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Dalmatians: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

Dalmatians Dog Breed

  • Breed: Dalmatian
  • Origin: Croatia
  • Weight: 24 to 32 kg
  • Height at the withers: 56 to 61 cm
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years
  • Fur: short, dense
  • Colour: white with brown or black spots
  • Temperament: open, persistent, active, enthusiastic, playful, fond of children

Dalmatians: history

The origin of the Dalmatian is not clear. Dalmatian-like dogs are already depicted on ancient Greek frescoes as well as Egyptian pharaoh tombs. There is also the theory that the Dalmatians come from Croatia (Dalmatia), but Italy, England, Turkey, and northern India are also possible countries of origin.

It is also disputed whether the Dalmatian or its ancestors were originally used for hunting. In England, especially in the Victorian era, they served as companion dogs for carriages. They later became the mascots of the New York City Fire Department, since in the 19th century the fire engines were horse-drawn and the dogs ran ahead as live sirens.

In 1890 a uniform FCI standard for the Dalmatian was drawn up. He belongs to FCI Group 6, Section 3, Standard No. 153.

Dalmatians: breed characteristics

Essence and temperament

The Dalmatian is friendly, affectionate, and full of energy and drive. Smart and adaptable, the dog needs a lot of love and is very sensitive to stress. The breed is also very attentive and willing to learn but needs a loving upbringing without any compulsion.

Sometimes the Dalmatian can be stubborn and want to have his own way. Some representatives of the breed also show a slight hunting instinct, which, however, can be easily controlled with the right training. He is neutral towards strangers and protective of his family without becoming aggressive. If he gets used to it as a puppy, the Dalmatian also gets along very well with other pets.

Should something happen to the energetic four-legged friend, he is well protected with the dog health insurance of the DFV. The DFV animal health protection provides up to 100% reimbursement of costs in the event of illness and surgeries. So that the big and small mishaps of everyday life do not lead to ruin, the dog liability insurance of the DFV protects you worldwide against liability damage caused by your four-legged friend. So you are completely protected as a dog owner!


Dalmatians have a very lean, well-proportioned build with a broad chest, muscular shoulders, and a strong back. The sickle-shaped tail, reaching to the hocks, becomes narrower towards the tip. Its color is distinctive with its unique black, sometimes brown spots on the white body, with puppies initially born with an all-white coat. The first spots appear between the tenth and fourteenth days of life.

The high-set hanging ears lie close to the head. The round eyes are dark brown in black-spotted Dalmatians and amber in brown spotted representatives of the breed.

Dalmatian bitches reach a weight of 24-29 kg, while males weigh 27-32 kg. They reach a height of 59 to 61 cm.

Education of Dalmatian puppies

A Dalmatian should be raised consistently, but only with positive reinforcement methods. Too hard and too strict upbringing of the puppy will result in him refusing to cooperate. For this reason, there is a stubborn belief that Dalmatians are stubborn dogs. However, this character trait only becomes apparent in the case of incorrect upbringing and a lack of exercise.

The high sensitivity to tensions within the family is also noticeable in the case of discrepancies on the subject of upbringing. The spotted dogs take advantage when its people disagree about what the dog is forbidden and allowed to do. In this case, he creates his own rules.

Owners should therefore ensure that the puppy follows with clear consequences, instructions, and patience. With clear commands and regular training, the four-legged friend can be made to understand what you want from him and at the same time, he is treated lovingly.

Overall, the Dalmatian is a very inquisitive and fast-learning breed that doesn’t handle punishment well.

Activities with the Dalmatian

The Dalmatian is a scent hound that likes to exercise in the fresh air and, with a lot of stamina and high speed, can easily cover longer distances. Extensive walks and excursions are therefore a must. Dog sports such as agility or obedience are also suitable as activities for the lively four-legged friend. In addition to physical fitness, mental activity should not be ignored. Search games or retrieval are recommended for this.

Sports for the Dalmatian


“Obedience” is derived from the English term for obedience and is now one of the most popular dog sports in Germany. It is all about the perfectly coordinated communication between the two equal partners dog and human.

In obedience, it is important to perform the exercises quickly and precisely. The dog sport is more versatile than the usual obedience training and demands all the senses of the dogs.

In Europe, there are four examination levels: beginner class, class 1, 2, and 3. In addition to the usual obedience elements such as “heel-walk”, “sit”, “down” and “stand” there are other elements. Each level includes ten different exercises of increasing difficulty, e.g. B. Jumping and retrieving over a hurdle, sending ahead into a square, or even identifying smells from several sticks.

The varied training in obedience offers the Dalmatian sufficient physical activity. Due to the changing tasks, he is also mentally challenged at the same time.


Agility is a kind of obstacle course in which, in addition to speed, coordination, precise execution, and mastering the given route together are also important.

Dog owners learn to communicate precisely with body language and to act with foresight. Dogs train their dexterity, increase their condition and learn to pay attention to the body language of their people. In agility, master and dog must be able to harmonize, complement and rely on each other. Agility also strengthens the bond between dogs and humans.

In addition to the classic hurdle race, there are other activities such as running in a tunnel, balancing on a footbridge, running a slalom, or walking over a seesaw.

Dalmatian: care

The short fur of the spotted four-legged friend does not require much care. However, you should know that Dalmatians shed all year round and therefore need to be brushed daily with a rubber curry comb.

Dalmatians: Nutrition

The Dalmatian lacks a certain enzyme that in other dogs breaks down uric acid and converts it into allantoin so that the organism can excrete it. If this mechanism is not present, dogs excrete 10 times the amount of uric acid per day compared to other animals. Because the substance is poorly soluble in water, it can crystallize, resulting in crystals, grit, and urinary stones.

For this reason, a low-purine diet is recommended for most Dalmatians. Purine is mainly found in brewer’s yeast, the brain, and innards such as the spleen, kidneys, and liver. Vegetable feed ingredients such as legumes and some types of grain also contain this ingredient.

When the body breaks down purine, uric acid is formed. Since the Dalmatian itself also produces purines, the amount supplied must be taken into account. He should also drink enough liquid because this is the only way he can excrete a large part of the uric acid through the urine.

The overbreeding of the Dalmatians has also meant that many representatives of the breed suffer from allergies and are sensitive to various feed ingredients such as wheat or certain proteins. In such cases, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, and grain-free food is recommended.

If you are not sure how to feed the Dalmatian, the breeder or a veterinarian can help.

Dalmatians: Typical diseases and breed-related problems

Urinary stones (Dalmatian syndrome)

The altered purine metabolism (purines = components of the cell nuclei) leads to an increased formation of urinary stones in Dalmatians. Purines ingested via the feed cannot be broken down into so-called allantoin, but become uric acid. If too many purines are ingested, the uric acid content in the urine increases, and urinary stones form. The uric acid can no longer go into solution and crystallizes out. The crystals obstruct the renal pelvis, ureter, bladder, and urethra, causing painful spasms, renal colic, and urinary problems in the Dalmatian.

Dalmatian Bronze Syndrome

The Dalmatian Bronze Syndrome refers to a number of different allergic diseases. Not every Dalmatian suffers from it, but there is a disposition. This leads to the formation of blisters and scabs on the skin due to an allergic reaction. The fur turns bronze-like, especially in the head and back area. Hair loss (alopecia) can also occur as the condition progresses. Secondary infection by germs often occurs due to damaged skin.

Food enriched with high-quality fatty acids prevents typical itching attacks. If the cause is a food allergy, you should also switch to hypoallergenic diet food.

Increased mite infestation due to an immune deficiency

The Dalmatian is predisposed to an immune deficiency. Possible triggers are stress or infections. The four-legged friend becomes particularly susceptible to mite infestation (e.g. Demodex). These mites are present in small numbers in almost every healthy dog, and their spread is normally prevented by the body’s immune system. However, if the immune system is weakened, the parasites can multiply unhindered and lead to itching, reddening of the skin, scab formation, and hair loss. In the beginning, the mite infestation manifests itself through severe scratching and biting at the affected skin areas. A feed with added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is recommended to strengthen the immune system and skin health.

Is the Dalmatian right for me?

The Dalmatian is a very time-consuming companion and needs a human pack and solid training. Accordingly, it tends not to suit single people who are rarely at home. Happy, loving, adventurous, and nature-loving people who integrate the dog as a family member and give it the necessary attention are suitable as Dalmatian owners.

Dalmatians are by no means dogs that are kept on the side, as a balance from everyday life, or should only be bought for children.

Is the Dalmatian a family dog?

The Dalmatian is the kind of family dog ​​one would wish for: loyal, fond of children, sociable, playful, and always ready for activities.

In the house, he would like to stay in the same room as his family and is very affectionate and sensitive. The spotted four-legged friend needs a lot of love and attention, which he is happy to give back. He moves calmly and evenly in the living room.

His protective instincts make him a popular watchdog while showing no malice. Nevertheless, this protective motivation should be steered in the right direction so that the will to protect is not directed against all people and animals.

Where does the name Dalmatian come from?

Although the dog breed may not have been native to the Dalmatia region, two well-known zoologists mention the Dalmatian in their works as a dog breed living in Croatia. If one refers to the two scientists, the origin of the Dalmatians is clearly in an area on the Adriatic coast, which corresponds to today’s Croatia and Montenegro.

FAQ about Dalmatians

How much does a Dalmatian cost?

For a sound and healthy Dalmatian puppy, the price from a reputable breeder is between $750 and $1350. Dog puppies should never be offered cheaply by a breeder because species-appropriate dog breeding has its price. If you offer pedigree dogs at low prices, you save on health care, food, or aspects such as the socialization of the puppies.

How did the Dalmatian get his spots?

Corresponding dogs were used for breeding over a long period of time until the gene pool of the breed was modified in such a way that the appearance of the dogs corresponded to today’s “standard”. The Dalmatian’s clearly defined points are a sign of its purebred nature because no other breed of dog has a similar appearance.

Does the Dalmatian tend to be overweight?

In general, Dalmatians do not tend to be overweight, as the breed is very keen on running, active, and has stamina. Nevertheless, the spotted four-legged friends can of course also have too much on their ribs if they are not sufficiently exercised and given plenty of food and treats.

How long can you leave Dalmatians alone?

If you decide to get a Dalmatian, you should have enough time, because the breed is not one of those dogs that can be left alone for many hours. From around 5 months of age, puppies can slowly be introduced to spending some time alone. But even adult dogs should not be left alone for longer than 4 hours.

How big do Dalmatians get?

The Dalmatian is one of the large dog breeds. The height at the withers of males is 56 to 62 cm, the weight according to the breed standard is 27 to 32 kg. The bitch is 54 to 60 cm tall and weighs 24 to 29 kg when fully grown.

All statements are without guarantee.

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