Dalmatian

One of the most recognized breeds across the world is the Dalmatian. Find out all the Dalmatian facts worth knowing in our latest breed guide.

dalmatian in a field

Height: 19-24 inches
Weight: 20-32 kilos
Lifespan: 11-13 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the general Dalmatian traits at a glance:

Pros:

  • Sociable breed
  • Good breed choice for first-time owners
  • Intelligent and easy to train
  • Ideal watchdog

Cons:

  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • High exercise needs
  • Shed all year round
  • Not suitable for apartment living

dalmatian lying on the bed with christmas decorations

Overview

The Dalmatian is famously known from the Disney creation 101 Dalmatians. Their unique coat attracts dog enthusiasts from all across the world! Today, they are better known as devoted companions and family pets.

However, many years ago they were popular working dogs, assisting in a range of tasks.

Dalmatian puppies are born with a plain white coat. Their spots will eventually develop around two weeks later. Spot colors can be found in black and liver.

Large color patches go against breed standards and spots should be roughly 2-6 cm in size. Coats are short and shed all year round. This breed is not hypoallergenic.

Deafness has been an issue that has plagued the Dalmatians. It is recommended parents are tested before breeding as this trait is hereditary.

A test known as BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) can establish a puppy’s deafness from 5-6 weeks of age. Owners are advised to do further research for facts about Dalmatians and deafness.

Thankfully, the Kennel Club has revealed a new study analyzing 9,000 KC registered Dalmatians over a 26 year period.

It showed that 13.4% were deaf in one ear whilst 4.4% were completely deaf, leaving the total percentage of affected dogs at 17.8%. Over a 26 year period, the total number of affected dogs fell by a third.

Dalmatians require an outdoorsy person that can devote a tireless amount of attention! The release of the novel ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’ in 1951, saw a huge increase in breed popularity.

The movies soon followed leading people to purchase a Dalmatian. Unfortunately, many became abandoned by owners who just couldn’t cope.

dalmatian lying on floor

History

The history of the Dalmatian is debated. However, the FCI based in Belgium has classed Croatia as the Dalmatian’s country of origin. The Bishop of Dakovo in 1374 wrote about a spotted white dog, with short fur named ‘Canis Dalmaticus’.

It is the first written document to be found on the breed.

In their early years, Dalmatians would travel alongside Romany gypsies. Yet despite the Dalmatian history being embedded across Europe, it was Thomas Berwick from England who named the Dalmatian in 1791.

Breed standards were later produced by Vero Shaw unofficially in 1882. They were adopted by the first-ever Dalmatian club after its establishment in England, 1890.

Dalmatians are especially unique when it comes to their working life. In the 17th century, merchants and nobles in England would use the Dalmatian as a carriage dog.

Canines would run next to the carriage and horse riders ready to deter trouble should it cross their path. Today, these skills allow Dalmatians to compete in Road Trials.

The intelligence and unique look of the Dalmatians made them popular in the circus industry. A role they still participate in today. The breed was also known as a Firehouse Dog many years ago.

Before vehicles were around, the Dalmatian would assist fire engines (wagons pulled by horses) by clearing the streets ahead.

Today Dalmatians are great companions and family pets. They also make fantastic sport and show dogs.

However, their nicknames of the Carriage Dog, the Firehouse Dog, and the English Coach Dog will always remain. Just like their predecessors, Dalmatians still have a strong prey drive and will hunt vermin.

Personality

Dalmatian Temperament:
Dalmatians make excellent watchdogs thanks to their previous guarding history. They are energetic and lively dogs that will need a lot of exercise.

Potential owners must be prepared to dedicate their time. Dalmatians can be prone to separation anxiety, so they are better suited to households where at least one person is home most of the day.

dalmatian standing on grass covered with snow

At around a year and a half, this breed will start to mature. Until then expect puppy-like behaviors.

Part of the Dalmatian characteristics include their unique sense of humor, but don’t let them push the boundaries! First-time owners can benefit from obedience classes to help ensure their Dalmatian puppy is headed down the right path!

Recommended: The Newfoundland Dog is a powerful and robust canine that is enormous in size! Learn more about them in our guide.

Are Dalmatians Good with Strangers?

This breed can be a little wary of strangers. As a watchdog by nature, Dalmatians will always alert their owners to anybody trespassing. Given the right socialization, these dogs can be relaxed around those they don’t know, provided the person is welcomed by their owner.

Are Dalmatians Good with Children?

Yes, Dalmatians are known to be great family pets! These canines can be boisterous growing up so are better suited to homes with older children.

Accidents could happen unintentionally due to the Dalmatian size. The Dalmatian dog is energetic and will make an excellent playmate. A great combination for active children.

Are Dalmatians Ok with Other Dogs?

Dalmatians can get along well with other dogs, although adolescent males could display dominant behavior.

They can live alongside canines and cats provided they have been raised together from puppyhood. A well-socialized Dalmatian won’t have a problem making friends in the park.

Exercise

Every day, the Dalmatian will need to receive more than 2 hours of exercise. Vigorous play should be encouraged, however, due to their strong prey drive, they should only be off-leash in enclosed spaces or rural areas.

Dalmatians need to be kept busy, so lots of mental stimulation will be required throughout the day.

This can include brain games, find the treat, interactive games, learning new tricks, and completing jobs around the house. They are also fantastic swimmers and most like to play in the water.

Dalmatian puppies should have their exercise split into multiple daily walks. Growing joints could be affected if they are over-exercised.

dalmatian playing on grass in the park

Recommended next: One of Britain’s most popular dogs is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Health

Check out the breed-related health conditions of the Dalmatian below:

  • Atopy- This is a lifelong skin condition that must be managed as there is no cure. Dogs will itch and chew the affected areas. Atopy is often triggered by allergies such as pollen and dust mites.
  • Epilepsy- The most common neurological condition in dogs is Epilepsy. Affected dogs can suffer mild to severe unprovoked seizures. Many dogs can still lead happy lives.
  • Deafness- As discussed above, deafness is an inherited condition that affects the Dalmatian. Dogs can take BAER tests to establish deafness.
  • Hip Dysplasia- The joints don’t fit together causing them to grind and rub against one another. This can lead to pain, swelling, and inflammation. Eventually, arthritis will occur.
  • Urolithiasis- Also known as bladder stones this condition affects the lower urinary tract of both dogs and cats. Some Dalmatians carry a gene that prevents them from processing uric acid. This will instead be dumped in the bladder.

Intelligence & Training

Dalmatians are highly intelligent and quickly pick up on commands. They are eager to learn and love to be mentally stimulated by practicing new tricks.

However, they can pick up bad habits just as they do good. For this reason, it is important to be consistent when training the Dalmatian.

Positive reinforcement is the best way to encourage this pooch to learn. They can be sensitive at times so never discipline them too harshly!

Dalmatians are smart and won’t appreciate repetition once they understand a command. Training sessions should last around 15 minutes and dogs should always be exercised beforehand.

dalmatian relaxing on red cushion

Socialization is incredibly important as the Dalmatian could show aggression if they feel nervous or anxious.

To prevent this, introduce your puppy to as many new people and dogs as possible. Group puppy classes are also a great way to learn obedience, whilst interacting with others.

Housebreaking won’t be too difficult. A set routine will be easy for the Dalmatian to fall into. They can be strong-willed and require a firm leader than can take the reigns.

The Dal must understand their position in the pack so respect training should often be tackled first. Puppies can start learning from the age of 8 weeks.

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Grooming

Dalmatians are typically low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Although their short, white fur will shed heavily so give them a quick rub down with a rubber grooming glove once a day.

Dalmatians also blow out their coats in Spring and Autumn so expect to see white fur around your home!

The Dalmatian dog breed won’t need washing regularly. Two or three times a year should be fine unless they get dirty before then. As their fur is short, airdrying will be fine.

dalmatian running on path

Dalmatians can suffer from skin allergies. It is important to use sensitive products on their skin. Wipe around their face regularly to prevent tear stains.

Ears will need to be cleaned weekly to remove any debris from the ear canal. Nails will need to be trimmed or filed every 10-14 days however, they may file naturally themselves through daily activities.

Dental hygiene is important and teeth should be brushed at least three times a week, although vets recommend this is done daily.

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