Chulo the Dalmatian

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Those electric blue eyes belong to Chulo the Dalmatian who is seen here with his human at our Sacramento pet vaccination clinic in the South area. The Dalmatian dog is named for the Dalmatia region of Croatia where, for hundreds of years, they were used as guard dogs, war dogs and hunting dogs before their popularity shifted to England. The breed is first recognized as a pet and working dog dating to a church painting from 1625. One hundred years later the breed was documented in writing as the Canis Dalmaticus. After that time the breed was favored in England and that’s where, in 1882, the breed standard was established. The Dalmatians are recognized by their uniquely spotted coat and that is the feature for which they were initially bred in their native Croatia. The traditional picture of the Dalmatian as a mascot for fire departments of the past may derive from their guarding instinct which was important for the protection of the valuable horses stabled in firehouses. Also Dalmatians were known to run in advance of the fire carriage in order to clear the streets for the oncoming horses and wagon. The coloration of Dalmatians is an interesting and complicated story beginning with the fact that the pups are born white and acquire their spots after the first few months of life. Dalmatians are most commonly white with black spots/face markings, and less commonly they are white with liver spots/facial markings. The liver color is a genetic recessive trait and therefore not possible unless both parents carry the liver color gene. The Piebald gene (also recessive) can produce an excessively white or an all white face and is also responsible for producing blue color in one or both eyes. . . . Hello Chulo! As is common in other breeds which exhibit piebald coloring, there is a possibility of deafness and this is most likely in those dogs with blue eyes and pure white faces. Interestingly the hearing problems manifest in albino and extreme piebald dogs are also due to the same lack of melanocytes (pigment production) which we see in the coat color but in the inner ear this absence of melanocytes interferes with hearing. Notice that while Chulo has two marvelous electric blue eyes, his face is NOT pure white (although it is close.) While he was at the clinic we did some click and clap tests from behind his head and determined that he does, in fact hear. What we could not determine was whether his hearing is normal in both ears but by the time we see him again and can put him down we should be able to check for bilateral hearing. Blue eyes are desirable for their novelty but blue eyes and and white face are usually an indication that a Dalmatian should not be bred whether or not the hearing is ok. At any rate, Chulo is healthy and happy and is going to make a fine, fit and active addition to his human household.

-Geoffrey Antipa


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