Get to know the Dalmatian
All you need to know about the breed
Immortalised in the animated Disney classic, 101 Dalmatians – how could we not mention it? – these beautiful animals make great canine companions. Energetic, affectionate and playful, Dalmatians have a lovely temperament and form close attachments to their human families. With their short, smooth coats, which come in either a black or liver colouring, they are also easy to take care of grooming-wise.
As accomplished sporting dogs, however, Dalmatians do need a decent amount of exercise each day. Got some well-worn running shoes? A Dalmation might just be your perfect jogging partner then. Long walks work too! In any event, with their athletic and muscular frames, the Dalmatian needs high levels of activity to keep them happy.
Originally thought to hail from Croatia, where they were used as hunting dogs, Dalmatians were later imported into Britain. There, they were utilised as coach dogs. It was here that the breed was also formally recognised, in 1890, with the creation of the first Dalmatian Club.
In another interesting chapter in their story, the Dalmatian went on to become synonymous with the fire service – especially in the US where they are an official mascot for the brigade to this day. Because of their background as coach-leading dogs, Dalmatians were used to guard the horses that would pull the fire carts. Even now, many firefighters choose to have a Dalmatian as a pet.
In more recent years, the Dalmatian experienced a huge spike in popularity thanks to their forays on the silver screen. As well as the 1961 Disney film, which was itself adapted from the novel of the same name by British author Dodie Smith, there were various other later spin-offs.
Sadly, though, this also meant that many Dalmatians ended up with inexperienced owners, who bought them for their children, with little idea of how to look after them. Thankfully, that situation has now abated – and, with the right care and plenty of exercise, Dalmatians are thriving in family homes across the world.
2 facts about Dalmatians
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Dalmatian
One possible yet common problem in Dalmatians:deafness
Sadly, more than 15% of dogs are affected to some degree – with prevalence as high as 30% in the US, according to some estimates. Around 5% are deaf in both ears. As well as the obvious risk of injury from accidents, it can also make it harder to train them, though certainly not impossible. In fact, because they are bright, they can easily learn sign language if their owner is willing to invent it. Linked to a gene in the Dalmatian’s piebald colouring, the condition is hereditary. However, reputable breeders will always check for hearing loss in the potential parents first, which can reduce the chance of it occurring in the litter, and the puppies themselves can be tested too. Thankfully, Dalmatians with only partial hearing loss can get by just fine and live a fairly normal life.
Another thing to watch out for is bladder or kidney stones
Although a typically healthy breed of dog, with a pretty good lifespan, Dalmatians can be prone to some complaints. One of these is a condition called hyperuricosuria – where elevated levels of uric acid in their urine can lead to the formation of bladder/kidney stones. However, the good news is that a carefully managed diet can go a long way towards prevention (see our ‘Healthy Diet, Healthier Dog’ section for more on feeding your Dalmatian). Also, if stones do develop, they can be removed through methods such as lithotripsy (ultrasonographic breaking of the stones). As a last resort, surgery is an option too. With the help of your vet, you can get a head start on possible treatments.
For their mental and physical well-being, Dalmatians need plenty of exercice
While all dogs require a certain level of daily activity, this is particularly important for the Dalmatian. With their sporty, agile bodies and working heritage, they thrive on outdoor physical exercise – and, as highly intelligent animals, they need the mental stimulation too. Kept confined for too long, this can lead to excess energy and, potentially, destructive behaviour in your Dalmatian. This, in turn, will lead to both an unhappy dog and owner. So, regular long walks – and ideally runs – are vital to their overall well-being. For more helpful facts on the Dalmatian’s exercise and training, check out the relevant sections below.