How To Breed Dalmatians

How To Breed Dalmatians – Heat, Litter Size, Health & Breeding Practices

A Disney favorite, Dalmatians are well known for their one of a kind black-spotted coat on white fur. After this popular film, many wanted to know how to breed Dalmatians.

Dalmatians are a naturally muscular breed and have been used throughout history to keep up with and calm horses. They, therefore, have a naturally strong bond with horses and these two are often raised together. The Dalmatian is naturally very intelligent, this along with their calm yet confident nature compliments their noble appearance. This breed is a perfect worker dog for roles that require stamina and the relaxed intelligent nature of these pups, such as an alert or guard dog.

Background of Dalmatian Breeding

When you begin to research a new breed for breeding, you want to know all about their physical traits to their popularity. This is to ensure that you understand all the pros, cons, and can fully inform any buyers about what to expect.

Origins

The Dalmatian was originally used as a coaching dog, however, little is actually known about their origin. Firstly, many suspected that the breed originated from Dalmatia (Croatia) due to the breed’s name, however, there is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, their origin is debated between Europe, Asia, Africa, and Egypt. Individuals with very similar physical descriptions were described in Asia, Africa, and Europe, hence their suspected origin is believed to be from these locations. As for Egypt, there are wall paintings with dogs that look very similar to our modern-day Dalmatian.

What is known about this breed is their physical and behavioral characteristics are perfectly linked to being a carriage or coaching dog. Firstly is their natural bond with horses. They are able to bond, play and calm the breed like no other recorded. This bond is crucial in stressful situations during a carriage ride.

Furthermore, their stamina and agility are one of their well-recorded physical facts. They are able to run quickly and jog smoothly for long distances, another requirement for this role. Lastly, their natural guard instinct. This dog is behaviourally calm, loyal, and friendly to those they have a bond with, but will be wary of strangers. These traits combined made them the perfect carriage dog in 17th century England. But as to how they originally got to England, this may remain a mystery.

egyptian dalmatian
Dalmatian-like dogs were discovered on murals in the tombs of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs.

Disappearing of Carriage Dogs

After a steady decline in popularity once the coach profession dwindled, the breed became more and more forgotten. These films sparked their popularity with buyers once more and in the mid to late nineties, the numbers of breeders and buyers increased immensely.

From the 17th to the 20th century, the gradual decline in Dalmatians was also suspected because of the increase in the production of recognized breeds. Breeds such as Labrador Retrievers with their high stamina, reduced costs, and calm exterior were one of many dogs that became increasingly popular in the 20th century. Dalmatians are wonderful dogs, but due to their sometimes higher price ranges and the time it can take to develop a bond with them, many resorted to researching other breeds.

Popularity

The American Kennel Club has this breed ranked 56 out of the 193 breeds, this is the higher end of the spectrum and beats 137 other breeds in popularity in the USA. They are craved prominently for their renowned coat. This became sort out after the films produced by Disney including 101 Dalmatians the animated film released in 1961 and the two follow up live-action films released in 1996 and 2000.

As popular media including 101 Dalmatians came out, the breed became remembered and idealized by many. The Disney sensations brought out interest from breeders and potential dog buyers alike. Once more, these pups’ popularity increased.

dalmatians as carriage dogs
The term “carriage dog” has become synonymous with “Dalmatian”.

Appearance

Firstly and most obviously, Dalmatians are known for their spotted coat. This is a short hair smooth furred dog, their grooming is not difficult. Dalmatians will always have a spotted coat on top of white fur. The spots will either be black or liver in color, most commonly black.

Their body proportions are long but toned. Both their legs and tail are both long and their body, although in proportion, is muscular but the same. Their toned muscular legs are what aid in their physical stamina and agility, a trait that was beneficial for one of their original uses, as a coach dog.

These dogs are pointed in stance with an arched neck and level back according to the breed standard guidelines. The tail naturally curves up but should not curl over. Physically, these individuals are sleek and muscular. They are strong and powerful but not overwhelmingly muscular in appearance. You can identify that they are toned, strong and healthy, but they do not possess heavy muscles. This is because of their narrow frame.

As for these beautiful dog’s faces, they have some key identifiable traits. Their ears always flop over with the top of the ear being larger than the tip. These can be fully white, fully black or white with black spots, the latter is most common. Their eyes can be either blue or brown. Blue eyes are far less common than brown but are more common in this breed than many others.

Temperament

Some of the key behaviors of the Dalmatian are their loyalty, energy, and intelligence. Every trait they have, like any breed, has its pros and cons. We will debate them here.

Their loyalty is their most debated trait as it is what makes them such a sweet dog to own but can also cause hostility towards strangers. It is easy for those that do not understand dog behavior or the breed Dalmatians to summarise any aggression or such monitored behaviors to conclude that they are an aggressive breed. No dog breed is just aggressive, every dog has differing traits and the likelihood of expressing behaviors, but with understanding, you can combat or avoid those responses. Be aware that these dogs will require time and space to begin trusting you. However, once a bond is formed, these dogs can be more loyal and loving than many others.

Their energy and intelligence often work together to create a dog eager to learn, quick to train and with high potential. On the downside, however, they require extra engagement and exercise to prevent destructive behavior. Dalmatians can become easily frustrated without proper physical stimulation. This means you need to regularly walk your dog and allow them a large amount of area to play and run around in. This will allow them to burn off all their energy and come in feeling calmer. Furthermore, playing with them and keeping them engaged with training will help with their energy levels.

The Dalmatian-Pointer Backcross Project

Hyperuricemia is an inherited gene that prevents a healthy and working uric acid transporter in their body. This will allow uric acid to enter liver cells and be broken down. The normal gene for the healthy breakdown of uric acid does not exist in any pure-bred Dalmatians.

A project exists called the Dalmatian-Pointer Backcross project where a single English Pointer was bred to a pure-bred Dalmatian in the hopes to introduce the healthy uric acid transporter gene. This project in breeding a Dalmatian to an English Pointer was created by Dr. Robert Schaible in 1973. After the first produced litter, these dogs were only bred to pure-bred Dalmatians, creating a litter that looked more and more like pure-bred Dalmatians. So not only did this process work to create healthier Dalmatians, but it also ended up producing dogs who look exactly like pure-bred Dalmatians.

dalmatian backcross project dogs
Backcross low uric acid Dalmatians: “Tucker,” “Daisy,” and their dam “Cinnamon Stipple.”

There was recorded conflict in regards to the offspring of this project being registered to the AKC and the Dalmatian Club of America (DCA). This became especially tumultuous after Schaible was able to get the AKC to accept two of the 5th generation offspring as pure-bred Dalmatians. Initially, the AKC president supported the project and their registration, claiming that if it benefitted their health whilst preserving the breed standard, this should be pursued. The DCA also supported the decision until a vote was held and members banned these dogs from registration. The AKC then changed their mind and enforced the same policy. The backcrossed Dalmatian was re-examined and allowed registration by the AKC in 2011.

Health Concerns When Breeding Dalmatians

Three major health concerns stand out in the breed including hyperuricemia, hip dysplasia, and deafness.

Hyperuricemia

This is the particular illness mentioned earlier in the Dalmatian-Pointer Backcross project. It involves the Uric acid transporter not working effectively due to a gene in pure-bred dalmatians. Hyperuricemia can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Kidney or urination problems such as pain and kidney stones.
  • Fatigue.
  • Temperature changes (either chills or fever).
  • Joint inflammation
  • Some dogs show no symptoms

Collins et al. (1998) researched treatment in regards to hyperuricemia in Dalmatians. They found that surgery including scrotal urethrostomy and cystotomy had the most beneficial effect on aiding the health in these individuals. Collins et al. also found that an alteration of diet can benefit the suffering of Dalmatians. A restriction of protein in your dog’s diet may be beneficial to your pup with this treatable, but not a curable disease. However, this is evidence of a clinical study and not vet advice. Always consult a professional to aid you with your dog’s specific symptoms and health.

Deafness

Unfortunately, deafness in Dalmatians is quite common and according to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) “about 15-30% of dogs are affected and about 5% are deaf in both ears”. These statistics indicate this is a problem that any breeder or buyer needs to be aware of so they can adjust their care and training around it.

There are a few things regarding Dalmatian deafness that you need to be aware of.

Firstly, those born with deafness in one ear can live a basically normal life with few adjustments. Just make sure that they can hear you when being called back and to know this may be a difficulty in training with commands. Usually, puppies who are affected are born with perfect hearing and this declines over time. You need to be aware of puppies to dogs and how their behavior changes, this will help you identify hearing loss.

Finally, know that deafness cannot be treated but it can be managed. Train your dogs with hand signals and be aware when they can see you. Adjust your behavior and interactions with them and you will be able to manage.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is where a puppy within the womb will not have a proper formation of the hip joint and socket. This means that they may have symptoms such as hip pain and inflammation, trouble walking and in severe cases, an inability to move using that limb. As hip dysplasia is formed within the womb, you often cannot tell a puppy is affected until they are born and a few weeks old.

The severity will be quickly identifiable based on visible symptoms. You can predict this may be a problem in any Dalmatians you buy or breed and therefore you should monitor puppies after birth and warn buyers.

As for new owners, this problem is often aided with anti-inflammation tablets and pain killers in milder cases. However, when the case is severe, be prepared that your dog may require surgery. Your vet will scrape at the socket so the movement of the joint is smooth and inflammation is no longer a worry.

stages of dog hip and elbow dysplasia
The different stages of hip dysplasia in dogs.

How to Breed Dalmatians

Now for the bit you have been waiting for. How to breed Dalmatians! This breed can be a rich and fulfilling one to breed and you can soon have a profitable business up and running. Here are a few of the main factors to consider when doing so.

Choosing the Bitch And Stud

The first important choice you must make is choosing an appropriate bitch and stud. You must consider their health, temperament and registering.

In order to try to avoid an unhealthy litter, you want to choose a mother and father who are minimally affected by any health conditions. Consider hyperuricemia, hip dysplasia, and deafness as these are prominent in Dalmatians. You should also conduct a health check physically on both candidates and ask for vet checks of them and their genetic lines. This can prevent genetic ailments from being passed on. Also consider their behavioral traits, both positive and negative. This can range from aggression to trainability, consider what traits you wish to dominate and which to avoid.

You must also consider if both of the parents are fully registered for two reasons. If you wish to sell the puppies for the highest price possible, you will want them registered. In order to do so, both parents will usually have to be registered with the same club.

Litter Size

On average, Dalmatians will have around 7 puppies in each litter. Anything more than 9 puppies is very unusual for a Dalmatian, with 5 puppies being born extremely rare. Most litters will be delivered without a Caesarean section.

However, the largest ever litter was produced last year in 2019 when a Dalmatian gave birth to 19 puppies. Although this is an anomaly, this broke a world record and could indicate that Dalmatian litters are increasing.

Birthing Issues

Although this breed does not suffer from specific or regular birthing issues, it is important to consider those that can occur. Firstly, the possibility of a C section may be required for either the sake of the mother or the pups. Any dog may have a puppy who has the cord wrapped around its neck in the womb. To save this puppy, a C-section may be required.

Furthermore, although it is uncommon, some puppies are larger than others and a female may not be able to birth one of them. This may also be due to fatigue or pelvis size. Again, this can result in a Cesarean section.

Clientele

As a breeder, you need to consider who and where to advertise to bring in the most customers and profit. If you have males, consider stud dog services as they can apply your dog’s information in a wide range of media. You can also use specific social media, such as Dalmatian Instagram blogs. This can help to increase your dog clientele as well as advertising your individuals to a wide range of areas.

Pricing

The price range for dalmatians is very vast. An average puppy with registered papers is usually around $800, but if you want a show standard dog, you are looking a thousand dollars or more.

Minor considerations can alter a price range dramatically. For example, eyelid placements, teeth irregularity in shape or cow-hocks of the hindquarters are all faults. Therefore, the cost of a purebred Dalmatian is anywhere from $1,600 to $5,000.

Dalmatian Breeding – FAQ

To make sure this guide is answering all your questions surrounding the care and breeding of Dalmatians, we have composed this FAQ of five questions.

A video presentation of the Dalmatian breed.

Are Dalmatians good pets?

Dalmatians are loyal, intelligent and wonderful companions. If you have the time and energy to provide for a dog that requires extra exercise and stimulation, the Dalmatian may be the perfect dog for you.

Every dog breed makes for wonderful pets, and what makes the difference is whether they are the right pet for you. They require time to bond and a patient owner to help develop that loyalty. Also, can your home handle a medium to large size dog? This is for when they require a bed, training, for on their badly-behaved days and to go to the toilet in your garden. Check that you have the available space for these pups and the time to dedicate to them. If you do, then they may be the ideal pet for you.

What is the litter size of a Dalmatian?

The litter size of a Dalmatian is usually between 6 and 9 puppies. They are known to occasionally have larger litters but this is random. You can have a base prediction often by looking at the litter sizes in past generations. If your bitch’s mother or grandmother had large litter sizes, you may be able to assume that your dog too will do so. However, this is a rough estimate, litter sizes really can vary.

Are Dalmatians dangerous?

Every dog has the capability to be dangerous. Dalmatians are equipped with a large set of teeth and a powerful set of jaws. As with any type of dog, if you respect their boundaries and learn their behaviors, you should not have a problem.

Familiarize yourself with the dog aggression ladder which indicates dog-specific behaviors indicating their mood. We cannot judge a dog’s behavior in the same way that we can judge ours. For example, dogs will often show the whites of their eyes to show anxiety, fear, or frustration. Understand a dog’s behavior to react appropriately to them. Dalmatians do take a while to trust and bond with a person, so be patient and they will not be dangerous. Dogs never attack for no reason.

Are Dalmatians bright dogs?

The Dalmatian is a very intelligent and aware dog. This paired with their confidence makes them very bright dogs. With their high intelligence, they can be trained relatively quickly. With positive association and reinforcement, a dalmatian can easily learn commands. This is a trait that makes them wonderful for dog trick shows.

Are Dalmatians a good choice for first-time dog owners?

They have the capability to be if you are able to provide the enrichment and exercise that they require. Because of their high intelligence, they can often be trained quickly and easily which is great for a first-time owner.

Difficulties come into play with the development of a bond and using up all their energy. You will need to have the patience to form a bond with them, be prepared to give them space both physically and through affection. This can be extremely difficult, especially when you are excited about your first dog. Furthermore, with your lifestyle and work schedule, can you provide the amount of exercise and play your dog needs? If you are the right person, these dogs can be a good first-time dog.

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