Most dalmatian puppies are born with solid white coats. The dogs' trademark spots aren't visible in the coat until the puppies are about 10 days old. The exception is puppies with patches. Patches are areas of colored fur that are larger than spots and are present at birth.
A newborn litter of dalmatian puppies isn't recognizable by their spots. The spots are present on the puppies' skin at birth but don't begin to show in the coat until the puppies are about 10 days old. This means the majority of dalmatian puppies are born with solid white coats. The puppies' spots continue to develop and darken rapidly until the puppy is mature, usually between 1 and 2 years of age. After that age, the dog continues to develop spots throughout his lifetime, but at a much slower pace.
Patches are different than spots. About an eighth of purebred dalmatians have patches of colored fur and these patches of color, unlike spots, are present in the coat at birth. Most often patches are found over the eyes, on the ears, at the base of the tail and on the tail. Occasionally patches can be seen on the shoulders and other areas of the body. Patches are larger than spots and come in various shapes.
The background coat of dalmatians is always white. However, patches and spots can come in several different colors. The most common color for patches and spots is black. The second most common is liver, a deep brown color. Lemon dalmatians have light orange spots and patches. Spots and patches can also come in dark blue, brindle and sable. Rarely, a dalmatian will have two different colors of spots, known as tri-coloring, or will remain solid white throughout his life.
The color of a dalmatian's nose usually matches the color of his spots. On most Dalmatians, the eyes are also lined in this color and make the dog looks as if he is wearing eyeliner. This eye lining develops as the dog's spots begin to show in his coat. Eye color can be black, brown, blue or golden, and many dalmatians have one eye of one color and the other of another color. Deafness is genetically more common in dalmatians than in many other breeds and blue-eyed dalmatians are more likely to be deaf than dalmatians with darker colored eyes.
- Dalmatian dog image by LiveMan from Fotolia.com