Breed of the Month - Dalmatian


Dalmatians are such an iconic breed well known from the Disney hit 101 Dalmatians. Such a dynamic coat makes them unmistakable, with their tell-tale spots and elegant, strong structure. I think Dalmatians make excellent companions for the right homes, but having grown up with a gorgeous liver spotted boy ‘Ralph’ I may be a bit bias.

Below Ralph 2001 

Quick Stats:

Height: 58-61 cm males 56-58 cm females
Standard Colour: White with black or liver spots
Energy level: High
Coat: Short, course, high shedding
Temperament: Outgoing, friendly, playful, intelligent, stubborn, Active
Life span: 10-13 (if only it was longer!)

Dalmatians are not for everyone, they require a lot of attention and exercise to remain happy and healthy. Training should be started as soon as possible, Dals are known for having ‘selective hearing’ this means without good training they can be stubborn. If you start training early with your Dalmatian puppy you can prevent these issues enrolling in a puppy preschool is a fantastic idea to kick start your pups education. Like any dog with a high energy level you will need to walk your Dal regularly or even look into competing in a sport with them, Dalmatians are built for endurance and strength so harnessing that energy for positive activities is vital if you want to avoid bad behaviours like digging or chewing.

Dalmatians are now a popular as a family pet or companion. In the show ring there are many requirements to make a sound Dalmatian. According to the Dalmatian Standard ‘the Dalmatian should be a balanced, strong, muscular, active dog of good demeanour. Symmetrical in outline, free from coarseness and lumber, capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed.’ 

To fit in to breed standard, Dalmatians must not have any patching and can only have black or liver spots which should be rounded non touching and evenly spread. Not all Dalmatians will fit into this standard and will be unable to be shown. There are also other variations of the coat colours in the Dalmatian breed these are rare and not breed standard. This means breeders actively try to avoid breeding dogs with these colours. Dalmatians can have a mix of black and liver spots this is called tri colour, they can have yellow spots this is lemon, they can also have orange spots, blue spots and brindle spots, most breeders will opt to desex a non-standard puppy.

Below we have Heineken a Tri colour male, owned by Joanne West. 

Below we four Lemon spotted Dalmatians (in order) Carly Walker's Lawson, Josiane Kaal's Lemmie, Karina Payne's Summer and Wayne Barker's Radar. 

Below we have an Orange Spotted Dal named Trevor and owned by Maggi De Rozairo. Orange are very similar to lemon and liver but are in fact a seperate coat colour.  

Below we have a Blue girl named Indy you can check out her story and more photos here. we also have an example of a Brindle Spotted Dal. For more info on Dalmatian colours you can check out a faboulous article here


And of course we also have Black and Liver spotted Dalmatians 

Dalmatian spots are created through spots of darker pigment on the skin of the dogs, so a Dalmatian’s skin is pink with dark spots. When a Dalmatian ages the spots around the snout often fade but they can also develop more spots, sometimes these will only be visible on the skin but other times the hair will also begin to grow darker.

Here we have a 12 year old Bitch owned by Juliee Beeby. You can see the lighter spots on her skin that have developed with age, but her fur colour has had no change. 

Dalmatians are a generally robust breed although they do have some health issues to be mindful of. Deafness is a serious health concern in Dalmatians. Researchers now know that deafness in piebald or albino animals is caused due to an absence of mature melanocytes in the inner ear. This is a common condition in breeds with a light pigmentation. Deafness was not recognized by early breeders as they thought the issue to be unintelligence, which may be where Dalmatian’s reputation for selective hearing was born. Since this discovery breeders have been working hard to reduce deafness while still preserving the breed standard. This has been done via BAER testing dogs and only breeding bilateral hearing dogs. Deaf dogs can still make excellent pets in the right environment with the right training, shown above Heinekin a deaf Dal thriving as a pet. Although the Dalmatian Club of America states that deaf pups should always be euthanized and never sold or placed into pet homes.

Hyperuricemia is another health issue that Dalmatians have been known to suffer. The Dalmatian Liver has trouble breaking down uric acid, this can build up in the blood serum causing gout. Uric acid can also be excreted into the urine in high concentration, this causes bladder and kidney stones. You should avoid feeding your diet a diet high in purines, avoid giving Dalmatians food containing, animal by-products, organ meats or high purine ingredients. A low purine diet will reduce the risk of Gout and kidney stones.

A Dalmatian can make a wonderful family pet, sporting dog or just a companion they require a lot of exercise. With their high intelligence and energy level it is important you have the time to devote to entertaining and exercise them for the next 10-13 years. It is also important to take into consideration the health issues they may develop or be born with. If you love Dalmatians and you feel prepared for ownership contact some quality breeders and get to know them, you won’t regret it!

Thank you to all of the lovely people who contributed Photos of these beautiful dogs! 

Comments (1)

  • Kirrily Lewis 19.01.16

    Great read, especially for those looking to get a dalmatian so they know what they would be in for.

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