Choosing a Dalmatian

Easily recognized by his white coat and black spots, the Dalmatian is a good watch dog and natural protector. Also called the Carriage Dog, the Dalmatian has a long history of accompanying their masters on chariots, carriages and even fire engines.

History & Origin

The history of the Dalmatian is uncertain to say the least. Experts disagree as to the country of origin of this breed. Dalmatia, a province of Yugoslavia and formerly of Austria, has claimed the origin of Dalmatians. However, France, India, Greece and several other countries have done likewise. Engravings from ancient Greece depict a spotted dog running behind chariots. This coaching ability is one of many ancient skills the breed possesses. The Dalmatian has proudly followed, preceded and run underneath traveling coaches providing protection from bandits. Nighttime found the pets sleeping beside the horses in the stable guarding the master's belongings. Historically, the Dalmatian has been utilized as a firehouse dog, circus performer, for search and rescue missions, and for hunting and retrieving. Recently, this spotted performer has gained popularity as one of Hollywood's favorite breeds. The American Kennel Club first registered the Dalmatian in 1888. It is classified as a non-sporting breed.


The Dalmatian is a medium-sized dog with a sleek and muscular body. The facial expression is one of intelligence and readiness. The breed has a short, thick coat that lies very close to the body. The spots are black or liver brown and round. They begin to appear at around two weeks of age. Combinations of these colors and/or patches are not acceptable for show dogs. The top of the breed's head is flat. Ears are triangular and pendulous with the tip reaching approximately to the bottom of the cheek. The Dalmatian has blue or brown eyes. Combinations of these colors are acceptable. The nose should be the same color as the spots.


Adult Dalmatians average between 19 and 23 inches at the height of the shoulder and weigh between 45 and 70 pounds.


The Dalmatian is an active, energetic pet well known for undying protection of his owner. While not renowned as a dog that barks excessively, the Dalmatian may become vocal when strangers approach. The breed is usually eager to please his owner though is not too friendly with people they do not know or trust.

Home and Family Relations

This breed generally makes a good family pet. They can get along well with children and other pets if they are introduced while still a puppy. This breed enjoys being active and loves to go for long walks or to run in a big yard. Some owners report that their Dalmatian is curious and likes to explore.


The Dalmatian is an intelligent dog and learns readily. They have been successfully trained for retrieving, rescue, circus performance and as coach dogs. They provide excellent protection. Dalmatians are considered easy to train.

Special Concerns

Dalmatians may exhibit a curious combination of a smile and a snarl, a smarl. Lips may be drawn tightly back away from the teeth. Interestingly, this expression is an indication of a playful mood.

With the popularity of Dalmatians, overbreeding and poor breeding have resulted in temperament problems with the breed. Ethical and diligent breeders are continuing to try to reduce the incidence of aggression and behavior problems within the breed. Make sure you obtain your Dalmatian from a reputable breeder.

Dalmatians shed. Their short white hairs are easily noticeable on your clothes and furniture. Brushing your Dalmatian once or twice a week helps to remove dead hairs from the coat. Dalmatians may have "flaky" skin during winter months when the humidity is lower. Talk with your veterinarian to determine possible treatments. Dalmatians' ears are very thin and have a poorer blood supply compared to the rest of the body. Because of this, frostbite can occur if your pet is left outside for too long in cold weather.

Health Concerns

In following diseases or disorders have been reported in the Dalmatian:

Life Span

The average life span for the Dalmatian is approximately ten to thirteen years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.