Dalmatian

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Get all the information about the Dalmatian dog breed in our complete guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
11 to 13 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Medium

Temperament:
IntelligentEnergeticRegal
Coat Color:
White With Black SpotsWhite With Liver Spots

Best For

Dalmatians are best for active pet parents who love to run or hike, are willing to provide consistent training and live in a home with a large backyard.

Dalmatian Traits

What makes the Dalmatian a Dalmatian? Let's find out how they stack up.

Dalmatian Temperament

An outgoing personality and a curious mind are a big part of a Dalmatian’s temperament. With a smart and friendly demeanor, the Dalmatian breed rates highly as a pup who’s a good pick for kids. Fortunately, biting isn’t a common problem with this pet, though early and consistent training is still recommended. A Dal may show wariness and even aggression toward strangers; they were bred to guard and protect animals (namely horses), so teaching this canine from puppyhood to become used to new people, places and things is ideal.

The Dalmatian breed is quite competent and will pick up on the various commands and cues in obedience class as they love to learn and play. And if lots of exercise is added to the mix, you’ll allow your Dal to work to their full potential and use their deep energy reserves. Remember—a happy dog is a tired dog!

Dalmatians need human companionship and won’t be happy if you leave them to play by themselves in the backyard. These active pups want to be active with you. Be sure you include them in all your fun.

Other important Dalmatian qualities include a playful nature and the ability to get along with cats and other dogs in the home. But because they’re so high energy, space to run and roam is important. A Dalmatian dog is happiest and best served in a home with access to outdoor space, a yard or large dog run where they can frolic.

Dalmatian intelligence is apparent as this dog’s backstory is one of extensive service. Bred to trot alongside horse-drawn carriages, they’ve worked closely with firefighters, marched in parades and even taken a turn in the spotlight as a circus dog. The Dalmatian is truly one of a kind.

How to Care for a Dalmatian

Gym rats welcome! The Dalmatian breed was bred to run and enjoys every kind of exercise and game a pup parent can think of. And grooming’s a breeze, leaving time for yet another walk and extra rounds of training sessions.

Dalmatian Health

While Dalmatians have a lifespan of 11 to 13 years, they are prone to certain health issues. But that shouldn’t stop you from opening your heart to a Dal. Armed with knowledge about these health concerns, you can help your pup live the longest life possible.

  • Deafness: Unfortunately, some Dal dogs lose their hearing within the first several weeks of life. While the rate of Dalmatian puppies with deafness has dropped by a third, new research shows it currently stands at approximately 18 percent overall. This (likely) inherited trait is more commonly seen in Dalmatians with blue eyes. While there’s no treatment for hearing loss, dogs with unilateral deafness can typically lead normal lives.
  • Bladder Stones: Due to a genetic mutation that causes Dals to secrete elevated uric acid into their blood and urine, urinary stones may develop in the bladder. A dog with this condition may strain to urinate or show blood in the urine—and in some cases, a stone may block the bladder completely, which leads to extreme discomfort. Bladder stones may be treated surgically, or the bladder may be flushed with fluid to remove very small stones. Dogs who’ve had stones are often treated with a diet low in protein and purines (the building blocks of urate crystals), and sometimes medication is prescribed.
  • Environmental Allergies: Dalmatians may develop atopy, which is a sensitivity to environmental allergens like pollen, dust mites and mold. You may notice your dog rubbing their face and licking their paws if atopy is present. A Dal’s allergies can be treated with oral medications, medicated shampoos, monthly injections or immunotherapy.

Search for Adoptable Dalmatians Near You

Dalmatian History

When reaching back to determine the Dalmatian’s history, the results are sort of murky. Indeed, the Dalmatian’s origin has roots all over the globe—in Europe, Asia and Africa—but one region near the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia, can claim proper credit for this dog’s eventual name.

Dalmatians are closely associated with their special skills, including that of coach dogs, which means these animals were tasked to keep the pace of horse-drawn carriages as well as protect their equine pals at rest. The British also became enamored of the attractive Dalmatian, putting them to work in livery stables.

Along with steady work as a shepherd dog, draft dog, coach and carriage dog and even as a circus performer, the Dal’s position as a firehouse mascot is probably the most well-known, and New York City firefighters started the tradition. In the early days, horses pulled the fire trucks, and Dalmatians cleared the path in front of the horses on their way to fight fires.

Dalmatians are also patriotic pups, making appearances alongside the Budweiser Clydesdales in various parades, and they’ve been forever immortalized in the classic Disney cartoon movie “101 Dalmatians.”

Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, this prized pup no longer has to toil with farm animals to earn their keep. Instead, the friendly and intelligent breed is happy at home, especially if they can run and run—and then run some more.

If you’d like to add this cute pup to your household, keep in mind that Dalmatian prices are about $1,500. But for that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. Check out the reputable breeders at the AKC Marketplace. If you’re looking to adopt, contact Dalmatian rescues or look for the breed at local animal shelters.

FAQs

Do Dalmatians shed?

Yes, Dalmatians shed, but you should be able to keep up on your Dal’s gorgeous spotted coat with a weekly brushing.

Are Dalmatians aggressive?

No, Dalmatians aren’t known to be aggressive if they’re well-socialized and properly trained from puppyhood. In fact, the Dal dog rates quite high on the friendly scale. Still, a bit of stranger danger isn’t uncommon, so strive to accustom your pup from an early age to new people and situations.

Are Dalmatians good with kids?

Yes, Dalmatians are good with kids—and this breed isn’t a big biter or barker, two things that, of course, concern children and parents alike. Instead, a Dal is very playful and affectionate, making them nice additions to nearly any type of family.

Are Dalmatians deaf?

A small portion of the Dalmatian population may exhibit deafness, so be certain the breeder you’re considering has tested their animals and is careful to avoid passing the trait down to puppies in future litters.

What are the most popular Dalmatian names?

The most popular Dalmatian names tend to be cheeky, relying on this breed’s telltale spots or Hollywood fame. For example, you could pick the movie names, like Lucky, Penny, Pepper or Patch, or you could use this dog’s black and white markings as inspiration (think Spot, Polka Dot or Freckles). But the easiest way to pick a name is to cruise our definitive list.

What are the most common Dalmatian mixes?

The most common Dalmatian mixes are:

  • Dalmatian-Pitbull mix (Pitmatian)
  • Dalmatian-Golden Retriever mix (Goldmatian)
  • Dalmatian-Lab mix (Dalmador)
  • Dalmatian-Corgi mix (Corgimatian)
  • Dalmatian-Doberman mix (Dobermatian)
  • Dalmatian-Boxer mix (Boxmatian)
Image

Top Takeaways

Full of vigor, friendly and bright, the dashing Dalmatian is a nearly flawless dog package wrapped in a spectacular spotted coat. If you love to run, hike and bike and welcome a little extra attention directed your way when you’re on the town with your pup, consider this breed as your faithful companion.

Expert input provided by veterinarian Carly Fox, DVM, of Animal Medical Center in New York City and Russell Hartstein, certified dog behavior consultant and trainer in Los Angeles and founder of Fun Paw Care.

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