At a glance
The Dalmatian is a mid-sized, muscular dog admired for his unmistakable spotted coat and his clownish energy and independent personality.
- Names – dal, dali; carriage dog, firehouse dog, plum pudding dog, spotted dick and dalmatiner
- Group – AKC: Non-Sporting Group; KC: Utility
- Size – medium
- Life expectancy – 9-15 years; average of 11
- Cost of ownership – low
- Ease of ownership – medium
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Amount of Exercise – high
- Amount of Grooming – low
- Ease of Training – high
- Obedience level – high
- Suitable for Children – high
- Amount of Care Required – low
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – low
The unique spotted coat of the breed sets it apart: black or liver spots on a white background. Their outline gives the impression of a well-proportioned, high-energy and wiry dog. Their long strides are unhampered, showing smooth, powerful and rhythmic action.
- Bitch 23kg (51lbs) 25kg (55lbs)
- Dog 23kg (51lbs) 25kg (55lbs)
- Bitch 56cm (22″) 58cm (23″)
- Dog 58cm (23″) 61cm (24″)
- Color – The background of the dog is white and features dark-colored rounded spots of various sizes scattered all over it. Spot colors vary from black and brown (or liver), to lemon, dark blue, and even tri colored, brindled, or sable. Solid white is considered a flaw in show competitions.
- Coat – The Dalmatian has a hard, smooth, short and dense coat.
- Shedding – medium
- Allergies – low
- Causes Allergies – medium
Dalmatians are of medium size and possess great energy. They love exploring things that catch their fancy. This dog has been a human companion through much of modern history, showing versatility in roles like vermin hunter, hound, guard dog, coach dog, circus performer and personal shadow.
- Separation Anxiety – high
- Barking tendency – low
- Aggressive tendency – low
- Compatibility with other animals – high
- Suitable for children – high
- Watchdog suitability – high
Dals are outgoing and welcoming dogs that lack tension and aggression. However, if they are not carefully socialized and trained as puppies they can be destructive “whirlwinds”. There are two sides to Dals – They are dedicated, loyal and eager to win over their humans; on the other hand, they can be hyperactive and have a determination that must be properly channeled. On the whole, they are mild-mannered, affectionate dogs who enjoy company and clowning about. That said, their strength and stamina can sometimes be too much of a challenge for some owners. Note: Dals take at least two years to settle down.
Through firm consistent training a Dalmatian can be brought to a high degree of obedience. They can be trained as guard dogs and are good watchdogs.
Dalmatians will want to please their owners when they are provided with the proper guidance; this is not a natural instinct. Dalmatians are a playful breed that seem to make their own decisions, thus this can make training a much bigger challenge than the usual. Those planning to train this dog will also need to accommodate the breed’s short attention span. To appeal to a dali, a trainer or owner will need to use a careful blend of treats, play and praise to catch their attention and focus them on training.
- Obedience – high
In the case of Dals, exercise is a top priority. Dalis that do not have enough walks, play or exercise develop negative behavior traits like escaping the yard or digging. The dog’s nervous energy definitely needs to be refocused. Dals are not good pets for non-active families, a family with kids under three to four years old or an elderly couple. A fenced yard is a must and a Dal will use it to its full potential.
- Energy – high
- Amount required – More than 2 hours a day of play and brisk walks
The best way to take care of a Dal’s physical appearance is through daily grooming and controlled daily walks.
A Dalmatian will thrive on a quality diet consisting of protein, white rice, fruits and vegetables and water. They should be fed twice a day. The plus side to this unprocessed diet is that the dog has less chances of developing urinary problems, which they are prone to. When an owner wants to add the occasional meat, the best protein sources are lamb, chicken and turkey. To appeal even more to the dog’s sense of smell, the rice can be cooked in some types of oils, like olive, safflower, corn, etc. or certain broths (I.E. chicken). Examples of vegetables that can be added are potatoes, green beans and so on.
Examples of foods the dog needs to stay away from are the following: soy, beef organ meat, horse meat by-products, and high fiber products like wheat, oats, and yellow corn.
The Dal’s coat is low maintenance. The short coat sheds throughout the year, so hair will be found in all corners of the house. Shedding can be controlled with daily grooming using a rough towel or a grooming mitt on the coat to remove excess fur.
- Ease of grooming – high
- Amount of grooming – medium
Breeding isn’t for everyone. It takes dedication and skill, as only males and females of a certified pedigree, temperament, and health should be used. Furthermore, it is an expensive and involved process that can be very unforgiving when not carried out properly.
Breeding Dalmatians is particularly difficult and requires a serious understanding of how to mix the right pedigrees to achieve a desirable outcome. In general, only dals with bilateral hearing should be allowed to breed, since dogs with bilateral deafness will be difficult to train. Research shows that Dalmatians with large patches of color present at birth have a lower rate of deafness, and breeding for this trait, which is nevertheless prohibited in the breed standard, may drive down the chances of deafness in the breed. Indeed, patches are a disqualifying factor in Dalmatians since it compromises the dog’s development of the handsome spotted coat. Another physical feature that breeders focus on are blue-eyes, the occurrence of which seem to have a noteworthy (but not solid) link to deafness, a trait not found among brown-eyed Dalmatians.
- Litter size – average of 8 and range of 3 to 13.
- Puppy cost – Average of $560 and a range of $419 to $700
Dals can suffer from hip dysplasia, skin problems and deafness. In addition, the dal’s unique urinary system leaves them prone to the formation of bladder stones.
- Life expectancy – average of 11; range of 9 – 15 years
- Susceptibility to illness – low
- Common health problems – Deafness and Hypopigmentation
Those who are interested in owning a dal need to know that these dogs are not your typical quite and happy-go-lucky breed. It’s sad and true, but fifty percent of people who adopt a Dalmatian puppy do not keep them past the first year because they make inaccurate assumptions about them and are not prepared for their high energy level and strength. Moreover, dals typically only settle down after the first 2 years.
Dalmatians are definitely a poor choice for first-time and uneducated owners that are not willing to invest in the time and patience it takes to train this dog. The importance of training to make a dal’s life meaningful cannot be overemphasized. Beginner trainers will need to brace themselves for a dog with a short attention span, physical strength and a mind of his own.
- Living conditions – A Dalmatian will need an average-sized yard. This breed needs to be kept away from the cold outdoors.
- Good with Children – Those who will really enjoy time with Dalmatians are older, sensible children who know how to channel the dog’s energy.
Some claim the Dalmatian is a Croatian breed. In 1993, the FCI was finally able to acknowledge the Croatian roots of the Dalmatian dog. Throughout history he has had many roles. During the Middle Ages he was a hunting hound. In the 1800’s he became a coach dog and trotted beside (and even among) the horses, then guarded the carriages and horses while the master was occupied elsewhere. The dal was also a perfect riding companion, following his master with exceptional reliability and hardiness, not balking whether his master was on foot, horseback or in a carriage. Throughout the centuries this dog has been a mascot for firemen, a guardian of border citadels, circus performer, vermin hunter, as well as a shepherd and guard dog. In recent years, the Dalmatian has also proven his worth as a fun household companion.
- County or origin – Croatia
- AKA KC name and group: Gun Dog, AKC Non-Sporting
Did you know…
- One theory is the Dalmatian dog takes its name from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, where it is believed the very first stock came from.
- Dal couple Pongo and Perdita were the lead of the hit animated Disney movie “101 Dalmatians.” Pongo has 72 spots, Perdita has 68 and each of the puppies has 32
- The Dalmatians link with fire stations started when it obtained the role of clearing the way for horse drawn fire engines in 19th century London.
- One of the most famous Dalmatians was rock band Sublime frontman Brad Nowell’s pet dog Louie, or “Lou dog”.