Why do Dalmatians have spots?

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Don't miss the whyzz story Fleck the Fire Station Dalmatian!

Did you know that Dalmatian puppies are born without spots on their fur?! Aside from patches that show up from time to time on newborns, Dalmatian puppies have a pure white coat. They have spots on the skin underneath, but these spots do not show up on the fur until the little pups are about two weeks old.      

Dalmatian spots are most often black or brown, but spots can sometimes be other shades, such as dark orange, lemony yellow or grayish-blue. Occasionally an adult Dalmatian seems to have no spots at all!     

Dalmatians have spots because of their genes, which are like little sets of instructions inside of each cell in the body. We have genes too! These genes, which come from both parents,  have information about our bodies, including how we look. Because most Dalmatians have moms and dads with spots, the spots are in their “instructions” (genes) too, so they end up with spots like their parents!

Before they were pets, some Dalmatians in the wild may have had spots to protect themselves by blending in to their surroundings. Today pet Dalmatians get a lot of attention for their spots! Dog breeders who help match mother and father dogs can make sure Dalmatians have spots by choosing moms and dads with plenty of these round markings on their fur! That way, the baby Dalmatians are born with spots too! 

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    Friends With Spots

    Can you think of other members of the animal kingdom that have spots? Any mammals? Insects? Members of other animal groups, such as amphibians? 

    When you picture a spotted animal or insect, such as a ladybug, think about the color of its spots. Can you think of animals with light-colored spots? 

    If the animals you pick live in the wild, think about the benefits of their markings. How might the spots help to camouflage the creatures? 

    For more fun, be sure to read the whyzz story Fleck the Fire Station Dalmatian!

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