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Dalmatian

Nicole Cosgrove

June 25, 2021

dalmatian red collar_pxfuel laying down

Height 22 to 24 inches
Weight 45 to 70 pounds
Lifespan 11-16 years
Colors White with black spots or brown spots (liver)
Suitable for Families, Active lifestyles, Dog owners with some experience
Temperament Sociable, Affectionate, Intelligent, Loyal

Dalmatians have a reputation for being dogs who like to hang out in firehouses or fire engines. No, this is not just a mistaken popular perception. When they were introduced to Western Europe and England specifically in the 1700s, they began to be used as coach dogs. They ran alongside carriage cars to protect them from thieves and other assailants. These carriages were also used for fire departments. And so began the popular association of Dalmatians with fire departments. Dalmatians may not actually originate from Dalmatia (there are ancient Egyptian depictions of this breed).

But regardless of their origin, they remain today as some of the most intelligent, loyal, and outright fun dogs to be around, especially when they are trained well. However, this requires some serious dedication from the owner of the Dalmatian. Serious consideration should be given to the demand that this pup will place on an owner, especially if the owner has a more sedentary lifestyle. These dogs will fill your life with fun and excitement, but if you can’t keep up, you might find yourself in over your head. So, before you take the leap, here’s what you need to know about our favorite white and black spotted friend!

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Dalmatian Puppies – Before You Buy…

dalmatian puppy_Annette Kurka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Annette Kurka, Shutterstock
Energy
Shedding
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Dalmatian Puppies?

You should know that one of these pups usually runs anywhere from $700 to $2,000 from a qualified breeder. Dalmatians are purebred which generally cost more. When you are buying this pup, you’re not paying just for the cuteness that you can see, you’re also paying for all of the testing and vaccinations that have been done to ensure health and well-being. If you plan to get a dalmatian pup from a pet store, you’re looking at $400 to $700.

3 Little-Known Facts About Dalmatian

1. Dalmatians Aren’t Born with Spots

Both black spotted and liver spotted Dalmatians are born without spots. Instead, the spots start to develop around 4 weeks of age. In fact, the spots are present at birth but not visible at first.

2. Their Spots Are Spotty

Just as a snowflake has its own unique structure, so the dalmatian takes spots each with its own size and shape. They are not scattered across the coat evenly (or on the inside of their mouth!).

3. They Are Prone to Inherited Deafness

As good as their health is in other respects, 18% of dals are affected by at least partial deafness.divider-dog paw

Temperament & Intelligence of the Dalmatian

Dalmatian_TheOtherKev, Pixabay
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

These dogs are a great choice for families with plenty of energy. If a family is more prone to lounging like a couch potato, this is not the dog for them. They do well with children, but play should always be supervised. They are loyal to their owners and play well with the family, especially if they are trained and socialized well from an early age.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Dalmatians playing_Andrew Laity, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Andrew Laity, Shutterstock

There is no guarantee that dalmatian is going to have a perfectly cooperative experience with your pets. However, if you train them well and socialize them with these same pets when the dalmatians are puppies, there should be no problem.

Things to Know When Owning a Dalmatian:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Dalmatians use a lot of energy, so they require a high protein diet. But they can also not process purines which are found in beef and liver. Dog food with low or zero purines is optimal for dalmatians. Make sure to give your dalmatian organic food that doesn’t have any added fillers in it.

Exercise 🐕

Dalmatians need plenty of exercise. Remember that they were bred to run alongside carriages and could run 20 to 30 miles in a day easily. This means they must not be apartment living dogs. If you have a big yard, that can work for a lot of them. However, you’ll need to take them out frequently to the dog park, hiking trail, or other excursions.

Running dalmatian_Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

It is interesting to note that the demand for Dalmatian puppies increases every time there is a new release in the series of 101 Dalmatians. Many people become elated at the opportunity to own one of these pups. But when they roll about of bed to pour their cup of coffee and this white and black spotted friend is jumping onto them, they might realize that their two lifestyles are incompatible.

Dalmatians require plenty of training from a young age. They need obedience training (shake, sit, roll over, etc.). They also need to be able to run free and work their lungs. The training isn’t necessarily difficult as they are mostly agreeable pups. The challenge is primarily the time commitment. But don’t get frustrated if it’s taking too much time! Dals are sociable and can be sensitive to their owner’s emotions. Be sure to give consistent positive reinforcement for good behaviors while training.

Grooming ✂️

dalmatian in grass_Piqsels

There is a joke often told among Dalmatian owners about their pups shedding. “They shed only twice a year. The first time is for six months in the Spring and Summer. The second time is for six months in the Fall and Winter.” They shed A LOT. You don’t even need to brush them all that much because their coat doesn’t get too long and matted. But you will be picking up a lot of hair, especially if they spend most of their time indoors.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Dals are spry and when exercised and trained properly, they will live a long life with your family, up to 16 years! But they are not without health issues at times. Fortunately, most of these conditions are not insurmountable and since many dals are affected by them, there is a wealth of resources for how to best deal with each condition.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts – Clouding of the eye lens which can obstruct vision. This is the leading cause of blindness in older dalmatians. But most often cataracts are just a nuisance.
  • Microphthalmia – A congenital condition where the dog is born with abnormally small eyes.
  • Dal Crud (Dalmatian Bronzing Syndrome) – A condition characterized by hair loss, dried and crusty patches of skin, and bronzing skin. It is not fully known whether this is caused by genetics, allergies, environment, stress, diet changes, or any combination of these.
Serious Conditions
  • Congenital Deafness – 18% of dalmatians are afflicted with congenital deafness in at least one ear. This means that they are born with this condition. At six weeks, the dalmatians ought to undergo a Baer Hearing test, where their brain waves are measured to see whether or not they can hear in both of their ears.
  • Kidney and Bladder stones – Since dalmatians cannot process purines, this becomes challenging. The final step in the process of processing purines is the conversion of uric acid to allantoin. As a result, their urine contains a high amount of uric acid which can eventually form stones in the bladder.
  • Hip Dysplasia – This condition is common in dogs, especially larger dogs. While the dalmatian is not a very large dog, it nevertheless has affected him as well. This skeletal condition is characterized as improper alignment of ball and socket in joints. Instead of a proper alignment allowing a fluid movement, there is friction in the joint which causes damage and can eventually make the joint unusable.
  • Congenital Laryngeal Paralysis – Various cartilage plates form the structure of the voice box (larynx). When the nerves in the muscles surrounding the larynx are paralyzed, the muscles weaken and the cartilage can collapse, negatively affecting the airways. This is usually found in older dogs but dalmatians can develop it quite early on.

Male vs Female

The males tend to be taller and stronger. Females will be in heat about twice a year. They may also have false pregnancies and mood swings.

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Final Thoughts

As much as the breed has seen increased popularity due to the 101 Dalmatians series, it hasn’t done great things for the breed. There has been an increased demand for dals since the Disney films have hit theaters. But people focus on the cuteness and forget that these are extremely energetic dogs that take a time commitment. As a result, many newly adopted dalmatians are returned to the humane society. Pups purchased from breeders make their first trip to the humane society after their owners give up.

But if you think this dog is right for you and are fully committed to raising him right, this firehouse dog can be in your family’s home entertaining you for years to come!

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Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.