When Disney released its animated version of 101 Dalmatians in 1961, puppy fever struck the hearts of many enamored viewers. It’s hardly a mystery why people were lining up to get their hands on one of these gorgeous canines—Dalmatian puppies are as handsome as they are charming.
Typically recognized as a trusty sidekick to firemen, the athletic Dalmatian has actually filled a number of roles throughout the years, working as a shepherd, retriever, draft dog, and even a circus performer! These dogs were also a huge hit in Victorian England, where they were bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages, protecting passengers and cargo.
Dalmatians sure are cute, and they have a dignified air about them—but how do they fare as household pets? We’re here to answer that question and to help you become better acquainted with this rather remarkable breed.
Most folks love Dalmatian puppies for their distinctive spotted coat. In fact, the Brits went as far as nicknaming this breed the “Plum Pudding Dog” because his spots resembled Christmas pudding plums. But beyond their good looks, how much do you really know about this breed?
With their eager and playful nature, these dogs can make terrific companions, but they’re not for everyone. Check out our handy breed guide below to see how a Dalmatian puppy might fit into your life.
|Size||Medium. A Dalmatian will usually reach a height between 19 and 24 inches, and they’ll weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 to 70 pounds.|
|Breed Characteristics||One word: spots. The Dalmatian’s black and white spotted coat is sleek, beautiful, and truly one-of-a-kind. And while they’ve got good looks a-plenty, this dog is also built for speed, with muscular hindquarters and a gracefully proportionate silhouette.|
|Temperament||The Dalmatian is no wallflower—he’s an outgoing and friendly pup with a delightfully clownish sense of humor. This breed craves human companionship and will thrive in a household that can give him adequate attention.
You’ll need to keep your running shoes on hand with this dog, too. He’s got energy to spare and needs lots of playtime and exercise. Once a Dalmatian puppy bonds with his new owner, he’ll be a constant and loyal partner for life.
|Grooming and Health Needs||First, the good news: taking care of a Dalmatian’s short coat is not a massive undertaking. Beyond the occasional bath and weekly brushing, you won’t have to work very hard to keep him looking his best.
The bad news? These dogs shed. A LOT. To make matters worse, their stiff hair is tricky to remove from most fabrics, so be aware: hair is just part of life with a Dalmatian.
Unfortunately, these dogs are genetically prone to deafness, so only work with a breeder who has his litters hearing tested. Kidney stones are another affliction you may have to deal with.
|Training||Dalmatians can be a sensitive bunch, so the American Kennel Club recommends sticking to positive, reward-based training. They’re often strong-willed dogs, and their obstinance can throw off even the most patient trainer.
Owners must be consistent with training methods to show them who’s boss. That said, Dalmatians have smarts in spades, and they can pick up new tricks easily. They also love to compete in canine sports like flyball.
|Energy Level||When it comes to daily walks, this is not a one-and-done deal. Dalmatians are high-spirited balls of energy, and they need constant outlets to burn off steam.
They’re well suited for folks with an active lifestyle, and they’ll gladly accompany their owners on a run or a vigorous hike through the woods. You’ll also want to invest in high energy toys such as a flirt pole.
|Life Expectancy||11-13 years|
Think you have what it takes to keep up with this dynamic dog? The Dalmatian can make a lovely pet, but he’s not a perfect match for every household. We’ve explored every facet of this breed—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly—so read on to find out exactly what to expect as a new owner.
First, couch potatoes should pass on this one. Dalmatian puppies are not lazy beach bums. Anything but! They’d prefer to spend a beach day with a heart-pumping jog along the boardwalk with their favorite human.
A Dalmatian’s health and happiness depend on being matched with an owner who enjoys pushing themselves physically just as much as he does. If you’re looking for a dog who’ll happily accompany you on marathon training sessions, the Dalmatian could be a smart pick.
It’s equally important to understand that these dogs are people-oriented. If you leave them alone for too long, boredom can get the better of them, and you will not be pleased with the results (shredded furniture, loud barking…you get the picture.) Be ready to share a lot of your time and energy with this dog, and be prepared to spend some money on a dog walker or puppy daycare for the days you can’t spend with them.
If you’re a fastidious housekeeper who gets antsy when a few hairs pile up, a new Dalmatian puppy probably isn’t the best life choice. These dogs are huge shedders, and their stiff hairs are tough to remove from clothing and furniture. Even frequent brushing won’t eliminate the hair entirely.
As far as their temperament goes, Dalmatians are usually friendly, but they can be reserved with strangers and even aggressive towards unfamiliar dogs. Skittishness can also be present in some lines, so early socialization is crucial. Generally, Dalmatians will get along well with other household pets and children, however, they may be a tad overzealous for small toddlers.
The decision to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new Dalmatian puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or a breeder who offers healthy, ethically-sourced Dalmatian puppies.
Adopting a Dalmatian puppy
It may come as a surprise, but adopting a Dalmatian puppy is possible. According to the AKC, most shelters report that the majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender due to a lifestyle change or an incompatibility with the dog. What this means for you: there may be many adoptable dogs and puppies out there who are looking for a new forever home.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs that have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find a Dalmatian mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in.
Finding a Dalmatian rescue can be as simple as searching the internet. Start by checking out the Dalmatian Club of America where you’ll find plenty of useful information with links to several rescue sites.
Finding a Dalmatian breeder
The first step is to do your research. Sadly, there are many puppy mills posing as reputable breeders along with many online scams. Be aware, and reach out to different online forums for conversations about getting your future furry family member.
Be sure to ask questions, and make arrangements to meet the parent dogs or mother. In the end, you must follow your gut. If something seems wrong at a breeder you visit, or the Dalmatian puppy seems too good to be true, there’s probably something fishy going on. The AKC also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get a Dalmatian puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find an ethical breeder or are planning to adopt, prepare yourself for an affectionate and friendly addition to your household.
After you find the right Dalmatian puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.
- How to Survive the First 24 Hours with Your New Puppy
- How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?
- How Often Should I Walk my Puppy?
- The Essential New Puppy Checklist
- Puppy Training Resources
Featured image via Pixabay