Dalmatian – Active & Friendly Dog Breed


Widely recognized for its strong and masculine physique, the Dalmatian bears strong affinity to horses, marking it as the original coaching dog. While its origin is still debatable, evidence strongly suggests that it served as a guard dog in Croatia during the earlier times.

In the like manner, it has also played a vital role in fighting wars and aiding in fire-related disasters in the US in the 1900’s. But aside from its capability to guard and protect, the Dalmatian also has an undeniable charm that blends very well to any household.

If you have enough room for a dog that loves to actively play a part in day-to-day activities, you would be able to find a loyal, active and charming companion in a Dalmatian.

Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 7 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder (Males: 22-24 inches; Females: 20-22 inches)
Weight: About 48 to 55 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 14 years on an average


Also known as the English Coach Dog or the Carriage Dog, the Dalmatian’s distinct black and brown spots make it highly recognizable. In the earlier centuries, it worked closely with horsemen as it was trained to run alongside horse-drawn carriages, clearing the way for aristocrat passengers. Additionally, the Dalmatian also has a long-standing relationship with firefighters as it is still being employed to guard stations and to project as firehouse mascots in schools.

While the Dalmatian is the only breed that has unique black or brown markings all over the body, its popularity rose even more when it was featured in Walt Disney Studios’ 101 Dalmatians. The movie highlighted some of the remarkable characteristics of the breed such as its high intelligence and energy levels.

If you are considering welcoming a Dalmatian into your household, bear in mind that it needs early training as owners need to establish early rules for proper behavior. The Dalmatian is also popular for being dodged and resolute, so strong, consistent and firm guidance is required to rectify any negative behavior at an early stage.

Furthermore, the Dalmatian is an extremely sensitive breed, making harsh training methods inefficient. In fact, it is said that the Dalmatian doesn’t forget harsh and unruly punishments. Therefore, when training this breed, owners must focus on providing positive rewards to encourage proper behavior.

Lastly, the Dalmatian was genetically wired to run a couple of miles and endlessly engage in physical activities. Hence, homeowners who are not physically active may find it challenging to keep the dog’s energy levels within their control since this breed has the tendency to be easily bored. Likewise, interaction between a Dalmatian and children who are younger than 6 years old should be supervised as the strong, muscular physique of the Dalmatian can pose unwanted and unintentional harm to small children.

To sum up, if you love jogging, exercising or playing sports, the Dalmatian is the perfect match for you as it can absolutely keep up with your active lifestyle. Plus, it is a loyal indoor companion who can guard you and the rest of your family.

Main Highlights

Dalmatian - Main Highlights
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  • The Dalmatian is a highly active dog that necessitates physical activity. Failure to release this energy can lead to the dog’s negative and destructive behavior.
  • The Dalmatian needs firm and strong guidance at an early phase for homeowners to be able to set concrete rules on proper behavior.
  • The dog loves interacting with their human companions, so letting the dog settle inside the house is ideal.
  • Early interaction with children, adults and other household pets is necessary to help the Dalmatian develop its socialization skills even more.

1. Breed History

Highly recognizable due to its black or brown mappings, the origins of the Dalmatian is still a big mystery. While early paintings and engravings of dogs resembling the breed greatly suggest that it originated from Africa, Asia and Europe, some studies reveal that this breed was first sighted as companions of nomadic gypsies. The breed name, “Dalmatian”, was coined in the year 1791 in Dalmatia, a region in the Adriatic Sea, which is now popularly known as Croatia.

Dalmatian - Breed History
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The Dalmatian assumed a variety of roles for their human companions in the earlier years. From acting as sentinels in Croatia to being shepherds, hunters and firehouse mascots, the breed also engaged into performances in circuses since it was extremely capable of retaining information and following instructions. But among all the roles it successfully assumed, the Dalmatian was popular for being a coach dog as it worked alongside horses to ensure the protection of travelers and their baggage.

Additionally, this breed worked with horses and humans to salvage properties and even save casualties in fire-related disasters.

2. Size

Dalmatian - Size
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Male Dalmatians, just like in most breeds, are larger than their female counterparts, with the former reaching 22 to 24 inches and the latter standing at about 20 to 22 inches.

The typical weight, on the other hand, ranges from 55 to 70 pounds for male breeds, while female breeds can weigh as heavy as 40 to 55 pounds.

3. Personality and Character

Dalmatian - Personality and Character
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The Dalmatian is active and intelligent in nature, making it perfect for performing a wide array of tasks. From guarding properties and aristocrat travelers to flawlessly executing circus performances, the Dalmatian’s flexibility makes it a top choice for homeowners.

In addition to that, this dog breed can be easily trained since it loves attention and is eager to please its human companions. However, it can also be resolute especially without proper training, so early guidance is a must. With proper training, the Dalmatian can distinguish parameters and understand the difference between good and inappropriate behavior.

Also, the Dalmatian loves playing and interacting with their human companions, so it is important for owners to include their dog in physical activities. The Dalmatian is a great companion for children aged 6 years old and above, but its highly active persona makes supervision a must if there is a toddler in the home.

4. Health and Potential Problems

Dalmatian - Health and Potential Problems
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Like other breeds, the Dalmatian is also vulnerable to a number of health disorders. While not all Dalmatians may have to deal with these conditions, it is always vital for owners to be more cautious in dealing with their dog companions to eliminate any chance of making them more prone to suffering from these diseases later in life.

If you are considering a Dalmatian, find a breeder that can offer documents that serve as proof that the puppy, along with the parents, is cleared from certain disabilities.

To help you become a better steward of the Dalmatian, below are some of the health conditions common to their bloodline:

  • Deafness: Around 8% of Dalmatians are born with genetically-induced deafness, while approximately 22% can only hear with one ear, and this is mainly because this breed is prone to the deterioration of the nerve group responsible for the detection of sounds. Breeders have the responsibility to test the Dalmatian for deafness before looking for a new home for the puppy. At birth, the Dalmatian is born with closed ears which only fully open after 12 to 16 days.

While home tests like banging metal pans together or stomping the foot on the floor can be used to detect whether the puppy is suffering from deafness or not, this isn’t reliable since the Dalmatian can adapt very well. The dog breed can easily sense vibration, making it extremely responsive. The only confirmative test, the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response, is available in most large specialty hospitals, and the puppy can be tested at as early as 5 weeks.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Another hereditary disorder common amongst Dalmatians, hip dysplasia is a condition usually manifested as the dog ages. It is a health disorder wherein the femur does not fit into the socket, and it can occur even without clinical manifestations. It is prohibited to breed Dalmatians with this condition. Hence, it is vital to look for a clearance from the breeder if you wish to include a Dalmatian in your family.
  • Urinary Tract Stones: Clinically known as urolithiasis, unwanted blockage in the urinary tract system due to the formation of large stones can lead to fatality once immediate care is not provided. This condition occurs because the Dalmatian has a distinctive urinary tract system.

Instead of producing urea, the dog breed produces uric acid, which leaves salt as a by-product, facilitating the formation of stones. Ensuring that the Dalmatian is always hydrated, along with eliminating purine in the diet, can be an effective precautionary measure.

  • Skin Allergy: A lot of Dalmatians suffer from skin allergies that can be caused by three factors—food, contact allergens and airborne allergens. Allergies triggered by the first and second factors can easily be remedied by eliminating the source of the allergic reaction.

Meanwhile, allergies from pollen, dust and other airborne particles often necessitate medication, depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. Owners of the Dalmatian should provide early remedies especially since airborne-induced allergies are associated with ear infection.

5. Care Features

Dalmatian - Care Features
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The Dalmatian is a very active dog breed that demands regular physical exercise. Since the breed has high energy levels, owners should schedule regular walks and exercises; otherwise, the dog would be bored, causing it to act in a disruptive manner.

Moreover, the Dalmatian loves playing an active role in the family, so it is not ideal for owners to keep the dog in the backyard and exclude it from family events and matters. A loving companion that is always thirsty for attention, the Dalmatian is best kept indoors where it can interact with its human companions.

Lastly, it is crucial for owners to monitor the urinary activity of the Dalmatian to ensure that the dog is not suffering from urolithiasis. Also, always keep drinking water accessible to eliminate chances of the formation of stones.

6. Feeding Schedule

Dalmatian - Feeding Schedule
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Just like humans, the Dalmatian also has nutritional requirements which can vary depending on the dog’s size, metabolism and amount of physical activity. The more active the Dalmatian is, the more food it will require to sustain its body’s needs.

While the ideal intake is at around 1.5 or 2 cups of dry food a day which is divided into two feedings, the quality of food also greatly impacts the amount required. The more high-grade the food is, the lesser the dog needs to consume to maintain its holistic health.

7. Coat, Color, and Grooming

Dalmatian - Coat, Color and Grooming
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Aside from its large, masculine build, what makes the Dalmatian more distinctive is its black or dark brown spots or patches. While most of these rounded mappings appear as the pure white Dalmatian puppy ages, a minority of Dalmatians are born with dense patches without any visible white hair.

Patches differ greatly from spots as the former can be visually defined by its sharp edges. Also, the patches are larger than the average Dalmatian spots. Unlike the Dalmatian with rounded black spots, breeds that have patches all over the body are not usually featured in dog shows just like their tri-colored counterparts. Tri-colored Dalmatians can be easily spotted by their tan marking on the leg, chest, head, tail or neck.

Typically, the rounded spots in the majority of Dalmatians are equally distributed into the body, while the leg and the head coating are characterized by fewer spots. Owners can also see visible rounded spots on their ears.

The Dalmatian coating is characterized by its satiny or velvety feel. The hair is short and smooth to touch, making the dog breed perfect for cuddling. Likewise, the Dalmatian is unique because its coating can effortlessly deter dirt, making it easier to maintain and groom.

In terms of brushing, it is important to note that Dalmatian shreds hair daily, so it is vital for owners to comb their dog companion using a semi-soft brush to ensure that the dog’s shredded hair won’t get into their rags and furniture. With regular brushes, the Dalmatian can look perfectly posh with only 3 to 4 bathing sessions throughout the year, thanks to its dirt-repelling coating.

Additionally, owners who would like to prevent gum disease and bad breath can brush their dog’s teeth every day. Tartar build-up, on the other hand, can be inhibited by brushing the dog’s teeth at least 3 times a week.

Also, avoiding painful tears and other problems can be done by cutting the dog’s nails regularly. Owners who are inexperienced in cutting their dog’s nails must ask for guidance from professional groomers.

Lastly, looking for signs of impending health conditions is crucial as owners groom. For instance, bad odor in the Dalmatian’s ears can be a sign of infection. By being knowledgeable about some of the most common danger signs, owners would be able to ensure the overall wellness of their dog as it ages.

8. Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Dalmatian - Children And Other Pets Compatibility
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The Dalmatian is friendly and warm in nature, making it a perfect household companion. However, since this dog breed is highly active, interaction with toddlers and children aged less than 6 years old can lead to accidents. So if you are considering a Dalmatian, closely supervise its contact with younger children.

Nevertheless, if you have a child aged 6 years or over, the Dalmatian is a very ideal companion since this dog breed can keep up with the child’s desire to play. As a responsible owner, just bear in mind that educating the child on the proper ways to socialize and play with the dog is crucial.

By teaching your child the appropriate way to approach and interact with dogs, you would be able to ensure a long and fruitful relationship between your dog and your child. Just remember, no matter what breed or no matter how friendly your pet is, you should always closely supervise child-pet interaction.

In terms of pet compatibility, Dalmatians can socialize well with other household pets as long as they were introduced at an early age. So if you have cats or other pets at home, don’t be afraid to let your puppy mingle and interact with them so you won’t have problems later on.


Loving, warm, and athletic in nature, the Dalmatian is the perfect companion for people who are embracing an active lifestyle. But more than the regular walks and physical exercises, it is essential for your dog to feel included in your family. By giving your dog warmth, love and attention, you can find yourself a loyal companion for life.