All those who love dogs would remember watching and enjoying the movie ‘101 Dalmatians’ and obviously, all of you would have fallen in love with Pongo, the intelligent black-and-white Dalmatian. The movie depicted Pongo’s love for his owner Roger Radcliff and his lady love Perdita. The movie also showed his wits which helped him save another 100 Dalmatians from the clutches of Cruella, the villain of the movie.
In fact, the movie portrayed Pongo’s character as a typical Dalmatian! For here are the dogs who are loving, social and intelligent. They make good companion dogs. They are fun-loving and are a picture of elegance. “A Dalmatian is poised and alert – free of shyness. He is intelligent in expression and is capable of great endurance combined with a fair amount of speed,” says N Sridaran, a proud owner of Dalmatians.
The general appearance
The most striking characteristic of a Dalmatian are their black or liver spots randomly splashed over a white body. According to Sridaran, “The Dalmatian is a distinctively spotted dog. His spotting sets him apart from all other breeds.” Interestingly, when a Dalmatian puppy is born, he is white. Spots appear later on.
A Dalmatian is a sleek, symmetrical and short-haired dog. His feet are round with well-arched toes and nails. Their eyes are dark brown, amber or blue. His ears are soft, narrowing towards the point. Dalmatians are considered a medium-sized breed. The average height of these dogs is 19-23 inches and they weigh around 23-25 kg.
Dalmatian make a superb family companion. They are fun-loving and affectionate. He is generally not a one-man dog. “He is sensitive to the moods of all According to Sridaran, “His intelligence surfaces in many ways. Dalmatians love to interact with humans, many a times expressing their affection for one and all. In short, Dalmatian is simply a lovable breed who makes a mark in one’s life.” They are quite social but sometimes they become aggressive with strangers or other dogs. Though they love to play with children, but care should be taken when they are playing with toddlers. Sridaran smilingly remarks that his Dalmatian Samantha actually smiles when she plays with his daughters Shruti and Srenidi. She actually shows all her teeth. A big close-up smile!
“Dalmatians are very fond of children and share their games with enthusiasm. Their superior intelligence helps them sense a child’s immaturity so that they make some allowance for the child’s behaviour,” says Sridaran. You will be surprised to know that Sridaran’s Dalmatian Samantha lives with pigeons and chickens and loves them too.
The stunning white Dalmatian puppy is a darling and you will be tempted to cuddle him up and keep him close to you. “But make sure you handle him with care,” says Sridaran. Undoubtedly, the puppy will be afraid for a while in his new surrounding, without the mother and littermates. Just comfort him and reassure him. Encourage him to walk around and sniff over his new home and soon he will be okay. Feeding a puppy is also important. Do remember to ask his previous owner the diet schedule and health card. Follow the same before you switch over to your new schedule. “Change his food gradually. Do not try a new diet all of a sudden as this will definitely upset your puppy. Never overfeed your puppy but do feed him at intervals,” warns Sridaran. Like babies, a Dalmatian puppy also needs a lot of rest. Give him a proper bedding to sleep on. However, Sangeeta, another proud owner of a Dalmatian, says that, “When you get a puppy, take a blanket or an old mattress along, so that you can rub it against the pup’s mother. Keep the same cloth near the pup so that he can smell his mother and be comfortable. You can also keep a small clock under his bed which will give him a feeling of his mother’s heart-beat.”
The Dalmatian is principally a white dog and as with most white pets, he will show any dirt more dramatically than a coloured breed. Wipe him with a wet cloth. Their toe-nails should be cut at regular intervals. Since they have short-haired coat, they are easier to maintain. Regular brushing prevents ticks and fleas, it also helps in removing dead hair.
Dalmatians were bred to run besides horse-drawn carriages, thus they have a vast amount of stamina, gait and endurance. They need a lot of constant and structured exercise. If properly exercised, Dalmatians can easily go many miles and still be ready to play ball at the end of the day. Sridaran suggests letting the Dalmatian exercise on soft ground like grass rather than concrete areas. They can be taken for longer walks which is well liked by them. Their stamina can make them an excellent companion for jogging, cycling and biking. However, the dog should have basic training and good leash manners before one makes an attempt to do any of these activities. Exercise your Dalmatian at least twice daily. Sridaran however warns that care should be taken in hot and humid climate. Clean water should always be at your pet’s disposal.
Dalmatians enjoy all types of outdoor recreation particularly like playing with the ball. Their agility often makes for some spectacular catches! They love to play catch with anything and are usually good swimmers but one has to be careful as wet ears can bring out a painful ear infection.
Dalmatians are genetically predisposed to deafness. It is advisable to check the puppies for deafness before adopting them. Another problem encountered in Dalmatians is Atopic dermatitis. Also, Dalmatians can have two-coloured eyes depending on the black patch! Dalmatian crave for quality time with their owner and family. Sridaran personally feels that before anyone picks up a Dalmatian, he should be sure that he can spend quality time with him. “The emphasis here is on balance and fitness, which can be obtained only when you have the time. They are sensitive by nature and love to have companions,” he added. “A Dalmatian is a fun loving animal. Give him the care and affection and you are sure to get back the same from him in multiples,” concludes Sridaran.
(Inputs by N Sridaran, Chennai, Ph : 9840208591)