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September 21, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0


By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

Are you an active person looking for a dog to keep up with you? Do you want a breed that is quick to protect your home, but also is good-natured? The unique and well known Dalmatian could be the dog you are looking for!

The Dalmatian originates from Dalmatia, a region of Croatia in Eastern Europe dating back to the late 1700's. The Dalmatian we know today most likely came from Great Britain, around the 18th century. Sadly, irresponsible breeding of the Dalmatian came after the success of the 1996 Walt Disney film, 101 Dalmatians (starring Glenn Close & Jeff Daniels), leading to many genetic and deformity issues in this breed. Shelters and rescues were unable to keep up with the demand of Dalmatians being relinquished to them during the late 1990's and early 21st century.

Bred For

This hard working breed was developed in Great Britain as a guardian dog to protect passengers and property, by running along side horse-drawn coaches. They also have a strong hunting instinct, keeping stables free of rodents. Later, with their ability to work well with horses, they were used to run ahead of horse-drawn fire carriages, barking to warn people of the carriage coming and nipping at the heels of the horses to make them run faster. Now, more commonly known as a companion dog, the Dalmatian is often used as a mascot for fire stations working with fire-awareness education programs. They are often referred to as the "Firehouse Dog."


The Dalmatian height is 19-24 inches, and they can weigh between 35-70 pounds.The Dalmatian is notably known for their white body with black spots! Although they are not born with their famous spots, puppies are born all white and start getting spots when about 3 weeks old. Their spots can be black, brown, or liver in color. Other colors can be found in this breed, but are not common, such as brindle, blue, mosaic, orange, or lemon. Their coat is short, smooth, and dense. Long-coats are not unheard of, but are not a common breeding trait. They shed heavily throughout the year and, because their fur is short and stiff, it can be difficult to remove from clothing and upholstery. Daily grooming will be needed. The Dalmatian has a muscular body that is well proportioned. Their ears are high on their head and fold over. The eye coloring can be black, brown, amber, or blue (sometimes with one blue eye and one brown eye).


This breed is known as a very lively and fun-loving breed. They are very comfortable around horses and vehicles. They can be unsure of strangers, but are extremely affectionate towards family and friends. They are not an aggressive breed by nature, however, they have no problem taking the role of a watchdog very seriously. This breed is known to be stubborn, so early training and socialization with your Dalmatian is imperative to ensure they keep their wonderful disposition with other dogs and people! The Dalmatian is a very intelligent dog, making training easy and fun!

Activity Level

Their activity level is high.This breed will do best with a running partner or active family, that is willing to exercise it several times a day. They will require two to three walks daily, for 30-45 minutes each. Use a backpack on your Dalmatian to help drain their energy and give them a job to do. The Dalmatian has a strong work ethic and, if not properly mentally and physically stimulated, they can be extremely destructive and develop severe behavioral problems such as the following: chewing (furniture, walls, and carpeting), barking, aggression, digging, counter-surfing, nipping, and much more. This breed requires every-day stimulation; they are not an apartment or condo type of dog. A fenced in-yard is a must for this breed. Do not assume they are happy to drain their own energy by being in the back yard by themselves. The Dalmatian is a great dog for agility competitions too!

Health Concerns

A typical life span for the Dalmatian is 11-13 years. Health concerns include deafness, liver disease, kidney and bladder stones, skin allergies, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy.

Rescue First

As you begin looking for a Dalmatian, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs but because there is no home for them and are insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!

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Dog Breed Info

Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

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