Getting to Know Your Dalmatian

This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Dog Breed we are featuring the Dalmatian. The Dalmatian, with their distinctive spotted coats, is one of the most recognizable breeds in the world.

Life expectancy:  11 - 13 years

Size:  Dalmatians are a larger mid-size breed, weighing in around 45 - 70 lbs and standing about 19 – 24 inches tall.

Color: White with black or brown spots.

Origins:  Like many breeds, the Dalmatian has a disputed heritage with a variety of stories regarding their origins. However, they can definitely be traced to Central Europe along the Adriatic Sea beginning in the early 1800’s, in the region once known as Dalmatia.

Dalmatians have one of the most unique job descriptions, that of ‘coach dog’. Prior to the invention of the automobile, their duty was to prevent stray dogs from interfering with the horses or carriage of horse-drawn carriages and to alert the coachmen to robbers or highwaymen on the road ahead. They would also guard the carriage when not occupied.

They became known as fire dogs because of their association with horse-drawn fire engines.

Personality: The Dalmatian is a very versatile dog and has been used as a guard dog, hunter, retriever and all-round working and sporting dog even though not classified as such by the AKC.

They have a calming effect around horses and other animals, which is how their role as a coach dog evolved.

They are good with children although their energy level is high and they can be somewhat rambunctious, so interaction with younger children should be supervised.

They are intelligent and easy to train as long as you start the training and socialization early in life.

Health Issues: Dalmatians are prone to two specific ailments, deafness and urinary tract stones. The stones develop due to uric acid build up in the bladder and the dogs should be monitored closely to ensure they are urinating regularly. Plenty of fresh water daily is essential.

There is a special test that can be administered to measure their hearing called BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) and all puppies should have it. The Dalmatian Club of America also supports foundations dedicated to researching and reducing both issues.

Fitness/energy level: While Dalmatians make good family pets, they are highly energetic and require a good amount of daily exercise. They have lots of stamina and make a great running partner.

Native foods for the Dalmatian:  Native foods for Dalmatians are foods found in Central Europe and would include rabbits, cattle, roe deer, trout, sturgeon and olives.

Good foods to feed your Dalmatian: Based on the Dalmatian’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Dalmatians would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

Instinct™ Original Original Real Rabbit

Acana™ Singles Beef & Pumpkin

Nulo™ Freestyle Freestyle Senior Trout & Sweet Potato

Fun facts about the Dalmatian:

  • Hollywood helped make the Dalmatian famous through their 101 Dalmatians movies. The original movie based on a novel by Dodie Smith was first released as an animated cartoon in 1961 and again in 1996 as a live-action comedy starring Glenn Close.
  • The Dalmatian continues to be used as a coach dog by Budweiser Beer and acts as a mascot to their team of Clydesdales. The current Budweiser dogs are named Chip, Brewer, and Clyde.
  • Our first President of the United States, George Washington owned a Dalmatian named Madame Moose. 


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