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101

      THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE BECOMING A BREEDER OF                

DALMATIANS

Is a Dalmatian right for you?

1. Dalmatians are VERY active. Poorly bred Dalmatians may be hyperactive.

2. Dalmatians are territorial. Poorly bred Dalmatians may be aggressive or fear-aggressive (bite or snap because they are afraid).

3. Dalmatians shed twice a year, six months in the spring and six months in the fall.

4. Dalmatians are family oriented and do not do well as back-yard or kennel dogs.

5. A Dalmatian that spends too much time left to his own devices may become a barker or a digger.

6. Dalmatians have a uric acid anomaly that may lead to the formation of urate stones. They do best on a lower protein, non-beef based food. Many owners feed lamb and rice foods.

7. Dalmatians can be deaf. Responsible breeders will have hearing tested the puppies as well as the parents.

8. A Dalmatian can be unilateral hearing, that is, normal hearing in one ear and deaf in the other. A unilateral Dalmatian is perfectly acceptable as a pet.

9. Dalmatians require early, motivational, consistent training. Puppy kindergarten and basic obedience are highly recommended.

10. Dalmatians can be independent thinkers and even when well-trained may occasionally offer a behavioral challenge.

11. Dalmatians require regular exercise so a fenced back-yard is an absolute necessity.

12. The activity level and size of a Dalmatian may not make it an ideal choice as a companion for toddlers.

13. In general, Dalmatians do well with older, well-behaved children.

14. Dalmatians are very intelligent and quick to figure out ways to get their own way.

15. Dalmatians require early socialization with a wide variety of people and dogs. Homes without children should borrow some for socialization purposes.

Buying a puppy

16. Read items 1-15 several times.

17. Buy a puppy only from a reputable, responsible breeder.

18. Reputable breeders never sell through pet shops or any third party.

19. Reputable breeders will have proof of hearing testing on both parents and on the puppies.

20. Hearing testing, also called BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) testing requires highly specialized equipment and is usually done at a veterinary school or by a veterinary neurology specialist. (May not be available in all areas.)

21. Reputable breeders will have had the parents hips x-rayed and certified free of hip dysplasia (an often crippling malformation of the hip joint) by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHip. Ask for copies of certification.

22. Some breeders also screen for eye problems, thyroid problems, etc. This indicates a very responsible breeder.

23. Responsible breeders require that pet puppies be spayed or neutered before registration papers are given.

24. Reputable breeders will supply the buyer with detailed information on caring for their new Dalmatian puppy.

25. Reputable breeders will interview the prospective buyer at length.

26. Reputable breeders are usually active in dog shows, obedience trials, therapy dog work, breed rescue, etc.

27. A reputable breeder will require you to notify her if you are unable to keep the puppy and will want to approve any new home.

28. Reputable breeders are always willing to take a puppy back if the owner cannot or will not care for it. This does not imply any return of money.

29. Reputable breeders will always be there to help you with a problem.

30. A puppy from a reputable breeder is usually not significantly more expensive than from a back-yard breeder.

31. Reputable breeders will have given the puppies all preliminary puppy vaccinations and will have had them checked by a vet.

32. Reputable breeders will be willing to answer your questions.

33. Reputable breeders will have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the breed.

34. Reputable breeders will be members of the Dalmatian Club of America, a regional Dalmatian club, or a local all-breed or obedience club.

35. A reputable breeder will outline all details of the sale in a written contract.

36. If you really want a Dalmatian but do not have time to go through puppyhood, consider an adult or a rescue Dalmatian.

Caring for your Dalmatian

37. Take your puppy to the vet as soon as possible after purchase for a thorough exam.

38. Buy a crate for housebreaking and for confining the puppy when you are not able to supervise it.

39. Socialize your new puppy with a variety of people of all ages, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds.

40. Socialize your new puppy with a variety of other dogs.

41. Enroll your puppy in puppy kindergarten and then follow up with basic obedience. Statistics show that well-trained dogs are far less likely to be given up for adoption by their owners.

42. Check out the trainer carefully. A Dalmatian does best with motivational training that relies on praise, treats, and toys.

43. Dalmatians resent harsh training methods and may react negatively.

44. Take the time to housebreak your puppy correctly.

45. Carefully supervise young children when they are playing with the puppy.

46. Rough handling can damage a puppy physically and mentally.

47. Do not play games like tug-of-war that encourage growling or nipping.

48. Feed your puppy a premium quality puppy food not a generic.

49. Follow your breeder's advice on an acceptable brand of food.

50. Follow your breeder's advice on when to switch to an adult food.

51. Always confine your puppy in a securely fenced yard.

52. Always walk your puppy on lead.

53. Never allow your dog to eliminate on someone else's property.

54. Carry plastic bags to pick up any bowel movements.

55. Carry a pocket of treats for rewards.

56. Read some books on puppy training.

57. Spay or neuter your puppy at about six months of age.

58. In addition to being foolproof birth control, spaying and neutering have health benefits.

59. Never leave your dog out at night.

60. Never allow your dog's barking to annoy the neighbors.

61. Never allow your dog to run at large in the neighborhood.

62. Pick up dog droppings in your yard frequently.

63. Be sure your Dalmatian's shots are always up to date and that he has a county or city license.

64. Have your Dalmatian tattooed or microchipped for identification.

65. Make your Dalmatian a part of the family.

66. If you have a problem, contact the breeder or an experienced trainer.

67. Learn to trim your dogs nails and do so at least every other week.

68. Learn to brush your dog's teeth and do so several times a week.

69. Be sure your dog is on heartworm preventive.

Breeding a Dalmatian

70. Unless you have a thorough knowledge of the Dalmatian, Don't Breed!!!

71. All dogs intended for breeding should be BAER hearing tested.

72. Breeding unilateral hearing dogs is not for novices.

73. All dogs intended for breeding should be certified free of hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHip.

74. All dogs intended for breeding should ideally be checked free of eye disorders, thyroid problems, etc.

75. All dogs intended for breeding should have a thorough vet exam including a full blood panel.

76. All dogs intended for breeding should be checked for brucellosis which can cause the bitch to abort and may render a male sterile.

77. Stone formers should not be bred.

78. Dogs intended for breeding should be evaluated by a knowledgeable, reputable Dalmatian breeder for structural faults.

79. Dogs that have a disqualifying fault under the AKC standard for the Dalmatian should not be bred.

80. Shy or aggressive dogs should not be bred.

81. Breeding will not calm down a hyperactive dog. It will make her/him worse.

82. Be prepared to keep perhaps 10 or 11 puppies until suitable homes can be found even if it takes a year.

83. A bitch is not always willing to be bred and may attack the stud dog or the people handling the breeding.

84. Be prepared to take at least a week off work to be with the bitch when she whelps and to supervise the puppies for at least the first five days.

85. Be prepared for the possibility of an emergency Caesarean section that may cost hundreds of dollars.

86. Puppies can be born dead or deformed.

87. A bitch can have difficulty whelping a puppy and may bite anyone who tries to help.

88. Be prepared for the possibility of a bitch who cannot or will not care for the puppies. You will have to be the substitute mother.

89. Be aware that a bitch can die in whelp.

90. If you want to breed so your children can see the "miracle of birth", you should also plan to explain to the children what happens to puppies when homes can't be found....they are put to death. Taking a casual, irresponsible atitude toward reproduction is not in the best interest of your child and is certainly not in the best interest of the puppies that will be produced.

91. Be prepared to spend hours socializing puppies, feeding puppies, cleaning puppies, and cleaning the puppies' living quarters.

92. Be prepared to euthanize deaf puppies.

93. You will not make money on a litter of puppies. If you do everything right you will be lucky to break even.

94. Novice breeders rarely have buyers waiting for their puppies and it may take a long time to sell all the puppies.

95. You are responsible for the puppies for the rest of their lives. If the owner cannot or will not keep a puppy, you must be willing to take it back.

96. Males that are used at stud may forget their housebreaking and "mark" your furniture.

97. Males that are used at stud may become more aggressive.

98. Males that are not neutered are far more likely to become escape artists.

99. Males that are not neutered are more prone to prostate problems.

100. The owner of the stud dog is just as responsible for the welfare of the puppies as is the owner of the bitch.

Above all,

101. A Dalmatian deserves a responsible owner who realizes he/she is making a lifetime commitment to the welfare of the dog.

Copyright 1996 - 2004 by Kathy McCoubrey.  Permission to reprint is granted provided article is copied in its entirety and credit is given to the author.