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BaxterBoo Blog
March 19, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Dalmatian

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  • Height: 21"- 24”
  • Weight: 53-70 pounds
  • Historical function: Carriage dog, retriever, fireman's mascot, circus dog, guard dog, vermin hunter
  • Modern function: Companion, fire safety mascot, movie star, jogging companion
  • AKC classification: Non-sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Dalmatian's most obvious characteristic is its vivid white coat with black or liver-colored spots. Other colors do exist, however, including lemon spots, blue spots, and tricolored spots. The black and liver-spotted dogs are the most sought after in the show ring. Puppies are born white and develop their spots as they age. Their eyes may be black, brown, or blue. The Dalmatian is large and muscular.

History of the Breed:

The Dalmatian was trained to run alongside carriages to clear the paths for the horses. The dogs would also guard the horses. These carriage guards also became famous for guarding the horse-drawn firetrucks. This dog has also been employed as a hunter, retriever, circus dog, ratter, war dog, and guard. The origin of the Dalmatian is contested but, as their name suggests, one of the roots attributed to their existence is in Dalmatia, a province of Austria on the Eastern shore of the coast of Venice. This dog became exceedingly popular after the release of Disney's "101 Dalmatians" movies, which harmed the breed considerably with indiscriminate breeding, so be sure to use a reputable breeder to ensure good health and temperament. 


With a proud and flashy history of being a carriage dog accompanying and guarding horses both on the move and at the stable, the Dalmatian retains his active athleticism,  courage and protective instincts. He has always been a working dog and excels in many tasks but has also been an excellent companion. This is an intelligent and clownish dog. As deafness is a recurring problem in this breed, be sure to use a reputable breeder, although deaf dogs can also make wonderful pets if the owner is creative for giving visual training signals.

  • Best suited for: Active families, joggers, and people who can give this dog a job.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog needs lots of  exercise, preferably allowed to run in an off-leash area.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Short stiff, smooth hair does shed regularly and it tends to work its way into clothing and furniture. Regular brushing can help remove dead hair. Has two heavy seasonal sheds. This dog does not have a doggie odor.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or run. An active breed with a lot of stamina. Dalmatians not properly exercised can become bored and destructive.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to deafness and high uric acid levels. Keep an eye out for kidney stones and other urinary issues. A special diet is required.

Breed Club Links:  Dalmatian Club of America Perfect Pairings: Short Hair FURminator for Large dogs

Have any stories about a Dalmatian? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Mike Berbezier.

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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