While to little ones nurse!
So, what goes into selecting a DALMATIAN show puppy from a non-show puppy? The process starts at birth and continues, sometimes until they are 6 to 8 months old. As a GENERAL rule the selection is made by the time they are 7 to 8 weeks old. But with a choice between 2 outstanding puppies that can be difficult. Linda had to decide between Iris and Tulip on the drive to deliver one to August when they were 8 weeks old. Both parties involved were very pleased with her final selection!
First, we start with at birth. Patches are automatically classified as non-show puppies, but can still go to homes interested in performance events – obedience, agility, tracking to name a few.
Then, we watch pigment and markings. As pigment around the eyes and nose fills in the puppy is “moved” to the possible show home list. Ideally pigment is complete at 7 weeks, but can take much longer to completely fill in the edges of a nose or corner of an eye. And sometimes, in spite of waiting, it never does fill in.
Third is eye color. Eyes start to open between 10 days and 2 weeks. Although blue eyes are perfectly acceptable, we would prefer not to have them in show homes. There are theories that blue eyes are related to deafness in the breeding process, so why take the risk. Entirely a matter of opinion, and there are many top winners and producers with single and double blue eyes. The darker brown the better.
Next, the REAL worry – hearing. Around 3 weeks we will be able to tell if a puppy is hearing. Telling if they are deaf takes longer, and it is even more difficult from just watching to tell if they only hear out of one ear. Unilateral hearing – only hearing from one ear – if hardly noticeable and these puppies make perfectly normal pets. But, again, like blue eyes, should not be used in a breeding program. Sometimes the only real way to tell unilateral versus bilateral hearing is by the BAER testing. That will be done on the litter at about 6 weeks.
And, one big part is structure evaluation – but that is a subject for another time.
Now – Waiting, Waiting, Waiting