have always been a part of the Dalmatian breed. The s(w) gene (extreme
white piebald) that gives Dalmatians their white background
color, sometimes comes with small areas of color as well.
Although Dal pups are normally born pure white (the spots start
to show up at about 10 days), patches are present at birth. They
are most commonly found on the ear and around the eye, may be
seen at the base of the tail (generally extending part way down
the tail), and appear less commonly on the body, generally on
the shoulder. Various studies indicate that the percentage of
patches is about 12% for the breed as a whole. Although that
amounts to about one patch per litter, some litters have
multiple patches, while others have no patches at all.
are not shown in the breed ring; they are popular as pets, and
are often the first pups selected from a litter. Some of the top
obedience competition Dalmatians have been patched. There was a
time when most responsible breeders in the U.S. euthanised
patched pups because it was thought that patching was associated
with serious health problems. That theory was disproved,
patching is now considered strictly a cosmetic issue. In
addition, dogs born with a color patch have a significantly lower
risk of suffering from hearing loss. (You can read
about it here.)
Patches disqualify a Dal from the conformation show ring ONLY, it has no impact on the dog's quality or personality.