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Are Dalmatians Born With Their Spots? Coat Color & Pattern Explained

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dalmatian

Are Dalmatians Born With Their Spots? Coat Color & Pattern Explained

Despite Disney’s classic animated series 101 Dalmatians being a fan-favorite for all age groups, Dalmatians rank 47th on the 2023 AKC list of the most popular dog breeds in the US. Okay, so they aren’t that popular, but they’re still loving, dependable creatures that make excellent watchdogs.

One of their most striking features is their black spots which stand out in contrast to their white coats. These black or liver-colored spots measure between two and three centimeters in diameter.

But do Dalmatians have spots on their coat at birth, or do the spots develop later on?

No, Dalmatians aren’t born with their spots but develop them with time. Read on to learn more about Dalmatians and the black pigmentation on their coats.

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When Do Dalmatians Get Their Spots?

A new litter of Dalmatians will have pure white coats with mostly pink noses. At first glance, you might think that something is wrong, but this is perfectly normal. Dalmatians aren’t born with their spots but develop them when they’re about 4 to 6 weeks old. These spots will continue to develop for several months until you have beautiful spotted Dalmatian pups.

You might start to notice a little blackening on the areas earlier on where the spots will later develop. But don’t worry too much if some of the pups in the litter don’t show any signs. The appearance of these spots varies from pup to pup.

dalmatian in grass_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

When Do Dalmatians Have Fully Developed Spots?

It’s hard to pin down the exact time when Dalmatians develop their spots fully. However, it takes, on average, 12 to 18 months for these dogs to fully develop their spots. The outlines gradually darken with time until there’s no more outline and only a dark spot.

At a glance, it’ll seem like the spots are settled way before they actually do. It’s hard to tell without close inspection because the outline and actual spots differ by a few shades. It’s also worth noting that no two Dalmatians can ever share the same spotted pattern.

Do Dalmatians Have Spots on Their Skin, Too?

Yes, Dalmatians also have dark spots on their skin. This becomes evident when you shave your Dalmatian or give them a little trim. Also, if you check your dog’s underbelly, you’ll find a similar spotted pattern like the one on its fur.

What Color Spots Do Dalmatians Have?

Did you know that not all Dalmatians have black-colored spots on their fur? Although rare, different color variations of spots are possible, including the following:

  • Black
  • Liver
  • Blue
  • Lemon (orangeish)
  • Combination of black and liver

You’d be pretty lucky to snag yourself a Dalmatian with blue or lemon spots, but black and liver spots are pretty common. You’ll also notice that the noses of Dalmatian pups darken over time to become black or brown. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there are no Dalmatians with blue or lemon noses.

dalmatian dog wearing a collar outdoors
Image Credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay

Why Do Dalmatians Have Spots?

The spots on Dalmatians serve no evolutionary nor utilitarian purpose. Remember, like most other dog breeds, Dalmatians are a product of selective breeding over hundreds of years. The spots serve no functional purpose but are what we humans thought looked good on these canines.

You may be wondering why domestic animals like pigs and cows may have black patches when we don’t breed them for their looks. Well, these patches are a result of a dominant piebald gene. Again, the spots serve no functional purpose. The animals just happen to have them.

How Many Spots Do Dalmatians Have?

This is a difficult question to answer because, as stated earlier, no two Dalmatians can have the same spotted pattern. Plus, these dogs are always out and about and it’s hard for them to sit still and let you count the number of spots they have. However, they have, on average, 50 to 250 spots.

Do Dalmatians Get More Spots Over Time?

As the Dalmatian pups grow, the outlines of their spots darken and turn into fully formed spots. These spots stretch and become bigger until they develop fully. The spots are set at birth and Dalmatians can’t get any more spots besides the ones they had at birth.

However, they can develop smaller spots over time known as ticks or flecks. For Dalmatian diehards, flecks are considered undesirable and stray away from breed standards. The same goes for Dalmatians with orange and blue spots.

Dalmatian dog standing on a grass
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Do Spotless Dalmatians Exist?

While spots are a hallmark for Dalmatians, some Dalmatians come without them. Although rare, these dogs can sometimes have a clear white coat without a single spot. This happens because of a recessive pigmentation gene.

It’s a good idea to call your vet if a few pups in your litter are spotless. The pups could also have inherited other recessive genes that could make them deaf. A vet will help you figure out whether this is the case.

See also:

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Final Thoughts

Dalmatians aren’t born with their spots. They develop when they’re four weeks old, but sometimes they appear much earlier. Overall, Dalmatians are beautiful canines regardless of the color of spots they have or even whether they have spots or not.

Be sure to wash and brush your Dalmatian’s coat regularly to keep it looking fresh and beautiful. Also, keep a close eye on flecked Dalmatians because ticks and fleas could be mistaken for these flecks and compromise your dog’s health. And if you happen to get a spotless Dalmatian, make sure you love it just as you would the rest of the litter.


Featured Image Credit: Freepics4you, Pixabay

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