dalmatian problem of
     deafness, discussed in detail in the special medical problems
     section. Breeding Dalmatians brings the added responsibility of
     dealing with deaf puppies. The Dalmatian Club Of America's
     position, supported by reputable breeders, is that all deaf pups be
     humanely euthanized, not placed in homes. If you decide to breed
     your Dalmatian, you must be prepared and able to deal with the
     consequences of whelping a deaf puppy and having it euthanized. In
     addition, should you decide to breed, make sure that you know the
     hearing status of both the sire and the dam. To reduce the
     likelihood of having deaf puppies, both parents should have
     bilateral hearing, i.e., hearing in both ears as determined by BAER
     testing. Both sire and dam should have sound hips and have had hip
     x-rays which have been evaluated by the OFA and given a passing
     grade. Plan also to do a complete thyroid workup. Since genetic
     defects are passed on to the offspring, both parents should be
     excellent breed specimens, reasonably free of genetic defects.
     
   _Where is more information available on line?_
   
     There is a group of Dalmatian enthusiasts that maintain a List
     server for discussions related to the Dalmatian breed. It is
     located at dal-l@vm1.spcs.umn.edu, and you may subscribe by sending
     a message to LISTSERV@vm1.spcs.umn.edu with a blank subject line
     and the message "subscribe dal-l " as the body of the text. As an
     example, a person named John Doe would send a message with the text
     "subscribe dal-l John Doe". In addition, there is a WWW home page
     at http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/staff/matt/dal-l.html. Most of the
     commercial on line services also have pet bulletin boards where
     Dalmatian fanciers gather. There is a web page dealing with the
     unique urinary problems of the Dalmatian at
     http://web.aimnet.com/~jriddle/stone.html
     
     For more, see Online references below.
     
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Dalmatian Breed History

   Many people believe that the first established home of the Dalmatian
   is Dalmatia, a section of Yugoslavia that was once part of Austria.
   References have been made to the breed since the mid 18th century, but
   its roots almost certainly go back a long time before that.
   
   The oldest activity that the Dalmatian is known for is coaching. Early
   engravings and drawings show spotted dogs accompanying Egyptian
   chariots. The size, stamina and guard dog abilities made them popular
   with the English aristocracy to accompany horse drawn carriages. Their
   size allowed them to fit under the rear axle of the coach, where they
   often ran. Their stamina allowed them to keep up with the horses and
   guard dog tendencies allowed the owners to leave the coach without
   worrying about their possessions. It was often said that a coach was
   better left in the care of the dogs than the coachman, who could
   easily be distracted by highway robbers.
   
   The Dalmatian is most famous for being the fire house dog. This
   probably started in London where they were first acquired as
   "ratters", to kill vermin in London's stables and firehouses. Soon
   they were running alongside the fire engine. To this day, many
   firehouses in Great Britain and the USA have a Dalmatian, although
   now, they are more likely to been seen riding on the fire truck
   instead of along side it.
   
   The breed's first appearance in a dog show was in Great Britain in
   1860. The first American show appearance was in 1926, when the
   Dalmatian Club of American held its first National Specialty Show.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Special Medical Problems

  Hereditary deafness
  
   Hereditary deafness is a condition prevalent in Dalmatians. This is a
   polygenic problem, which means that it CANNOT currently be bred out of
   the breed. ALL Dalmatian bloodlines suffer from deafness. There are
   some individual dogs who produce few deaf puppies in their offspring.
   Approximately 8% of the breed are born completely deaf, and another
   22% to 24% are born with unilateral hearing, or hearing in one ear
   only. Normal puppies will have hearing in both ears, known as
   bilateral normal hearing. All puppies are born with their ear canals
   closed; these should be open at 12-16 days. The deafness is
   characterized by the permanent deterioration by the age of six weeks
   in the organs of Corti, the group of nerve cells inside the cochlea
   that detect sound. The loss cannot be reversed or corrected.
   
   All Dalmatian puppies should be definitively tested for deafness.
   Stomping on the floor, clapping hands or rattling keys make for
   unreliable hearing tests, since deaf pups can pick up the vibrations.
   A deaf puppy will compensate for the hearing loss, thereby making it
   difficult to detect. A scientific test, known as the BAER (Brainstem
   Auditory Evoked Response) test, should be administered, in order to
   objectively determine the hearing status. This test may be done after
   five weeks of age. It measures the brain response to auditory stimuli
   in each ear. The test can detect any impairment or loss of function in
   either ear. The equipment required to complete the BAER test is
   expensive and is generally located at veterinary teaching schools or
   through specialty vets. It is not available in all areas. If a breeder
   tells you this is the case in your area, confirm it by calling other
   breeders and/or some local vets. Since there are about 3 unilaterally
   deaf Dals for every totally deaf Dal, the BAER test is important for
   identifying dogs that appear to hear normally but that would, unknown
   to the breeder, pass on a genetic defect.
   
   A reputable breeder will know that BAER testing is the only reliable
   method of testing hearing. The breeder should have the test conducted
   on both the sire and dam as well as all the puppies in every litter. A
   reputable breeder will also not sell or give away deaf puppies. A
   written purchase contract between the puppy buyer and the seller is
   highly recommended when you purchase any pup. Buyers of pups that have
   not been BAER tested should insist that the purchase contract have
   specific conditions for dealing with a deaf puppy. The contract should
   allow the buyer to exchange the pup for one who can hear or your money
   should be refunded.
   
   The adoption of deaf dogs is a controversial issue. Some deaf dogs do
   live long lives as beloved family members (as one of our faq authors
   can attest) and some deaf dogs do develop dangerous behavior problems
   which force the owner to make the difficult choice between controlling
   the deaf dog's environment 100% of the time or euthanizing the dog (to
   which another of our faq authors can attest).
   
   Deaf dogs can be trained to respond to hand signals, but because the
   dog can only see the signals if he/she is looking at you, deaf dogs
   must be kept under strict control at all times. In addition, deaf dogs
   cannot hear danger sounds such as car horns honking and require extra
   security measures for their own safety.
   
   The Dalmatian Club Of America strongly opposes placement of completely
   deaf puppies, a stance that is supported by many experienced breeders
   and by some former owners of deaf dogs. This position is taken because
   these groups feel that deaf dogs are more likely to develop behavior
   problems and, in particular, bite humans, than are hearing dogs. They
   feel that deaf puppies should not be sold or given away, but
   euthanized as soon as their deafness is confirmed. There has been no
   scientific study which can give guidance as to whether deaf dogs are
   more likely to bite than are hearing dogs. The position taken by this
   group is presumed to be based upon their many years of collective
   experience. Many people who oppose the adoption of deaf dogs also feel
   that the extra effort and commitment which a deaf dog requires is more
   than most pet owners are prepared for and that because of this a deaf
   dog may be more likely to be subject to a life of neglect, abuse or of
   bouncing from home to home.
   
   There is a group of deaf dog owners who participate in a mailing list;
   to join the mailing list send mail to
   deafdogs-request@cybervision.com. The instructions for joining the
   mailing list are also located in the deaf dog web page whose address
   is shown in the reference section.
   
   This group feels strongly that deaf dogs are no more likely to have
   behavior problems than hearing dogs. Many members enjoy the challenge
   of training their deaf dogs. They feel that problem deaf dogs are
   those whose owners did not initially realize they were deaf and did
   not have the inclination to properly train them or are dogs who would
   have developed problems even if they had been able to hear. These
   successful deaf dog owners report that the rewards of owning and
   caring for their deaf dogs make the extra commitment worthwhile.
   
   Until a thorough scientific study is carried out, following equivalent
   groups of deaf and hearing Dals through their entire lives, it is
   impossible to know which of these positions is correct. It is certain
   that ownership of a deaf dog will require a strong commitment on the
   part of the owner in ensuring the safety of the dog and in finding
   qualifed help with training. In addition, should the owner ever be
   forced to give up the dog, it will be very difficult to find a new
   home for it. Many Dal rescue groups are currently overwhelmed with
   homeless adult Dals who have no special needs; trying to find homes
   for deaf dogs is out of the question for many.
   
   Dogs with hearing in only one ear (unilateral) make perfectly
   acceptable pets and are generally indistinguishable from dogs with
   hearing in both ears. While the genetics of the inheritance of
   deafness are not completely understood, in general, dogs with
   unilateral hearing should not be used for breeding because they pass
   on an highly increased probability of complete deafness. Responsible
   breeders frequently sell unilaterally deaf animals with a spay/neuter
   contract to insure that affected dogs are not later bred.
   
  The Dalmatian's Unique Urinary System
  
   The Dalmatian has a urinary system unique among dogs. The condition
   urolithiasis occurs because Dal urine contains uric acid, instead of
   urea or allantoin. Bladder and kidney stones (Infrequent) are formed
   from salts of the uric acid. Large stones can lodge in the urethra,
   and small stones, or "gravel", may pass with the urine. Complete
   blockage of the urinary tract by stones is fatal if not treated
   promptly.
   
   All Dalmatians are susceptible to urinary stones. Careful Dalmatian
   owners will seek out a diet which does not contain proteins high in
   purines. Organ meats, especially liver, and beef, are major sources of
   purines and should be avoided. Lamb, poultry, eggs and most vegetables
   are lower in purines.
   
   Adequate water should be provided at all times as well. Some Dal
   owners 'float' their dog's dry food in 2 or 3 cups of water to ensure
   adequate water intake. Dalmatians should also be given frequent
   opportunities to urinate in order to flush their urinary tracts of any
   crystals. Regular urine samples can be checked by your veterinarian
   for urate crystals. There is a lot of research being done in this
   area; it is not unreasonable to ask your vet if she/he will consult
   with either with Dr. Gerald Ling at University of California at Davis
   or with Dr. Carl Osborne of the Minnesota Urinary Stone Center at
   University of Minnesota veterinary school, both of whom specialize in
   urinary stone formation research.
   
  Skin allergies
  
   Many Dals suffer from skin allergies which add a pink or red rash or
   hives to the skin. Untended allergic reactions can lead to a brownish
   red tinge to the fur and skin, which may be an indication of a staph
   infection. These symptoms are generally referred to as "bronzing". If
   the dog shows signs of a staph infection, obtain treatment from an
   experienced veterinarian who will probably prescribe antibiotics.
   Repeated staph infections can be an indication of an autoimmune
   disorder and extremely painful.
   
   Food allergies can sometimes be controlled by the dog's diet. Low
   protein diets seem to help. Supplementation of the dog's diet with
   fatty acids may also help - products like Derm-caps, lipiderm and
   others. Switching from foods that contain, beef, soy meal, or corn
   meal to those using lamb, turkey, chicken, barley, rice, or other
   uncommon ingredients like venison can help if the allergic reaction is
   food based. Many food related allergies have cleared up when the diet
   has been changed.
   
   Allergies are made worse by the presence of fleas due to the dog's
   tendency to lick and bite at the affected area. Prevent fleas from
   infesting your Dal, as it's a lot easier than eliminating them. Do not
   use medicated shampoos or flea shampoos; these are too harsh and can
   lead to skin problems. Buy a bottle of pesticide-free flea mist and
   use it in the summer time. It also helps to protect your Dal from
   flies and mosquitoes. By using the spray, and a flea comb, you may
   prevent the fleas from coming home with your Dalmatian!
   
   A new flea control drug has recently been approved for use in the
   United States. PROGRAM is a tablet that is given to your dog once a
   month. It's active ingredient (lufenuron) prevents the young flea from
   being able to develop it's tooth, therefore preventing it from being
   able to hatch from the egg. It will not kill adult fleas, but will
   prevent your house and yard from becoming infested. It has been
   available in some countries for a number of years and has no reported
   side effects. It is recommended that your dog start taking the tablet
   before the start of flea season. Further information on fleas can be
   found in the Fleas/Tick FAQ.
   
  Hip Dysplasia
  
   Medium to large breeds of dogs are more susceptible to hip dysplasia.
   Therefore, reputable breeders breed only those individuals that are
   Certified with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This entails
   having the dog's hips x-rayed after the age of two. The x-rays are
   then read by three OFA radiologists and graded with respect to proper
   formation of each hip joint.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Questions for the Prospective Dalmatian Owner

   (Is the Dalmatian the breed for me ?)
    1. Am I able to keep the dog indoors ?
    2. Am I willing to spend at least one hour a day exercising the dog?
    3. Do I want a dog that is very dependent on me?
    4. Am I willing to spend the time necessary to train the dog ?
    5. Am I willing to spend time playing with the dog ?
    6. Am I willing to put up with the shedding ?
    7. Am I physically strong and active enough to control and train a
       lively dog of considerable strength and energy?
    8. Have all my household members recently spend time indoors with a
       Dalmatian to be certain no one has an allergic reaction to them?
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Questions to ask a breeder when selecting a Dalmatian

   (Is this the right breeder for me?)
    1. _Do you have evidence of the pups BAER tests ? Do you have the
       results? Will you provide me a copy of the puppy's test results?_
       _This is extremely important in ensuring that you do not receive a
       deaf puppy._
    2. _How many of the dogs in the pedigree are you actually familiar
       with in respect to temperament and genetic defects?_
    3. _What is the incidence of deafness, allergies, infections, thyroid
       dysfunction, seizures, stone formation, hip dysplasia, etc., in
       the pedigree?_ Genetic defects (such as Canine Hip Dysplasia, and
       those related to immune dysfunction, such as allergies, and
       hypothyroidism), are surfacing in alarming numbers. This problem
       is more evident now that reputable, serious breeders are openly
       sharing and comparing data. Therefore, feel free to seriously
       question the breeder about occurrences of these faults in the
       puppies' ancestry.
    4. _Were there any temperament problems in the ancestry of the
       puppies? Have the sire and the dam been temperament tested?_
    5. _How much time do you spend planning your litters and rearing the
       pups ?_
    6. _Are the sire and dam OFA Certified? BAER tested? Do you have
       certificates for me to see ?_ This is important because it tells
       you a lot about the dedication of the breeder to eliminate
       deafness and other genetic problems in the breed.
    7. _Do you offer a Health/Hearing/Temperament guarantee with your
       puppies?_
    8. _Are you knowledgeable about Dalmatians? Can you/will you answer
       my special medical, food & training questions? Will you tell me
       when you don't know an answer? Do you have access to resources
       when the questions stretch beyond your knowledge?_
    9. _Are you able and willing to answer my questions for the life of
       the dog?_
   10. _Do you require a spay/neuter agreement on pets?_ (This is good.)
   11. _Will you ask me lots of questions to determine if I am, in fact,
       the right kind of person for a Dal; that I have the facilities to
       keep it safe and the finances to properly feed & vet it? _This
       will help you find a puppy for me whose temperament matches my
       needs.
   12. _What are the most important things you are striving for in your
       breeding program?_ (Temperament should be first!)
   13. _Will you supply at least a 4 generation pedigree, the puppy's
       health record & instructions on how to properly take care of my
       new dog?_
   14. _Will you assist me if I cannot keep the dog?_ A good breeder can
       assure you of this as he/she knows that careful screening and
       education has made it unlikely that you will ever want to part
       with your new spotted friend.
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Appendices

  References
  
    1. Ditto, Tanya B. _Dalmatians_. New York: Barron's, 1991.
    2. Nicholas, Anna Katherine. _The Dalmatian_. Neptune City, NJ:
       T.F.H. publications, Inc., 1986.
    3. Treen, Alfred and Esmeralda. _The Dalmatian: Coach Dog, Firehouse
       Dog_. New York: Howell Book House, 1984.
    4. Treen, Alfred and Esmeralda. _The New Dalmatian: Coach Dog,
       Firehouse Dog_. New York: Howell Book House, 1993.
    5. Weiss, Carroll H., "Diets for Stone Forming Dals" _The Dalmatian
       Quarterly_, pp. 23-27, Summer 1994
    6. "A Primer on Urinary Stones for Dalmatian Breeders and Fanciers",
       compiled by Carroll H. Weiss in cooperation with the Minnesota
       Urolith Center (Carl A. Osborne, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor and
       chief) and California Urolith Center (Gerald V. Ling, D.V.M.,
       professor and chief), March 1992.
    7. Strain, George, Ph.D. "Aeitolology, Prevalence, And Diagnosis of
       Deafness in Dogs And Cats", _British Veterinary Journal_, 1995, In
       Press
    8. Strain, George M., personal communication, 17 March 1995. Dr.
       Strain may be reached at STRAIN@VT8200.VETMED.LSU.EDU.
    9. _The Official Book Of The Dalmatian_, Dalmatian Club Of America,
       T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1997
   10. _Living With A Deaf Dog_, Susan Cope Becker, Direct Book Service
       (1-800-776-2665)
   11. _The Dalmatian_, Charlotte Wilcox, Capstone Press, 1997
   12. _The Dalmatian : An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet _Rod &
       Patti Strand, Howell Book House, 1995
       
  Other available references
  
    1. Eleanor Frankling, _The Dalmatian_, Popular Dogs Publishing Co.
       (London), 1987.
    2. Beverly Pisano, _Dalmatians_, T.F.H. Publications, 1990.
    3. Milo G. Denlinger, _The Complete Dalmatian_, Denlinger's, 1947.
    4. Franklin J. Willock, _The Dalmatian_, Ernest R. Gee Pubs, 1927.
       
   The last two are sometimes available on limited edition reprints.
   
  Online references
  
   The Internet is always changing, and there are lots of places to get
   good information. We provide a few links here to get you started; you
   will spend many hours "spotting" other Dalmatian related links:
     * Dalmatian Club Of America Home Page: http://www.dalmatians.com/dca
     * DOTTERS Links Page:
       http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ranch/3340/link.html
     * Deaf Dog Home Page: http://www.kwic.net/~cairo/deaf.html
     * Dog FAQ Home Page: http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/
       
  Periodicals
  
    1. "The Dalmatian Quarterly", -- $40.00 per year 4401 Zephyr St.,
       Wheatridge, CO 800333-3299 USA
    2. "The Spotter", the official organ of the Dalmatian Club of America
       (available to DCA members only.)
    3. "Road Trial Ramblings" -- $8.00 per year Peggy Ann Strupp, Editor
       1224 Creek Road, Soda Springs, ID 83276 Telephone # 1-208/547-3077
    4. "Firehouse Quarterly" A new newsletter. $25.00 per year Post
       Office Box 11262, Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-1262 Telephone #
       1-800/700-8486
       
  Dalmatian Club of America
  
     Dalmatian Club of America
     Mrs. Irvin D. Fleming, Secretary
     4390 Chickasaw Rd.. Memphis, TN 38117
     
   Many areas have local Dalmatian Clubs where a good deal of information
   and assistance with Dals may be found. Most of these clubs publish
   newsletters with information of interest to almost all Dalmatian
   owners. The regional Dalmatian clubs are listed on the DCA home page.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
About the Authors

   This FAQ was a team project, written by Dalmatian owners: (Please feel
   free to send us e-mail at the addresses given if you have more
   questions)
   
   JAN CRANNY lives in South Florida with her two adopted Dals, Domino
   and Checkers. Both dogs get to enjoy plenty of long walks, and swim in
   the ocean. (jan_cranny@usa.racal.com)
   
   CORINNE JAMES and her husband Bruce Biederman live near Corvallis,
   Oregon with two Dalmatians: Kenai (Kenai Lime Pie, CDX) and Chamois
   (Dalstar's Daydream Chamois). Kenai & Chamois do lots of walking and
   running with their owners in the coast range mountains and also work
   in their spare time on AKC obedience (Kenai, & Chamois) and
   conformation (Chamois) and maybe someday tracking.
   (corinne@oce.orst.edu)
   
   CAROL RUSO is a librarian who lives in South Florida. She is owned by
   two Dalmatians, "Chili" (Spotlight's Chili Pepper) and "Buster"
   (Spotlight's New Addition). They enjoy romping in the park, playing
   Frisbee, and riding in the car on "mom's" lap (yeah, BOTH of them!).
   (mmouse@bc.seflin.org)
   
   SYLVIA STRAWBRIDGE from Jonesboro, Arkansas, shares her heart and her
   home with J. T. (4/20/90 and deaf) and Sophie Tucker (9/14/92 and very
   verbal). They enjoy long walks, playing chase in the backyard and
   going anywhere in the VW Beetle. (sstraw@aztec.astate.edu)
   
   ROBERT VON MAYR (Paradox Dalmatians) lives near Dallas, Texas with his
   wife Lynne and liver Dalmatians Rover (Paisley's J. Rover Brown),
   Sable (Ch. Aviator's Impromptu), Bingo (Mythago Marksman PX), Henri
   (Mythago Maserati PX) & Ch. Paradox Pop Quiz. The black spotted
   members of the family are: Ch. Paradox Country Style, Paradox Back In
   Black, TCJ Paradox So Divine, and Ch. Paradox Ropin' The Wind. Robert
   & Lynne are active in conformation and obedience careers are planned.
   Tracking is something Robert is interested in at some point, but the
   dogs aren't sure! (R-Vonmayr@ti.com) or (PXdals@ix.netcom.com)
   
   MARIA ZORKA founded Bell Ringer Dalmatians in 1969. She and her
   husband Art, live in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. USA. Maria
   has bred many Dalmatian champions, including an All-Breed Multi Best
   in Show winner. She has also bred top ranking Obedience winners and a
   DCA High in Road Trial RDX Champion. She co-founded the Dalmatian Club
   of Greater Atlanta and was a principal author of its Code of Ethics,
   which was later adopted by the Dalmatian Club of Canada. She was the
   editor/publisher of the 1980 Dalmatian Club of America's Commemorative
   Keepsake. Maria also co-founded the Georgia Coalition of Dog Clubs.
   (brd@mindspring.com)
   
   Special Thanks to Art Zorka for his many hours assisting with
   editorial tasks and computer/on-line skills.
   
  Thanks to others for additional comments and helpful suggestions
  
     * Valerie Whitmore & Chili in Minneapolis, MN
       (fineb001@maroon.tc.umn.edu)
     * Jeri Jennings, Northstar Dalmatians, Alemeda, CA
       (jennings@vcnet.com)
     * Janice Maguire & Chips in Missouri (jemaguire@aol.com)
     * Wendy Sol & Clown & Tinker in Los Alamos, NM (wes@vega.lanl.gov)
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
   
    Dalmatian FAQ
    Robert von Mayr, r-vonmayr@ti.com

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