Can Dalmatians Have Brown Spots?

By John Martin - November 7, 2021

Dalmatians are popular for their friendliness, energy and of course, those lovely spots on their coats. This is a dog that is hard to miss, especially because of those spots.

And typically those spots are black in color but every once in a while, you see them in brown. If you wanted to know more about those spots, you have certainly come to the right place.

About the Color of the Spots

Dalmatians are known to be social dogs. They look really cool with those spots and if you have seen 101 Dalmatians, you might have thought they are easier to manage than they are.

Now, about the color of the spots on a Dalmatian, even though they are known for the black spots, they actually come in several other colors too. The brown spots are often called liver spots.

The other colors are not as popular but here are the choices. And all of them come with a white coat.

  • Black
  • Liver color
  • Blue
  • Lemon color
  • Black and liver mix (this is a tri colored Dalmatian)
  • Sable color

Also Read: 7 Officially Recognized Great Dane Colors

Spots: What’s the Standard?

Apart from the different colors, there is a standard for the spots on a Dalmatian.

This is said to be one of the oldest breeds and despite that, their appearance really has not changed at all. We know that they are some of the oldest dogs because they have been recorded in paintings from ancient Egypt.

These puppies are originally in white color, when they are born. They actually develop those spots after a few weeks of being born.

As mentioned before, the sports are often black in color but sometimes, they are brown too. Regardless of the color, the spots should be well defined and round.

The standards dictate that they be about 2-3 cm apart and be uniformly spread all across the dog’s coat. On some parts of the body, like the extreme ends of the dog’s body, the spots can be smaller in size.

The Dalmatians that have spots in lemon color are said to be so because of the E locus which is a genetic variant. This color is quite rare and is not the standard.

As a matter of fact, even the brown spots are considered to be a breeding defect. This applies to Dalmatians that have a mix of black and brown spots on their coat.

Sometimes, this mix in color is said to be because of mixed breeding and some say it has an impact on their behavior too, although there isn’t any research that can prove this. Nevertheless, it is best to find out the origins of your puppy before you get one.

This deviation from standard behavior is a reason why a lot of dog parents complain about their Dalmatians being badly behaved. While that does offer the satisfaction of having an explanation as to why an otherwise very social and friendly dog acts in the opposite fashion, it is simply not true.

How to Identify an Original Dalmatian

There are certain tried and tested ways of finding out whether your Dalmatian is an original or a mixed breed. Here’s what you need to know about those techniques.

You can start by touching the Dalmatian’s coat. An originally bred dog will have a very smooth coat. That is why these dogs are described as velvety.

If you feel like the coat is rough or the fur on the coat is long, you can continue with the assumption that the Dalmatian you are looking at is not originally bred.

An original breed Dalmatian also has a thin and long tail. Some Dalmatians have a curved tail with long hair on it and those are not originally bred.

Now it is time to look at their eyes. Dalmatians are known to have black, brown or blue eyes. This has nothing to do with the color of the spots on their coat.

This is because their eye color depends on the eye color of the parent dogs.

Then there is the nose. These dogs only have black, brown or noses. This is true for brown Dalmatians too.

After that, take a look at their nails. Dalmatians only have black and white nails that are cut and arched.

If you are looking at something other than these very obvious physical traits, you might not be looking at an original bred Dalmatian.

What Are the Brown Spots Like?

Brown dalmatians in chair

Now, as mentioned before, brown spots might mean that it is not a good thing. Unlike what is the case in some other dogs, this is not an exotic variation of the original Dalmatian.

If your Dalmatian has brown spots, you should know that it might be because they have a vitamin E deficiency. That is why, if you are going to get one from a breeder (which is not recommended), at least make sure that you are in talks with a reputable breeder.

You must also find out about this particular dog’s history, which involves knowing about its parents. Most of these dogs’ traits come from their parents.

So, any diseases they may already have or will be prone to in the future depend on their parents.

Now, there is also the matter of the number of spots. These things come in different numbers and sizes for Dalmatians.

The density of these spots can be higher around the dog’s neck and mouth even though their size might be smaller. And don’t be surprised if you find those spots in the dog’s mouth too.

The spots will be most prominent near the Dalmatian’s chest and back. If your Dalmatian has brown spots, it’s possible that they cover at least one eye entirely, which is often said to be cute.

But usually, despite the color, these brown spots are also likely to be round and uniformly distributed. Sometimes, because of environmental factors and changes in their natural color, the spots might get darker.

But we will go into that in detail in a minute. Right now, let’s talk about how color might affect their health.

Also Read: Can Maltese Be Black or Brown?

How Does Coat Color Impact their Health?

A lot of people, including breeders, like to offer explanations to phenomena that have often remained unexplained. Now, this is no Stonehenge, but those explanations are not necessarily true when it comes to behavioral traits.

The color of a Salmatian’s coat has nothing to do with its behavior. There is no research that shows that a Dalmatian with spots of a specific color is either unfriendly or aggressive with strangers.

It means this is often a matter of training and socializing the dog properly from an appropriate age. But the cold of the spots definitely has an impact on your Dal’s health. Here’s how.

For instance, albino Dalmatians—yes they exist—are at a risk of these conditions.

  • Skin cancer might be the worst of them all. This happens when albino Dals come in contact with excessive amounts of sun. This might lead to tumors that can turn out to be lethal if they are not treated.
  • Sun sensitivity is also a real thing among some Dalmatians. Their coats do not have melanin which means they are not very well protected from the UV light in the sun’s rays. This can lead to skin allergies of different kinds and also sunburn.
  • Sometimes, albino Dalmatians might have deformities in their eyes which often leads to poor eyesight or blindness right from the time they are born. This is actually almost impossible to fix.
  • All Dals are at the risk of deafness, but it is more common among some that the others and albino Dalmatians are definitely in the latter category. Unfortunately, this can happen at birth or be developed over time.

What Are the Other Colors?

Apart from brown and black, there are a few other colors that the spots of these dogs are in. Very briefly, here’s what you need to know about them.

White and Orange Dalmatian

These Dals have a white coat and orange spots. That is intriguing, but it is actually dark lemon spots.

The spots are found all over their bodies, as usual, but this is an extremely rare color. And these pups often have long hair indicating that they are not original bred Dals.

White and Lemon Dalmatian

These Dals have a white coat and the spots on them are yellow in color. They are often defined as medium saturated.

This is not the standard Dalmatian color, which is why these dogs are not allowed in show rings. This one, along with tri-colored and albino Dalmatians is disqualified from participating in conformation shows.

White, Black, and Tan Dalmatian

This is a tri-colored Dalmatian and it is disqualified from participating in dog shows just like the previous variety. This is according to the standards of the American Kennel Club.

Their reasoning is that these Dals are actually bred a certain way to make sure that the three colors are the final result and it is neither encouraged nor appreciated.

White, Liver, and Tan Dalmatian

Here’s another Dalmatian with three colors and it is also banned from taking part in any of the dog shows, according to the American Kennel Club. But these colors are said to be very rare for a Dalmatian.

The Problematic Colors

Now, this section has two specific colors that all the big players (meaning kennel clubs) have clearly said are “faulty” colors for Dals. This classification has been made because the color and even the pattern of spots on these dogs is not as per their standards.

Some of these breeding techniques have also exposed the Dals to diseases which means the breeders were not careful hence inviting the penalty. Here are the two varieties that are specially classified in this category.

Patched Dalmatian

These dogs often have hair in black or liver color. They also have spots that are larger than the regular and defined size for Dalmatians.

That’s why clubs have disqualified these dogs from participating in any dog shows. You can tell the spots are abnormal because they are denser than they should be and are very sharp.

Albino Dalmatian

These dogs already suffer from the very well-known condition known as albinism. They don’t have any pigments that produce color on their coats and are disqualified from dog shows too.

The lack of spots makes them almost entirely white. Sometimes they do have a few faded spots or a pink tint.

Why Are There So Many Colors?

The color of these spots on Dals is mainly because of genetics. The lack of locus B, D and E are typically the reason for a deviation from the standard black spots.

The lack of locus B is the reason there is a change in the production of eumelanin, one of the pigments.

The lack of D locus is why pups have orange or lemon spots on their coats. This is also the reason that some pups have lighter noses.

And finally, the lack of locus E is also what changes the production of eumelanin. Locus E is a dominant part of the MC1R gene. It decides the dog’s color, which is mostly black.

Can the Color Change over Time?

Typically, puppies are born without spots and develop them a few weeks after their birth. But it is true that these spots can get darker over time.

It is also true that these markings can change because of age or certain changes in the environment around them. But you must keep an eye out for them if you want to actually spot them while they are happening.

Change of color is mostly a genetic phenomenon, so you will not notice any drastic changes.

When it changes because of old age, some like to call it ghosting. This is because the spots start to get lighter.

This happens because the hair that is darker in color starts turning white while the white coat remains the same. As a result, the spot looks like it is fading and hence the name ghosting.

This does not happen with all Dals or even that often. But it has been observed.

What is completely untrue is the claim that some Dalmatians gain spots as they age.

Also Read: Can Westies Be Black?

In Conclusion

The point is, Dalmatians are friendly and social dogs. If that behavior changes that’s because of training and such, not the color of their spots.

The color of their spots is mostly the result of genetics and breeding techniques. And when it deviates from the standard black color, these dogs have health issues and are sometimes banned from dog shows.