What did John Wayne, Picasso, Disney and George Washington all have in common? They all had a special place in their hearts for the highly energetic and distinctive, Dalmatian.
Aside from the fame and historical acquaintances, the Dal is more than just a breed with spots all over their coat. In fact, this medium size dog is so intelligent, the breed can train for most any purpose. From guarding carriages to trailing a scent on a hunt, the Dal can do it all.
So what makes this breed such a worthy companion for your household?
Here is what you need to know about the Dalmatian.
Long ago, before the Dalmatian made appearances on the big screen, they were said to have made appearances in church chronicles and paintings in the 17th century.
While there isn’t any shortage of debate, as to where the Dal truly originates from, the leading thought is Croatia. In fact, the FCI and American Kennel Club designated their country of origin to Croatia.
During the 17th century, the breed appears in the church painting, “Madonna with Jesus and Angles.” This painting is said to have been found inside a church between 1600 to 1630. Furthermore, there are more documents linking the Dalmatian to the province, Dalmatia.
In the 18th century, descriptions of the breed was found in religious works and church chronicles. The work describes a breed similar to or of the Dalmatian, and referring to the dog as Canis Dalmatic.
Historian, Thomas Pennant, in 1771, further substantiates the claim the breed belonging to Dalmatia. Pennant calls the breed “Dalmatian,” and says the breed’s home for sure is Dalmatia.
Again, in 1790, the reference of Dalmatian is said by Thomas Bewick, who also calls the breed, “coach dog.”
With that in mind, the breed may be from that region, yet, without much doubt, the Dal’s development came from England, where the breed made their first appearances in the early 1700’s. English elites fell in love with the Dalmatian’s appearance. In fact, coachmen would use the breed to accompany them and their horses thanks to their flashy and glossy coat.
Between 1795 and 1837, the breed would trot and follow along horses to help put out fires. The Dalmatian was really effective in clearing out paths, but also at keeping up with horses. Aside from those tasks, the Dal was useful at protecting the property, people, and carriage from thieves.
Allegedly, George Washington paid 12 shillings for a female Dalmatian in 1786 from England. A year following, Washington would buy a male dog to mate with Madame Moose. The breed was given recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1888.
Obviously, the breed would gain great notoriety for its unique coat pattern. From celebrities to firehouses around the country, the Dalmatian has become a favorite in the west. Today, the Dal is the 62nd most popular breed in all of American Kennel Club’s rankings. The breed is still a mascot for many fire departments across the United States, and enjoys competing in canine sporting events, as well as a companion.
According to the American Kennel Club, a Dalmatian can stand between 19 to 24 inches in height. The medium size dog can weigh from 45 to 70 pounds.
The Dalmatian is a very intelligent breed that should have an energetic family and master. In fact, a lot of people obtain this breed not fully aware of what they’re getting into. This is a breed that loves to run around, and needs plenty of running space to do so.
They tend to think that they’re the boss, which is where the breed’s independent streak plays a factor. While they do make wonderful guard dog, they are quite capable of being hunting dogs as well. You can train the Dalmatian to serve just about any purpose you desire from them.
Dals want to get out and go for walks. They even want to go for jogs or runs. This is the perfect outdoor dog for an outdoor family. Dals are very perceptive and historically that’s why people would use them as carriage dogs.
They have wonderful stamina and are excellent athletes. Again, this is a breed, that once you establish who is who in the relationship, typically, is easy to train.
The breed does require a family or hand that will commit plenty of their time to the dog. Dalmatians shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. They do require plenty of affection and attention.
As energetic of a dog the breed is outdoors, they do make loyal and loving companions. This is the dog you want if you are looking for a partner in outdoor activities. They do fine with children, but are better with supervision. The same can be said for other dogs.
The Dalmatian is a relatively healthy breed. They can live between 11 to 13 years. That said, there are some concerns with this breed that you should watch out for.
Certain testing and screening should accompany this breed upon purchase. When you deal with a breeder, it’s best to do your research and purchase a Dalmatian from a reputable breeder. They should be able to provide you the proper documentation and health clearances. Also, you should schedule regular visits with the veterinarian to avoid health complications you could avoid.
Deafness is a serious problem that affects the Dalmatian. In fact, according to the Dalmatian Club of America, 1 out of 12 Dalmatians suffer complete deafness. 1 out of 5 will suffer deafness in one ear. You can get hearing tests (BAER) to rule out your Dal or to find out if they suffer from deafness.
The Dalmatian is at low risk for Hip Dysplasia. Even though this complication is of low risk, there is still a possibility. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals study, the Dal is at a 4.4% dysplastic rate, which ranks them 159th. The Belgian Malinois, Aussie Terrier and Rhodesian Ridgeback all hovering in the neighborhood with the Dal. Hip Dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint, that leads to pain, discomfort, and lameness. Bulldogs and Pugs suffer the worst fate for this orthopedic disorder.
Yet one of the bigger issues facing this breed is with thyroids, where Dalmatians rank fifth overall with OFA’s thyroid rankings. The English Setter fares the worst, as Dalmatians barely edge out the Boxer, a breed at number 7. Out of 1300 evaluations, the Dal’s score a 12.1% for autoimmune thyroiditis.
High uric acid levels affect this breed, which causes the Dalmatian to suffer urinary stone issues. Purine reduction and higher amounts of water is one way for you to reduce your Dal’s chances of serious complications with urinary stones. One report is that the HUA affects about 1.8% of Dals with a worst case scenario at 3.5% incident rate.
Some items to be mindful of is skin and allergy issues. Dalmatians are sensitive to the sun, which they can burn easily, thus, resulting in skin cancer. According to the Dalmatian Club of America, out of Dals the club did analyze, the leading cause of death at 32% involves kidney, urinary or liver failure.
These are health complications to be mindful of, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the chances that your Dal will inherit or suffer from any of these conditions. The best practical method is obtaining testing, clearances and having a relationship with your veterinarian.
Most breeders recommend trimming your Dalmatian nails at least once every other month. This helps reduce overgrowth, which can be both painful and damaging to your property. This will also reduce the chances of splitting and cracking. With their floppy ears, there is a good chance of bacteria pooling inside, which could invite bacterial infections. Regular inspections would be best. You should consult with your veterinarian about what kind of precautionary measure to take when your Dal is out in the sun. Bathe as you deem necessary.
The biggest thing about owning the Dalmatian is having the ability to keep up with their high energy needs. A lot of people think they’re getting a complete different dog, one that is mellow. When they first get a Dal, it can be overwhelming, which is one reason so many Dalmatians have wound up at a pet shelter or rescue. Make sure you can handle the energy, you should have the room for your Dal to run around and play with. Exercise is a must, at least 45 minutes to an hour per day.
Early socialization and training is another must. You have to train your Dal to know who is boss and how to interact with strangers, children and pets. Positive and consistent reinforcement is the best measure to get a positive result. That in mind, this is a breed that doesn’t like to be alone for long periods of time. They need constant companionship, and at times, this is a breed that can be stubborn during training. Again, resilience and positivity will go a long way with the Dal.
All in all. this is a breed that is best off with a person who has experience with high energy breeds. Someone with space, as this breed isn’t best with apartment life.
Feeding your Dalmatian may not be the same as you would with other breeds. The Dal must have a high quality protein diet. Moderate amounts of beef, poultry and fish is advisable. You should feed your Dalmatian a top quality kibble at about 3 to 5 cups per day.
Of course, how much your Dal eats isn’t necessary a reflection overall for the breed. Certain factors like activity, metabolism, and age can play a role in how much your Dal eats daily. Regardless, you should watch how much purine your Dal consumes. One suggestion is feeding your Dal lean chicken and turkey with proteins levels at about 20 to 24 percent. This will help with their urinary issues, due to the breed’s inability to properly digest purine.
As always, you should provide your Dalmatian with plenty of fresh drinking water. This is a biggie with the breed.
If you know one thing about the Dalmatian, that is their glossy and sleek looking coat. The trademark spots, which interestingly, no coat of this breed is ever the same with regards to the amount of spots.
Their frequent shedding coat is short and dense, just as it is close fitting with fine hair. It is considerably easy to groom, but weekly brushing will be necessary to keep the coat at a plus.
Aside from the spots, there are no markings for this breed, according to the American Kennel Club’s standards. There are two colors, white and black, white and liver brown.
Fun Dalmatian Facts
- The Dal was once known as the Carriage Dog, Firehouse Dog, Plum Pudding Dog, Leopard Carriage Dog and Spotted Coach Dog.
- Dalmatians are born without spots and as puppies start getting their spots at about three to four weeks.
- According to the United Kennel Club, the Dal may be from India as far as 5,000 years ago.
- The Canadian Kennel Club claims the Dalmatian is the only breed with spots.
- George Washington was a big fan of Dals as well as Terriers, English Spaniel and Hounds.
- Famous Dal owners: Paula Abdul, Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, Michael J Fox, Melanie Griffith, Melissa Joan Hart, Sublime’s Brad Nowell, John Wayne and Pablo Picasso.
The Dalmatian is the perfect dog for someone who loves to hike, jog, or leads a very active lifestyle. Oh, it doesn’t hurt if you are a firefighter by trade and own a horse, as Dals have an affinity for the animal.
One thing can be said about the Dalmatian, and that is, you have to make sure that you area ready for the type of dog with this amount of activity. If you are, and if you can keep up with their energy requirements, then the Dalmatian is a wonderful companion, that is loyal, loving, and highly entertaining.