5 Things to Know About Dalmatians

Dalmatians have distinctive markings in their fur that develop after they’re born. Photo:

1. Key Characteristics of Dalmatians

  • AKC Group: Non-Sporting
  • Height: 19–23 inches
  • Weight: 35–75 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10–15 years

Dalmatians are distinctive in their coat pattern and are the only spotted breed, according to the Amereican Kennel Club. Their short coats are white with either black or brown (liver) spots.

2. Where Dalmatians Came From

The Dalmatian is rumored to have come from Dalmatia, off the coast of Austria.

But the origins are confusing. The breed appeared in historical documentations for hundreds of years in a variety of countries before it was titled and listed as a Dalmatian in the mid-18th century. And a painting in Italy in 1360 displayed a dog with spots similar to the Dalmatian, so its original origin is unknown.

The most impressive thing about these dogs? The lack of change in the breed over such a long period of time.

The Dalmatian was a jack of all trades throughout history, holding jobs such as herding, dog of war, fire apparatus follower, retriever and hunter, and is revered as the only coaching dog (protecting horse-drawn carriages).

The breed was registered with the AKC in 1888.

Dalmatians love spending time with their families. Photo:

3. How Friendly Are Dalmatians?

The Dalmatian has a natural protective instinct and moves with purpose. The dog has guarding and herding instincts inherited from centuries of breeding.

This breed is fast, intelligent, alert and active; these dogs are best suited to a family environment and are pretty friendly. The AKC describes the breed as stable and dignified with possible shyness. These pets are energetic and happy, and they thrive on human interaction.

Know that Dalmatians are not suitable for small apartments. And don’t even think about confining them outside in areas of cold weather.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


HIGH: Dalmatians are active pets who need daily exercise. They also have a high endurance level, so they make excellent jogging companions.

Some people report a high energy level in the first year as a cause for some dogs to be returned, but regular, firm training and patience will be rewarding in the long run.

These dogs are bred to follow and need a clear and consistent leader. Place the dog at your side or behind you during daily walks.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: Their coat may be short, but these dogs blow their coat biannually — and shed constantly. Brush yours at least once a week, preferably more.

The only other grooming they require is a nail trim and an occasional ear cleaning. Bathing is usually done only when necessary — these are very clean pets.

Health Problems


MEDIUM: Up to 12% of Dalmatians are born deaf. Deaf puppies can be effectively raised and trained, and puppies should be tested around six weeks old.

This breed is also prone to urinary stones and skin allergies.

Learn more about these friendly spotted dogs in this video:

5. How to Adopt a Dalmatian

Purebred dogs end up in rescues and shelters all the time.

Check out our free adoptable pet search, or ask your local rescues about finding a Dalmatian who’s waiting to come home with you.

Additional Resources

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