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Dalmatians

Picture of a Dalmatian

A Dalmatian named Bobbie

Origin

The earliest historical mention of the spotted dog was at the time of the building of the pyramids of Giza , at about 3,700 years BC. There is a surviving wall frieze of King Cheops with a spotted dog.

A dog very closely resembling the Dalmatian are depicted on early English Staffordshire pottery. Dalmatians wereused historically to hunt deer.

It is not known where the name Dalmatian came from but the Latin for fallow deer is dama and chien is the French word for dog. In the fourteenth Century Andrea Bonaiuti, painted a collection of spotted dogs next to friars wearing stoat fur called "Dalmatica". Others say the breed originated from the Dalmatian coast which was in Yugoslavia , but is now in modern day Croatia . Maybe the breed is named after the poet Jurij Dalmatin, a Serbian who had received two Turkish dogs as a gift in 1573, he bred from these and the Dalmatian now bear his name.

Indians claim the Dalmation originated in India and it was known as the Harrier of Bengal , its pricncipal use was as a sentry to guard against invaders. What is known is that they have always been seen accompanying gypsies, who originated as an itinerant people in India that wandered throughout the middle Europe . Gypsies lived in horse drawn wagon and roamed many miles in a day, and they would have needed a dog with great stamina.

What is certain is that a type of spotted dog has been known for several thousands of years and the modern dog is of uncertain origin.

One of its historic names was the English coach dog, or spotted carriage dog. Many of them were brought back from the continent to England in the eighteenth Century, where they were employed as "carriage dogs". They have powerfully strong legs and were capable of running distances and they ran next to their masters' carriages, and they have been depicted on several paintings doing just that.

In America they are often referred to as a firehouse dog because historically they ran ahead of the old fire engines that were horse drawn. They were chosen partly as a result of their history as carriage dogs, but they did protect the equine stock, and also kept them company. It is not unusual for many fire-fighting stations in America to have the dog as a mascot and they still guard the equipment.

They were used as work dogs and had a variety of task but they were never specialized and they have enormous stamina.

Description

Thanks to the Walt Disney film 101 Dalmatians everyone knows what this adorable dog looks like. The Dalmatian puppies are born pure white they develop their spots after about ten days to a fortnight. They continue to develop during a dogs life though less so as they age.

Temperament

Dalmatians are very active dogs, which need a great deal of exercise. They are not really suited for city life as they can roam long distances and traffic is a hazard to their safety. Whilst this dog is independent they do not like being left alone without companionship. They get on well with horses and other dogs and need a companion. They are used to guarding horses, dogs and people and they can be territorial if not trained to socialize early as puppies. There is a very wide variant in temperament in the breed, they can be very timid, or aggressive, some are always silly and never seem to lose their puppy traits whilst other dogs are very stable. As a result of this many seasoned Dalmatian owners feel that Dalmatian puppies can be a risk.

Dalmatian puppies are better to be acquired after they over six months and you can then be more certain of the WYSIWYG policy (what you see is what you get). There are certainly less surprises here. Some of the Dalmatians can be very sound or smell sensitive and when bombarded with too much of either they cannot focus. Because they require lots of energy and exercise they are not a dog that is suitable for young families or the elderly. They can inadvertently harm young children because of their boundless energy.

Grooming

They shed hair constantly and very often give people breathing problems. The hair that they shed is white and it is easily evident on furniture. Related article: Dog Grooming

Exercise

The history of the Dalmatian as a companion to the gypsies and as a coach dog means that walking is not enough. These dogs love to run, even Dalmatian puppies under six months old are capable of running twenty kilometers a day. As the dogs have excellent tracking instincts they need to be able to be allowed to sniff as they exercise. It is never sufficient to exercise these dogs on a leash; even Dalmatian puppies require a lot of space to run about. Anyone who has a Dalmatian must be prepared to spend several hours a day giving it the exercise it needs.

Training

They are more sensitive than most dogs and need patience and kindness they never forget being ill treated. Aggressive training methods tend to ensure that Dalmatians shut out any training at all. Yet with consistent and patient training at an early age the versatile Dalmatians can be taught to do whatever man asks of it. Dalmatians take more care and energy than many other breeds of dogs, they can be difficult and behavioral problems, their cute looks often mask the real dogs temperament.

Special traits

They are a healthy breed of dog yet it is important to bear in mind that one in three dalmations are deaf or have hearing problems. Eight percent are born deaf and twenty percent are either deaf in one ear or they have hearing problems.

Those that are often display behavioral problems. Sadly because they have so successfully been portrayed as a cartoon dog, when the film 101 Dalmations has peaks in popularity, the demand for Dalmations also peaks. When this occurs unsrupulous or even ignorant breeders breed without understanding this inherent problem.

Normally deaf dogs are put down during the first month of their life, and the official policy of the American Kennel Club is that this is the correct and most humane thing to do. It is estimated by the Canadian Dalmation club that only about six percent of dalmations are free of the gene which leads to deafness. There is no way that this trait is predictable parents who can hear in both ears normally, may have completely deaf puppies.

Bilateral deafness is fairly easy to spot in puppies, as they tend to play aggressively, they canaot hear the cries of pain of the other dalmation pups. It is a much harder task to spot unilateral deafness, and the only effective way is a Brainstem Auditory-Evoked Response, (BAER) test.

Careful Dalamation breeders are aware that the dogs have special dietary requirements, they have a prediliction to kidney stones and to urinary infections. It is important to restrict the amount of purine the Dalamatian eats, but it needs protein as well and that should not be curtailed. In general a natural diet free of all preservatives is crucial to the health and well being of your Dalmatian, if the diet is incorrect it is not an exaggeration to say that it will reduce the life of the dog and the worst case scenario is that it will be halved.

Purine rich foods will be converted into uric acid they require plenty of the complex carbohysrates, whole grains, fruits, and low-purine vegetables to detoxify the body.

Dalmatian dogs should never be fede from the table as salt is bad for them, other purine rich foods are meats that are organs of other animals, such as hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys and also most game meats.

The prediliction to urinary diseases means that Dalmations must be encouraged to drink plenty of water, but equally important is making sure that they are in a position to urinate often as this prevents the urine from being held to long in their bodies which encourage stones to form.

Ideal weight: 50-60 pounds / 22-27 kg
Average height: 19-21 inch / 48-53 cm
Life expectancy: 11 - 13 years, though 13 - 15 is not uncommon. With incorrect exercise and diet the Dalmatian's life expectancy can be reduced to less than seven years.

 

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