Most people wonder what a patch is until they have seen one. If you have ever seen a pointer with a black patch over an eye or covering an ear and a portion of his skull, that kind of marking is similar to a Dalmatian patch. A patch is larger than a normal Dalmatian spot, and is present at birth. When they occur, they are usually found on the head, but they can occasionally be located elsewhere on the body or tail. The breeds' markings may be understood a bit better if you realize that genetically the dog is a solid black or liver-colored animal that also carries a gene for covering over the black or liver color.
Genetically speaking, for any breed of dog that carries variations of this "white masking of the black or liver base color," the pattern of dark markings can show up in looks ranging from torn splotches of dark color to perfectly round dots of varying sizes. Selective breeding will determine how the dark markings appear. If you purposefully bred for larger and larger dark markings, you could wind up breeding a solid black or liver-colored dog, although it would not be a Dalmatian anymore under the standard's specification.
This explanation of white masking over the dark base color also helps explain the standard's concern with tricolor markings. The tan point markings on a black
and tan coat combination as in Coon hounds and Doberman Pinschers, for example, are on the head, under the neck, and on the chest, legs and tail. The
Dalmatian base color is supposed to be pure black or liver with no tan points.
If you had a black and tan base color pattern masked by a white coat, you could see the tan points of that pattern only if the white masking happened to allow the dark base color pattern to show through on parts of the head, neck, chest, legs or tail. That is where you would see the tan points showing through, and that is in fact where the Dalmatian standard looks for the tan tricolor markings. As the breed standard indicates, they are rare in the breed.
The Dalmatians' gait is peculiar to the breed as well as within the breed. The standards of efficiency, endurance and power call for a movement that is "steady and effortless." When the Dalmatian is working in his gait, his head position is forward and not erect, held slightly above the top line. His gait has the extended reach and drive noted in the standard, which are combined in an effortless power, rhythm and smoothness that is distinctive to the breed. This has to be seen in order to be recognized. Although many Dalmatians may get close to the desired gait, fewer than one in a hundred will achieve it to perfection.
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