Dalmatians like every other purebreeds have their good and bad aspects, also concerning their health. Many problems are specific to the breed and there are certain aspects we have to keep in mind when breeding and caring for the Dalmatian. Here I want to give a simple overview of what kind of health checks Dalmatians should pass, which kind of tests Artus has passed and I also will try to gather here some useful articles about the health of Dalmatians. 

Dalmatian health problems and the recommended health tests 


Hip dysplasia is caused by a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the joint. As this happens, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint is called a subluxation, and this causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips but due to their genetic make-up (and possibly other factors) the soft tissues that surround the joint develop abnormally causing the subluxation. It is this subluxation and the remodeling of the hip that leads to the symptoms we associate with this disease. Hip dysplasia may or may not be bilateral; affecting both the right and/or left hip. Read more

Hip dysplasia is marked with the letters A to E. A and B are healthy hips, the other letters describe variable level of dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is inheritable, therefore it is recommended to breed only dogs up to C-hips (dogs with C-hips should only be bred with dogs with A-hips).

The elbow dysplasia is usually tested together with hips and marked with numbers 0 to 5. Number 0 marks healthy elbows
Dysplasia tests are recommended for Dalmatians. 


The white color of Dalmatian's coat or the lack of pigment there has been linked to the deafness in the breed. Unfortunately the deafness is a great problem in the breed and it is also an inheritable problem, therefore it is suggested that already the puppies should be tested for deafness. Deaf puppies are usually euthanized. The hearing test known as the brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) or brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) detects electrical activity in the cochlea and auditory pathways in the brain in much the same way that an antenna detects radio or TV signals or an EKG detects electrical activity of the heart. The response waveform consists of a series of peaks. Because the response amplitude is so small it is necessary to average the responses to multiple stimuli (clicks) to unmask them from the other unrelated electrical activity that is also present on the scalp (EEG, muscle activity, etc).

The response is collected with a special computer through extremely small electrodes placed under the skin of the scalp: one in front of each ear, one at the top of the head, and one between and behind the eyes. It is rare for a dog to show any evidence of pain from the placement of the electrodes - if anything the dog objects to the gentle restraint and the irritation of wires hanging in front of its face. The stimulus click produced by the computer is directed into the ear with a foam insert earphone. Each ear is tested individually, and the test usually is complete in 10-15 minutes. A printout of the test results, showing the actual recorded waveform, is provided at the end of the procedure. It is common that the dog will be seducted for the procedure.

It is not recommended to use deaf or unilaterally hearing Dalmatians in breeding. 
Hearing test is recommended for Dalmatians. 


Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrom (ARDS) appeared as a symptom of a genetic defect among Dalmatians in Finland (and once in Denmark) in the years 1987-1997. In Finland 6 litters were affected, the last in 1997, with a total of 17 dogs thought to be suffering from the disease. All the 17 dogs died or were euthanized. Early on, indications for an inherited disease were found by dr. A.-K. Järvinen and coworkers in Finland and studies of the pedigrees of the affected litters soon pointed towards the bitch O´Soul Escada as the probable source of a genetic defect. The damage to her genes is thought to have been caused by a point mutation. Several of the descendants from Escada were extensively used in breeding and the results (concerning ARDS) appeared to be in accordance with an autosomal recessive mechanism of inheritance. Although there has been no test matings to ultimately prove this mechanism, the national breed clubs in Finland, Norway and Denmark and the health committee of the Danish Kennel Club have accepted the recessive inheritance hypothesis based on strong circumstantial evidence.

The carriers of this disease are the dogs whose parents both have the "bad gene". The carriers and their descendants to variable extent of generations can not be used in breeding.
The table containing data about the known carriers is in the ECDC webpage.


Dalmatian is one of the breeds known to be very prone to allergies. One of the reason is surely the short and white coat of Dalmatian that lets you see even the minor processes and problems affecting the skin and coat. There are many reasons for allergies- contact allergy, allergy distributed by air, food allergy etc. Very common is flea allergy that can become repetative. Therefore it is recommended to use anti-flea treatment during the warm season from May to October. If you suspect food allergy it is wise to consult with your veterinarian. The most common way to find out to which food your dog is allergic to is elimination diet. There is no possibilities at the moment to do specific allergy tests for dogs in Estonia.  


Dalmatian is the only breed with the unique urine forming process. Therefore the purine level in their food is essential for their health. Purines are foremost the part of animal proteins and they become uric acid in the body that in turn can cause the formation of uric bladder stones in Dalmatians. Removing them needs a specific surgery. The amount of purins in certain foods can be found below in the article "Healthy Dalmatian Diet" Giving your Dalmatian food and treats high in purines can cause the formation of bladder infections, bladder crystals and finally bladder stones. It is interesting to know that in majority Dalmatians are forming urate stones that are not visual in common urine tests or common x-rays. It takes contrast x-rays, ultrasound or lab analysis to detect them. When you suspect urinary tract problems in your Dalmatian it is not hard to take the urine test and take it to the vet for analysis or if possible to do regular tests at home. The urine pH of the healthy Dalmatian is 7. 


Mentality is very important in Dalmatian. A Dalmatian can not be neither shy nor agressive. In Nordic and other countries there are special tests to test the psychics of the dog (i.e. what the dog really is not what he can learn). The discussions over whether to include the successful passing of this test to the breeding recommendations of Dalmatians are still going on. Until the decision it is still a very interesting and useful experience for all Dalmatian owners. You still have to consider that the test is very hard on the psychics of the dog and therefore if failed you can take it again only one time. You need +70 points to pass this test.

Artus' health tests


Tests were made in Tallinn 11.06.2007.  They were performed and evaluated by the official trusted veterinarian of the Estonian Kennel Union Mr. Andrus Allas. The results were AA/00 that means that both Artus' hip joints and both of his elbow joints are in ideal health. The doctor even said that Artus has a perfect x-ray picture. Artus' results are noted in the EKU breed register. 


Artus' hearing was tested in Lohja veterinary clinik in Finland in 13.03.2008 by dr. Aija Jantunen. The results were +/+ that means that Artus has bilateral hearing. Artus' result is noted in the EKU breed register. 

Lohjal 2008

Artus in Lohja clinic doing BAER test in 2008


Artus is ARDS-free. There are no ARDS gene carriers in his predecessors. 


Artus has passed the mentality test in Toijala, Finland. His results were +127 points with what he successfully passed this test. You can read about our trip to Finland when you click on Mentality test result button on the homepage. 


Artus had his urine (medically taken probe straight from the baldder) thoroughly tested in august 2009 at the Quattromed HTI lab in Estonia. The results were: without findings i.e. there were no negative anomalies found in the bladder. 


Artus had to have this test twice-in 2006 for travelling to England and 2008 for travelling to Sweden (the first test wasn't accepted in Sweden because of the time requirements). Both results were positive - the rabies neutralizing antibody titre was equal to or greater than 0.5 lU/ml


It is recommended to do the thyroid test to dogs after every 4 years. Artus had this test in spring 2009 and the result was positive - Artus has no thyroid problems.


Healthy Dalmatians Diets: Dog Food Rules to Prevent Urinary Stones and Allergies

Skin and coat disorders in Dalmatians