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Dalmatian Guide


The Dalmatian is a square-proportioned, athletic dog of good substance and sturdy bone. It is built for efficiency at the trot and great endurance, and its movement should be steady and effortless. The expression is alert and intelligent; the coat short and sleek. The distinctive spots are an essential point of type; solid patches (distinguished from masses of spots by the patch's sharply defined, smooth edges) are a disqualification.


Bred to run for miles, the Dalmatian retains this tireless enthusiasm. It is a playful, eager companion that must get daily hard exercise in a safe area if it is expected to behave at home. It loves to run and may roam. It may be aggressive toward strange dogs, but it is generally good with other pets and is especially good with horses. It may be too energetic for young children. It tends to be reserved toward strangers. It can be stubborn.

Note: Deaf Dalmatians present special training and behavioral problems. They are easily startled and may snap. They are not advised for families with children.


FAMILY scenthound, pointer


DATE OF ORIGIN  Ancient times



AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE  Height: 19-23 Weight: 40-60

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE  Height: 19-23 Weight: 40-60


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

The Dalmatian needs a lot of regular exercise and attention. It needs more than a short walk on leash; it makes a good jogging companion. It can also have its needs met with vigorous games and runs. Although the Dal can live outside in temperate or warm climates, it needs shelter, soft bedding and, most of all, companionship. Thus, it is best allowed to live in the house and play in the yard. The coat needs only minimal care, but more frequent brushing will help remove dead hair.

• Major concerns: deafness, urolithiasis
• Minor concerns: allergies, epilepsy
• Occasionally seen: CHD, vWD
• Suggested tests: hearing
• Life span: 12 – 14 years
• Note: A unique defect of the Dalmatian is its inability to metabolize uric acid into allantoin, which leads to the tendency to form urinary calculi (stones)

The spotted Dalmatian is the most distinctly patterned breed of any dog, but the origin of its coat pattern is unknown. In fact, although art evidence points to an ancient origin, the time and place of the breed's birth is also unknown. It gets it name from Dalmatia, a region in western Yugoslavia, but it probably did not originate there. Their ancestors may have included a small version of the spotted Great Dane or pointers, though this, too, is conjectural. Even the breed's original function is unclear, but that is more likely because of its use in so many roles rather than any lack of employment. These roles included war dog, sentinel, shepherd, draft dog, ratter, retriever, bird dog, trailer and even circus dog. It was as a coach dog in Victorian England, however, that the Dalmatian found its niche. The coach dog served both a practical and esthetic role; it protected the horses from marauding dogs and added a touch of style to the procession. The dogs would trot alongside, in front or beneath the axle (considered the most elegant position) of the coach; interestingly, some evidence exists that coaching position may have a hereditary component. Some of these early dogs apparently had cropped ears. With the advent of the automobile, the Dalmatian lost its place in high society, and its popularity declined. It continued as a coach dog for horse-drawn fire engines, and this association led to its adoption as the modern "fire dog." Its flashy coloration has always ensured that it has been popular as a pet and show dog; however, its feature in popular children's movies has catapulted the breed to one of the most popular breeds in America in the years following the movies' releases.



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