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Health Information

Deafness in dalmatians
 Deafness is considered the most common heritable trait amongst the Dalmatian breed. This is caused by the extreme Pibald gene which causes the coat to be the white base with the spotting. Eye color has also been linked to deafness in dogs. Dalmatians have the blue eye trait, which commonly shows up in dogs that may be uni-lateral( meaning they can only hear in one ear) or Bi-lateral deaf(meaning they can not hear out of either ear). In the dogs that are uni-lateral and have a blue eye, it is generally on the same side that the deaf ear is on. Breeding dogs that are uni-lateral, or have blue eyes ups the chance to produce one or multiple uni-lateral or deaf puppies in a litter by up to 50%. This is why is is discouraged to breed dogs that may be Uni-lateral, or have a blue eye even if the dog is Bi-lateral hearing. Many folks still choose to breed dogs that are uni-lateral because they lead totally normal lives, and without looking at paperwork you would not know the dog can only hear out of one ear. This is a big reason deafness in Dalmatians is on the rise, not to mention the people that are breeding and do not do the official BAER testing. It is also been studied that Dalmatians with patches(the large mass of color with no white hairs) have been found to be more likely to be Bi-lateral hearing, due to the increased amount of color on the dog, as do dogs that are generally heavier spotted. This does not mean all patches are Bi-lateral. Patches and heavy spotted dogs can still be uni-lateral or fully deaf. This is another reason it is important to do the official BAER test. Being that the patch is a disqualification of the breed and cannot be shown in conformation shows, people are discouraged from breeding these dogs. In my experience dogs that produce a few patches in a litter have better hearing rates than dogs that produce decreased number of patches.
  Uni-lateral Dalmatians lead a normal life because they can hear out of one ear, so they do not have the difficulty of learning new tasks like a fully deaf Dalmatian would. Although fully deaf Dalmatians are at a disadvantage, this does not mean they can not lead a fulfilling life. Many do, and excel in performance events when taken the time to teach them in a way they can understand. It is best to do research and learn how to teach and guide a deaf dog before obtaining one. They can take a turn for the worst if not trained properly and socialized well at a young age. Hand signal training seems to be the most effective way to teach a deaf dog commands. 
  In the file below is an article about deafness in Dalmatians, that is very helpful in understanding the issue on a larger scale.

  Dalmatian_May-2011.pdf
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A Dalmatian puppy being Baer Hearing tested


Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common form of joint disease found in larger dogs, or dogs that are very stocky with a heavy build. Dogs such as Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Saint Bernards are likely to develop this disease if not properly taken care of from a young age. Dysplasia, in laments terms, is ill formation of the ball(femoral head) into the socket. Meaning the ball(femoral head) does not fit into the socket joint as tightly as it should. In some cases this can be a very painful, and debilitating disease, meaning if both hip joints have severe dysplasia the dog could be unable to walk on his rear legs and in need of surgery and medication for life. This type of dysplasia is not as common as you would think. Most people do not know their dog even has hip dysplasia ,unless they were to X-ray it and send it to the OFA, because their dog shows no signs of the disease, such as limping, reluctance to run, difficulty moving up stairs etc. It has been noted that hip dysplasia is heritable, but also can be due to environmental issues, and poor nutrition. This meaning, your dog could develop normal hips, but at a young age the you took the dog running too much, the dog jumped off of high things too much etc. This too can cause a dogs hip to become mildly dysplastic. Poor nutrition is also a cause, if a young puppy is not put on a dog food that benefits the joints, and has the proper vitamins that can lead to dysplastic hips as well. So as you can see there are many things that can lead to hip dysplasia in a dog.
 The heredity side of it is tricky. It is beneficial to make sure breeders are doing their research on health issues like hip dysplasia, and doing their best not to proliferate this problem, but having dogs that pass the OFA standard DOES NOT mean that the dogs will not produce a dysplastic dog. Many dogs have passed the OFA with a good or excellent rating on hips and around the age of 5-7 developed hip dysplasia. Why is this the case, being he rated a passing score? That is uncertain. Breeders can do their best to test and make sure they are producing quality dogs, but that does not mean their stock will not obtain a disorder, or disease later in life. We also cannot be naive to the fact of old age in dogs either, meaning as the dog ages the wear and tear of his younger days may catch up to him and causes some remodeling in the femoral head, and that can be due to environmental causes over the years. But it also cannot be discounted that the dog inherited it from previous dogs within his lineage either, the disease just did not show up until a later age. Having two passing dogs obviously gives you a better chance of not producing crippling dysplasia, but it is not guaranteed as genes do not just come from the parents but also from the genes that make up the parents such as grand and great grand parents. So a dog that does come down mildly dysplastic but had passing parents could have received the genes from a grandparent.
  With breeding dogs you have to look at the pros and cons, and weigh your odds on what you will produce, then make an ethical decision based on what you know. We should not throw out dogs who did not pass the OFA, but show not signs of the disease. My reason being there are obviously varying levels of the disease, some more crippling than others, and I am not saying dogs that are severely dysplasic should be bred(one, because their hips could not support it), I am saying that dogs that show no signs of the disease in their movement, in every day life, should not always be thrown out of the gene pool. They have other qualities that should be produced. In these cases you take the dog and breed to a dog that has passed with a good or an excellent to better the chances of producing a non dysplastic dog, then take a puppy that passes and continue.
  As a breeder my goal is to further the breed in temperament, health, and quality. Those three things make up a good, sound dog. Not just one. That being said I do my best to find dogs that compliment one another on each of these issues. My goal is to have a dog that is perfect in every area, but that doesn't happen, but trying to achieve that will make my program rise in soundness and quality, because I am trying to produce dogs that are near perfect.

Hip_Dysplasia_in_Dogs__Diagnosis__Treatment__and_Prevention.pdf
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Allergies
Allergies in dogs can vary depending on breed, location, environment, nutrition and other causes. With Dalmatians, they can be more susceptible to certain skin allergies due to their white background. Dogs that are mostly white, are more likely to develop skin allergies due to the genes that make up the extreme white and extreme piebald gene. A lot of Dalmatians suffer from food allergies such as wheat. Some noticeable ways to detect allergies, are small rounded bumps underneath their skin, known as hives, discoloration of the skin, and loss of hair. If you notice any of these things it is best to seek a veterinarians advice about what may be causing these things. Sometimes a simple change in food may be all it takes.
 There is a allergy related disorder that commonly shows up in the Dalmatian breed known as Bronzing syndrome. This showing up in dogs that get a discolored area of pinkish-bronze hair on top of the head or straight down their back. There have been many theories of what causes it to come about. the article below is from the Dalmatian Club of America and has more information regarding the issue.
 derm.pdf
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Urinary Tract Issues
Dalmatians are one of many breeds highly susceptible to produce uninary stones, and have urinary tract infections. For Dalmatians, apes, and humans eating purine yielding foods can increase the chance of producing stones. This is because of the way each of they metabolize these certain foods is different than others. Not all Dalmatians will produce stones when given high protein foods. When humans eat these purine filled foods they develop gout or kidney stones, when Dalmatians eat them, they produce Urate or Purine Stones. Foods such as Organ meats have a higher level of protein and in large quantities can severely increase the risk of your dog developing these stones. Most Dalmatians when given a low protein dog food, such as a 20-23% protein level, and constant access to clean water, will maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the article below is more detailed information on stone formation in Dalmatians.
dal_book.pdf
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