The Dalmatian is a breed of dog, which has a white coat marked with black or brown-colored spots. Originating as a hunting dog, it was also used as a carriage dog in its early days. The origins of this breed can be traced back to present-day Croatia and its historical region of Dalmatia. It is thought that early ancestors of the breed were certain breeds of pointers and a spotted Great Dane. Today, it is a popular family pet and many dog enthusiasts enter Dalmatians into kennel club competitions.
The Dalmatian is a muscular dog with excellent endurance and stamina. When fully grown, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, it stands from 19 to 23 inches (48 to 58 cm) tall.
Dalmatian puppies are born with plain white coats and their first spots usually appear within 10 days; however, spots may be visible on their skin from birth. They continue to develop until the dog is around 18 months old. Spots usually range in size from 2 to 6 cm (1.25 to 2.5 in), and are most commonly black or liver (brown) on a white background. Liver is the recessive colour in dalmatians, meaning that both parents have to carry the liver gene to produce this colour of pups. If both parents are liver, then all puppies will be liver-spotted. A dog who is dominate black is defined as being BB, a dog who is black spotted but carries liver is Bb and a liver dog is bb. Black spotted dogs always have black noses, and liver spotted dogs always have brown noses.
Other colors that occur occasionally include blue (a blue-grayish color), brindle, mosaic, orange or lemon (dark to pale yellow), or tricolored (with black, brown and orange or lemon spots). Orange and lemon occur the most frequently, especially in America, and are dilutes of the standard colours. They are defined as orange or lemon depending on their nose colour.
Another coloration pattern is a larger solid patch of color, which appears anywhere on the body, but most often on the head, ears, or tail. Patches are visible at birth and are not a group of connected spots; they are identifiable by the smooth edge of the patch, and that they have no interlacing white hairs in them. Pure white individuals without spots also occur occasionally.
The Dalmatian coat is usually short, fine, and dense; however, smooth-coated Dalmatians occasionally produce long-coated offspring. Long-coated Dalmatians are not acceptable in the breed standard, but these individuals experience much less shedding than their smooth-coated counterparts, which shed considerably year-round. The standard variety's short, stiff hairs often weave into carpet, clothing, upholstery, and nearly any other kind of fabric and can be difficult to remove. Weekly grooming with a hound mitt or currycomb can lessen the amount of hair Dalmatians shed, although nothing can completely prevent shedding. Due to the minimal amount of oil in their coats, Dalmatians lack a dog odor and stay fairly clean relative to many other dog breeds.
Low uric acid (LUA) Dalmatians typically have smaller spots, which do not have as strong a pigment as standard Dalmatians. LUA breeders are trying to deal with this aspect, but it still remains possible to be able to pick a LUA out in a line up.
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