Dalmatians were bred to run along horse-drawn carriages to keep the road clear; later, they did the same for horse-drawn fire engines. Dalmations and fire fighters have been together ever since.
And, if you've ever watched “101 Dalmations” you know, newborn Dalmations do not have spots. While the spots mark Dalmatians' skin at birth, they don't show through their puppy fur at first. Brown or black hair grows over the spots as they age. Unfortunately, major popularity has been tough on the Dalmatian — overbreeding by unreputable breeders is suspected to have led to health and, potentially, behavior issues in the breed.
Named for a region in present-day Croatia, this medium-sized and high-energy breed can grow to between 40-60 pounds and lives an average of 12-14 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Non-Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Companion
Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 80
FAMILY scenthound, pointer
AREA OF ORIGIN Yugoslavia
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION carriage dog
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 19-23 Weight: 40-60
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 19-23 Weight: 40-60
OTHER NAME none
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Friendly
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Moderately protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A DALMATIAN'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Dalmatians are charming and charismatic dogs. An intelligent, boisterous, funny, energetic breed, they are outgoing, loyal, and affectionate, and—once they've had enough exercise—fairly easygoing.
Built for speed and endurance, Dalmatians are equally happy to work or play as long as they're on the move. They're very affectionate with their chosen people, but their size and enthusiasm mean they play best with supervised children and other dogs. They're moderately friendly toward other pets and strangers.
WHAT IS DALMATIAN BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Dalmatians are athletic dogs who need a lot of exercise. They make excellent running buddies. Boredom and not getting enough mental stimulation can cause issues in the home for this breed that's typically already alert, vigilant, and somewhat protective.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A DALMATIAN?
Dalmatians are somewhat easy to train, but you'll want to start early.
A bored Dalmatian can be hyper or destructive. Be sure to provide plenty of physical and mental activity for your furry friend. This breed excels in agility, obedience, and speed trials.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO DALMATIANS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Dalmatians' single coats are short and sleek. Dalmatians have short hair and require very little grooming. They shed frequently throughout the year. Brush your Dalmatian regularly to help mitigate the shedding.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO DALMATIANS HAVE?
Though Dalmatians are generally healthy, the breed does have several known issues. In particular, these dogs are prone to urinary stones and deafness. You can help minimize urinary issues by feeding your Dalmatian prescription foods or a low-purine diet and providing your furry friend lots of clean water to drink. Keep an eye out for blood in your dog's urine. If you see blood, or if your Dalmatian is having trouble urinating, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately.
Some Dalmatians tend toward obesity, so be mindful about meals and snacks.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE DALMATIANS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Dalmatians among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large and sheddy as a Dalmatian! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A DALMATIAN'S BEST DAY?
Defeating Ms. Deville was a pretty good day, but problematic for the breed. These days a long run alongside your bike, followed by brain-teasers in the backyard and ending with another run and watching movies on the couch are just their speed.
SHOULD I ADOPT A DALMATIAN?
Dalmatians are totally happy to keep you company while you run, jog, hike, or play. This dog would love to train for a marathon with you. They're very intelligent and affectionate but are more comfortable in warm weather than in the cold. The single biggest factor to consider in adopting a Dalmatian is whether you can commit to getting this dog the workout it needs. If you can keep up, a Dalmatian makes a loving and devoted companion.
Have you decided that a Dalmatian is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.