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Dalmatian | Breed Info, Pics, Puppies, Facts & Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dalmatian Dog Breed Info

Height: 19 – 23 inches
Weight: 40 – 55 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Colors: White with black spotting
Suitable for: High-energy and attentive owners, owners with training experience
Temperament: Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly, Stubborn

The Dalmatian is a beautiful breed known around the world as the star breed of the animated Disney classic, 101 Dalmatians. They’re instantly recognizable by their white coat with black spots and their elegant and regal stance.

This breed is friendly and highly intelligent, but they get a bit of a bad reputation for not being great with kids — we’ll discuss this in-depth down below! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about these dogs and to decide if this is the right breed for you and your family.Divider 1

Dalmatian Puppies

Dalmatian puppy
Image Credit: Yulia YasPe, Shutterstock

Dalmatians are very smart dogs, but they’re also rather stubborn and willful. This makes for a dog that learns new things in a snap but won’t always want to listen. Things like housebreaking will likely be very easy for these dogs, but you’ll need to commit a lot of time when they’re puppies to proper training. They need constant reinforcement to internalize the fact that you call the shots.

As popular as this breed is in theory, you don’t see many people with Dalmatians on the streets or at dog parks. Part of the reason why this breed isn’t as prevalent as you’d think is due to their extremely high activity level. Many people buy Dalmatians without knowing how much daily exercise they need, and pent up energy in these dogs can very easily lead to unwanted behavior including chewing. Unfortunately, many people surrender these dogs for this reason, so make sure you are capable of exercising your pup extensively before committing to this breed.

Along with their required exercise, these dogs need attention, and a lot of it! Dalmatians are very social animals that love being around their families, and they always want to be involved in everything going on around them. They are likely to be upset or even become depressed if they feel left out of family activities, and they’re happiest when they are the center of attention in your home. You need to be prepared to treat your Dalmatian with an abundance of attention to keep them happy.

You should also know that along with their emotional neediness comes some sensitivity. Dalmatians are very good at understanding your tone, and they will get discouraged or upset easily if they are spoken to in a negative way. Be prepared to treat this breed with a lot of positivity, especially when it comes to training.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Dalmatian

1. Dalmatians Don’t Always Have Spots

You may remember the Dalmatian puppies in the Disney movie having spots, but in reality, Dalmatians are born without them! These pups are born completely white and develop their spots as they grow. You can expect to start seeing spots on Dalmatian pups around two weeks old, and they will continue to appear and darken until they’re just over six months old.

2. Their History is a Bit Unknown

No one really knows when or where this breed originated, but they first became popular in Dalmatia, which is present-day Croatia. There, they were bred as working dogs to lead and protect carriages pulled by horses.

They made their way from Croatia to England working as carriage dogs, and eventually to the United States where they were used for other jobs. You may recognize this breed as the quintessential firehouse dog, and that’s due to their beginnings as carriage dogs. Given their history and affinity for horses from their carriage guarding days, firehouses would keep Dalmatians to lead their then horse-drawn fire engines and clear a path for the horses. They would also serve to protect the firehouses and equipment when they weren’t out in the field working.

3. A Large Percentage of Them Are Deaf

According to research conducted by Louisiana State University, about 8% of all Dalmatians are completely deaf, and over 20% are deaf in one ear. Deafness can be genetic, and even those that are only deaf in one ear can produce offspring that are completely deaf.

Improper breeding following their increased demand after their role in 101 Dalmatians may have exacerbated the prevalence of their hearing issues. However, deafness in Dalmatians has always been a problem. According to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, the gene responsible for their coat colors also leads to a deficiency in their inner ear which causes deafness.

Unfortunately, deaf dogs are far more difficult to train and can become aggressive if startled, so this has led to a significant number of these dogs being relinquished by their owners.

Dalmatian Dog Breed Info
Photo credit: Freepics4you, Pixabay

Temperament & Intelligence of the Dalmatian🧠

Dalmatians not affected by deafness and the associated issues generally have wonderful temperaments. They are intelligent and inquisitive dogs that love to explore and interact with the world and the people around them.

They often switch back and forth between composed and goofy, and they can bring a lot of joy and laughter to their owners. They’re also very emotional pups that love attention and adoration from their human counterparts.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?🏡

Despite their reputation of being aggressive dogs, this breed can make an excellent family pet for the right family. They are very people-oriented, and they will enjoy few things more than being involved in your family’s daily activities, especially if they include being outdoors or active.

These dogs are very good with children, and they’ll seek to protect and care for them in all situations. They do best with older children, but only because they don’t always know their own strength! You will likely never see your Dalmatian purposefully hurting a child, but it is possible that their rambunctious and energetic play leads to a smaller child getting knocked over or injured. For this reason, you should always carefully supervise your kids when playing with this breed.

Not only are these dogs great with family members of all ages, but the more people you have living in your home the better! Dalmatians are among the most energetic dog breeds, so having a larger family can mean each family member adds to play and exercise time for your pup.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?🐶 😽 

Dalmatians don’t have a very high prey drive, so you likely won’t run into issues with bringing one into a home where you have cats or smaller animals. With that being said, your Dalmatian will be naturally curious about their surroundings and won’t let a cat go unintroduced. Because your pup will be very lively and playful, your cat may not take too kindly to your Dalmatian’s attention. You should always be careful with this energetic and muscular dog around any smaller animal, but rest assured that any problems won’t be because your pup doesn’t take well to cats.

You may, however, run into some issues if you have other dogs. They can become aggressive toward other dogs in your home, on walks, or in dog parks. This is especially true if they encounter other dogs of the same sex. This tendency can be coerced out of them for the most part if they are socialized properly and often as puppies. Some aggression may remain depending on your individual dog, especially around food.

To help limit this behavior, you should plan to introduce your Dalmatian to as many people and other dogs as possible. This is most important throughout puppyhood, but continuing socialization through adulthood can help continue proper behavior.Divider 4

Things to Know When Owning a Dalmatian:

Food & Diet Requirements🦴 

Dalmatians are an extremely active breed, and their diet reflects their energy output. You should expect to feed your Dalmatian about three cups of food a day, which is quite a lot for a medium-sized dog.

You may hear or read that Dalmatians, unlike other dog breeds, don’t need a high-protein diet. This is untrue, and what actually should be avoided is a high-purine diet. This breed can have a unique ailment called urolithiasis, which is a tendency for stones to form in the urinary tract, commonly called bladder or kidney stones. This health condition is exacerbated by a high intake of purines, which is a chemical compound found in some meats.

The key phrase here is, “some meats.” Liver and kidney, often used as “filler meats” in commercial dog food, have a high purine content and should be avoided. Your best option for finding a healthy diet for your Dalmatian is to find a dog food that uses high-quality, whole protein sources. If in doubt, speak with your vet to figure out what’s best for your pooch.

Another very important requirement your Dalmatian will have is ample access to fresh water. This same ailment we mentioned that can cause stones to form in the urinary tract can also be made worse by insufficient consumption of liquids. You should be very mindful of your Dalmatian’s water bowl and ensure that they always have access to plenty of water.

Dalmatian Dog Breed Info
Photo credit: 272447, Pixabay


Dalmatians have an extremely high energy level, so exercise is one of the most important things you’ll need to provide your Dalmatian. These pups will need an hour and a half to two hours of vigorous exercise every single day.

Remember, Dalmatians were bred to run alongside carriages for long distances, so there is a lot of energy and power in their lineage. Lack of appropriate exercise for this breed can quickly lead to unwanted behavior like the destruction of furniture, acting out, and over-excited play. You should plan to walk or run with your pooch a few times a day to keep energy levels at a constant and comfortable level.

These dogs are highly intelligent, so you’ll also want to use up some of their energy with toys or games that make them think. Giving your pup a job to do like retrieving a ball or agility training are also great ways to bring their energy down while keeping their minds sharp.


Dalmatians have a high level of intelligence, so their aptitude for learning new tricks will likely impress you. You’ll find that these dogs pick up commands and understand what you’re trying to teach them very quickly.

However, along with that intelligence comes stubbornness and willfulness. Your Dalmatian will likely figure out quickly if and how they can call the shots and be the dominant figure in your household. They’re known as the breed that hears only what they want to hear most of the time.

For this reason, these dogs can be very hard to train. You must begin training very early on, and all commands and tricks you want your pup to learn need to be drilled in over and over again, as your repetition and unwavering dedication to training your Dalmatian will be the only things that stand a chance of breaking their will.

Because they can be a strong and enduring challenge for any owner, it’s recommended that you only commit to this breed if you have experience with owning and training dogs, or if you’re willing to seek professional training help for you and your pup.

Grooming ✂️

Dalmatians have a short, sleek coat that gleams and glistens. They don’t look like a dog that will shed a lot, but looks can be deceiving! If you’re committed to a Dalmatian, consider investing in a high-end vacuum. This breed sheds quite a bit, and they do it throughout the year regardless of the season.

To help cut down on shedding and to keep your dog’s coat looking beautiful and regal, you will need to spend time brushing with a bristle or rubber brush. It’s strongly recommended that you brush every single day. Proper brushing and coat maintenance will also help prevent some minor skin issues that can be common in this breed.

Dalmatian Dog Breed Info
Photo By: Freepics4you, Pixabay

A Dalmatian’s coat is mostly white, but you won’t find it getting dirty very often. You will need to bathe your dog about once a month or even once every other month. In fact, you shouldn’t give your Dalmatian baths more often, as frequent bathing can lead to dry skin and irritation.

These dogs have adorably floppy ears, but longer ears can easily pick up dirt and debris and make them prone to infection. You should wipe your dog’s ears clean once a week or so to remove debris and wax build-up.

With highly active breeds like this, it’s extremely important to keep their nails trimmed. Letting them grow too long will leave them open to cracking and breaking which can be painful for your pup and lead to infection. If you hear your dog’s nails clicking on pavement or your wood floors, get that nail clipper ready!

Lastly, you’ll want to brush your Dalmatian’s teeth every other week or so to help prevent tooth and gum issues. Providing your pooch with some chew toys that promote dental hygiene is a great option as well, but they shouldn’t replace regular brushing.

Health and Conditions❤️

Dalmatians are a healthy and hearty breed, especially considering that they’re a purebred dog. Pure breeds tend to have more health problems, but Dalmatians experience a comparatively smaller number of them, and thankfully most are not life-threatening. Regardless, you should keep a close eye out for the below health conditions and discuss them with your vet as well.

Minor Conditions
  • Mange
  • Microphthalmia
  • Cataracts
  • Skin allergies
  • Dalmatian bronzing syndrome
  • Hip dysplasia
Serious Conditions
  • Deafness
  • Urolithiasis

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Male vs Female

Male Dalmatians are generally larger than females and can weigh about thirty pounds more. They’ll usually carry this weight in their muscle, as both sexes are usually about equivalent in height. You may find males can exhibit more aggression toward other dogs and especially other male dogs if they aren’t socialized properly. While both genders will be stubborn and willful, males might exhibit some more thick-headedness and be a bit more difficult to train. Both sexes will be similar in energy levels as well, so don’t think a female won’t easily tire you out!

See Also:

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Final Thoughts

Dalmatians are wonderful dogs that are sometimes given a bad reputation because of deafness or owners who can’t keep up with their high energy requirements. They’re generally very friendly dogs that will love and protect you above all else. They’re usually good with other people, and they don’t typically exhibit aggression toward children like many people think they do.

These are highly intelligent and cunning dogs, so they will challenge your leadership constantly. They really should only be taken in by families or individuals that are willing to dedicate a lot of time to their training and socialization. The time you put into making them the best versions of themselves possible will be repaid with many years of love, affection, and adoration.

Their beauty and elegance are tough to match, and the connection and companionship you will experience with Dalmatians rivals that of any other breed. If you’re looking for a dog that will stick by your side, protect you, and constantly be on the move with you, the Dalmatian might be the perfect breed for you!

Featured Image Credit: Huskyherz, Pixabay

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