With mysterious origins, the Dalmatian is known as a status symbol in the Regency Period. It is highly prized because of its decorative spots. It was bred to work as a coaching dog, mostly seen beside horse-drawn carriages of nobles. Standing proud, it is 56–61 centimetres tall at the withers and weighs 48–55 pounds. Dalmatian is an active breed and highly intelligent.
Is the Dalmatian one of your options? Here is a brief background of this confident dog with attractive spots.
The origin of the Dalmatian is a mystery. Its name is said to be derived from the now-extinct hound dog named Dama-chien. Whilst other stories suggest that the name was obtained from a province on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea called Dalmatia (now Croatia), presumably its place of origin. One thing that is sure about Dalmatian is that it was bred to work. It was utilised as a guard dog, shepherd, retriever, ratter, circus dog, and coaching dog.
In the nineteenth century, Dalmatian was widely known as ‘the spotted dog coach’ as it was seen to run alongside horse-drawn carriages of the English nobility thanks to its excellent stamina. It also guarded the horses and the coach when they were at rest.
Today, the Dalmatian is a favourite family companion. Because of its high affinity with horses, it is also used as a fire station dog, running with the horses to the fire and sometimes helping rescue people from burning buildings.
Appearance and Grooming
The Dalmatian is a fine-looking, muscular, and medium-size dog. It has incredible endurance and stamina. It weighs 48–55 pounds and stands 56–61 centimetres at the withers. This active and robust dog has a relatively long and flat head that is well-defined with a moderate stop and no loose skin. Dalmatian’s eyes are medium-sized that are either dark in black-spotted dogs or amber in liver-spotted dogs. Ears are also modest in size and set high with broken markings or preferably spotted. Its jaws are strong, its neck is fairly long, and its back is levelled with well-defined withers and well-sprung ribs.
The highly prized Dalmatian coat is smooth to touch with a texture of fine satin. The base colours should be white with either black- or liver-coloured round spots. The spots, being its distinct feature, should be well distributed as much as possible. It sheds considerably year-round, so weekly grooming is recommended. The Dalmatian produces a minimal amount of oil in its coat and lacks the ‘doggie smell,’ so it stays clean compared to other dog breeds.
Other than coat grooming, don't forget to brush the Dalmatian's teeth at least twice a week to avoid bad breath and gum disease. Clean its ears as well to save your dog from the discomfort of a potential infection and the cost of treatment. Make sure to use a veterinarian-approved solution in cleaning your Dal's ears. You should also regularly trim its nails to avoid painful overgrowth.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Dalmatian is a dog born with an almost unlimited energy. It is friendly, outgoing, and rarely aggressive. It is also very dedicated, loyal, and has a strong desire to please. This makes it easy to train through positive reinforcement by using food, praise, and play as rewards. The downside of its attention-seeking and people-pleasing attitude is its tendency to develop separation anxiety.
In spite of being a hyperactive dog, the Dal is ideal for first-time owners, provided that it is given the right amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise. The Dalmatian is an excellent watchdog as it is naturally alert, curious, and interested in everything that goes around it. It is generally good around children since it is a gentle dog by nature. Being an energetic dog, interaction or play may become a bit rough, so supervision is a must.
As for other pets, the Dal rarely shows dominance and aggression toward other dogs if it has been well socialised at a young age. Care must be taken especially for small unknown pets. The Dalmatian is bred to be a hunter, so it will want to chase the neighbours' cats and other small furry pets if given a chance.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical food serving for an adult Dalmatian is 1.5–2 cups of quality dry dog food per day, which must be divided into two meals. Like other dogs, the Dal has a tendency to bloat, so make sure to measure its food and avoid free-feeding. When you're not sure, don't hesitate to ask for advice from a trusted veterinarian.
Typical calorie needs of an adult Dalmatian, weighing 50 pounds, per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 1,170 calories daily
- Typical adult: up to 1,310 calories daily
- Physically active/working dog: up to 1,460 calories daily
It is important to note that the Dal has a sensitive stomach, so it is best to prepare home-cooked food for you to know exactly what your dog is eating. However, if for some instance this is not possible, just pay close attention to dog food labels on store brands. Find quality food with the right nutrition. Also, since Dalmatian lacks a specific enzyme used to digest proteins, it is unable to digest heavy proteins. Undigested proteins can lead to formation of kidney stones, so make sure to limit its intake of organ meat, and drinking water should never be a shortage.
Health and Exercise
The Dalmatian is a generally healthy dog, but it may develop conditions that are inherent to its breed. It can suffer from bloat, hereditary deafness, urolithiasis, hip dysplasia, iris sphincter dysplasia, and food-based skin allergies and contact allergies. If you notice any abnormalities, especially signs of allergies and infection, contact a veterinarian immediately.
The Dalmatian is a working dog that can handle multiple different jobs, so naturally, it has high exercise needs. It needs at least two hours' worth of activities that are mentally and physically stimulating.
Cost of Ownership
If your heart is set on caring for a Dalmatian, you may need to spend £500–£650 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. Getting a pet insurance for your dog is recommended as it can offset bills in case it suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. A time-limited cover can cost you £23 while a lifetime cover can cost £48. This price varies depending on your dog’s age, whether it has pre-existing conditions, and where you live in the UK.
Additional outgoings include food and treat costs, which can be anything from £40 to over £60 a month for high quality food. You also need to get your dog a lead, collar, bed, bowls, and toys. The initial cost for these things is £200 depending on the brand and quality.
Part of ownership is ensuring your dog stays healthy. Hence, it needs routine veterinary consultations, initial vaccinations, boosters, and neutering or spaying (when the time is right), which will cost you around £1,000 annually. In a rough estimation, caring for a Dalmatian can set you back £80-£100 a month. This does not include the fees for grooming and walking services that you may eventually opt for.
Dalmatian Breed Highlights
- The Dalmatian is a hyperactive dog with high exercise needs.
- It is a fine-looking dog with a spotted coat as its unique feature.
- The Dalmatian is loyal, affectionate, and gentle by nature.
- This breed is ideal for first-time dog owners as it is a people-pleaser and easy to train.
- The Dalmatian loves the outdoors and will need at least two hours' worth of exercise daily.
- It can't digest well-dense or heavy proteins like organ meat (else they suffer from kidney stones).
Are you sure the Dalmatian is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.
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