The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog; poised and alert; strong,
muscular and active; free of shyness; intelligent in expression; symmetrical
in outline; and without exaggeration or coarseness. The Dalmatian is capable
of great endurance, combined with fair amount of speed. Deviations from
the described ideal should be penalized in direct proportion to the degree
of the deviation.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Desirable height at the withers is between 19 and 23 inches. Undersize
or oversize is a fault. Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers
The overall length of the body from the forechest to the buttocks is approximately
equal to the height at the withers.
The Dalmatian has good substance and is strong and sturdy in bone, but
The head is in balance with the overall dog. It is of fair length and
is free of loose skin. The Dalmatian's expression is alert and intelligent,
indicating a stable and outgoing temperament.
The eyes are set moderately well apart, are medium sized and somewhat
rounded in appearance, and are set well into the skull. Eye color is brown
or blue, or any combination thereof; the darker the better and usually
darker in black-spotted than in liver-spotted dogs.
Abnormal position of the eyelids or eyelashes (ectropion, entropion, trichiasis)
is a major fault.
Incomplete pigmentation of the eye rims is a major fault.
The ears are of moderate size, proportionately wide at the base and gradually
tapering to a rounded tip. They are set rather high, and are carried close
to the head, and are thin and fine in texture. When the Dalmatian is alert,
the top of the ear is level with the top of the skull and the tip of the
ear reaches to the bottom line of the cheek.
The top of the skull is flat with a slight vertical furrow and is approximately
as wide as it is long. The stop is moderately well defined. The cheeks
blend smoothly into a powerful muzzle , the top of which is level and
parallel to the top of the skull. The muzzle and the top of the skull
are about equal in length.
The nose is completely pigmented on the leather, black in black-spotted
dogs and brown in liver-spotted dogs. Incomplete nose pigmentation is
a major fault.
The lips are clean and close fitting. The teeth meet in a scissors bite
. Overshot or undershot bites are disqualifications.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is nicely arched, fairly long, free from throatiness, and blends
smoothly into the shoulders.
The topline is smooth.
The chest is deep, capacious and of moderate width, having good spring
of rib without being barrel shaped. The brisket reaches to the elbow.
The underline of the rib cage curves gradually into a moderate tuck-up.
The back is level and strong. The loin is short, muscular and slightly
arched. The flanks narrow through the loin. The croup is nearly level
with the back.
The tail is a natural extension of the topline. It is not inserted too
low down. It is strong at the insertion and tapers to the tip, which reaches
to the hock. It is never docked. The tail is carried with a slight upward
curve but should never curl over the back. Ring tails and low-set tails
The shoulders are smoothly muscled and well laid back. The upper arm is
approximately equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins it at an
angle sufficient to insure that the foot falls under the shoulder. The
elbows are close to the body. The legs are straight, strong and sturdy
in bone. There is a slight angle at the pastern denoting flexibility.
The hindquarters are powerful, having smooth, yet well defined muscles.
The stifle is well bent. The hocks are well let down. When the Dalmatian
is standing, the hind legs, viewed from the rear, are parallel to each
other from the point of the hock to the heel of the pad. Cowhocks are
a major fault.
Feet are very important. Both front and rear feet are round and compact
with thick, elastic pads and well arched toes. Flat feet are a major fault.
Toenails are black and/or white in black- spotted dogs and brown and/or
white in liver- spotted dogs. Dewclaws may be removed.
The coat is short, dense, fine and close fitting. It is neither woolly
nor silky. It is sleek, glossy and healthy in appearance.
Color and Markings
Color and markings and their overall appearance are very important points
to be evaluated.
The ground color is pure white. In black-spotted dogs the spots are dense
black. In liver-spotted dogs the spots are liver brown. Any color markings
other than black or liver are disqualified.
Spots are round and well-defined, the more distinct the better. They vary
from the size of a dime to the size of a half-dollar. They are pleasingly
and evenly distributed. The less the spots intermingle the better. Spots
are usually smaller on the head, legs and tail than on the body. Ears
are preferably spotted.
Tri-color (which occurs rarely in this breed) is a disqualification. It
consists of tan markings found on the head, neck, chest, leg or tail of
a black- or liver-spotted dog. Bronzing of black spots, and fading and/or
darkening of liver spots due to environmental conditions or normal processes
of coat change are not tri-coloration.
Patches are a disqualification. A patch is a solid mass of black or liver
hair containing no white hair. It is appreciably larger than a normal
sized spot. Patches are a dense, brilliant color with sharply defined,
smooth edges. Patches are present at birth. Large color masses formed
by intermingled or overlapping spots are not patches. Such masses should
indicate individual spots by uneven edges and/or white hairs scattered
throughout the mass.
In keeping with the Dalmatian's historical use as a coach dog, gait and
endurance are of great importance. Movement is steady and effortless.
Balanced angulation fore and aft combined with powerful muscles and good
condition produce smooth, efficient action. There is a powerful drive
from the rear coordinated with extended reach in the front. The topline
remains level. Elbows, hocks and feet turn neither in nor out. As the
speed of the trot increases, there is a tendency to single track.
Temperament is stable and outgoing, yet dignified. Shyness is a major
Scale of Points
General Appearance 5
Size, proportion, substance 10
Neck, topline, body 10
Color and markings 25
Any dog or bitch over 24 inches at the withers
Overshot or undershot bite.
Any color markings other than black or liver.
Approved July 11, 1989
Effective September 6, 1989
The Complete Dog Book
Offical Publication of the American Kennel Club
Eighteenth Edition, 1992
has a more interesting background or a more disputed heritage than that
dog from long
ago, the Dalmatian. His beginning is buried so deep in the past that researchers
cannot agree as to his origin. As to the great age of the breed, and the
fact that it has come through many centuries unchanged, investigators
are in complete agreement.
Models, engravings, paintings, and writings of antiquity have been used
with fair excuse but no certainty to claim the spotted dog first appeared
in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Perhaps some of the divergencies in opinion
as to the original home of the Dalmatian can be accounted for by the fact
that the dog has frequently been found in bands of Romanies, and that
like his gypsy masters, he has been well known but not located definitely
in any one place. Authoritative writers place him first as a positive
entity in Dalmatia, a province of Austria on the Eastern shore of the
coast of Venice. Though he has been accredited with a dozen nationalities
and has as many native names - he is nicknamed by the English, the English
Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog,
and the Spotted Dick - it is from his first proved home that he takes
his correct name, the Dalmatian. We find references to him as Dalmatian
in the middle eighteenth century. There is no question whatsoever that
his lineage is as ancient and his record as straight as that of other
His activities have been as varied as his reputed ancestors. He has been
a dog of war, a sentinel on the borders of Dalmatia and Croatia. He has
been employed as draft dog, as shepherd. He is excellent on rats and vermin.
He is well known for his heroic performances as fire-apparatus follower
and fire-house mascot. As a sporting dog he has been used as bird dog,
as trail hound, as retriever, or in packs for boar or stag hunting. His
retentive memory had made him one of the most dependable clowners in circuses
and on the stage. Down through the years the intelligence and willingness
of the Dalmatian have found him in practically every role to which useful
dogs are assigned.
Most important among his talents has been his status as the original,
one-and-only coaching dog. The imaginative might say that his coaching
days go back to an engraving of a spotted dog following an Egyptian chariot!
Even the practical minded will find no end of proof, centuries old, of
the Dalmatian, with ears entirely cropped away and padlocked brass collar,
plying his natural trade as follower and guardian of the horse-drawn vehicle.
He is physically fitted for road work. In his makeup, speed and endurance
are blended to a nicety. His gait has beauty of motion and swiftness,
and he has the strength, vitality, and fortitude to keep going gaily till
the journey's end. The instinct for coaching is bred in him, born in him,
and trained in him through the years. The Dalmatian takes to a horse as
a horse takes to him, and that is to say, like a duck to water. He may
work in the old way, clearing the path before the Tally Ho with dignity
and determination, or following on with his ermine spottings in full view
to add distinction to an equipage. He may coach under the rear axle, the
front axle, or, most difficult of all, under the pole between the leaders
and the wheelers. Wherever he works, it is with the love of the game in
his heart and with the skill which has won him the title of the only recognized
carriage dog in the world. His penchant for working is his most renowned
characteristic, but it in no way approaches his capacity for friendship.
There is no dog more picturesque than this spotted fellow with his slick
white coat gaily decorated with clearly defined round spots of jet black,
or, in the liver variety, deep brown. He does not look like any other
breed, for his markings are peculiarly his own. He is strong-bodied, clean-cut,
colorful, and distinctive. His flashy spottings are the culmination of
ages of careful breeding.
His aristocratic bearing does not belie him, for the Dalmatian is first
of all a gentleman. He is a quiet chap, and the ideal guard dog, distinguishing
nicely between barking for fun or with a purpose. His courtesy never fails
with approved visitors, but his protective instinct is highly developed
and he has the courage to defend. As a watchdog he is sensible and dependable.
He is not everyone's dog - no casual admirer will break his polite reserve,
for he has a fine sense of distinction as to whom he belongs. Fashion
has not distorted the Dalmatian. He is born pure white, develops quickly
and requires no cropping, docking, stripping, or artifices of any sort.
He is all ready for sport or the show ring just as nature made him. He
is extremely hardy, an easy keeper, suited to any climate. He requires
only the minimum of care, for he is sturdy and neat and clean.