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How does a good dalmatian look?

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Publicist Angel Neychev   
Sunday, 01 October 2006
(according to my wiew)
Many of you have asked me to write something about how I think a good dalmatian should look.This is not at all easy, as I very often ”feel ” for a dog without always being able to explain why, but I will give it a try.
As all breeds, the dalmatian has a breed standard which is a bit different in the F.C.I. countries compared to England and not to forget America. I will keep to the F.C.I. standard, which is the one bred and judged from in my country.In  Norway we have just finished a compendium about the dalmatian as a complement to the standard. Through this work, I have learnt a lot about which details goes to make up a correct dalmatian. I have studied a dog`s skeleton and asked  a lot of questions to well known ”dogpeople”.In this way I have been forced to learn about details,something that I had not bothered much about earlier as I was then as now mostly concerned with type.What I know now is that type is made up of all the details….
Even so type and  overall impression are the most important issues. A dalmatian has to have the correct proportions according to the standard  --
which is 9:10-height:length.
Even small discrepancies from this gives a dog that is too tall, too low, too long or too short, all of which are equally wrong. Neither should a good dalmatian give a narrow impression, reminding me of those newly born puppies I cannot make thrive.We all differ when it comes to what we most easily accept regarding wrong  proportions. Some are used to see tall elegant dalmatians and will more readily accept these, while others are used to the strong low ones, not always free from corseness as the standard say they should be. In the dalmatian standard you do not find the word elegant either, and personally I dislike it when people call a dalmatian elegant. It should be strong and well muscled, at the same time totally free from lumber.
Then we come to the details: One of the most important features of a good dalmatian is a long beautifully arched neck flowing into a strong level back which should be of fair length. By flowing I mean just that , no sharp or abrupt lines.The dogs should not loose their topline when moving, as sadly many dalmatians do.They roach their backs, get a dip just behind their shoulders, or roll their backs from side to side. The last you can always see in promising puppies, but hopefully they will grow out of it, as they gain strength and muscles. Good fronts are rare to see, and I feel they are also difficult to judge as they have so many dimensions. The chest should be deep and long, running smoothly up towards the abdomen. To get this smoothness, the last set of ribs have to be deeply  placed in the dog, almost as deeply as the ribset next to the last one. This is also important when it comes to giving the chest the correct length.
Regarding the front, this must neither be too narrow nor too wide, but most important it must not be totally missing. I have seen dalmatians  with almost nothing between their front legs and with a very poor front angulation to complete the disaster. On the other hand, if a dog is too wide in front they seem to be carrying their legs on the ”outside” of their body. Watching such a dog coming straight towards me makes me think of a barrel more than of a dog. I am afraid I have been guilty of creating some of this last kind.I am however working on getting rid of it.
We must remember that the front is only connected to the dog through muscles and ligaments and if a strongly built dog is in poor condition  this will result in an impression of a dog falling on its nose.
 The hindquarters have to be well muscled, and the thighs, both the upper and lower, should be strong, with muscles showing directly under the skin. We do have a lot of dogs which do not have enough strength in the lower thigh which in my eyes is so important.You  get the impression of a dog having suffered from polio when very young.To make the hindquarters perfect the dog must have well defined  buttocks as well. This also gives the correct impression of  length in the silhouette.
Then we have the tail!!!
To me a beautiful correct slighty curved tail is a must. How many times I have been worried about a promising pup, carrying the tail too high, curved over the back, I cannot count. Will the tailcarriage come out right in the end or will it not???? We all know that six weeks old puppies have a terrible way of showing off and this gives them the most unbecoming and incorrect tail. Sometimes it develops correctly and just as many times it does not .
 Feet also concern me .They must be tight and rounded like the paws of a cat.Flat feet are not only sad to see, but they also give the dog a problem if it should trot all the miles a dalmatian is supposed to be able to..
.Heads are to me very difficult to say much about. We have the head well described in the standard. I feel there are not many dalmatians with totally correct heads, but if it is not too awful I`ll let it pass.Very seldom have I seen a dalmatian with such a terrible head, that I cannot excuse it, if the rest of the dog is lovely. The important thing about heads is the expression. This will not be the best if the eyes are too light,as this gives  the dog a hard expression instead of a friendly one.
What I do feel strongly about is the lack of premolars. Why is it that some people give this detail more importance than almost any other? In some countries in Europe a dog missing one or two teeth cannot be used for breeding nor shown at a dog show.What a pity!!!!! How can the breeders afford this? If it is a mediocre individual it does not matter much, but what about a dog that is far above average when it comes to quality but is lacking a few teeth??? I do not think I could bear having to sell such a dog as a pet, not being allowed to use him as a stud.-I would probably have to move to a country where they are more sensible about this problem and where missing premolars is no more nor less than all other faults.
I cannot  jump the issue of spotting when I write about our spotted friend, but I feel that some put  too much importance on a dalmatians decoration.  It is after all not too difficult to find nicely spotted dogs to breed from much more difficult to find a correctly built dog with an acceptable spotting. A dalmatian should be distinctly spotted (breed standard) I do feel that a pure white coat with clear spots is important and the spots should be of  an even size without too many ticks. I do prefer a dog with a bit too many spots to a dog with too few spots.
Watching a dalmatian move should make you happy inside  and give you the feeling of watching something outstanding. A waywinning stride where all energy is put into getting the dog forward, looking if it moves without effort. I do have a problem with dogs lifting their frontlegs high like a circus horse or  almost kicking themselves in the ” bum” with their hindlegs  .This seem to impress some jugdes but nevertheless it is not correct, as it is a waste of energy. I am not too happy with floating movements either as such a dog is missing the correct strength in their movements. You should hear the when a dal is moving correctly.
The last and very important issue is a dalmatians charm and carisma, they must have both.!!   Being a bit mischievious without being aggrivated. A dalmatian looking as if he is carrying all the troubles of the world on his shoulders or jumping around completely without dignity does not charm me.
Well, there you are!! Now I have done what many of you have asked me to- telling you  what is  important to ME in  a good dalmatian…
 Regards from Kari…..

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