Breed Category: Non-Sporting
Country of Origin: Croatia
Average Size: 50-60 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 17-30 kg
Average Life Span: 10-12 years
Grooming Requirements: Medium
Exercise Requirements: High
The Dalmatian is a large dog that originates in the Croatian region of Dalmatia. The breed is said to have then been refined and developed in England. It was originally bred as a carriage dog, accompanying horse-drawn carts and protecting passengers and horses throughout the ride.
A spotted dog similar in appearance to the Dalmatian was captured in artwork from the 18th century and while it may have existed earlier, the breed did not reach popularity until it became a carriage dog in the 19th century.
It was then used to guard the large, fast and powerful horses that pulled carriages of water at local firehouses. Upon the advent of vehicles that rendered horse-drawn carriages unnecessary, the Dalmatian continued its association with fire stations. Though it can still be found in firehouses throughout the world, it is now kept most commonly as a family pet.
The short, sleek coat of the Dalmatian highlights its tall, lean and muscular body. The breed had the strength and stamina to accompany carriages on journeys in centuries past and is still known for its endurance today.
The Dalmatian typically stands at 50-60 cm in height with an average weight of 17-30 kg. Males are larger and tend to have a thicker frame than their female counterparts. The eyes of this breed are usually brown, though some have one or two blue eyes. They have large, floppy ears that fold downward. The tail of this breed is naturally long and thick.
Dalmatian puppies are born with a pure white coat and develop their spots shortly after birth. Their renowned spots are usually black or brown in colour and appear throughout the dog’s body. The coat is thick and sheds significantly, so frequent brushing is recommended.
The Dalmatian is known for its endurance, but it is also a playful and smart breed. It has a natural affinity for other animals, particularly horses since the two animals worked so well together in their carriage days. Though they are generally well-suited for families, care should be taken around small children and animals because it is a large breed that may play roughly.
This is an athletic breed that requires lots of exercise in order to expend energy and remain physically fit. It enjoys long walks, jogs or time spent outdoors playing fetch. Exercise is also crucial to the breed’s mental health, as boredom and lack of physical activity can negatively affect its behaviour. The Dalmatian thrives on activity and human companionship and is known to be extremely loyal and dedicated.
The Dalmatian remains a good guard dog, as they have retained instincts to protect their owners and families. They also have a strong prey instinct, so they may be used in hunting birds or other small animals.
As with many other breeds, the Dalmatian is prone to hip dysplasia, arthritis and thyroid issues, though there are also conditions for which the Dalmatian is more susceptible. The most common problem in this breed is deafness, as genetic hearing issues are prevalent. They may also be prone to a joint condition called gout.
The average lifespan for a Dalmatian is 10-12 years, though some may live longer if their health permits.