All About Dals!
No breed has more interesting background or more disputed heritage than that dog from long ago, the Dalmatian. His beginning is buried so deep in the past that researches cannot agree as to his origin. As to the great age of the breed, and the fact that it has come through many centuries unchanged, investigators are in complete agreement.
Perhaps some of the divergences in opinion as to the original home of the Dalmatian can be accounted for by the fact that the dog has frequently been found in bands of Romanies, and that like his gypsy masters, he has been well known but not located definitely in any one place.
Authoritative writers place him first as positive entity in Dalmatia, a province of Austria on the Eastern Shore of the coast of Venice. Though he has been accredited with dozen nationalities and has many native names—he is nicknamed by the English, The English Coach dog, The Carriage Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog and Spotted Dick—it is from his first proven home that he takes his correct name, the Dalmatian.
We find references to him as Dalmatian in the eighteenth century. There is no question whatsoever that his lineage is as ancient and his record as straight as that of other breeds.
His activities have been as varied as his reputed ancestors have. He has been a dog of war, a sentinel on the border of Dalmatia and Croatia. He has been employed as draft dog. He is excellent on rats and vermin. He is well known for his heroic performances as fire-apparatus follower and firehouse mascot.
As a sporting dog he has been used as bird dog, trail hound, as retriever or packs for boar or stage hunting. His retentive memory has made him one of the most dependable clowns in circuses and on stage. Down through the years the intelligent and willingness of the Dalmatian has found him in practically every role to which useful dogs are assigned. Most important among his talents has been his status as the original, one-and-only coaching dog.
He is physically fit for roadwork. In his makeup, speed and endurance are blended to a nicety. His gait has beauty of motion and swiftness, and he has the strength, vitality and fortitude to keep going gaily till the journey’s end.
The instinct for coaching is bred in him, born in him, and trained in him through the years. The Dalmatian takes to a horse, as a horse takes to him, and that is to say, like a duck to water.
He may coach under the rear axle, the front axle, or, most difficult of all under the pole between the leaders and the wheelers. Wherever he works, it is with the love of the game in his heart and with the skill, which has won him the title of the only, recognized carriage dog in the world.
His penchant for working is his most renowned characteristics, but it in no way approaches his capacity for friendship.
There is no dog more picturesque that this spotted fellow with his slick white coat gaily decorated with clearly defined round spots of jet black, or, in the liver variety, deep brown. He does not look like any other breed, for his markings are peculiarly his own. He is strong-bodied, clean-cut, colorful, and distinctive.
His flashy spotting is the culmination of ages of careful breeding.
Temperament in the Dalmatian varies widely throughout the breed. The type of temperament your particular Dalmatian exhibits is a result of both genetic background and his subsequent environment and handling.
When looking for a litter of Dalmatian puppies for prospective purchase, it is advisable to observe them in a group, if possible.
The pup that tends to be a “bully” may be tougher to handle as an adult than you want. The best temperament is shown by the middle-of-the-road pup that shows natural curiosity can hold his own in a crowd without being aggressive or withdrawn. It is also wise the meet the parents of the puppies, or at the very least the mother.
While the Dalmatians is a highly adaptable dog, the new owner should carefully consider the kind of environment the dog will experience in his or her home and the kinds of reactions to that environment expected from the dog in a given situation.
If you have an aged parent in your home or very small children, you will want a quiet, calm, tolerant dog. If you live alone and want a pet who will double as an alarm dog or who has a shot at the next World Frisbee Championship, you will want a more alert, keen Dalmatian.
Meet the breeder’s adult dogs and see how they behave. Breeders tend to reproduce the kind of temperament they like, and much can be predicted about you new puppy’s temperament by seeing the adults the breeder has on hand.
Of course, training has a lot to do with how your dog acts around people, but the basic temperament and attitude of the dog will be little modified by formal training, if at all. A careful analysis of your particular wants and needs will guide you in choosing the Dalmatian which will suit you best and which will be, with proper care, your perfect companion.
General Care and Health
The day –to day care of the Dalmatian is quick and easy but should be done regularly in order to keep him feeling and looking his best. The Dalmatian is basically odor-free, and bathing is usually unnecessary more than 3 or 4 times a year unless the dog becomes dirty or stained frequently. Use a mild shampoo made for dogs and be sure to rinse all the soap completely out of the coat or it can dry and cause itching. Some dogs are allergic to some shampoos-buying specially formulated shampoo available at your veterinarian will eliminate this problem.
A good brushing with a moderately firm bristle brush, curry comb or horsehair mitt every couple of days will put a nice gloss on your Dalmatians coat and help to elleviate shedding. Trim his toenails back once a month and check his ears once a month. Keep an eye on your Dalmatians teeth, too, so they don’t suffer an inordinate build-up of tartar.
Aside from the above, you should keep an general eye on your dog to make sure he is acting bright and happy, is neither too fat not too thin, and that he has not eaten anything detrimental to him. Puppies are especially curious and, much like human babies, everything goes in the mouth. With moderate attention and awareness on your part, your Dalmatian will be an easy dog to care for.
The Other peculiarity intrinsic to the Dalmatian is the direct excretion of uric acid by the kidneys, without conversion into water-soluble urea. This is due to metabolic differences inherent in the breed and should not be confused with the renal failure and/or incontinence common to many breeds during old age.The most dramatic consequences of uric acid excretion, mainly stone formation, occur in a very small percentage of male Dalmatians and seldom in females. There seems to be a link between the feeding of high levels of beef and organ based protein and the aggravation of stone formation. A lot of feed company’s now have a vegetarian based dog food available and Dalmatians generally do really well on that type of a diet.
Some Dalmatians experience skins and coat problems, which are usually worse during the summer months. In some cases, the redness, scratching and loss of hair can be attributed to an obvious source such as fleas, or an allergy to the fleabites. Other Dalmatians may have allergies to grasses or dust, and some just seem to have a chronic dermatitis. These type of sensitivities tend to be hereditary, so when looking for a puppy it is wise to see the parents of the litter and to ask about possible skin reactions in the bloodline(s) of the puppy.
Dalmatians used for breeding are tested for congenital deafness to ensure that they have bilateral hearing. Due to this screening process deafness occurs in proportionately few animals.
Aside from the above, Dalmatians do not have any appreciable problems with the kind of things found in some other breeds, such as Hip Dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, Von Willebrand’s disease, or luxated patella’s. They are not, as a rule, finicky eaters and they do not require expensive supplements to their normal diet in order to keep them fit and looking well.
Training and Socialization
Training your Dalmatian to behave as a good citizen and good neighbor is extremely important, whether you tackle the job at home or enroll in a formal obedience class. We recommend that you find a good obedience class in your area so that you can learn to handle you dog properly and so he can learn what is expected of him in society.
Dogs, which have no direction or guidance, become a nuisance to you and everyone else. Your puppy’s breeder can probably recommend a good obedience class for you and your puppy. Do train your Dalmatian: you will appreciate the cooperation from your dog, and your neighbors will appreciate the cooperation from you.
Equally important to your dog’s well being and happiness is what breeders call “socialization”. This means exposing your puppy to new things, new people, and new situations. The dog who pines in the boarding kennel and refuses to eat when the family goes out of town, or the dog who snarls and backs away from strangers is often the dog that is poorly socialized.
Take your dog with you whenever possible, especially as a young puppy. Walk him on a leash through a shopping mall and have strangers pet him. Take him to the train station or the airport and get him used to the noise and human traffic.
It also helps to occasional put him into a boarding kennel starting at a young age, so he will learn to enjoy it. A lot of Boarding/Obedience facilities offer Doggy daycare. This is an excellent way for your dog to socialize with other dogs and to run off some energy. Expose him to as many unusual situations as possible to insure that he becomes a confident and trustful dog.
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