Dalmatian Breed Guide

Dalmatians are muscular, lean, medium-sized dogs. Their glossy coats are short, dense, fine, and close fitting and come in white with black or liver-brown spots. Their medium-sized eyes are rounded and their ears are set high on their heads. Dalmatians measure 19 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and usually weigh 45 to 70 pounds.

As former circus performers, Dalmatians are excellent at learning new tricks and performing in front of an audience

Alert, active, and highly intelligent, Dalmatians are well suited to be family pets or performance animals. These dogs are a perfect match for highly active people, and they can keep up with joggers and even cross-country runners. They are not a good fit for couch potatoes or families with very young children.

Dalmatians are the only spotted dog breed. They are born solid white, and their spots develop as they age.

Dalmatians are fun-loving dogs with a lot of energy. They thrive in a family environment, provided they are offered plenty of physical activity. They are smart dogs with a great sense of humor and are known to clown around and go out of their way to amuse their human family members. Dalmatians are known for their outgoing, cheerful personalities.

These energetic, larger dogs may be a poor choice for homes with small children. While they make excellent playmates and guard dogs, they may accidentally injure toddlers during rough play. In public, Dalmatians tend to be reserved and quiet, but this should not be mistaken for shyness. The breed is always courteous and well mannered, but these dogs have a strong protective side that comes out when needed.

Dalmatians need to be around people. They should not be left alone for long periods or they may become bored, lonely, and destructive. Without sufficient physical and mental stimulation, these dogs tend to keep themselves busy by digging, chewing, and barking excessively.

Dalmatians are more likely to develop certain health conditions than some other breeds, but overall the breed is fairly healthy. Skin allergies, deafness, epilepsy, congenital hip dysplasia, von Willebrand Disease, certain eye problems, and laryngeal paralysis are all known to affect these dogs. Many of these conditions are manageable with professional treatment.

Dalmatians are unable to metabolize uric acid into allantoin, which causes them to form urinary stones more frequently than other breeds. While most of these pass without complications, some may require professional care or even surgery to prevent or treat blockages. A veterinarian can help manage this condition. Additionally, this breed is very sensitive to the cold and should not be left outdoors in very low temperatures. A sweater may be necessary during winter walks.

Dalmatians can live a full and active life of up to 12 years, provided they receive routine veterinary care and timely vaccinations, are fed a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.

As former circus performers, Dalmatians are excellent at learning new tricks and performing in front of an audience. They become bored easily, which can result in barking and destructive behavior, but they are generally well behaved. This intelligent breed is easy to train and socialize.

With proper training and socialization, Dalmatians are very gentlemanly and well mannered. They are quiet, even in the company of strangers, although they do occasionally suffer from bursts of energy. This is not a naturally aggressive or hostile breed, although these dogs may display protective behavior if they believe their home or family is being threatened.

Dalmatians need a lot of vigorous exercise to burn off the excess energy that often triggers negative behaviors. When outside, they must be secured inside a fenced yard for their own safety, and they should be trained not to wander. If allowed to roam, they will do so for days, putting themselves and other animals at risk. These dogs should be kept on a leash whenever they are away from home.

Dalmatians are very heavy shedders. In fact, these dogs shed nearly year round, and their stiff hairs tend to weave themselves into clothing and couch cushions and are very difficult to remove. Frequent brushing can minimize the amount of hair that ends up on floors and furniture, but it is impossible to eliminate shedding completely when it comes to this breed. Grooming supplies should include a hound mitt, bristle brush, and rubber curry brush. Stripping dead hair is also beneficial.

These dogs don't have much odor and they are fairly clean dogs, so they don't require bathing unless they roll around in something stinky, sticky, or harmful. When bathing is necessary, a veterinarian-approved canine shampoo can clean the coat without drying the skin. Dalmatians tend to dry very quickly.

The nails need clipping every few weeks to prevent breaks and snagging, and the teeth should be brushed regularly to promote dental health. Drinking water additives and dental treats can protect the teeth and gums between brushings. Weekly ear cleaning is important to remove excess ear wax and check for signs of infection, such as redness, discharge, pain, and odor. Problems should be reported to a veterinarian promptly for professional treatment.

Spotted dogs have a long history in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and have been known by dozens of names over the years. The dog that is now called the Dalmatian has worked as a shepherd, ratter, war dog, firehouse mascot, draft dog, bird dog, trail hound, and in other functions. The breed has a natural affinity for horses and is considered the original coaching dog. Dalmatians ran alongside horse-drawn carriages to discourage stray dogs from approaching and to protect the carriage from highwaymen and other threats.

Dalmatians take their name from Dalmatia, which is a region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. However, the breed likely did not originate in this area of the world. These dogs traveled with nomadic people and may have developed anywhere in the world. The modern Dalmatian developed primarily in England.

This breed is popular in the United States as a companion animal and is beloved for its outgoing personality and unique appearance.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Dalmatian in 1888.