A Melton dog breeder has celebrated success at this year’s Crufts with Dalmatians who are playing an important role in helping future generations of the breed live healthier lives.
Dr Elizabeth Sampson returned from the Mecca of dog shows, held at the NEC in Birmingham, with impressive honours for two-year-old Inca, who finished second in the Post Graduate Bitch class and third in the category for Good Citizen Bitch.
Her Merlin, who is seven-and-a-half, was very highly commended by the judges in the Good Citizen Dog class while five-year-old Jazz also qualified but wasn’t placed this year after placing highly in the past.
But as well showing her dogs, Dr Sampson is passionately committed to helping shape the future health of the Dalmatian breed, which has a distinctive black or liver spotted coat and which many associate with the classic Disney film, 101 Dalmatians.
She said: “We breed for health and specifically for the low uric acid, or LUA, gene to remove the specific health issue which all Dalmatians are at risk from.
“This is the formation of urate stones in the bladder or, less often, the kidney, due to the abnormally high levels of uric acid in the urine.”
All Dalmatians possess two copies of a faulty recessive gene responsible for uric acid metabolism.
In 1973, a geneticist and breeder of Dalmatians, Dr Robert Schaible, performed an outcross to an English Pointer and then backcrossed to American Kennel Club-registered Dalmatians.
Dr Sampson, whose breeding business is called Dalstorm Dalmatians, said: “Julie Evans, of Tyrodal Dalmatians, with whom I work very closely, battled with the Kennel Club and breed clubs to allow registration of these Dalmatians descended from the backcross project.
“Merlin, Inca, Jazz and her mother Sally all carry the normal dominant gene and are not at risk from forming stones.
“By breeding carefully we hope to give the breed a better and healthier outlook for the future.”
She added: “We are already 18 generations on from the original outcross and some of Merlin’s and Sally’s descendants are now to be found throughout Europe, Russia, Scandinavia and North America.
“A few are already champions but, most importantly, they are playing an important role for the future of the Dalmatian breed.”