How much do you know about the Dalmatian? From 101 Dalmatians to sitting on the Anheuser-Busch wagon, Dalmatians have permeated popular culture. Though their origins remain unsolved, images of spotted dogs have existed through the ages across parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. These dogs are not for everyone but they can make wonderful pets and companions in a suitable home. Let’s discuss the needs of this breed to determine if the Dalmatian might be a good fit for your household.

Where Does The Dalmatian Come From?

The most commonly accepted origin of the Dalmatian is Dalmatia, a region of Croatia, where the dogs were used for guarding homes, country borders, and stagecoaches. The latter is the traditional and most well-known job for which these dogs were used; having a beautifully spotted dog running along your coach became a status symbol for nobility in the 1800s.

According to the American Kennel Club, today the breed is ranked number 56 in popularity of the 193 AKC-recognized breeds and is categorized in the Non-Sporting Group.

What Does A Dalmatian Look Like?

Dalmatians are one of the most easily-identified breeds of dog due to their iconic white coats with black spots and presence in popular culture. The short, dense coat may have larger black patches, most often found on the muzzle, head, chest, or legs. The American Kennel Club also recognizes spots of a liver brown color. Puppies don’t sport the iconic black spots, however, as they are born completely white. Spots usually develop between 3 and 4 weeks of age. They should be strong and athletic in appearance, with a deep chest and long legs capable of great speed and endurance. 

Dalmatians should weigh between 48 and 55 lbs, standing between 19 and 24 inches high at the withers, or top of the shoulder. Females are usually slightly smaller than males.  

What Is The Personality of the Dalmatian?

Their temperament is a result of their historical job guarding stagecoaches.  This breed is friendly and affectionate with family members and known friends, but very suspicious of strangers – both human and canine. The breed’s interest and surveyance of everything going on makes them excellent watchdogs, but can also get them into trouble when their curiosity is piqued.

Like all dogs, Dalmatians require socialization from a young age; exposure to as many sights, sounds, animals, and people as possible will make for a more well-rounded dog. The Dalmatian is not a breed that does well living in the yard as they bond strongly to their human family members. 

adult Dalmatian looking at right side

How Hard Is It To Train A Dalmatian?

In addition to regular physical exercise, these dogs need plenty of consistent obedience training. Training and socialization are vital from an early age for any dog, especially one as large and energetic as the Dalmatian. At a minimum, you should teach your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come.

Dalmatians are intelligent and have a downright trouble-making sense of humor, so keeping their brain occupied in addition to their bodies is a necessity.

These dogs are intelligent but also stubborn and independent, so training requires patience and dedication. 

Dalmatian, Dog, Snow, Snowing, Leash

How Much Exercise Does A Dalmatian Need?

These dogs were bred to run endless miles alongside horse-drawn carriages, so they require moderate-to-high intensity exercise on a daily basis. A well-exercised dog will be a much better-behaved dog, and the best exercise engages both their minds and their bodies; their intelligence requires them to be regularly challenged. Any family considering this breed should be ready to take long runs, bikes, or hikes to dispel some of their famous exuberance. These dogs are quite independent, so they should be kept on a leash whenever outside of fenced-in areas, as they are prone to take off cross-country and not be seen for several days. 

Other options for exercise are canine contests such as agility, rally, or flyball competitions. 

A tired dog is a well-behaved dog; dogs that do not get enough exercise can become bored and resort to undesirable and potentially destructive behaviors. 

Dalmatian, Dogs, Domestic Animal

Do Dalmatians Have Health Problems?

When the move 101 Dalmatians skyrocketed the popularity of the breed, less care was taken by some breeders in producing large numbers of puppies without regards to promoting ideal genetics. As a result, Dalmatians can suffer from several genetic issues such as:

  • Deafness: Some are only unilaterally deaf, or deaf in one ear, and can live a relatively normal life. Dogs that are bilaterally deaf, or deaf in both ears, have special needs that need to be taken into consideration by prospective owners. Puppies should be tested for deafness by breeders before being sent to a new home.
  • Hyperuricemia: the liver has trouble breaking down the uric acid in their bodies. This uric acid ends up in the urine, causing urolithiasis, where small stones develop in the urinary tract. 
  • Skin allergies: usually stem from three possible sources: food allergies, which can be combatted with a specialized diet, contact allergies from topical substances like shampoo, or inhalants such as those caused by dust or mold. 

Dalmatians have a life expectancy of 11-13 years.

How Do You Properly Groom a Dalmatian?

Their short, dense coat sheds all year long, but more intensely so twice a year when the seasons change. To keep the coat healthy, Dalmatians should be bathed periodically and brushed once a week with a rubber curry comb or horsehair mitt to pull off dead hairs. Dalmatians’ short hairs have a tendency to weave into clothes, rugs, and blankets and may be difficult to remove.

Animals, Dog, Dalmatian, Heterochromia

Does a Dalmatian Make A Good Pet For A Family?

This breed is energetic, protective, and intelligent. They bond quite strongly with their human companions and take pride in keeping them safe. That being said, they were bred to guard their homes and run incredibly long distances. The decision to adopt a Dalmatian should not be taken lightly. Before bringing one home, potential owners should assess their ability to train and properly exercise a dog of this breed.

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