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Dalmatian Pros & Cons: What to Know Before You Get One

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

dalmatian dog standing in the grass

dalmatian dog standing in the grass

The Dalmatian dog is an ancient breed. They’ve been documented in different cultures for thousands of years. For instance, if you comb through Egyptian history, you’ll learn that King Cheops—the genius that was behind the construction of the Great Pyramid—was a fan of Dalmatians.

And in the recent past, researchers have also discovered Greek frescos (painting on plastered walls) that depicted spotted dogs chasing a boar. Most of the dogs had white coats with black spots, but others had brown ones. Whoever created those paintings was likely trying to describe a Dalmatian breed.

In addition to its rich history, the Dalmatian is also a special breed in the firefighting community. Before the invention of mechanical engines, firefighters relied on this breed to clear pathways for their horse-drawn fire engines. To this date, the Dalmatian is still being used as a firefighting symbol, in honor of their past heroism.

And now that we’re all caught up, it’s time to dive into the reasons why you should or shouldn’t get a Dalmatian as your next pet.

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Pros of Owning a Dalmatian

1. It’s an Intelligent Dog

Even though the Dalmatian’s IQ is not anywhere close to the Border Collie, it still ranks as an averagely intelligent breed. And this is something that we can attest to, as they are known to grasp different concepts faster than other dogs. They say all you have to do to keep a Dalmatian mentally stimulated is to teach them new tricks regularly.

Training a Dalmatian pup is relatively easy. If you’re hoping to teach them how to behave around strangers and other pets, just use positive reinforcement. Don’t ever subject them to harsh discipline, as that will not only affect their motivation but also make them timid.

dalmatian dog on a leash walking with the owner
Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock

2. Dalmatians are Great Backpacking and Hiking Companions

The Dalmatian is not an introverted breed. They are outdoorsy in nature, making them the ideal breed for anyone looking to adopt or purchase a thrill-seeking dog. This breed is always energetic and has a very active personality. It will certainly complement your adventurous lifestyle, especially if you’re the type of person who likes the outdoors.

We recommend you go for medium or large dogs if you are looking for a hiking companion. Well, the Dalmatian checks all the boxes in a hiker’s dog list. Their level of endurance is undoubtedly second to none. Needless to say, they have more than enough pent-up energy to keep up with your pace throughout the day.

3. The Dalmatian Is Naturally Attractive

The Dalmatian’s coat is primarily white. But what distinguishes them from other breeds are the dark spots. The spots are usually black, but some Dalmatians have lemon, brindle, blue, liver, and tan-colored spots.

Also, the general color of their eyes will depend on their genetic hierarchy. Some Dalmatians have amber-colored eyes, some are brown, and others are blue. Something else that’s worth noting is that the puppies don’t have any spots. They are usually born with a white coat, and slowly develop the spots as they age.

dalmatian dog playing on the beach
Image Credit: Iren Key, Shutterstock

4. The Dalmatian Is an Athletic Breed

The Dalmatian community has been part and parcel of various dog competitions for generations. They are known to perform exceptionally well in sports that require high stamina. You’ll never miss one in a scent hurdling contest, obedience competition, flyball activities, or anything that typically demands agility.

This dog also comes with a very strong prey drive, making them suitable for hunting. That being said, as with most dogs, you have to properly train your Dalmatian before signing up for any one of those contests.

5. They’re Great Guard Dogs

The Dalmatian will immediately let you know if someone’s approaching your home, or if a burglar is trying to gain access. Back in the day, they were used as carriage dogs that were tasked with alerting the riders of any incoming threat. Their watchfulness, territorial nature, endurance, and speed made them perfect candidates for the job.

Image Credit: Freepics4you, Pixabay

6. The Dalmatian Loves Hanging Out with Kids and Other Pets

Once they’ve been properly socialized and trained, these dogs make great companions for families. They’ll be loyal to all members of the family, disciplined around them, and ready to adjust according to their environment. But you must introduce them to everyone while they are still young, as it’s more difficult to train an adult dog.

7. Dalmatians are a Low-Maintenance Breed

You’ll be glad to learn that grooming this dog is very simple. It only takes a few minutes to brush the coats, and they are normally cooperative throughout the process.

groomer combing wool of dalmatian
Image Credit: yurakrasil, Shutterstock

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Cons of Owning a Dalmatian

1. Not Suitable for Small Apartments

The Dalmatian is not quite a large dog. We like to describe it as a medium-sized breed, with a muscular build. However, first impressions can sometimes be misleading, because, on the face of it, you’ll assume that they’ll perfectly fit in any small home.

These dogs need a lot of exercise, and preferably a large yard to play in. Some owners will see this as an issue that can easily be remedied by long walks or spending time at the park. But what happens when you get home tired, and it starts to rain? While it’s possible, it’s not recommended.

2. They’re Expensive

Let nobody try to convince you that this dog is cheap because it’ll put a serious dent in your bank accounts. If you’d still really like to own a Dalmatian breed, but you find their prices prohibitive, take the adoption route. They are way cheaper and very much willing to find lifetime companions.

Running dalmatian
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

3. Most Dalmatians Experience Hearing Loss and Deafness

A good number of Dalmatians are either born completely deaf, or deaf in one ear. Experienced vets describe this condition as “unilateral” or “bilateral deafness.” This problem is often hereditary, as it’s the result of a genetic trait that affects the supply of blood to the cochlea.

They are also prone to ear infections, courtesy of their floppy ears. But this is a preventable condition, as all you need to do is to ensure their ears stay clean and dry.

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Is the Dalmatian the Ideal Breed for You?

Well, you must weigh the pros against the cons to get a feel of the compromise that you’ll be required to make. We just want you to remember that this dog thrives in a social environment, and their happiness significantly hinges on physical and mental stimulation.

They never come cheap, unless you’re ready to adopt, and the probability of owning a hearing-impaired Dalmatian is relatively high.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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