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The Dalmatian, although named for the Dalmatia coast on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, probably originated in India and was brought into Europe as early as 2000 B.C. The Dalmatian has been used for many tasks including cart pulling, border patrols, hunting, retrieving, circus performers, but are best known as carriage dogs in Great Britain. They would often move ahead of the carriage to clear the way in populated regions. They were adopted by fire departments in the 1800s for their ability to work with horses as the dogs ran behind the horses under the axles of the firewagons.
Dalmatians are congenial with a great deal of strength and stamina. They are outgoing and friendly with a courteous, gentlemanly demeanor but are also a very determined dog. They are fast, strong, and intelligent with a great deal of endurance thus they need owners who understand their need for exercise and activity.
The Dalmatian head is flat and broad between the ears. It is wrinkle-free. The eyes are round, bright, and set wide apart. Eye color ranges through shades of brown and blue. The bite should be scissor. The ears are of moderate size, set high on the head, then lying alongside the side of the head ending at the bottom of the cheek where they taper to a rounded tip. The neck is long and arched. The legs are straight and the chest is deep but not too wide with a good spring of ribs. Due to their role of moving alongside horse-drawn vehicles for long periods of time, the Dal's motion must be steady and effortless. As their speed increases, they tend toward single tracking. The back is moderately long with a level topline. The tail, which reaches to the hock, tapers to the tip and is carried in a slightly upward curve. The feet are compact with well-arched toes. Dalmatian coats are short, dense and glossy. The base coat is white with clearly defined round spots which are either black or liver in color. They are to be between the size of a half-dollar to a dime. The Dalmatian stands between 19 and 23 inches in height. Many people feel that maintenance of this height is important so the dog can run under the axles of carriages without injury. Their weight averages between 50 and 55 pounds.
Name withheld by request of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania writes:
Dalmatians are not for beginners.
We found Sparky at the SPCA, covered with red blotches and thought he was at least two years old because of his size. He licked my fingers through the wires and won us over. It turns out that he was only six months old and already 65 pounds. The attendant tried to convince us not to adopt him and said he was a nervous wetter and that Dalmatians are stubborn. He also told me that Sparky had been there for a month and he would be put down the next day. We found out from the vet he had systemic mange and over the next year battled this disease which eventually was cured. Sparky is the biggest Dalmatian we ever saw and he is now 100 pounds. We had some submission issues with him which we have not seen in other dogs - this was cured with obedience training, consistency, firmness and forcing him into submissive positions (hard when he is so big). He was not a nervous wetter. We think he was the bully of his litter because of his overbearing manner.
Every summer, allergies bother him as well as the Dalmatian who lives across the street who loses her hair every year. Dalmatians are prone to skin problems. Treatment means lots of special baths and medicine. What I love about him, now seven, is that he is very devoted to us, is wonderful around children, does not roam (a real homebody in fact), plays well with other dogs (after trying to establish pecking order) and is a great footrest for when I am studying. He also gives lots of kisses. He is useless as a guard dog - welcoming everyone to our home. We never had problems with chewing or housebreaking. He is stubborn - learns only what he wants to learn, and appears to be stupid until he opens the gate on the porch and also the door to come in.
I would not recommend this breed to a family who has never had a dog because of the submission issues which our vet, who also has one, says is common in the breed, and also the skin problems which can lead to substantial vet bills. If submission issues are not dealt with, a dog can become aggressive and dangerous. In my opinion, a certain dog savvy is required for this breed. I am glad I had the experience of many dogs before adopting him.
firstname.lastname@example.org of Georgia writes on 3/4/01:
As a breeder, exhibitor and enthusiast of Dalmatians, my observations are as follows: The well bred Dalmatian should be dismissed when seeking a Dal for a companion. In rescue we find a pandora's box of unknowns that often leave the adoptee with a sense of uncertainty with regards to health and temperament. While Dalmatians are in need of homes from back yard breeders trying to earn a buck of the back of the pups they produce, logic and experience have both proven there are not enough homes. The breed is extremely intelligent, very protective and males tend to be more protective overall than females. Having a high chase drive can trigger a tricky situation in homes where the Dal is not well socialized or introduced properly to the antics of small children.This seems to be more upsetting to males than females. Most problems in males occur around puberty when the male may try to challenge the lead human. Neutering can curtail or thwart these efforts and the importance of obedience training is paramount in either sex. Conversly, females have propensity to mood swings and false pregnancies when unspayed. They tend to be silly and even prissy. Mine have jumped over puddles and avoid mud whereas the males like to roll in the mud. The breed is able to outhink most novice owner and may not make a suitable choice for humans who are lethargic, sedentary or asleep on their feet. The Dalmatian is a dog of high intelligence which can turn to a brilliant madness when left idle. One of the most common reasons for Dalmatian surrender is the lack of shared interest in their fascination with just about everything. The Dal can find great joy in chasing a single snowflake or a lowly spider making his way across the dining room table. They delight in same breed play to the point where one cannot tell one bookend from the other. he intermingling of spots and sometimes ferocity of folly can make it hard to determine at which point the owner must say, "somebody is going to get hurt!" Overall, know what you are getting and be ready for the adventure. If one thinks of the Dalmatian as a silent, yet contributing partner, they have a great marriage in species.
Rachelportune@yahoo.com of the U.S. writes on 12/30/00:
Wonderful spotted friend.
My two best friends are defendly my two live spotted dalmatian. Out of the show ring they are my family. They go hiking, swimming, camping and everything with me. They are the prefect breed. Any one with an active life that loves to hike and camp they should should own a Dalmatian. They are a funny, active breed that will make you laugh when you are having a bad day.
email@example.com of Ohio writes on 6/16/00:
Very loyal and family oriented dogs, true velcro.
I have had many breeds of dogs and now have a Dalamatian. I have never had a dog so smart and loving, he wants to have you involved in his play and to be with you every minute of the day. They live up to the name velcro dogs. They are so smart they learn tricks in minutes not days. They are no more hyper then any other dog just that they almost demand that you be included in their play time. I have never had a dog that makes us laugh so much in my life. They seem to live to please you. I will never have anything else but a Dal forever.
Name withheld by request of Auburn, WA writes on 4/1/00:
A very charming and loyal companion.
Dalmatians have a tendence to stay attached to you. They have a great personality and love to be around people.
firstname.lastname@example.org of Australia writes on 3/27/00:
The most loving breed.
Dalmatians are very active, so they need a lot of exersice, they can be a little bit ratty with close family members (play biting) but will not bite or intensionally injure a visitor or friend. They are loving and kind, and will gladly give you a big hug and kiss (even if you don't want it)
MRice1165@aol.com of the US writes on 1/2/00:
Dals are truly wonderful, loyal, and affectionate companions!
To be owned by a Dalmatian is truly a wonderful experience. They are a very loyal, very energetic, and very entertaining breed of dog. They do need daily exercise to expend their abundant energy as they were bred for endurance. They make excellent guardians of their family due to their alertness. They are very intelligent and obedience is a must! They are very quick learners... maybe a little stubborn at times ... but tend to do very well in agility, obedience, and tracking. They do require a firm but gentle hand to guide them. I now have two Dals...beginning with my first one 10 yrs ago. They have been my best friends. I've laughed so much at them as well as with them. They are true comedians! They are affectionately referred to as "velcro" dogs as they do love to be with their people. They don't do well being alone for long periods of time, nor do they do well as outside dogs. It is true that they do shed alot, but daily grooming keeps it down somewhat. To me the hair is worth it! Please do your homework, though, before making an investment in any breed of dog, for it should be a permanent investment for the family, not an expendable one. With any breed there are certain health problems one should be aware of and be ready to accept. If purchasing a dal, there are many wonderful reputable breeders who really make it their goal to produce for the betterment of the breed. Rescue can be a wonderful option also, but perhaps a better option for experienced Dal owners. There are many wonderful dals up for adoption. In summary, my two Dals are one of the great things in my life. I can't imagine not owning (or being owned!) by a Dalmatian!
email@example.com of Phillipsburg, MO writes on 12/25/99:
My Dalmatian is not just a dog.
My Dalmatian is part of the family. I remember when my daughter was teething, she was sitting with my dog, petting him. I was across the room watching them then, I saw her grab his ear and put it in her mouth and before I could say anything or get across the room it was too late she had bitten him. Without whimpering, sniping, or growling he gently scooted out of her way not to knock her over and quitely went into the other room. To me a dog that would tolerate that is a true companion. He was 14 years old this past September and still a gentleman.
firstname.lastname@example.org of Port Crane, NY writes on 10/22/99:
My two Dalmatains are my constant companions. I participate with them in obedience, agility, tracking and road trial training. They certainly are show stoppers in more ways than one. First because of their unique coat color and second because of their antics! Dalmatians have a sense of humor and even the best laid plans and months of training do not mean that the Dal will do what it is you think they should do. In the obedience ring I have had my Dal run to retrieve the dumb bell, stop and look at the crowd and then decide not to retrive. As my Dal returned to me without the dumb bell and looked at my shocked expression, and without another command, she immediately returned over the jump and got the dumb bell. It certainly was a breathtaking expereince and everyone at the show stopped to watch!
email@example.com of Oklahoma City, OK writes on 10/10/99:
Great dog for active dog lovers.
Dals are a wonderful breed for an active dog lover who wants a dog to completely share their life with. They need to be an inside dog as they will pine away for human companionship and may get destructive if left alone outside. They do very well in obedience when positive rewards are given, but are very sentative so a strong correction type of training will turn them off and make them appear stubborn. They can be strong willed and should be obedience trained. Daily exercise is very important as they were bred to run with coaches. They usually do well with other dogs and cats and children over 5. May be too rambunctious for very young children, though not always.I am totally in love with this breed.
Sesby6@aol.com of Massachusetts writes on 10/10/99:
Dalmatians are loving, loyal dogs who are demonstratively affectionate, intelligent and love to be with their people.
Dalmatians are not just visually unique but but also very charismatic. They have personality and an outgoing affectionate nature. Dalmatians are intelligent and enormous fun. They have been called "the Clowns of the Dog World" because they really are entertainers.
Because of their boundless energy they need exercise. They were known as Coaching Dogs bred to run with carriages and firewagons. They still have a prancing gait and are great in agility games. They are not a breed to be ignored or left alone for unreasonable amounts of time. They thrive on human companionship, they enjoy being where ever their people are. They can be quiet companions as well, content to lay at your feet as long as they are close by the family. They are good watch dogs with a sharp bark to alert their master that a visitor has arrived...and they are known for their exuberant greetings.
I have lived with Dalmatians my whole life and cannot imagine my world with out them. Obtaining a Dal bred for temperment and health by a reputable breeder is the best option for a new owner. Because of the popularity of the Dal, made famous by Disney, many poor breedings by unknowledgeable people have produced puppies with problems including poor temperments and increased incidents of deafness. Research is important when choosing a family pet. A healthy, happy, prancing Dalmatian is a wonderful addition to the right family.
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