About the Dalmatian breed
The Dalmatian is a stunning dog to look at with distinctive black or liver spots against a beautiful white background.
Dalmatians are a fantastic breed to own, but beware they are a handful and should come with an owners manual all of their own. Their energy and love knows no bounds, they are as individual as each human fingerprint, and they are lively, cunning, dominant and extremely loyal, capable of defending their family home. They are a great family dog and are generally good with children and other pets. Dalmatians have a wonderful characteristic which is to smile when he is happy and there is nothing like coming home and being greeted by a smiling Dal.
Owning a Dalmatian
If you are considering a Dalmatian for your household be aware this is not a breed for the faint-hearted and there are several main points to consider before you decide.
Firstly and most importantly Dalmatians need plenty of exercise, this means not just a couple of half hour jaunts around the local park a day but 1 – 2 hours must be spent walking and running freely off the lead and play time with your Dalmatian. If you cannot offer this for your dog choose another breed, lack of exercise in a Dalmatian leads to boredom which leads to destruction and problems. Ideally it is said if you work full time you should not have a Dalmatian but the majority of us in an ideal world do work and can still offer a stable home, you must be prepared to exercise your dog during your working day and provide stimulus such as puzzle balls etc or have a family/friend/dog walker attend to your Dalmatian during the day. Dalmatians love jogging with you, running alongside a cycle, accompanying you on a horse ride and generally bounding about. Please ensure you have a secure, high fenced garden, of a suitable size.
The Dalmatian is such a loving breed and thrives in an environment with constant companionship and attention, you will find your Dalmatian with you at all parts of your daily life be it doing the housework to leaning against you while watching TV or reading but especially when you are eating just to make sure you have not missed any parts of your lunch, even a few crumbs. They love home comforts and be prepared to have your favourite seat in the house overtaken by your Dalmatian. They are very greedy dogs, they are also very cunning and will construct a game plan to steal anything edible within or out with their reach, be warned. Any situation will be adapted to their advantage.
Dalmatians are very often referred to as being ‘thick’, ‘mad’, ‘loopy’ and 'untrainable'. This is not the case. They are in fact a very clever breed and require specific training to keep them interested. They are a dominant breed regardless of sex although teenage males do pose more of a problem and do require firm but not forceful handling. You must always be prepared to be one step ahead and anticipate their thoughts; this will be continuous throughout their lives. A strict routine is a must with this breed.
They respond very well to reward training and will do anything to please their owner although it will often seem that they look at you and ask on several occasions ‘why are we doing this’. Once trained you can enjoy several activities with your Dalmatian including carriage dog trials and agility at which they excel.
All dogs, whether thoroughbreds or mongrels, are prone to health issues from time to time and the Dalmatian is no exception. Just like other dogs the vast majority of Dalmatians will live happy and healthy lives if properly cared for. Two health issues that are well known to affect Dalmatians are deafness and urinary stones.
Dalmatians are susceptible to hereditary deafness and a proportion of dogs will become deaf in one or both ears during the early weeks of their life. Owning a deaf dog presents certain challenges but with a little extra attention, appropriate training, care and patience they can be every bit as good a pet as a hearing dog.
When a Dalmatian forms Urinary stones it is the result of uric acid produced during the digestion of food containing 'purines'. Dalmatians are incapable of processing uric acid so it is excreted in their urine, however, this can result in deposits of crystals, grit and urinary stones in their bladder which may, in turn, cause inflammation and increase the risk of urinary tract infection. In some cases a urinary stone may pass into the the urinary tract and cause a blockage. This is a serious condition requiring immediate veterinary attention.
Whilst it is important to note that only a few Dalmatians will be stone formers and most will experience no problems in their lifetime, all Dalmatians are incapable of processing uric acid. An inability to process uric acid is a condition Dalmatians have in common with human beings. Whilst the consequences are different for each the same general advice applies and that is to avoid eating foods that have high levels of purines. A list of different foods and purine levels can be found on our Dalmatian diet page and other guidance may be found elsewhere online. If desired, commercial dog food are available that have been specially formulated for Dalmatians. In addition you should always make sure that your Dalmatian has plenty of water to drink and opportunity to urinate frequently.