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Dalmatians in the spotlight

Lua dogs hailed as ‘healthy alternative’

DALMATIANS HAVE been under the microscope this week, following reports in some of the national papers that a new ‘healthy’ Dalmatian has been developed in America.

According to some statistics, as many as one-in-four Dalmatians will suffer from poor health at some time in their lives, this alleged to be a direct result of a defective gene which can cause high levels of uric acid to build in the blood, leading to such ailments as gout and kidney and bladder stones. However, this figure may well be based on the US population of Dalmatians as it is not backed up by the 2004 KC / BSAVA / AHT Breed Health Survey

Reports that our own kennel Club is coming under increasing pressure to accept the ‘new’ Dalmatian - known in the USA as the Lua (low uric acid) - are unfounded, as no applications have been made. However, the fact the that the AKC has not yet made any move to recognise the breed could potentially affect any decisions here. The KC was said be delaying any formal decision until later in the year, again this has been confirmed not to be the case owing to no formal applications.

In fact, the concept of backcrossing the Dalmatian began as long ago as 1973 with the original outcross of an AKC registered Champion Pointer sire bred to an AKC registered Dalmatian dam, and Dr. Robert Schaible conducted the breeding in an effort to address the Dalmatian fixed genetic defect that affects uric acid metabolism and that may lead to increased urinary uric acid, urate crystals, urinary bladder aggregate formation, stones, urinary tract obstruction and even death.

Sceptical

Though now in its 14th year, it seems that British breeders are sceptical about introducing the Pointer/Dalmatian cross to these shores, despite what could be seen as obvious pressure on the Kennel Club to accept the ‘healthy alternative’.

Dalmatian owner Julie Evans is one owner who is keen to introduce the new Dalmatian to the UK, and has already reportedly ordered a two-year-old called Gigi, which she plans to import, possibly along with two others.

Julie told reporters that she felt 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,’ she said. ‘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.’

The Dalmatian/Pointer crosses bred in the USA appear to be free of the rogue gene, and they are then bred back to pedigree Dalmatians in order to keep the desired breed characteristics intact.

Spotting

Another breeder in the USA and a member of the Genuine Dalmatians lobby, says that she feels the introduction of the Pointer gene has an adverse effect on the spotting, and remains unconvinced that Lua dogs will ever be marked as pure-bred Dalmatians.

Shelagh Stevenson, secretary of the British Dalmatian Club told The Telegraph newspaper: ‘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.’

Our Dogs contacted several UK Dalmatian enthusiasts, though all declined to comment at this time.

Caroline kisko told Our Dogs: “we are working with Ms Evans and our scientific group will make a recommendation to committee when it’s appropriate to do so.’

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