All posts by admindal



Should I breed my Dalmatian? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred (or maybe nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand) the answer to the question is NO! The Dalmatian breed is currently a victim of its own popularity. Rescue groups are overwhelmed with homeless dogs. Many of these homeless dogs are young puppies bred by novice or backyard breeders who now cannot find buyers for them. Irresponsible breeders produce dogs and then refuse to take any further responsibility for their well-being. Read this open letter to a BYB written after a rescue dog had to be euthanized.

If you are thinking about breeding, please consider the following:

  • QUALITY – Be sure your Dalmatian is a good example of the breed. This is usually done by having success in the show ring. Novice owners are rarely able to objectively evaluate their dogs. Contact a thoroughly experienced breeder/exhibitor for help in evaluating your dog. Your vet can evaluate your Dalmatian’s health but unless he is an experienced Dalmatian breeder/exhibitor he cannot evaluate quality. You must be aware of your dog’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, if your bitch has a dippy top line you need to breed to a male who has a good topline and can reproduce it.

  • HEALTH – Be sure your Dalmatian has had all applicable health clearances. This should include BAER testing for hearing, OFA or PennHIP certification that the dog is free of hip dysplasia, OFA clearance for elbows, CERF clearance for eye problems including the test for iris hypoplasia, and thyroid test to be sure thyroid gland is functioning properly. Additionally the dog should show no evidence of severe allergies, stone-forming, or seizures. Both sire and dam should also be tested for brucellosis. There is no excuse for not doing clearances. If you think the clearances are too expensive then you should not breed.

  • TEMPERAMENT – Any Dalmatian intended for breeding should have flawless temperament. If your dog has bitten someone, has to be kept away from children, is unpredictable with strangers, will go after another dog, is shy, aggressive, nervous, or high strung, then spay or neuter. Adults with poor temperament produce puppies with poor temperaments.

  • PEDIGREE – What do you know about your dog’s ancestors? You should find out as much as possible regarding quality, health, temperament, etc, about each of the dogs in at least a four generation pedigree. If you cannot get the information, don’t breed.

  • KNOWLEDGE – Do you know anything about breeding? It is much more than turning a dog and a bitch out in the backyard and letting nature take its course. Breedings do not always go well. The bitch may turn on the male and try to rip his head off. Anyone in her way may also get attacked. How much do you know about whelping and raising puppies? Can you recognize a potential whelping problem? Do you know how to care for a bitch and newborns? Will you be able to properly socialize them? Can you offer appropriate training and problem-solving advice to puppy buyers? If not, don’t breed.

  • TIME – Raising a litter of puppies is time-consuming. Plan to have an adult with the bitch 24 hours a day for at least 5 days before her due date and for five days after the puppies are born. Many responsible breeders whelp the puppies in their bedrooms or sleep on a cot next to the whelping box. For the first two or three weeks, the bitch will do most of the work but you still have to weight them, do neuro-muscular stimulation exercises, clean the whelping box, and cater to the bitch’s every need and whim. After that, it is up to you. Puppies are messy. You will need to clean the whelping box and the puppies several times a day. Stock up on newspaper. You will need a mountain of it. You will also need time to housebreak and obedience train any puppies that are not sold immediately. The older they get the more time you will need to spend with them. A wild, ill-mannered “teenager” is not a saleable item.

  • EXPENSE – Expect to put out a lot of money before seeing any income (if you do see any income). Health tests will run a couple of hundred dollars. Smears and progesterone testing to see when the bitch will be ready can add a couple hundred more. Expect to spend several hundred more if you do chilled semen or have to ship the bitch to the stud dog. Extra food of a premium brand, puppy shots, hearing tests, wormings, etc. will add hundreds more. You may also spend a fortune on advertising as novice breeders rarely have buyers beating a pathway to their door. You may be keeping some of the puppies for months until buyers can be found. Reputable breeders usually consider a breeding successful if they got the puppy they were hoping for and didn’t lose too much on the rest of the litter. Breeding is a labor of love, not a business.

  • RESPONSIBILITY – Are you willing to be responsible for the welfare of these puppies throughout their entire lives? If an owner cannot keep one of them, will you take the responsibility for finding a suitable home? If half of your puppies came back to you do you have enough room to care for them until suitable homes can be found? If not, don’t breed. Read the article on Selecting A Breeder. Do you fit the description of a responsible breeder? If not, you should not breed.

The owners of irresponsibly used stud dogs can cause even more damage to the breed. A stud dog can sire an awful lot of puppies in his lifetime. It is the quality of the offspring, not the quantity that matters. Even a top winning show dog may not be the right stud dog for a given bitch. Are you able to honestly evaluate your dog’s strengths and weaknesses and turn down breedings because they are not ideal? The owner of the stud dog is just as responsible for the welfare of the puppies as is the owner of the bitch. If the bitch owner cannot place the puppies are you willing to take the responsibility or will your dog’s offspring be put to death at the shelter? Two years from now when an owner cannot keep one of the pups will you take it in? If you are not willing to provide a home for your stud dog’s progeny then neuter him and leave breeding to responsible people.

I cannot overemphasize the problem of homeless Dalmatians. Unless you have an outstanding dog with flawless temperament and all health clearances and are willing to be responsible for the puppies ad infinitum, PLEASE DON’T BREED!


So You Want A Litter Of Puppies?

So You Want To Use Your Dog At Stud?

Health Benefits Of Spaying And Neutering

101 things to know before you become a buyer or 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.

barf meal recipes


Before starting your dogs on a BARF diet, you need to have a copy of Give Your Dog A Bone or Grow Your Pups With Bones by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. You will find yourself reading it over and over again and always using it as a reference.

Next you need to find a supply of raw meaty bones. I purchase in bulk with some other BARFers and we are able to purchase directly from a wholesaler. I found that at first my senior dogs were able to digest the bones better if they didn’t have them for every meal and if I ground them. After a short adjustment period I stopped grinfding altogether although I do grind the chicken wings for the puppy. Many people feed the chicken wings as is but I am uncomforatble with that so I grind them. There is no one way to switch from commericla to raw. Whe we imported Jamie, he had a kibble meal for breakfast in the Netherlands and had chicken necks and raw vegetables that evening when we got home. He loved his new raw meals. His daughter, Romy, who was born 9-20-02, has never had anything but raw food.

The fresh chicken necks come packed in ice.

Meat grinder.

Ground chicken wings…about the consistency of chili meat.

Whole chicken necks.

The turkey necks come frozen in 30 lb. boxes. The extra boxes can go right into the freezer. I thaw a whole box and then repackage them into enough for breakfast for two days.

A variety of fresh vegetables.

The vegetable puree is made of a variety of fresh vegetables including carrots, cabbage, kale, collards, celery, tomatoes, squash, romaine, and anything I find in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.The vegtables are pureed in a regular food processor or you can use a juicer.

The vegetables are pureed to the consistency of pudding.

Breakfast may be one turkey neck or, if the dog needs a few more calories, I may toss in a couple of chicken necks too. I like them to have fresh fruit with their breakfast. I make fruit smoothies with fruit, eggs, yogurt, cottage or riccota cheese and enough water to blend.They get about 1/2 to 2/3 cup with their turkey neck.

The evening meal consist of chicken necks, the vegetable puree, and a tablespoon of olive, flaxseed, peanut, or sesame oil. One night a week the evening meal is ground beef or beef chunks. I try to feed less beef in the meal than I would chicken so a beef night usually also includes an egg as well as extra vegetables. I recently started to buy some of the already packaged ground lamb and tripe and that has been a big hit at mealtime. If you feed any grains, they should be overcooked. You want it a little on the mushy side. I rarely feed grains but they may get a very small amount of rice a couple of times a month just for variety.

Special occasion meals…a new title or a birthday…are usually a nice raw steak with baked sweet potato, vegetable puree and oil. Of course, special occasions call for special desserts.

This is an AM meal of turkey neck, ricotta cheese, egg, and bananas..

This is an AM meal of turkey neck, bananas, and raisins.

This is a PM meal of ground chicken necks, vegetable puree, a little rice, bananas, and olive oil.

Wouldn’t your dog prefer this to kibble?




NOTE: The following is not offered as advice. It is the answer to the many questions we receive about what we feed our dogs. I also want to emphasize that Dalmatian owners should carefully monitor urinary pH when switching to a raw diet. If the uring becomes too acidic the dog may form stones.

     Anytime you get two or more dog fanciers together the subject of diet is sure to come up. There are so many commercial foods and supplements on the market that it is hard to make sense of it all. There is no one food or feeding regimen that is right for all dogs at all stages of their lives.

     About 10 years ago we decided we wanted to do more for our dogs than just feed commercial kibble. We began by adding REAL foods such as small amounts of raw meat, pureed raw vegetables, cottage cheese, yogurt, soft cooked eggs, rice, pasta, etc. to their commercial diet. We were so pleased with the results that we began to read everything we could find on natural or raw diets. After much reading and researching we came up with a feeding program that worked for our dogs. The program consisted of small amounts of about 20% protein commercial kibble made with human grade ingredients and all the rest natural, real foods. After reading “Give Your Dog a Bone”, I began to decrease the kibble and grains. After I attended a seminar by Dr. Billinghurst I removed all commercial kibble and most grain products from the diet.

So what do I feed? Breakfast is usually a turkey neck and fruit smoothie. It doesn’t take any longer to toss a turkey neck and some fruit smoothie in a bowl than it does to measure out kibble. Dinner is raw ground meat or meat chunks or more raw, meaty bones served with pureed raw vegetables. We like a lot of variety in the vegetable puree so we may select from carrots, celery, green beans, cabbage, turnip greens, romaine, zucchini, squash, garlic, etc. We don’t use corn as one of the dogs seems to get a little gassy from it. Fresh, over ripe fruits such as bananas, apples, mangoes, cantaloupe, etc. are also good additions. Occasionally I add some baked sweet potato which is a real favorite. The ground meat or meat chunks can be beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb. I may also add yogurt or kefir for the probiotics, a little cottage or ricotta cheese, a very small amount of leftover rice or pasta, or maybe a little overcooked oatmeal. Grains are fed in very small quantities and only once or twice over a 2 week period. I usually travel to shows and trials in a motor home so that makes taking the diet on the road pretty easy. However, I have also used it when I was staying in a motel with no problems. I packaged enough for each dog’s meal in freezer containers which I kept in my cooler and thawed as needed. I have been gone for a week with no problems.

I would also like to emphasize that since I am feeding Dalmatians who, as a breed, are predisposed to forming urate stones, I dipstick the urine with pH test strips on a regular basis and also have the vet do a routine urinalysis on a regular basis. I also try to limit the high purine foods. If you have a Dalmatian that is a stone-former I suggest you work with a knowledgeable veterinary nutritionist for recommendations about feeding.

One question that always comes up is cost. Initially I think it did cost more to feed this way. Now that I have found good sources for my meat and bones I find it no more expensive than the premium grade kibble I was feeding. I buy the necks in 40 lb boxes and then repackage into freezer containers that hold enough for one meal for all the dogs. I buy vegetables every two weeks and puree them and freeze them in containers that hold about a three day supply. I do have a separate refrigerator for the dogs as well as a freezer so I can really stock up when things are on sale. I purchased a meat grinder so I can grind chicken wings , bone and all, for puppies and can grind legs, thighs etc. if they are on sale. I have also appropriated two shelves in the freezer section of our refrigerator for storing dog food.

We feel it is beneficial to any dog to have natural, raw foods added to the diet. Owners who do not wish to go all the way with a raw diet can still improve the diet by switching to a naturally preserved kibble (no BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin) made with human grade ingredients and adding some raw meat, pureed vegetables and fruit, raw or soft cooked eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. to it. If you do decide to add some raw foods to your dog’s diet, do it gradually. Switching all at once can cause digestive disturbances. Vegetables should be pureed to break down the cellulose and make the vegetables more digestible. It is advisable to consult a veterinarian before making drastic changes to the dog’s diet. Many proponents of raw diet find that holistic vets are more amenable to natural diets than are allopathic vets. You should definitely consult your veterinarian before making changes to the diet of dogs who have medical problems such as forming stones or compromised immune systems.

 I can just imagine what you are thinking. “But”, you say, “Everything I have read says not to feed table scraps to dogs.” As I researched diet I read some dog books from 20 to 50 years ago. These books advocated raw meat, grains and vegetables for the dogs. Of course, people ate healthier foods then too. It has only been in recent years that we have altered our diet to include so many high fat, high sugar foods. So, yes, if you eat fried foods, high fat foods, and lots of sweets, your table scraps are not good for your dog. However, leftovers of lean meat, steamed vegetables, and very small amounts of well-cooked grains are fine.

There are several books available about natural diet including The BARF Diet by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, “Reigning Cats and Dogs” by Pat McKay, “The Ultimate Diet” by Kymythy Schultz, “Switching to Raw” by Johnson and “Natural Healthcare for Dogs and Cats” by Pitcairn.

If you choose to feed a home prepared diet you cannot do it halfheartedly. You must read the books (I suggest reading all of them) and follow the guidelines or you can do more harm than good. I feel this is a wonderful way to feed my dogs but it may not be right for every person.

Take a look at my pictorial explanation of preparing BARF meals. You an also do a web search for more information. I had numerous links to other raw feeding sites but it became too time consuming to constantly update them as people change their hosting providers.



Anyone contemplating Dalmatian ownership should be aware of some of the health issues in the breed. In general, the Dalmatian is a hardy, sound, healthy breed unaffected by many of the orthopededic, ocular, and cardiac problems affecting many other medium to large breeds.

The primary health issue in Dalmatians is deafness . About 8% of all Dalmatians are born totally deaf. Another 22% are unilateral hearing, that is, normal hearing is present in only one ear. Unilateral hearing Dalmatians still make fine pets and most owners are unaware of any problem. Hearing is tested using a method known as Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing and can only be done at certain facilities. Most local veterinarians do not have the highly specialized equipment to perform the test. Since statistics have confirmed that the risk of producing deaf puppies is significantly higher when one or both parents are unilateral hearing, the Board of the Dalmatian Club of America recently issued the following policy statement …”The Dalmatian Club of America strongly recommends that Dalmatian breeders seriously consider using only bilaterally hearing dogs in their breeding program.”

Another major concern is the formation of bladder stones. This problem can be largely prevented and/or treated through proper diet.Dalmatians particularly need to be kept well hydrated and should be given ample opportunity to urinate. Owners should familiarize themselves with the signs that their dog may have a stone forming problem. The British Dalmatian Club has a comprehensive page on stone-forming information.

Skin problems and allergies do seem to be present in the breed. The allergies are frequently seasonal and are often inhalant allergies. Use of over the counter antihistamines, change of diet, and the use of fatty acid supplements may help.

Hip dysplasia does exist in the breed. Any Dalmatian that is to be used in a breeding program should be x-rayed and certified free of hip dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals or PennHIP. Dysplastic dogs should not be bred. It is also a good idea to x-ray the hips and elbows of any Dalmatian that will be doing a lot of jumping as in advanced obedience or agility.

Eye problems are extremely rare in the Dalmatian. Any Dalmatian intended for breeding should have an eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist and have the results sent to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. One eye problem that has been diagnosed in the Dalmatian is iris sphincter dysplasia. Affected individuals appear to be squinting when in bright sunlight. Testing for iris sphincter dysplasia is not part of the regular CERF exam. You need to notify the ophthalmologist that you want to test for it as it must be done with the slit lamp before the eyes are dilated for the remainder of the exam. More research is needed on how this problem is transmitted but it appears to be hereditary thus affected individuals should be removed from breeding programs.

Hypothyroidism seems to be on the rise in all dogs. Some holistic practioners feel it is due to improper diet and overkill with vaccinations. Some signs of hypothyroidism include lethargy, excess shedding, dull coat, overweight, skin problems, reproductive difficulties, etc. Dogs intended for breeding should be tested for hypothyroidism using a simple blood test available at your veterinarian’s office. Treatment is inexpensive but most dogs will need medication for their entire life. Hypothyroid dogs should not be bred.

Seizures are also present in all breeds. Seizures usually require careful monitoring of medication. A dog that is affected with seizures will need to stay on medication his whole life and should not be bred.


Deafness by Dr. George Strain

BAER Testing Sites

Deaf Dogs Website

Urinary Stone Forming Information

Dipsticking To Monitor Stone-Formers

Emergency Procedures For Obstructed Dalmatians

Stone-Forming: General Preventative Procedures

Tabulation Of Purine Yielding Foods

The Fallacy of “Low Protein” Vs. “High Protein in Dalmatian Diets

Skin And Coat Disorders

Fatty Acids Revisited

Skin Problems

Seizures in Dalmatians

Orthopedic Foundation For Animals


Canine Eye Registration Foundation

Ocular Abnormality in Dalmatians


Alternative Veterinary Medicine

Poisonous Plants

Animal CPR INstructions


Review of the Epidemiology of Cancer in Dogs

by Todd Bessinger

(adapted from: Kelsey, JL, AS Moore, and LT Glickman. (1998). Epidemiologic studies of risk factors for cancer in pet dogs. Epidemiologic Reviews 20(2):204-217. Jennifer Kelsey is a well-known cancer epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins. This article appeared in a journal otherwise devoted exclusively to human epidemiology. It seems the author recently lost her own dog to cancer and dedicated the article to the dog.)

I. Introduction
II. General Overview
III. Female breast cancer
IV. Testicular cancer
V. Lymphoma
VI. Osetosarcoma (bone cancer)
VII. Bladder and Ureteral Cancer
VIII. Nose cancers
IX. Lung cancer
X. Prostate Cancer
XI. Conclusions

I. Introduction

Epidemiology is the study of diseases in populations rather than in individuals. Epidemiological studies examine factors that are associated with developing diseases. Since entire populations usually cannot be examined, epidemiology relies on sampling smaller parts of the overall population and, using statistics, generalizing those results to everyone. When you read that eating more fiber is (or is not) good for preventing heart disease, you are reading the outcome of an epidemiological study.

One of the most important things to remember whenever you read an epidemiological study is that it reports ASSOCIATIONS and not causes. It takes well-controlled, laboratory or clinical studies to prove CAUSATION.

For example, it is well-documented that increases in the murder rate in the United States are associated with increased ice cream sales. Does this mean that eating ice cream causes homicidal tendencies? Actually, increases in homicides and ice cream sales are both associated with higher daytime temperatures. Please keep this example in mind when reading this or any other epidemiological study.

II. General Overview

Almost two-thirds of American households include at least one dog. The studies described hereafter are almost all observational studies of dogs in their usual household environments–not lab animals.

The studies are all case-control studies. This type of study takes a groups of dogs with a particular disease (cases) and matches this group with a similar group of undiseased dogs (controls). Then, looking back through time, searches for significant differences in their lives (exposures). The degree to which these exposures influence the development of cancer is determined using statistical models and is expressed by an odds ratio. This gives an idea of the risk or protective benefit of a given exposure.

Because there are large differences between the breeds, changes due to aging, and gender in dogs, statistical models are used to try and compensate for these differences.

In the United States, there are approximately four dogs in every thousand which are diagnosed with cancer each year. The most commonly-diagnosed cancers in dogs are:



Type of Cancer

% of Total Cancers

Type of Cancer

% of Total Cancers

Connective tissue






Connective tissue


Skin (melanoma)


Skin (melanoma)


Mouth and throat






Mouth and throat




Liver and bile tracts


Stomach and intestines




Keep in mind, however, that these numbers are from the 1960s! There are no newer studies and the increased life expectancy of dogs since the 1960s has probably changed this order somewhat.

Interestingly, cancers of the ovaries and uterus are rare in dogs. This could be because most dogs do not reach the age at which these cancers become more common. Dogs do not have much lung cancer either, presumably because they do not smoke and have fewer occupational exposures to known carcinogens.

Colon and rectal cancer, the third most common tumor in humans, is extremely rare in dogs. This could be due to more rapid transit time of food through dogs’ relatively short intestinal tract, more exercise than humans, and diet.

Because skin cancer (melanoma) and connective tissue cancer is largely unstudied in dogs, these two cancers are not included in the review article.

III. Female Breast Cancer

Ninety-seven percent of all breast cancer in dogs occurs in females. It is the most common cancer in bitches. About 76% of all these tumors are the same type as found in humans–adenocarcinomas (arising from the cells lining the ducts of the breast). The breasts in dogs that are closest to the rear of the body are more likely to have cancer than those closer to the head. The likelihood of cancer increases moving from head to rear breasts.

Purebred dogs are twice as likely to get breast cancer as are mixed breed dogs of the same age. The most important conclusion gained from examining studies of breast cancer in dogs is that early spaying protects against breast cancer.

The greatest protection from spaying occurs if the dog is spayed before her first heat. The protective value of spaying drops steadily until age 2 1/2. If the bitch is spayed at or after age 2 1/2, the risk of getting breast cancer is statistically no different from a bitch which was never spayed. One study, however, found at least some protection from breast cancer when bitches were spayed up to five years of age. Clearly, however, the earlier a bitch is spayed, the less likely she is to get breast cancer.

As in humans, the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in breast cancer suggests a role for hormonal stimulation for development and aggressiveness of tumors. Tumors that have a greater number of estrogen and progesterone receptors are less malignant than those with fewer of these receptors.

Interestingly, one study showed that beagles who became pregnant at every heat cycle do not develop breast cancer. Another showed that high doses of oral contraceptives can actually induce breast cancer development in beagles.

Other studies have found associations between development of breast cancer and diet, obesity, and being underweight (the runt, if you will). One study showed that the amount of fat in the diet was not associated with breast cancer but that a low-fat and high-protein diet was associated with a better chance of surviving breast cancer. Unspayed bitches who were underweight as puppies have about half the risk of developing breast cancer as puppies who were of normal or above-normal weight. A related finding was that obese dogs with breast cancer were four times as likely to have more malignant, aggressive tumors than were dogs of normal weight.

IV. Testicular Cancer

While in human males one type of testicular cancer predominates (seminomas), dogs get any of three types of testicular tumors (Sertoli cell tumors, seminomas, and interstitial cell tumors). Also, there is no increase in the number of cases of testicular cancer in early adulthood in dogs as there is in humans.

Dogs with undescended testicles (i.e., the testicles do not properly migrate to the scrotum but remain in the body cavity) have a markedly higher risk than other dogs to develop this type of cancer. Dogs with inguinal hernias are also at increased risk. Obviously, neutering of dogs prevents the development of this type of cancer.

More testicular cancer was also found in working dogs from the Vietnam war who were exposed to parasitic infections, various treatments for these infections (tetracycline was singled out), and herbicides.

V. Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer of the cells of the immune system. Canine lymphoma is very similar to non-Hodgkin type lymphomas in humans. Dogs are more likely to get this type of cancer as they get older. Males and females get this cancer at roughly the same rate. Neutering or spaying does not affect the development of this disease although purebreds are slightly more likely than mixed-breed dogs to get lymphoma.

There is a modest association between developing lymphoma and the use of herbicides and/or commercial lawn services to treat the dog’s lawn. There is also an association between lymphoma and exposure to electromagnetic fields. Dogs living in homes with very high outdoor currents nearby were nearly seven times more likely to develop lymphomas than control dogs.

VI. Osteosarcoma

Bone tumors in dogs are very similar to those in humans. The small region between the shaft and ends of the long bones (the metaphysis, where growth occurs) is the most common site. These tumors are usually high-grade, aggressive, and usually spread to other parts of the body. The lung is most commonly involved.

Osteosarcoma tends to affect larger breeds with a slight increase in incidence with age. Males are more likely to be affected than are females. And since neutered dogs and bitches have twice the risk of developing the disease as compared to intact dogs, hormonal factors are thought to play a role.

Weight-bearing long bones of the legs are most frequently involved, especially the metaphysis of the radius. Breeds which weigh over 80 pounds are 61 times more likely to develop bone cancer than dogs weighing less than this amount. Also, the rates of developing bone cancer between breeds increases with standard height of the breed independent of the dogs’ weight. This means, for example, that when you consider two breeds which weigh over 80 pounds, say an Irish Wolfhound and a mastiff, the wolfhound has a higher likelihood of getting osteosarcoma because he is taller at the withers. However, within a given breed, heavier animals are more likely to develop the disease.

As in human children, development of bone cancer in dogs is related to rapid bone growth. It is postulated that strenuous activity causing microscopic fractures of bones during periods of rapid growth induces cancer formation. Since taller dogs have a longer growth period than smaller ones, they are exposed to the risk of getting the cancer for a longer period of time. Likewise, heavier dogs are more likely to stress their developing bones leading to the microscopic fractures that start the tumor development process.

Ionizing radiation (as is given in radiation therapy) and having a metallic implant in the repair of a fracture are both associated with developing osteosarcoma. However, given their rarity in dogs, neither of these two factors is likely responsible for a significant number of bone tumors.

VII. Bladder and Ureteral Cancer

Bladder cancers is dogs are more likely to occur in older dogs. Two studies found a one and one-half to threefold higher risk in females while a third study found no differences between the genders. This latter study did find that neutered dogs of both sexes seem to be at higher risk.

Bladder tumors have been experimentally shown to be induced by aromatic hydrocarbons including paraaminobiphenyl, paranitroliphenyl, betanapthylamine, and others. This is more than an association, these chemicals and other like them are KNOWN TO CAUSE bladder cancer in dogs.

The development of bladder cancer is associated with use of flea and tick dips, flea and tick shampoos, obesity a year before diagnosis, and proximity of the dog’s home to a marsh. Dogs in one study who had flea and tick dips were 27 times as more likely than control dogs to develop bladder cancer.

Interestingly, the authors suggest that they believe it is not the active ingredients in the flea and tick products that cause bladder cancer but rather the “inert” or “carrier” ingredients. These carriers act as solvents for the active ingredients and generally account for 95% of the total product. They include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, xylene, and petroleum distillates.

One explanation of the gender differences in developing bladder cancer in dogs is that males urinate more frequently than females, giving the carcinogens more contact time with the bladder in bitches. Another explanation is that females have relatively more body fat and the chemicals which are known to cause bladder cancer are stored and relatively concentrated in fat. This also explains why obese dogs were more likely to develop the cancer.

VIII. Nose Cancer

Cancers of the nasal passage increase with increasing age in dogs. Males are slightly more likely to get this type of cancer than are females. Long-nosed breeds have the greatest risk of getting this type of cancer while short-nosed breeds have the lowest risk and mixed breeds and medium-nosed breeds have an intermediate risk. Judging from the examples given by the author, dalmatians would be considered a long-nosed breed.

Since the nose acts as an initial filter for incoming air, it is suggested by the authors that long-nosed breeds more efficiently filter out airborne carcinogens with their nose and deposit them in the nasal cavity. This leads to more contact of the carcinogen with the lining of the nose and induces formation of cancer.

Long-nosed breeds with a smoker in the house were twice as likely as control dogs to get nasal cancer. There was no increased risk for medium- or short-nosed dogs living with a smoker. Moreover, the risk for getting nose cancer in long-nosed breeds increased with increasing number of packs of cigarettes smoked in the home.

IX. Lung Cancer

Lung cancers are fairly rare in dogs though the number has been increasing. It is not known, however, whether the increase is real or a result of improved techniques to detect lung cancer in dogs.

Male and female dogs get this cancer at roughly the same rate. There may be a slight increase in risk associated with living in an urban area. Short-nosed breeds exposed to cigarette smoke in the home have twice the risk of getting lung cancer as medium- or long-nosed breeds exposed to a similar amount of cigarette smoke. This is, of course, the inverse of the nasal cancer findings and again speaks to the more efficient nasal filtration system in long-nosed breeds.

Cancer of the lining of the lungs (mesothelioma) is associated with exposure to asbestos in dogs just as it is in humans. The owners of dogs with this type of cancer were more likely to be exposed to asbestos at work or in their hobbies.

X. Prostate Cancer

Dogs are the only non-human species which also get any significant amount of prostate cancer. One in every 150 male dogs over the age of 8 was found to have prostate cancer. Unlike human disease, canine prostate cancer is an aggressive disease that spreads rapidly to lymph nodes, lungs, and bone. Usually, when dogs are diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is in its advanced stages. There were no data in the article describing the rates of prostate cancer in neutered versus intact dogs.

XI. Conclusions

The authors suggest several preventive measures for reducing the amount of cancer in dogs. They include:
1. Spaying before the first heat cycle.
2. Neutering dogs with undescended testicles
3. Limiting your dog’s exposure to flea and tick dips, asbestos, and tobacco smoke.
4. Keeping dogs away from lawns which have recently been sprayed with herbicide.
5. Do not spend a great deal of time in areas with high levels of electromagnetic fields.

The authors point out that these last two suggestions need further study. They also hope that future studies of the causes of cancer in dogs will include larger sample sizes and quality of measurement. The article is dedicated to the late Sunny Kelsey.

(I would like to thank Todd Bessinger for generously allowing me to post this very informative review on Dalmatians.US.)


Is A Dalmatian Right For You?

Puppy buyers frequently acquire a Dalmatian puppy, or any breed for that matter, without doing enough research. The release of the live version of “101 Dalmatians” created a demand for Dalmatian puppies. This resulted in unscrupulous commercial breeders and irresponsible backyard breeders producing poor quality dogs with the idea of making a fast buck. These people will sell to anyone who has the purchase price in hand. Unfortunately, not all the people who buy a puppy are really suited to Dalmatian ownership so many of these puppies will be abandoned to shelters or relinquished to already overburdened rescue organizations within the next year. Before you make a mistake that may cost you hundreds of dollars and may cost an innocent puppy its life, please read the following carefully.

It is easy to see why people want a Dalmatian. They are among the most beautiful of dogs. The striking outline, the colorful decoration, the aristocratic bearing, and the effortless movement are enough to make one’s heart beat faster. There is probably nothing cuter than a Dalmatian puppy. Unfortunately, it is this great appeal that has caused a problem with homeless Dalmatians.Historically, the Dalmatian’s purpose was to accompany carriages. The dogs traveled under the axle, between the lead horses, or alongside and cleared the road of stray animals. They also served as guard dogs. To be able to fulfill this purpose the Dalmatian had to be capable of covering great distances and also had to be protective. Therefore, genetically, the Dalmatian is predisposed to be very active and somewhat territorial. It is extremely important for prospective owners to understand the activity level. A well-bred dalmatian is highly active and requires opportunity for exercise. A fenced yard and an owner willing to throw a ball are usually all that is needed.

It is easy to see why people fall in love with Dalmatians!

Irresponsibly bred Dalmatians are frequently hyperactive. Even frequent exercise may not settle them. Since the Dalmatian essentially came from working temperament, they should be confident, alert the family to strangers, and, if need be, protect their family. To ensure that the dog does not become aggressive, it is necessary to provide ample opportunity for socialization. The dog must meet a variety of people and other dogs as a puppy so it can learn to distinguish friend from foe as an adult. Puppies that are not given ample socialization may become aggressive or fear-aggressive, that is they snap or bite because they are afraid of people.

Dalmatians are very intelligent yet they have a reputation for not being very bright. In fact, they are often too smart for their own good. They are just like small children who enjoy playing one family member against another when they sense inconsistency. They have a tendency to be independent thinkers with a touch of class clown. This can be a hard combination to deal with for inexperienced owners.

Novice owners should definitely plan to attend both puppy kindergarten and a basic obedience class. Be sure the class will be taught using motivational methods such as praise, treats, toys, etc. Dalmatians do not do well with jerk and pull training. Talk to the instructor before the class. Be sure he/she does not have any pre-conceived notions about the breed. In most places, there are no licensing requirements to become a trainer so check out the instructor’s credentials. Instructors who are associated with the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors or with an AKC all-breed or obedience club may be a good choice. Even a very well trained Dalmatian may occasionally surprise an owner by coming up with some unusual behavior. It is just their way of being sure they are never taken for granted.

Dalmatians are house dogs. They are very social and need to be part of the family. Dalmatians who are confined to a yard or kennel away from family activities frequently become barkers or diggers. This is not to say a Dalmatian cannot be left alone during the day while the owners are at work. It is just that when the rest of the family is spending time together at home, the Dalmatian wants to be apart of it. The short coat renders them unsuitable to live outdoors in cold climates. If you work during the day you will have to have some arrangement such as a doggy door to let the Dalmatian in and out. Most Dal owners provide their dogs with a sweater or coat if they will be outside for more than 10 or 15 minutes in colder climates. Dalmatians are fairly large dogs. An adult male will be around 23″ tall and weigh close to 60 lbs. A female will be slightly smaller.When you combine the size with the activity level you have some interesting possibilities. Imagine a 60 lb. dog running across the yard at full speed and then leaping up to greet you. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you are going to be hit with a noticeable force.

Dalmatians make good pets for older, well-behaved children.

Dalmatians are not usually a good choice as a companion for small children. A Dalmatian puppy grows quickly and is incredibly active. Their size and activity level may be intimidating for toddlers. One good wag of a tail (and a Dalmatian tail is the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine yet) can send a young child flying. It may be amusing the first time but it does not take long for the child to become fearful of the rapidly developing puppy. Dalmatians make excellent pets for older, well-behaved children.

Dalmatians shed. This bears repeating. Dalmatians shed. Owners are fond of saying that Dalmatians shed twice a year, six months in the spring and six months in the fall. The hair has barbed ends and sticks to everything. Daily brushing keeps shedding to a minimum but there is no way to stop it altogether. If anyone ever finds a way to create an energy source from Dalmatian hair, the multiple Dal household will be rich beyond their imagination. Many people with allergies find they are allergic to Dalmatians. Fastidious housekeepers or those fond of wearing black and navy unadorned by short white hairs may find the breed unsuitable.

Dalmatians have a uric acid anomaly that can lead to the formation of urate stones. This occurs more frequently in males than in females. For this reason it is necessary to feed a low purine diet. Foods such as organ meats, game meats etc. are highest in purines.Beef, poultry, and lamb are high in purines. Cheese, eggs, and most vegetables are low in purines. Most Dal owners feed non-beef based foods or vegetarian foods. Purines form crystals in the urine. The crystals can clump together and form hard, smooth stones that can block the urethra. An obstruction is not only painful but can be life-threatening. Care in selecting food, access to water, frequent “potty breaks”, and monitoring the ph of the urine can prevent obstruction. A Dalmatian should never be fed a generic or department store brand dog food. A Dalmatian who is a stone former can usually be managed on a special diet and medication. Stone formers should never be bred.

Dalmatians can be born deaf. Other Dalmatians may have normal hearing in only one ear (unilateral hearing). The majority of Dalmatians have normal hearing in both ears (bilateral hearing). George Strain, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at Louisiana State university has collected data on over 4000 Dalmatians. Incidence rates are 7.9% affected with total deafness and 21.8% affected with unilateral deafness. Responsible breeders use a method known as Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Testing (BAER) to check the hearing of puppies at 6 – 7 weeks. This test is usually not available from your regular veterinarian as it requires special training and highly specialized, expensive equipment. It is usually done at a veterinary teaching hospital or a veterinary neurology specialty clinic.Reputable breeders also test the sire and dam. The lowest risk for producing deaf puppies occurs when both parents are bilateral hearing Unilateral deafness in even one parent doubles the likelihood of producing deaf offspring.

Dalmatians have a relatively low incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia but it is wise to select a puppy from OFA certified parents. Hip dysplasia is a mal-formation of the hip socket that can be painful. Severely affected individuals may have to be euthanized.

Eye problems are all but non-existent in Dalmatians but responsible breeders have their dogs eyes checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist and register the results with CERF.

Dalmatians may be “smilers.” When a Dal smiles, he curls his lip and bares his teeth. It looks very much like a snarl but it is usually a sign of affection. A Dal may also smile to show submission or when he thinks he may be in trouble. Their theory being no one could be angry at a smiling dog. (It usually works!) However, for the uninitiated a “smile” can be a bit unnerving.

There is no right breed for every person. Each breed has its own good and bad points. Naturally there are both pros and cons to owning a Dalmatian.

Now that you have some of the facts you can decide if you really want a Dalmatian. If you think you are candidate for Dalmatian ownership, read on to find out how you can locate a reputable breeder. If you do not have the time to raise a puppy, consider a rescued Dalmatian.