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Adopt a Dalmatian

Dalmatian Dog Breed

Picture: Tim Davis/Photo Researchers


Scenthound, Pointer

Area of origin:


Original function:

carriage dog

Average size of male:

Ht: 19-23, Wt: 40-60

Average size of female:

Ht: 19-23, Wt: 40-60

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Dalmatian Dog Temperament

Bred to run for miles, the Dalmatian retains this tireless enthusiasm. It is a playful, eager companion that must get daily hard exercise in a safe area if he is expected to behave at home. He loves to run and may roam. He is generally good with other pets and is especially good with horses. He tends to be reserved toward strangers. He can be stubborn.

Note: Deaf Dalmatians present special training and behavioral problems. They are not advised for families with children.

Dalmatian Dog Care

The Dalmatian needs a lot of regular exercise and attention. He needs more than a short walk on leash; he makes a good jogging companion. The Dalmatian's needs can also be met with vigorous games and runs. Although the Dal needs shelter, soft bedding and, most of all, companionship. Thus, he is best allowed to live in the house and play in the yard. The coat needs only minimal care, but more frequent brushing will help remove dead hair.

Dalmatian Dog Health

Major concerns: deafness, urolithiasis
Minor concerns: allergies, epilepsy
Occasionally seen: CHD, vWD
Suggested tests: hearing
Life span: 12-14 years
Note: A unique defect of the Dalmatian is its inability to metabolize
uric acid into allantoin, which leads to the tendency to form urinary
calculi (stones).

Interested in the history of the Dalmatian dog breed?

The spotted Dalmatian is the most distinctly patterned breed of any dog, but the origin of his coat pattern is unknown. In fact, although art evidence points to an ancient origin, the time and place of the breed's birth is also unknown. He gets his name from Dalmatia, a region in western Yugoslavia, but probably did not originate there. Their ancestors may have included a small version of the spotted Great Dane or pointers, though this, too, is conjectural. Even the breed's original function is unclear, but that is more likely because of his use in so many roles rather than any lack of employment. These roles included war dog, sentinel, shepherd, draft dog, ratter, retriever, bird dog, trailer and even circus dog. It was as a coach dog in Victorian England, however, that the Dalmatian found his niche. The coach dog served both a practical and aesthetic role; he protected the horses from marauding dogs and added a touch of style to the procession. The dogs would trot alongside, in front or beneath the axle (considered the most elegant position) of the coach; interestingly, some evidence exists that coaching position may have a hereditary component. With the advent of the automobile, the Dalmatian lost his place in high society, and his popularity declined. He continued as a coach dog for horse-drawn fire engines, and this association led to his adoption as the modern 'fire dog'. His flashy coloration has always ensured that he has been popular as a pet and show dog; however, his feature in popular children's movies has catapulted the breed to one of the most popular breeds in America in the years following the movie releases.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Dalmatian Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Dalmatians ready for adoption:

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