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Quick facts

Dalmatian Group: Non-sporting
Height: 19-23 Inches
Weight: 45-60 pounds
Colors: Black or liver spotted on white background
AKC recognized in: 1888

The Dalmatian, with such exposure as 101 Dalmatians and its adoption as the modern "fire dog" mascot for fire departments, has been the subject of many impulse buys. Unfortunately, since the Dalmatian requires owneres who know the breed, and are willing to take the time to give the dog the training and exercise they require, these impulse buys also resulted in one of the largest number of dogs abandoned or left at a shelter. It also resulted in a lot of irreputable breeders springing up to meet the demand.

The origin of the Dalmatian is the subject of much debate. It is generally agreed that the name comes from Dalmatia, a region of Yugoslavia, but that is where the agreement stops. Pictures of a spotted dog resembling the modern dalmatian have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The gypsies of Romania were known to keep spotted dogs, giving Romania a claim at the origin. There is also fresco in the Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy that was painted around 1360 showing a spotted dog resembling the Dalmatian.

Uses for the Dalmatian are equally as varied as the claims of origin. They have been used as ratters, retrievers, shepherds, war dogs, watch dogs and circus dogs. But the one task that they are most recognized for in modern times is coach dog. This started in England during the Victorian times, when they would trot alongside, under, or in front of of the coach. They would protect the horses from marauding dogs. It is this use that led to its use with the horse drawn fire engines, and its being given the title of "fire dog".


Dalmatian Summary
Affection five paws
Cold Tolerance two paws
Ease of Training three paws
Energy level four paws
Exercise Requirements three paws
Friendliness : Children two paws
Friendliness: Other Animals three paws
Friendliness: Other Pets three paws
Grooming Requirements two paws
Heat Tolerance three paws
Playfulness three paws
Protection Ability three paws
Watchdog Ability four paws

Dalmatians are an extremely loyal breed. They thrive on the companionship of their families, and do not do well if left alone for long periods of time. They also tend to be very protective of their family. This may lead to problems with aggression towards other dogs or strangers, unless socialized from an early age.

Since they were bred partly to run beside carriages, Dalmatians are extremely energetic. They do well with children, but may be too rambunctious with small children around, causing the small child to fall.

Dalmatians have a unique ability to "smile". These are the only dogs with special muscles in their face allowing them to draw back their lips in what almost looks like a snarl, but with no sound. This action is typically thought to be a sign of submission.

Health and Exercise

Dalmatians have an average life expectency of 12 to 14 years.

Potential medical problems with Dalmatians include:

  • Deafness (unfortunately, this is more common in the Dalmatian breed than any other breed)
  • urinary stones (due to a unique inability to metabolize uric acid)
  • hypothyroidism
  • allergies

The Dalmatian requires regular vigorous exercise. It does well with a large fenced in yard to run in, but should not be maintained as an outside dog, due to its need for human companionship and low tolerance for cold.

The Dalmatian requires regular brushing of its coat to remove dead hair.

Visitor Comments

This is your chance to add your feedback. Do you have a Dalmatian in your family, or know one in someone elses? Do you have a story to tell related to that Dalmatian? Or maybe you have more questions that either or another of our visitors might be able to help you with? Feel free to add your comment or question below.

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