Dalmation Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Outgoing, athletic, loving, loyal and dignified
19-24 inches
45-70 pounds
Life Span:
11-13 years
Coat Colors:
Black-spotted and liver-spotted
Area of Origin:
Central Europe
Best For:
Active owners/Access to areas for off-leash exercise/Older children.
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Dalmations
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Dalmations
Mixed Breeds:

Dalmation Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Dalmation

  • Instantly recognizable breed

  • Very energetic

  • Training essential


With their unique spots, the Dalmatian is possible the most instantly recognizable breed in the world. Although many may be attracted to the breed, they’re definitely not the right choice for everyone. This is a very energetic dog, and if they don’t get the opportunity for intense exercise, then they’ll become a nightmare to live with.

The Dalmatian combines that physical intensity with high levels of intelligence. So that means that not only do they need their bodies tiring out, but their brains need a good work out too. Training is essential for them to enjoy a life where they can accompany you for trips and become a well-mannered member of society.

Dalmation Breed History

  • Named after the Dalmatia region, now known as Croatia

  • Multi-tasking breed

  • Most famous for their coaching and fire-house roles

The origins of the Dalmatian are one of the most disputed in all the dog world. A whole range of antiquities has been presented in trying to lay claim to their birthplace, including paintings and engravings. However, there is still no certainty as to where the Dalmatian first appeared.

One of the reasons for this is that they were often found accompanying groups of Romanies who moved from area to area. So, this meant that they became well known but not based in any one place. It was during their stay on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea in a province called Dalmatia that the Dalmatian finally got their name.

The Dalmatian’s work history is as varied as the geographical background. They’ve been used as guard dogs, shepherds, and ratters. Then in England, they became coaching dogs. Their role was to clear a path for the horses and then run alongside the coach or between the axels during the journey. When they came to a stop, then their job was to guard the horse and coach.

In the US, the Dalmatian became a firehouse dog. They ran with the horses when called out to a fire and watched over the equipment while the firefighters were at work. Once back at the station, they returned to be the watchdog. Even though most Dalmatians are now family members, there are still many firehouses across the US that have chosen the breed as their mascot.

Dalmation Size & Weight

  • Height 19-23 inches

  • Weight 45-70 pounds

  • A strong and muscular breed


Both males and females fall within the 19 to 23-inch height category, though males are generally taller than females. Their weight varies from 45-70 pounds.

The breed standard, which is published by the American Kennel Club, talks about a dog who should be strong, muscular and active.

Dalmation Personality & Temperament

  • Intelligent and Affectionate

  • A good watchdog

  • Good playmate for older children


Known as the ‘Dal,’ this is an intelligent and affectionate breed. They love to be by the side of their family at all times, so if allowed, they will want to follow you from room to room. They love attention, which makes them great fun to have around, especially when combined with their quick to learn nature.

The flip side to this is that if they are never left alone, then some Dalmatians may then find it difficult to cope when they do need to be by themselves. Building in time when they can learn to be relaxed in their own company is important for every dog.

The Dalmatian is always alert to what’s happening around them, so they make a good watchdog within the home. This is not though a dog who is always serious; they’re also well known for their sense of humor and ability to make you laugh.

Even young children recognize the Dalmatian as the ‘spotty dog, and they can make a great playmate for older children. However, their high energy and whirlwind nature could well be overwhelming for younger children.

The Dalmatian generally gets on well with other dogs. You can give this a helping hand by ensuring they get to meet lots of friendly and gentle older dogs when they’re a pup. Likewise, with cats, they can learn to live with feline companions. Still, the chances of a successful friendship are much higher if introductions are done when your Dalmatian is still young.

With their need to move around and lively nature, it’s unlikely that this is a suitable breed for apartment living.

The Dalmatian enjoys a warmer climate more so than a colder one. During winter months, they’ll appreciate a fleece coat to keep them warm.

Dalmation Health & Grooming

  • Some hereditary conditions which breeders should screen for

  • All pups should be hearing tested before going to a new home

  • Weekly grooming needed


As with all breeds, there are some genetic conditions that you should be aware of and which responsible breeders will screen their dogs for.

Deafness is an issue in the breed, but breeders will have had the parents tested, and the entire litter tested to ensure there are no problems. The BAER test for hearing can be carried out once the youngsters are at least 6 weeks old, so it’s important to check this has been completed and to be shown the paperwork.

Kidney stones are another condition that can affect Dalmatians. The breed has a unique urinary tract system, which then makes them susceptible to the problem. Following feeding advice from your vet may help to reduce the likelihood of this condition becoming a problem.

Hip Dysplasia is caused when the ‘ball and socket’ joint of the hip hasn’t formed correctly. This is a condition that affects many breeds of large dogs and can be checked for through professionally assessed x-rays. When the parents have been assessed as having good hips, they will generally produce pups who are free from this joint problem.

The Dalmatian’s coat is its trademark, and it doesn’t take too much work to keep it in excellent condition. A weekly brush will shift all the dead hairs keeping your Dal looking their best.

It’s a common joke among Dalmatian owners that their dogs only shed at two times: day and night! So, you may soon relegate black clothes to the back of your wardrobe to prevent them from becoming covered in white hair.

Dalmation Training

  • An excellent choice for performance dog sports

  • Reward-based training most effective

  • Prey drive varies between dogs


The Dalmatian loves attention and being with their people. This means that they can be an excellent choice for owners with a keen interest in performance dog sports or just training for the fun of it. All Dals will, though, need to learn basic obedience so that they can become a well-mannered member of the family.

Dalmatians can be very sensitive, so heavy-handed or punishment-based training is likely to very damaging to the relationship between them and their family. Positive, reward-based training is the best option, and with your Dal enjoying the process, they’ll quickly learn what’s required.

Prey drive varies enormously within the breed. Some Dalmatians want to chase anything that moves while others show little interest. This can be an inherited trait, so checking with the breeder if the parents are prey driven might give you an insight as to how your pup will respond.

Dalmation Exercise Requirements

  • An excellent choice for performance dog sports

  • Reward-based training most effective

  • Prey drive varies between dogs


This is a high energy breed. Jogging partner, following a bicycle on traffic-free trails or long hikes in the woods, is the type of exercise the Dalmatian needs on a regular basis. They will need the opportunity to run free every day, and so you will need to think about where you’ll be able to offer this in your local area.

The Dalmatian loves games, so if you’re looking for a playful breed, then they need to be on your shortlist. As with all breeds, teach you Dal the rules of the games and watch out for them becoming overexcited. Combining training with play is a great way to tire both their brains and bodies.

Dalmation Diet & Feeding

  • Chat with your vet or pet nutritionist for professional feeding advice

  • Select a food suitable for your dog's age, size and exercise level

  • Food with low levels of the purine protein is often recommended


For professional advice on the nutritional needs of your Dalmatian, chat with your veterinarian or pet nutritionist.

Most youngsters will stay on a specially formulated puppy food until they’re around 6 months of age. Then they’ll move onto adult food, which should be selected based on your dog’s age, size, and exercise intensity.

Purine is a type of protein found in some foods which can cause kidney problems. With the Dalmatian being susceptible to kidney stones, many owners look for foods with low purine levels. Do chat with your vet or breeder who will be able to make some brand recommendations for you.

You may also be interested in:

Dalmation Rescue Groups

There are times when Dalmatians finds themselves in need of a new family. If you’re interested in offering a rescue dog a new home, we recommend speaking to the breed rescue organizations for help and advice. There are rescue groups across the US including –

Adopt a Spot Virginia –http://www.adoptaspotdalrescue.com/

Dalmatian Rescue of S. Florida – https://dalmatianrescue.com/

Dalmatian Rescue of N. Texas, Inc. – http://www.dalpal.com/

For more information on the Dalmatian, do have a look at the website for the Dalmatian Club of America- https://dalmatianclubofamerica.org/.