New Breed of Dalmatians
Veterinarian Reviewed on August 4, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Even a child can recognize Dalmatians: the white dogs with the black spots that have been epitomized by Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. But underneath those spots lies a genetic problem that affects virtually every Dalmatian causing them unbearable pain and possible death early in their lives.
However, a new, healthier, breed of Dalmatians have been produced. These new Dalmatians do not carry the fatal genes that the regular Dalmatians have.
Yet, instead of being embraced by Dalmatian fans, this new Dalmatian breed has become quite a hot topic, resulting in the launch of an opposition group named “Genuine Dalmatians”. One of the main focus points of this group is to strongly oppose the introduction of the newer Dalmatian breed into Britain.
The new Dalmatian breed has been produced by cross breeding a normal Dalmatian with a totally different breed of dog, the Pointer. The cross breeding was a deliberate attempt at extinguishing the fatal genes from the ‘firehouse dog’. This fatal gene can cause high levels of uric acid in the blood of most pedigreed Dalmatians. Sadly, this results in gout, kidney stones, bladder stones and eventually death.
According to the UK Kennel Club and the British Dalmatian Club, the cross breeding of the Dalmatian and the Pointer is in violation of their rules regarding ‘pedigree purity’.
The UK Kennel Club has received a lot of pressure to accept the new, healthier, Dalmatian as an official pedigree, such as from Dalmatian owner, Julie Evans from Barmouth in Wales, who has been attempting to import the first of the new Dalmatians into the UK.
In fact, Julie is planning on bringing over three of the new-breed Dalmatians, including a two year old named Gigi. Each dog will cost Julie approximately £5,000 or $8,000 each, which also includes transportation costs and health examination costs.
Julie explained her proposed action by stating:
“I am very concerned about the health of the breed. It is heartbreaking to see these dogs suffer and the problems can lead to a terribly painful death. There are some stupid breeders out there who think it is all about breed purity. It is not. It is about the dog’s health. I have owned dalmatians for many years and they are a wonderful breed. I would love to leave them in a better way that I found them. These new dogs are the only way to clean the problem up. You can’t breed away from this problem.”
In actuality the gene that would have resisted the high uric acid levels in the Dalmatian, was bred out of the breed during the 1930’s and onwards, when they were bred specifically for their spots.
During the 1970’s, Dalmatian breeders in the USA bred a pedigree Dalmatian with a pedigree Pointer who had the healthy form of the fatal gene. Since this first breeding, there have been over 14 generations of these Low Uric Acid Dalmatians, commonly referred to as ‘Lua’. It is interesting to note, however, that these ‘Lua Dalmatians’ do not look any different from the regular Dalmatians.
The American Kennel Club has not adopted the Lua Dalmatian, which adversely affects whether or not the UK Kennel Club will adopt the breed into their registry. A decision will be made by the UK Kennel Club later this year.
Editor of Dogs Today Magazine, Beverly Cuddy, stated that:
“These are ostensibly absolutely perfect Dalmatians. You cannot tell the difference between the dogs. Physically, they are the same. It is crazy not to allow these dogs. The case for them is so clear. I don’t see any arguments against it. If you don’t allow them, you know that a quarter of Dalmatians will have to suffer. But it seems that for some, the purity is more important than anything else. The Kennel Club still seem to be sitting on the fence. We need them to take the lead. It is so obviously in the best interests of the breed.”
An American Dalmatian Breeder, Sue MacMillan, who is also a member of the group “Genuine Dalmatians” explained her standpoint on the dogs as being:
“Unfortunately it appears that the addition of pointer genes still affects the spotting. I have yet to be convinced that Lua dogs will ever be marked like pure-bred Dalmatians should be.”
The British Dalmatian Club, issued a statement as to why the club is refusing to support the new Dalmation breed:
“We are not putting our heads in the sand but we feel that at this point in time we need to see more scientific data. There is no scientific foundation to what is being said about these dogs. We are relying on the Kennel Club for guidance.”
Photo Credit: amerune
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan