dalmatian on the stairs

Dalmatian Dog Breed Information

You might think Dalmatians came from Dalmatia, part of what is today the Republic of Croatia just east of Italy. According to the American Kennel Club, spotted dogs that resembled Dalmatians were found in Egyptian wall paintings, but no one is sure of their exact origin.

Some historians believe Dalmatians, or direct ancestors, traveled with Roman gipsies. Others call them the ‘original carriage dogs’, becoming popular carriage dogs in 17th century England. Let’s get to know this lovely dog breed!

Size & Weight

These are average statistics given by breed registries. It’s always possible for your Dalmation to be outside of this range!

A fully grown Dalmatian will stand between 19-24 inches (48.3 cm- 61 cm). The males will be slightly taller than the females.

An adult female should weigh between 35-53 pounds (77-117 kg), while an adult male should weigh between 35-71 pounds (77-157 kg).


The average  Dalmatian will probably live between 10 to 13 years! Of course, age will depend on many things, like general health, nutrition, heredity, overall genetics, daily exercise, weight, medical care, etc.

Long Haired Dalmatians are purebred Dalmatians, and susceptible to the same health conditions any other Dalmatian is. Coat length shouldn’t affect overall health. Your Dalmatian’s family health history and heredity are much more important!


While some protective instincts might still remain from his original breeding purpose, a well-socialized Dalmatian makes for a wonderful dog! Dalmatians are outgoing and active, sporting energetic personalities. They’ll gladly keep up with you and the kids!

The Importance of Socialization

When you socialize a dog, you’re teaching that dog to gladly accept any encounter or situation in their environment. We socialize dogs with other dogs, puppies, adults and children (even babies, given the opportunity), other animals like cats or even rabbits, loud crowded settings, and more.

The entire point is so a dog grows to accept these things. He isn’t scared, nervous or defensive around them. A well-socialized dog is a kind, well-behaved dog.

In contrast, it’s the poorly socialized dogs, or the animals that were never socialized at all, that are suspicious and often defensive of new encounters. These dogs often suffer anxiety, and are the dogs you hear about that might bite. These are the ‘unfriendly’ dogs.

Because of their breeding, Dalmatians may have an automatic defensive instinct. Strong, early and continued lifelong socialization is especially important for Dalmatians!

Enrichment Activities

Enrichment activities are those that rely on your dog’s natural abilities and instincts.

Socializing with other animals at the off-leash dog park is enriching. Hunting and tracking activities are enriching. Even puzzle games that force your dog to use his nose are enriching.

Enrichment activities are important for your dog’s mental health and psychological growth. Depending on the activity, they might even offer plenty of exercise!

Exercise Demands

While Dalmatians might not be the most energetic breed out there, they are a high-energy breed and do have plenty of exercise demands! One simple walk a day probably isn’t going to be enough for your spotted fur-kid, and that is completely normal.

Two hours of exercise a day is recommended for the energetic Dalmatian to truly be happy! These guys are great for life in a country setting, offering plenty of space to roam and play.

One hour at a minimum would be great! Your Dalmatian won’t refuse more than two if you can offer it.

Failing to meet the Dalmatian’s exercise requirements can result in behavioral issues or sometimes destructive behaviors. This isn’t unusual, and many higher energy breeds can suffer from similar problems.

On the flip side, plenty of exercise can help you avoid many of these problematic issues. Have you ever heard the expression “A tired dog is a good dog”?

Breed Specific Health Problems

Most dog breeds out there today are susceptible to their own unique set of health issues, along with standard problems all medium-large breeds face. Great Danes are more susceptible to developing Bloat, while German Shepherds face a higher risk for hip and elbow dysplasia.

Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, congenital deafness is especially common in this breed, at least partially affecting an estimated 18% of dogs. In contrast, about 2-3 in every 1,000 US children are born deaf (NIH), well below even 1%.

Other sources claim up to 30% of Dalmatians are born suffering at least partial deafness. This is believed to be hereditary (passed from mother to offspring), and often a result of poor breeding.

Thankfully, you can make sure your puppy has been BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to ensure there hasn’t been any hearing loss! Make sure to ask for paperwork from your breeder, as well as a family health history.


Your Dalmatian will shed a lot! In fact, he’ll shed all year round. These dogs certainly aren’t hypoallergenic in any way.

Frequent shedding is normal in this breed. Older hair is continuously replaced with newer, healthy hair, just like many other breeds. Many single-coated breeds won’t shed much, but Dalmatians certainly do.

How Often Should You Groom

Great nutrition and regular grooming/brushing at least once a week is essential! Many dalmatian owners would recommend a quick brushing once a day, but you can likely find a medium of at least 3 times a week.

Bathing is a different story! Frequent bathing will wash away essential oils from the skin, and can lead to coat damage. Unless told otherwise by your veterinarian, don’t bathe your pet any more than once a week at most.

  • Once monthly baths are usually sufficient to care for your Dalmation.
  • Make sure to trim those nails at least once a month.
  • Check your dalmatian’s ears regularly, if not at each veterinary checkup.

Diet/ Nutrition

What is the best diet plan for a Dalmatian?

Believe it or not, all dog breeds require the same basic nutrients. Certain breeds or age groups will require more calories than others (i.e. a Great Dane or in this case, a Dalmatian, will need a higher caloric intake than a French Bulldog), but they will all perform best on the same types of calories.

Dogs evolved from Grey wolves and will do best on a diet rich in animal protein. Though they are scientifically classified as carnivores, today’s domesticated dogs are closer to herbivores and should get nutrition from a wide range of fruit, vegetable, and grain sources in addition to meat.

Two meals a day are best for adults, three meals daily for puppies. Be sure to follow the nutritional/feeding guidelines on the back of your dog food packaging.

How Much Does a Dalmatian Cost?

In America, Dalmatian puppies might run you between $600 and $1,500 USD, depending on the breeding program you chose and your location. Sometimes they could run more.

Don’t think cheaper is better here! When it comes to breeders, you often do get what you pay for. You never want to purchase from an amateur breeder because that not only encourages them to continue, but you could also be purchasing an animal suffering health or hereditary issues.

High quality breeders will try their best to diversify the genetic pool they breed from, meaning parents can’t be related in any way. This also means fewer animals to choose from.

The dam and sire will be genetically tested to be sure no hereditary conditions are able to be passed on. This will further narrow the pool of available parents, often creating a waitlist for puppies.

No sheltered puppies or rescues in America should cost you more than $350 USD, often less. The cost is to cover food, shelter, veterinary care and shelter operation costs.

Important Buying Guide:

If you decide to purchase your Dalmatian pup from a breeder, make sure that breeder is accredited with a large organization, like the AKC (for example). You want to make sure your breeder is educated and experienced, not simply trying their hand at dog breeding for the first time.

You’ll want to be sure there is no direct family history of hearing loss. You’ll want to make sure your pup’s family medical history is great in general!

Any ethical breeder will be concerned with the health of the puppies they breed. Genetic testing allows us to ensure the mother or father doesn’t have any major hereditary health conditions they might pass on to their offspring.

Ensure genetic testing is done on the dam and sire to eliminate any potential diseases or disorders in your pup.

When is the Best Age to Adopt?

Who can’t look at those little 4-week-old coffee beans and marvel at how adorable they are! That is, if you’ve seen a 4-week-old pup. Most dog owners out there never have handled a puppy that young, and there is a very good reason for that.

The social interaction a young pup will get with littermates and mother is absolutely integral for lifelong psychological development! Your young pup is learning skills you simply can’t duplicate on your own.

Some expert sources will tell you between 7-9 weeks of age is a perfect time to adopt. Most major experts and veterinarians won’t recommend separating a puppy from littermates prior to eight weeks of age.

Because Dalmatians can suffer from hearing loss more often than other breeds, some experts recommend you adopt adults, so you know what you’re getting, if you were to adopt.

Final Thoughts

Dalmatians are intelligent and lively dogs! They make wonderful companions, as long as you can provide adequate exercise and socialization. These Canids have a rich history and are overall fantastic animals!


1. Are Dalmatians Easy to Train?

Dalmatians are very smart dogs and highly trainable! They are able to pick up on new skills quickly. Most also have a very strong desire to please, making them even easier to train.

There is a more important component to dog training though, and it has to do with the teacher.

Your Dalmatian’s ability to learn is only as good as your ability to teach. It doesn’t matter how capable any breed is if the handler isn’t training the dog properly. As long as you are following proper training techniques, your Dalmatian should pick up new skills faster than many other breeds.

Thankfully, this is the age of the internet! You literally have hundreds of great training resources at your disposal. You can even watch other trainers work with YouTube, assuming these are good trainers using recommended techniques.

Most of this is completely free and will only take time!

2. Are Dalmatians Good Family Pets?

Dalmatians are extremely energetic and wonderfully playful dogs! These guys would keep the kids busy for hours, assuming you have a fenced-in yard to keep your furry one from running off.

Do you live in the country? A country setting would be fantastic for a Dalmatian family!

It’s easy to say that Dalmatians do make wonderful family pets, as long as your children are at least 6 years old or older. Many Dalmatian experts claim the breed might be a little too energetic for small children.

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