are relatively healthy and easy to keep dogs.
Like many other breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues specific to their breed. The primary health issues
associated with a Dalmatian are Deafness, Allergies and Urinary Stones. And in that order of prevalence. Thyroiditis is also showing up
as a possible breed problem as of late.
Be sure to purchase your Dalmatian from a reputable breeder who guarantees your dog free of health problems and genetic defects.
No one can be 100% certain that something won't ever happen to a dog from their breeding, however, they should be confident enough to
stand behind their dogs. Should a genetic defect or inherited issue come up, reputable breeders may offer: a replacement puppy/dog
(with or without return of the existing pet - owners choice to keep or not to keep), or a refund of a certain dollar amount of the
purchase price. The latter is more common when selling a show dog, and the breeder refunds to pet price.
Breeders that truly care about the future of the breed and the quality of puppies that they produce will try to ensure that each
breeding is an attempt to "better the breed" as a whole. This includes ensuring their dogs are genectically good specimens, healthy, have
excellent temperaments, and represent the AKC breed standard to the best of their knowledge prior to breeding. They should make health
testing on their breeding line a priority.
Common health tests to be completed on a Dalmatian are: BAER (hearing), OFA or PennHIP (Hips and/or Elbows), CERF (eyes), and
Thyroid. There are various other tests that may also be performed but these are considered the standard tests by many for a Dalmatian.
A concentious breeder not only has the testing done but they try to turn the results in to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to be
included in a breed-wide database. This way they are not only showing the health trends in their line, but also help determine the
statistics for the Dalmatian breed as a whole.
Please note that just because a breeder has the health testing done does not necessarily mean that the dogs have all passed the
tests with all normal results. Many times you will see bragging that health tests are all done, but make sure you check the status
of the results! Why would a reputable breeder use a dog that does not have normal or passing results? Sometimes a dog posesses other
good traits and the particular health issue is a minimal one or easily bred away from, so they may go ahead and use a dog that is not
"perfect". We all know there are no perfect dogs. It takes a wise breeder with experience and a history of their line to include such
dogs in their breeding programs. If they have otherwise healthy dogs and are not doubling up on the less than perfect trait, it is
generally okay to do so. I always laugh when I think all that a reputable breeder goes through to pick a breeding and that humans would
surely never procreate again if we had such high standards as those that we put on our dogs!
With all that said, I do try to have health testing done on all of my breeding line. I am proud to show the health of my line and
to back it up with the results in certifications. I did testing long before it was considered the norm, long before AKC started the
Breeder of Merit program, and long before peer pressure tried to make health testing an elite club or clique. I currently have about
85-90% of my breed line done and my health results are clearly and honestly displayed on my litter page and pedigrees. Not just "health
testing done" or "CHIC #", but the actual results are posted. It is my goal to have 100% completed on living and future breeding line.
I am behind on submitting some test results to the OFA database. I have done a couple hips before breeding but due to the xray not being
good enough quality, I need to have them redone and sent in to be certified. I know what the hips looked like (good) and also bred to a
dog passing all of the certifications, so in my books, that is better than breeding to a dog that did not pass a particular health test.
I know I am not doubling up on anything undesirable and I am confident in the health of my line. So if that makes me a hypocrite then so
be it. I think not.
Click here for a chart of JLS Breed line health testing and results.
Also please visit the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals web site and click on
"Advanced Search" and do a health database search on key word JLS and breed Dalmatians.
Listed below are some of the health-related terms you should be familiar with.
A responsible Dalmatian breeder will have all dogs/puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked
Response) tested (hearing tested). There is a link between deafness and the pigmentation genes (piebald genes) responsible for
white in the coats in several breeds. Dalmatians are one of the breeds that can be genetically prone to deafness.
Reputable breeders have their dogs BAER (hearing) tested between 5 and 8 weeks of age (before they go to their new homes). Dalmatians
are born with the defect in either one ear or both ears. They will not go deaf prematurely later in life because of this defect. Deafness
after this point will only occur as it would in any other breed of dog. Due to chronic ear infection, injury, or old age. Unilateral
hearing dogs (hear in one ear) make wonderful companions and I bet you may not even be able to tell once the pup learns to adjust.
Dalmatians can be prone to urinary or bladder stones. This can be a serious and life threatening
condition. Diets low in purines (not low protein) can help prevent and control this condition. Make sure your Dalmatian gets plenty of
fresh water daily and has several opportunities to potty during the day. Make sure you see a steady stream of urine coming from your
Dalmatian at least once a day. Diet is essential to having a healthy Dalmatian. Please consult with your breeder as to what is best to
feed your Dalmatian.
Many breeders will have their dogs CERF tested to ensure that the eyes are free of genetic
defects. An issue in Dalmatians called iris sphincter dysplasia (ISD) involves the pupil of the eye. The eye should be examined by the canine
optomologist before it is dilated to ensure that the pupil enlarges and contracts properly in darkness and in direct sunlight.
Dogs with this irregularity will most likely squint when out in full sunlight and their eye color may appear darker due to the enlarged
pupil. Mild cases do not affect the dogs in any way. Extreme cases may cause damage to the retna later in life due to pupils inability
to filter out light when outdoors. There are sunglasses or goggles for dogs that you may want to consider purchasing for you dog if
he/she is affected with ISD.
Click here for more information on Iris Sphincter Dysplasia.
Click here for more informaiton on CERF testing.
OFA or PennHIP
Responsible, reputable breeders will have their breeding quality dogs assessed by the Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals or PennHIP to ensure that their dogs are free from hip displaysia. Elbows may also be assessed.
Click here for more information about the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or
to look up a particular dog in the online database!
Click here for more information about PennHIP.
Here is a YouTube video showing the importance of proper positioning during your xray.
The Importance of Precise Positioning for OFA Radiographs
Click here for some pictures of hip xrays of some JLS Dalmatians.
Dalmatians can be prone to allergies and allergy related skin conditions. Dalmatians can be
sensitive and have seasonal allergies (i.e. be allergic to grass or weeds).
Click here for information on Skin & Coat disorders in the Dalmatian.
Epilepsy is a problem in many breeds. Dalmatians have recently begun
showing up with more Epileptic seizures. Epilepsy can be inheritied or acquired by an injury or exposure to chemicals. It is a very
traumatic & heartbreaking experience for any family to have to go through. It can be controlled with diet and medications in most cases.
Click here for more information on Epilepsy in canines.
Breeders may test the thyroid level on their dogs. This test is becoming more important in
Dalmatians recently, as the results of tests turned into the OFA database suggest this is a problem that may be on the rise for
Dalmatians. This is an example of how valuable a breed health database can be. Breeders will now be more aware and do more testing on
their breeding lines in order to lessen the number of Dalmatians affected with a thyroid problem.
Click here for more information on Thyroid disorders on the Dalmatian Club of America web site.
Click here for statistical information form the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals web site.