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Dalmatian (Dog Breed Information)

Dalmatian- The Family and Fireman’s Dog

I’m pretty sure we have all seen the movie 101 Dalmatians am I right?  Well just in case you haven’t and you don’t know about this great family dog I’ll fill you in!  The Dalmatian is a stunning canine that is known worldwide for its coat of white with black spots.  This dog is a powerhouse due to the fact that it is muscular, with extremely powerful hindquarters that give it drive with an effortless stride!.

Dalmatians were bred to guard horses and coaches.  They are still to this day instinctively protective.  These dogs are wary of strangers and make great watchdogs.  They are a loyal, smart and loving dog. The Dal would go great with someone who is strong, active and has excellent stamina.  These dogs are a dream for hikers and runners!

At A Glance

  • Breed: Dalmatian
  • Breed Group: Non-Sporting
  • Temperament: Dignified, Smart, Outgoing
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -4/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: Croatia

Breed History

 Did you know the Dalmatian was a guard dog first before it became part of the firefighter force?.  These wonderful dogs were first bred in the early 1800s in Central Europe along the Adriatic sea which was known as Dalmatia a region in Croatia. 

Originally bred for guarding, the Dalmatian was used for protecting coaches that were driven by horses, and to guard the coach and horses while they were left unattended.  Gypsies were the primary users of this dog breed. They would use them as they traveled around Europe. Since the gypsies traveled all over, it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the Dalmatian.  Although researchers have used ancient writing and artifacts to support their theories of placing the birth of Dalmatians in the British Isles, Europe, North Africa, and Asia. But we know for absolute sure they were in Central Europe.

The Dalmatian eventually made its way over to the UK where the British gave them the job of working with firefighters protecting their wire wagons that were driven by horses. What a great and noble job for a dog! 

More History

To this day the Dalmatian is still associated with firefighters, especially in the United States of America.  Back in the day, the canines would guard the horses who were easily scared by fire. Dals were the go-to breed for this particular job given the natural empathy with horses. 

The job became obsolete once the fire engines were powered by steam and diesel.  However, the Dalmatian is used as a mascot for the fire departments and many firefighters have made a Dalmatian their family dog. 

the British gave the Dalmatian names like English Coach Dog, Spotted Dick, and Plum Pudding dog (the spotted coat reminded them of their traditional holiday cake that consisted of dried fruits and nuts.)  They too also used the Dalmatian for their fire departments.  

They became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888 and given the class of “coach dog”

General Appearance

Dalmatians have a very distinctive appearance, they are white with either black or liver spots.  The Dalmatian dog is a medium-sized dog that is alert, muscular, strong and active. With a square-proportioned, athletic body, and sturdy boned, this dog is made for efficiency!  They have high endurance and are speedy. 


The Dalmatian is a medium-sized, well-defined, muscular dog with excellent endurance and stamina.  They may be a medium-sized dog, but they are well built, strong and muscular like a large dog. They did work for the firefighters at one point, and we all know you need a good strong body for the type of work.  

The Dal has a flat skull, with rounded eyes that are brown, gold or blue in color. Pretty sweet eye colors if you ask me!   Their ears are rounded with a slight upward curve. Feet are found and tail carried upward in a partial curve.


Dalmatian puppies are born with white coats that develop spots normally 10 days after their birth. You can see spots on their skin from birth though. These spots continue to appear until the dog is around 18 months old or so.  The spots can range in size from 30 to 60 mm (1.25 to 2.5 in), and are black or liver on a white background. The liver color is the nondominant (just like blue or green eyes in a human) color in dalmatians, meaning that both parents have to carry the liver gene in order to produce puppies with liver spots. If both parents are liver, then all puppies will be liver-spotted, none will have any black spots. 

There have been cases where very rare colors occur like blue/gray, brindle, mosaic, tricolored and Other, more rare colors, include blue (a blue-grayish color), brindle, mosaic, tricolored orange or lemon.  Again very rare.

The Dalmatian coat is usually short, fine, and dense; however, smooth-coated.  Since there hair is short and fine, you will find that it is difficult to get out of the furniture, carpet, and clothing as it weaves in and likes to stay there.  However, with weekly grooming, this will lessen the amount of hair that you will have to clean up.

This dog does not have a lot of oil in its coat, so, therefore, it does not have that dog smell like most other breeds.

Legs & Feet

The legs of a Dalmatian are straight, strong and sturdy in bone making them fast runners and movement steady and effortless.  Their feet Feet are very intense. Both front and rear feet are round and compact with thick, elastic pads and well-arched toes. This also helps them run fast and it also protects their feet. Since I just mentioned protect- the Dalmatian does not do well in cold weather at all, and actually can become cold quite fast, this includes their feet.  Make sure you know how to take care of their paws in the winter.

Tail & Hindquarters

Dalmatians have very powerful and lean hindquarters.  Their tail is carried with a slight upward curve and never docked.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Height (at the withers): 
  • Male: 19-24 inches
  • Female: 19-24 inches
  • Male Weight: : 45-70 pounds
  • Female Weight: : 45-70 pounds

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 26.4 inches
  • Door Width: 16.8 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 32.4 inches
  • Interior House Length: 52.8 inches
  • Interior House Width: 33.6 inches

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $825 USD

Starter Costs: $2,000

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500- $1,000

How The Dalmatian Reacts To


he Dalmatian is good with babies and children, and make a good family dog. They are patient with little ones and protective of them.  They make great guard dogs for you and your family. However, with many dog breeds, the dalmatian will have to be socialized and trained properly to make the perfect family dog.  They are very intelligent and will learn quickly. And although I’m sure I don’t need to say this, although I’ll mention it anyway, a dog and a small child should never be left alone unsupervised.  Accidents happen and we don’t want anybody getting injured.

Other Dogs:   

Dalmatians can be wary of strangers and sometimes aggressive towards other dogs. that is if they have not been socialized.  So as long as your Dalmatian has been socialized then there should be no problems with other dogs.


Dalmatians and cats are known to get along just fine, but early socialization plays a big part in it.  Slow introductions are best, and never leave them alone together when they are first getting to know each other.

Other Animals:

They are truly a family dog and gets along with pretty much any animal.  If you have smaller pets you shouldn’t have to worry about them getting along.  Just remember that socialization and slow introductions are best.

Care Requirements


Dalmatians need a lot of physical activity, and a walk around the block will not do.  These dogs need to run and they really enjoy it. So if you are a hiker or runner and love being active, then this breed is for you.  Walking is great for the first two years as their bones are slow in maturing and running will cause damage to their growing bones. These dogs are very high energy and if they don’t get it out of their system, then they may just cause trouble around the house

Grooming & Coat Info

These guys don’t get to dirty since their coat is very short, so they only really need occasional baths.  They shed ALOT and the short fine hairs get stuck in everything! You will most definitely need a horsehair mitt or rubber comb to pull away the dead hairs and minimize the amount of hair that gets stuck in your clothing and furniture.

Health & Nutrition

Generally a healthy dog, the Dalmatian does have a few issues to be concerned about.  Deafness is a major concern for this breed. A good breeder will screen their stock for this issue.  Dalmatians that are unilaterally deaf (only in one ear) then it will most likely live a normal happy life, but if it is bilaterally deaf (both ears) then a normal life is not likely and they will require special considerations.  Kidney stones are another issue for this breed. Your veterinarian can advise what foods feed to your dog in order to avoid this problem.

The Dalmatian is a pretty good eater, meaning they are not really picky.  They will do well on high-quality dog food. If you decide to feed your Dalmatian human food, make sure you know what is safe and what is not. If you are unsure, contact your veterinarian.


Very important for your Dalmatian puppy is that training starts early and that they are exposed to pleasant situations.  Dalmatians are very sensitive so a positive training environment is very important. Enroll your puppy in puppy training classes and don’t forget early socialization.  These dogs are intelligent, so, therefore, they learn quickly, and grow into a great companion and family dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dalmatians Deaf?

Dalmatians are known to have issues with hearing. If one is unfortunate enough then it can be deaf in one year, which is manageable without any assistance. Then there are ones who can be deaf in both ears, this requires special conditions. Most breeders will screen their stock for this issue. Not all Dalmatians are deaf, it is just a common issue in the breed.

Does The Dalmatians Bark?

The Dalmatian is actually one of the quieter dog breeds. They do not bark a lot unless of course there is a need to, like someone breaking into your house. You can count on this great beast to protect you and your family.

How About Swimming?

Dalmatians are very good swimmers and they love to play in the water and swim. You may want to try out some water dog sports for your Dalmatian.

Do Dalmatians Get Cold?

Dals really do not enjoy the cold weather. They get cold fast, so they should have booties and a winter coat during the winter months to protect it from the cold.


  1. Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds- D. Caroline Ph. D.
  2. American Kennel Club
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Canadian Kennel Club
  5. Dalmatian Club of America

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