Dalmatians are instantly recognizable, known all over the world for their unique spotted coat pattern.
When you think of a Dalmatian, their athletic build and short, smooth coat instantly come to mind. But did you know that Dalmatians are sometimes born with longer coats?
Read on to find out more about the Long-Haired Dalmatian…
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What is a Long Haired Dalmatian?
The Long-Haired Dalmatian is also known as a Long Coated (or LC) Dalmatian.
We are all familiar with the short-coated Dalmatian and usually, most dogs of this breed are born with a short coat.
However, occasionally a Dalmatian is born with a longer coat, they have fluffy, feathered hair around their ears, on the chest, and on the tail.
They have longer hair on the body which may be slightly wavy or fluffy. The hair between their toe pads and under their tummy may also be longer.
The longer coat is caused by a recessive gene. A Long-Haired Dalmatian puppy will have inherited two copies of the recessive gene, one from each parent.
If the puppy inherits one copy of a dominant ‘short coated’ gene and one copy of the recessive ‘long coated’ gene, he will be short coated as the dominant gene will always preside.
For this reason, Long Haired Dalmatians are relatively rare.
Another reason for their rarity is that the American Kennel Club breed standard does not accept Long Haired Dalmatians, and subsequently, for many years breeders have actively tried to avoid breeding from dogs who carry the recessive long-coated gene.
It has not always been this way, however. It is estimated that further back in history, fifty percent of all Dalmatians were long-haired!
The History of the Long Haired Dalmatian
Dalmatians are an ancient breed originating from Dalmatia- a historical region of Croatia.
A spotted Dalmatian-type hunting dog was first mentioned in written accounts from 1375 and Dalmatians appear in a number of paintings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The first Dalmatians were used for hunting, as guard dogs, and also as companion dogs. They became popular as carriage dogs in Britain during the early 19th century and could be seen trotting between the wheels.
Dalmatians were considered status symbols and their spotted coats were highly prized. They were also used to run with long-distance coaches, guarding the passengers against lawless highwaymen.
Dalmatians are intelligent and easy to train, and have often been used as circus and performing dogs.
They are also famous for their association with US firefighters in the days of horse-drawn fire engines. They work well alongside horses and their spotted coats meant that they were easily seen, so they were used to clear the path for the oncoming fire engine.
Once at the scene of the fire, Dalmatians would guard the horses and fire-fighting equipment. As a bonus, Dalmatians are expert ratters and useful for controlling vermin around the stables and firehouse.
It is highly likely that Long-Haired Dalmatians assumed the same roles in history as their short-haired counterparts, given that they were much more common in times past.
Appearance of the Long Haired Dalmatian
The Long-Haired Dalmatian is a medium to large-sized dog that is muscular and athletic, yet elegant in appearance.
They have a long muzzle and triangle-shaped drop ears that are carried close to the head. The tail is long and tapered, carried away from the body with a slight curve upwards.
Long-Haired Dalmatians have eyes that are brown or blue, some dogs may have one eye of each color.
The coat of the Long-Haired Dalmatian is of medium length, although there is some variation within the breed.
Some Long-Haired Dalmatians have shorter hair on the body with the ears, chest, and tail being noticeably fluffier and feathered. The coat is always white, with either black, liver, or lemon spots.
Long-Haired Dalmatian puppies are born white and the spots appear around 10 days to 2 weeks old, they may continue to appear until around 18 months of age. The spots should be well defined and there should be no larger blocks of color.
White. Spots of black, liver, or lemon.
good with children:
The Long Haired Dalmatian is usually an outgoing, friendly dog with oodles of energy and a playful nature.
They are extremely loyal and they make first-rate family dogs when raised with children. Their energetic nature means that they will enjoy long hikes and playing with the kids (like all dogs, interactions with children should be supervised).
Long Haired Dalmatians do retain their guarding instincts and will alert you if someone approaches your property. They can also be wary of strangers so good socialization at an early age is vital.
Does the American Kennel Club recognize the Long Haired Dalmatian?
In a word, no. The American Kennel Club breed standard describes the coat of the Dalmatian as ‘short, dense, fine and close-fitting…. neither woolly or silky’
Clearly from this description, the AKC does not endorse Long-Haired Dalmatians, even though there is no debate that they are a pure breed.
Long Haired Dalmatians would be heavily penalized or disqualified in the show ring, however, they can be registered as a pure breed if they have the right paperwork and they may compete (and excel!) in other disciplines such as agility or rally obedience.
Of course, they can make excellent pet dogs regardless of whether they do well in the show ring.
Long-Haired Dalmatians are intelligent dogs. They were placed at 62 out of 138 dog breeds for obedience and working intelligence in dog psychologist Stanley Coren’s breed intelligence ranking list.
Long Haired Dalmatians are not only clever, but they are also independent and good at thinking for themselves.
They definitely have a mischievous side so training them when young is very important, they need to learn to follow your commands and work in partnership with you, a young, energetic untrained dog can be difficult to live with.
If you put the time and energy into training your Long-Haired Dalmatian, you will be rewarded with a fun-loving and obedient companion.
The good news is that Dalmatians are relatively easy to train if you use kind training methods based on positive reinforcement. Find yourself a good puppy training class to start, then try out a few different training activities to see what you and your dog enjoy.
Dalmatians can turn a paw to pretty much anything and will excel at agility, rally obedience, scent work, and flyball.
It is sometimes said that Dalmatians can be stubborn and strong-willed, however, this is a question of finding what motivates your dog. Make training fun and ensure his needs are met so that he doesn’t become frustrated.
How much exercise does a Long Haired Dalmatian need?
Dalmatians are born to run, and your Long-Haired Dalmatian will require a significant amount of exercise.
They have amazing endurance and will love nothing more than accompanying you on a long-distance hike or trail run.
The average Long-Haired Dalmatian will require a minimum 2 hours of exercise every day, some of this can be on-leash but they will need the chance to run off-leash regularly too.
Grooming and Care of the Long Haired Dalmatian
Long-Haired Dalmatians do not have high-maintenance coats. They will require a weekly groom with a slicker brush and possibly a comb for the longer hair around their ears and chest.
They may need the hair between their toe pads trimmed to prevent them from slipping on smooth surfaces. If they don’t run on hard surfaces they may need their nails clipped every few weeks- speak to your vet or groomer if you don’t feel confident in doing this yourself.
Regular health checks for your Long Haired Dalmatian should include checking the eyes and ears for discharge or signs of inflammation, checking the teeth for tartar build-up, loose teeth, or inflamed gums, and checking the coat and skin for parasites or signs of inflammation.
To keep his teeth pearly white, it is recommended to brush regularly using doggy toothpaste. Like all dogs, the Long haired Dalmatian needs an annual vet check, vaccinations to be kept up to date, and parasite control as necessary.
Does the Long Haired Dalmatian shed?
Yes! All Dalmatians shed and this is something prospective owners should be aware of. Dalmatians shed all year round.
One positive aspect of the Long-Haired Dalmatian is that their hair is longer and finer and therefore easier to remove from carpet and upholstery than the short, coarse hair of the short-coated Dalmatian.
Like all dogs, a well-balanced diet is the key to good health in the Long Haired Dalmatian. However, Dalmatians are a special case when it comes to nutrition and it is something that potential Dalmatian owners should read up on before bringing their pup home.
Due to a genetic abnormality, most Dalmatians (both short and long-coated) lack the ability to process purines (a type of protein) in the same way as other dogs.
In most dogs, purines are broken down through a series of enzymatic processes into uric acid and then finally excreted in the urine as a compound called allantoin.
Dalmatians are not able to complete this final process and therefore have to excrete the uric acid in their urine. This leaves Dalmatians at risk of developing urinary crystals or stones, which irritate the urinary tract and bladder and increase the risk of infection or blockage.
In order to reduce the risk of urinary crystals or stones, Dalmatians should be fed a diet low in purine. This means restricting ingredients that are high in purine such as beef, pork, liver, and sardines whilst ensuring that the diet still has adequate protein.
Ideally, the diet should have a higher pH, so acidic ingredients such as beef and pork (again), shellfish and eggs should be restricted.
Good hydration is key to keeping urine dilute so you should add water to the kibble and encourage your dog to drink frequently.
As you can see, feeding Dalmatians is not straightforward. The good news is that many pet food companies have done the hard work for you and there are many low-purine dog foods available, developed specifically for Dalmatians.
If you choose to home cook for your Long-Haired Dalmatian, you should seek the advice of your vet and a canine nutritionist to ensure the diet is suitable for your dog.
Are Long Coated Dalmatians healthy?
Most Long Coated Dalmatians are healthy dogs but like many breeds, there are certain hereditary conditions that they are more prone to.
Ensure you discuss this with the breeder before you buy a puppy and ask to see certificates to prove that the parent dogs have been health tested.
Diseases that Long Haired Dalmatians may be more prone to include:
Hyperuricosuria and Hyperuricemia (HUU)
As mentioned above, all Dalmatians are at increased risk of urinary crystals and stones because they cannot convert uric acid to allantoin. Urate stones are painful and can be potentially life-threatening if they cause a blockage.
There have been efforts to introduce genes from pointers to the Dalmatian gene pool in the hope of eliminating this condition, but the outcrossed dogs are currently not recognized by the AKC.
It is estimated that 8% of all Dalmatians are bilaterally deaf (deaf in both ears) and 22% percent are unilaterally deaf (deaf in one ear).
This means that in total, 30% of all Dalmatians are affected by deafness. Puppies can be tested for deafness using a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) test and breeders should not breed from dogs who fail this test.
An inherited condition that results in the dog gradually losing the use of his back legs and eventual paralysis.
Including cataracts, glaucoma and entropion.
A condition that leads to dangerous levels of copper building up in the liver. This is a condition that dogs should be screened for before breeding from them.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
A congenital heart disease that causes the heart to enlarge and become weak. Early signs of this disease can be detected using an ECG.
Where can I buy a Long Haired Dalmatian from?
If you have your heart set on a Long Haired Dalmatian, the first option would be to contact local reputable Dalmatian breeders to ask whether they have any suitable puppies.
Of course, the chances of a normal Dalmatian breeder having a long-haired puppy is fairly slim, but the good news is that due to public demand, some breeders are now concentrating their efforts on breeding long-haired dogs.
So it may be easier than you think to find the pup you are looking for, although you may need to be prepared to travel.
The American Kennel Club has a database of Dalmatian breeders and it might also help to join Long-Haired Dalmatian groups on Facebook, or search other social media groups, to ask where they sourced their puppies from and find out more about the breed firsthand.
Long Haired Dalmatians are not common in rescue centers but you may be lucky enough to find one through a dedicated Dalmatian rescue organization.
You can also search for one on the dedicated doggy adoption websites such as PetFinder, AdoptAPet or RescueMe. They allow you to select the breed type and search location to narrow down the search results. You can also set up alerts to notify you when new listings are added that fit your search criteria.
How much do Long Coated Dalmatians cost?
Long Haired Dalmatian puppies usually cost upwards of $600. Puppies from specialist Long-Haired Dalmatian breeders are likely to command higher prices and may cost as much as $1500.
If you are lucky enough to find an adult Long Haired Dalmatian in a rescue center, the adoption fee will be significantly less.
Pros and Cons of owning a Long Haired Dalmatian
- Loyal and affectionate with family members
- Easy to train
- Relatively low maintenance coat
- Good watchdog
- Good with horses if brought up around them
- Good with children if brought up around them
- Sheds a lot
- High exercise requirements
- Requires a lot of training when young
- May inherit health conditions
- Careful attention must be paid to nutrition
Final Thoughts on Long Haired Dalmatians
Energetic and playful yet elegant and dignified, the Long Haired Dalmatian oozes character and charm.
They make fantastic family pets if you put the work in to socialize and train them when young. This dog is no couch potato and will best suit those with an active lifestyle and with time to exercise them properly.
The Long-Haired Dalmatian is a sturdy and long-lived dog, just make sure you choose your breeder carefully to ensure you are buying a healthy puppy.