Carefully bred, Dalmatians are "up" dogs, as bold as their unique spotting exemplifies! They are the clowns of Dogdom. But parents with small children (under 6 yr.) should be aware that Dals are very exuberant and will want to consider their potential reaction when the dog accidentally knocks a child down. Mind you, small children must be taught not to poke at eyes or pull tails; both Dal and child need to learn proper behavior! Because of their intelligent and exuberant nature, early obedience training is *essential* for Dalmatians. Dalmatians usually get on well with other dogs and are great in multi pet households. It is desirable to socialize puppies with children, adults, and with other dogs from an early age. Dals can also get along splendidly with cats if introduced appropriately. A well-bred Dalmatian may be aloof with strangers, but never shy or aggressive. Once they get to know a stranger, that person may be treated to the full toothed smile or, "smarl" - a combination of a smile and a snarl that can be disarming to one unfamiliar with the ways of a Dal! Dals can also be very vocal. They coo and grunt and will give you a whistling yawn when attempting to avoid a scolding! As former guard dogs, Dalmatians make good watchdogs. Sensible and alert, they are usually not hysterical "yappers" but will bark only when necessary.
Are Dalmatians stupid? Definitely not. On the contrary, they are extremely intelligent and creative! They are often smart enough to recognize a situation where the owner is unable or unwilling to enforce a command. They ARE often headstrong. If you do not give them consistent, firm training and boundaries as puppies, you will wind up with an unmanageable adult. Dalmatians may also be easily bored. Males, in particular, may have an independent streak. For these reasons, Dalmatians often respond best to more positive training methods, as opposed to methods which rely primarily on scolding and telling the dog what NOT to do.
In keeping with their early utilization as carriage dogs, Dalmatians have earned the titles of Road Dog (RD) and Road Dog Excellent (RDX) from The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA). Road trials are held in conjunction with the DCA National Specialty and with some other regional Dalmatian club specialties. The Road Dog titles are earned by dogs who accompany horses or carriages for distances of 12.5 miles (RD) and 25 miles (RDX), (~20 and 40 km) and perform some off-leash obedience work. Competitors need not be members of these clubs. In fact most are pet owners who enjoy working with horses and their dogs.
Dalmatians also can do well in obedience competition, when given positive training. Some folks say that to own a Dalmatian requires a sense of humor; which certainly helps in obedience competition! Many Dalmatians successfully complete their Companion Dog (CD) and Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) Obedience degrees; some also have completed Utility Dog (UD) and Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) degrees and one or two have completed Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) degrees as well.
Obedience training methods that work best with the Dalmatian minimize repetition and maximize variety. Dalmatians get bored easily and will then begin to *modify* the exercise to introduce some excitement! Dals do not generally respond well to harsh, inflexible training methods. Praise, play and food reinforcement ensure better results.
Dalmatians also enjoy agility as it suits their athletic natures. They make excellent hiking and backpacking dogs. Many Dals are talented flyball and Frisbee retrievers since these skills add a bit of whimsy and "theater" to their repertoire.
It is spelled DalmatiAn, with no O - named after the province of Dalmatia.Do Dalmatians shed?
Yes. Dalmatians shed lots of hair year-round Their stiff short hairs cling to most surfaces and weave their way into fabrics making them difficult to remove. Shedding can be reduced by giving the dog a brisk five minute daily brushing outdoors.How much grooming is required for a Dalmatian?
Dalmatians are natural dogs, cat-like in cleanliness and free of doggy odor. Their toenails should be kept trimmed, as they grow rapidly. Long nails are understandably uncomfortable for any dog. Dals may object to having their nails trimmed, unless they are trained early. But it must be done.How much exercise is required?
Frequent brushing helps to keep them clean without disturbing their protective skin oils. During their daily brushing, check eyes and ears for irritation. Also, during warm weather, check for fleas and ticks while outdoors. Frequent bathing, especially with harsh soaps can lead to dry skin and skin problems in Dalmatians. Most Dals clean up well with a damp towel or the use of a plain gentle soap. Be sure to rinse very well, as soapy residue will irritate the skin. Ask your vet to show you how to empty the anal sacks. This procedure should be done whenever you bathe your Dalmatian in order to avoid infection.
Here is a report from one Dalmatian owner: "In addition to plenty of play time in the yard, we walk our Dalmatian, Chili, three times daily - in the morning, at dinnertime, and before bed. It adds up to about two miles (3 km)." And another owner says: "In the summer they get about 3 miles a day; come winter I will have to increase this to about 5 miles." Dal owners must take an active part in exercising their dogs; having a fenced yard is not enough - they will not usually get enough exercise themselves. Long walks are not the only way to provide the exercise required; another canine playmate can help, or playing fetch in the yard can also serve as the major portion of their exercise. But do keep in mind, that as important as exercise is the quality time a Dal spends with his human family.What kind of food should I feed my Dalmatian?
As much as a Dalmatian needs exercise, dogs under a year should self-exercise with a doggy or human playmate. When doing so, the youngster will stop to rest when tired. Allow your Dal to exercise on soft ground (grass or dirt), rather then asphalt or concrete, when young. Exercising on soft ground is a good idea even as an adult.
There are as many brand preferences as there are Dalmatian breeders, but there are some generalizations that can be made. The authors and other breeders have had good success with premium dry type foods (Pro Plan, Nutro, Eagle, Purina ONE, Natures Recipe, etc.) because they contain high quality ingredients like real meats instead of meat meal and because they minimize the amount of purines, corn meal, soy meal, meat by-products and preservatives. The dog seems to make better use of the premium brand foods, therefore generating less fecal waste. Dalmatians do not generally require canned dog food, however, it is sometimes useful in encouraging the finicky eater. Do not feed your Dalmatian foods with "cute" colors and shapes as these require additives that may cause or aggravate skin allergy conditions. Further information on food choices may be found in the medical problems section under the discussion of the unique urinary characteristics of the Dalmatian Breed. Please feel free to share your food success stories with us, especially if you live in a country other then the United States.Should I give my Dalmatian "people food"?
Dals love most foods. In fact it is a very effective training method to reward good behavior with food. Human food may be OK, in VERY small amounts. Always avoid foods high in purines, such as liver or other organ meats. Avoid chocolate, which is toxic to dogs. Remember that people food has calories too!How often should my Dalmatian be fed?
Dalmatians usually eat very quickly and most seem to be always hungry, and as a result do not do well with self-feeding. This can lead to overweight dogs with higher incidences of medical problems later in life. Adult Dals should be fed either once or twice (preferred) a day,from 3 to 6 cups total, depending on their weight and activity level. Some adult females do well on as little as 2 cups of food per day. Most puppies do better with 3-4 smaller daily servings.Do Dalmatians make good apartment dogs?
Your breeder should tell you how often & how much they were feeding when you pick up your puppy.
Don't be put off, apartment dwellers - you can still have a Dal in your life If you're willing (and able) to walk your Dal during the week and have access to an open area where he can be set loose (provided he is off-lead trained) to let out steam on weekends. Make friends with dog owners who have fenced yards! A Dalmatian looks great trotting alongside a bicycle - think of the attention you'll attract while you both stay fit! Your Dal will enjoy and benefit from long daily walks.Are Dalmatians hyper?
Most Dals are very active and if they are ignored or not exercised enough they can become high strung. Obedience training is extremely important in order that the Dal learn boundaries and do that what is expected of him. Poorly bred Dalmatians may be genetically predisposed to having excessive hyperactive or even neurotic behavior.What should I look for when selecting a puppy?
The increased popularity of the breed following Disney's "101 Dalmatians" has had a largely negative effect. Too many people saw money in Dals and began breeding with no thought about stable temperaments, or of improving the breed. Follow all the good advice in the rec.pets.dogs.info "Getting a Dog" FAQ. In addition, see the special medical problems, the questions to ask your breeder, and the questions to ask yourself sections of this FAQ. A list of US breeders can be obtained by writing the Secretary of the Dalmatian Club of America whose address is in the appendix.Should I adopt an adult dog?
Because Dalmatians can take two to three years to mentally mature, uneducated or "untrained" owners may put adolescent or adult Dals up for adoption who were too much for them to handle. In addition, retired show dogs, and adolescents who do not "pan out" for the show ring sometimes become available from very good breeders. Contact your local humane society, Dalmatian Rescue and your local Dalmatian or kennel club about Dals in need of a home. Adopting an adult dog can be very rewarding. Be sure to ask the owners for a medical history. Do inquire about the reason why the dog is being placed. Remember that it is harder to retrain than it is to train, especially a dog with bad habits. Be prepared to spend the extra time required to gain the trust and positive behavior you desire.Do Dals like to swim?
Although Dalmatians tend to be very loyal to their owners, it does not take them long to realize who their adopted owners are. Dalmatians are very good "people psychologists". Be consistent and firm, yet gentle, and the rewards will far exceed your efforts!
The Dalmatian List server on the Internet is in the process of setting up a rescue list. Please see the question below about online resources for more information on the List server.
Dals are usually good swimmers who love the water. If your Dal swims a lot, pay attention to his ears. Wet ears can trigger a painful ear infection.Do Dalmatians do well in colder climates?
Dalmatians should get lots of indoor time for both physical and emotional reasons. They should not be left out in the cold for long periods. One vet in Minnesota reports seeing more Dals with pneumonia than any other breed. A Dalmatian will enjoy short periods out in the snow and ice, but should be brought in when it gets cold.Is obedience training recommended for Dals?
Dalmatian breeders either require or highly recommend that each owner bring their dog through basic obedience classes. Dalmatians have minds of their own, and like children, they tend to see how much they can get away with, while testing the boundaries of behavior. Basic obedience training will allow you and your dog to bond together and will assist you in setting house rules. It will also make your walks with your dog much more enjoyable. Most breeders and dog clubs will be able to recommend a good trainer. You can expect most classes to cost less than $60.00. Large pet stores and community education organizations also run training classes that are reasonably priced.Should I crate train my Dalmatian?
Many people think it is cruel to keep a dog in a crate even for reasonable amounts of time. However, when properly trained, a Dal sees his crate as his space, his own room. Due to the highly active and easily bored nature of the typical Dalmatian, it is not a good idea to give your Dal free run of the house in your absence. Most breeders recommend that your Dal be crate trained in order to protect your valuables and to protect your dog. Crate training is also an excellent beginning to house training. Refer to the crate training FAQ in Rec.pets.dogs.info to obtain recommended crate training methodologies. Fresh water should be supplied to Dalmatians at all times, even when they are crated. They should not be crated over too long a period of time, since concentration of the urine could lead to stone formation. For Adult dalmatians, 8 to 10 hours is the longest amount of time that they should be crated on a regular basis. Puppies should be given the opportunity to relieve themselves every 2-3 hours, gradually increasing until they are 6 months old to 6-8 hours. For more information on bladder and kidney stones,see the special medical problems section of this FAQ.Should I consider breeding my Dalmatian?
In addition to the information found within the rec.pets.dogs.info "Breeding your dog" FAQ, there is the unique Dalmatian problem of deafness, discussed in detail in the special medical problems section. Breeding Dalmatians brings the added responsibility of dealing with deaf puppies. The Dalmatian Club Of America's position, supported by reputable breeders, is that all deaf pups be humanely euthanized, not placed in homes. If you decide to breed your Dalmatian, you must be prepared and able to deal with the consequences of whelping a deaf puppy and having it euthanized. In addition, should you decide to breed, make sure that you know the hearing status of both the sire and the dam. To reduce the likelihood of having deaf puppies, both parents should have bilateral hearing, i.e., hearing in both ears as determined by BAER testing. Both sire and dam should have sound hips and have had hip x-rays which have been evaluated by the OFA and given a passing grade. Plan also to do a complete thyroid workup. Since genetic defects are passed on to the offspring, both parents should be excellent breed specimens, reasonably free of genetic defects.Where is more information available on line?
There is a group of Dalmatian enthusiasts that maintain a List server for discussions related to the Dalmatian breed. It is located at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you may subscribe by sending a message to LISTSERV@vm1.spcs.umn.edu with a blank subject line and the message "subscribe dal-l " as the body of the text. As an example, a person named John Doe would send a message with the text "subscribe dal-l John Doe". In addition, there is a WWW home page at http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/staff/matt/dal-l.html. Most of the commercial on line services also have pet bulletin boards where Dalmatian fanciers gather. There is a web page dealing with the unique urinary problems of the Dalmatian at http://web.aimnet.com/~jriddle/stone.html
For more, see Online references below.
The oldest activity that the Dalmatian is known for is coaching. Early engravings and drawings show spotted dogs accompanying Egyptian chariots. The size, stamina and guard dog abilities made them popular with the English aristocracy to accompany horse drawn carriages. Their size allowed them to fit under the rear axle of the coach, where they often ran. Their stamina allowed them to keep up with the horses and guard dog tendencies allowed the owners to leave the coach without worrying about their possessions. It was often said that a coach was better left in the care of the dogs than the coachman, who could easily be distracted by highway robbers.
The Dalmatian is most famous for being the fire house dog. This probably started in London where they were first acquired as "ratters", to kill vermin in London's stables and firehouses. Soon they were running alongside the fire engine. To this day, many firehouses in Great Britain and the USA have a Dalmatian, although now, they are more likely to been seen riding on the fire truck instead of along side it.
The breed's first appearance in a dog show was in Great Britain in 1860. The first American show appearance was in 1926, when the Dalmatian Club of American held its first National Specialty Show.
All Dalmatian puppies should be definitively tested for deafness. Stomping on the floor, clapping hands or rattling keys make for unreliable hearing tests, since deaf pups can pick up the vibrations. A deaf puppy will compensate for the hearing loss, thereby making it difficult to detect. A scientific test, known as the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test, should be administered, in order to objectively determine the hearing status. This test may be done after five weeks of age. It measures the brain response to auditory stimuli in each ear. The test can detect any impairment or loss of function in either ear. The equipment required to complete the BAER test is expensive and is generally located at veterinary teaching schools or through specialty vets. It is not available in all areas. If a breeder tells you this is the case in your area, confirm it by calling other breeders and/or some local vets. Since there are about 3 unilaterally deaf Dals for every totally deaf Dal, the BAER test is important for identifying dogs that appear to hear normally but that would, unknown to the breeder, pass on a genetic defect.
A reputable breeder will know that BAER testing is the only reliable method of testing hearing. The breeder should have the test conducted on both the sire and dam as well as all the puppies in every litter. A reputable breeder will also not sell or give away deaf puppies. A written purchase contract between the puppy buyer and the seller is highly recommended when you purchase any pup. Buyers of pups that have not been BAER tested should insist that the purchase contract have specific conditions for dealing with a deaf puppy. The contract should allow the buyer to exchange the pup for one who can hear or your money should be refunded.
The adoption of deaf dogs is a controversial issue. Some deaf dogs do live long lives as beloved family members (as one of our faq authors can attest) and some deaf dogs do develop dangerous behavior problems which force the owner to make the difficult choice between controlling the deaf dog's environment 100% of the time or euthanizing the dog (to which another of our faq authors can attest).
Deaf dogs can be trained to respond to hand signals, but because the dog can only see the signals if he/she is looking at you, deaf dogs must be kept under strict control at all times. In addition, deaf dogs cannot hear danger sounds such as car horns honking and require extra security measures for their own safety.
The Dalmatian Club Of America strongly opposes placement of completely deaf puppies, a stance that is supported by many experienced breeders and by some former owners of deaf dogs. This position is taken because these groups feel that deaf dogs are more likely to develop behavior problems and, in particular, bite humans, than are hearing dogs. They feel that deaf puppies should not be sold or given away, but euthanized as soon as their deafness is confirmed. There has been no scientific study which can give guidance as to whether deaf dogs are more likely to bite than are hearing dogs. The position taken by this group is presumed to be based upon their many years of collective experience. Many people who oppose the adoption of deaf dogs also feel that the extra effort and commitment which a deaf dog requires is more than most pet owners are prepared for and that because of this a deaf dog may be more likely to be subject to a life of neglect, abuse or of bouncing from home to home.
There is a group of deaf dog owners who participate in a mailing list; to join the mailing list send mail to email@example.com. The instructions for joining the mailing list are also located in the deaf dog web page whose address is shown in the reference section.
This group feels strongly that deaf dogs are no more likely to have behavior problems than hearing dogs. Many members enjoy the challenge of training their deaf dogs. They feel that problem deaf dogs are those whose owners did not initially realize they were deaf and did not have the inclination to properly train them or are dogs who would have developed problems even if they had been able to hear. These successful deaf dog owners report that the rewards of owning and caring for their deaf dogs make the extra commitment worthwhile.
Until a thorough scientific study is carried out, following equivalent groups of deaf and hearing Dals through their entire lives, it is impossible to know which of these positions is correct. It is certain that ownership of a deaf dog will require a strong commitment on the part of the owner in ensuring the safety of the dog and in finding qualifed help with training. In addition, should the owner ever be forced to give up the dog, it will be very difficult to find a new home for it. Many Dal rescue groups are currently overwhelmed with homeless adult Dals who have no special needs; trying to find homes for deaf dogs is out of the question for many.
Dogs with hearing in only one ear (unilateral) make perfectly acceptable pets and are generally indistinguishable from dogs with hearing in both ears. While the genetics of the inheritance of deafness are not completely understood, in general, dogs with unilateral hearing should not be used for breeding because they pass on an highly increased probability of complete deafness. Responsible breeders frequently sell unilaterally deaf animals with a spay/neuter contract to insure that affected dogs are not later bred.
All Dalmatians are susceptible to urinary stones. Careful Dalmatian owners will seek out a diet which does not contain proteins high in purines. Organ meats, especially liver, and beef, are major sources of purines and should be avoided. Lamb, poultry, eggs and most vegetables are lower in purines.
Adequate water should be provided at all times as well. Some Dal owners 'float' their dog's dry food in 2 or 3 cups of water to ensure adequate water intake. Dalmatians should also be given frequent opportunities to urinate in order to flush their urinary tracts of any crystals. Regular urine samples can be checked by your veterinarian for urate crystals. There is a lot of research being done in this area; it is not unreasonable to ask your vet if she/he will consult with either with Dr. Gerald Ling at University of California at Davis or with Dr. Carl Osborne of the Minnesota Urinary Stone Center at University of Minnesota veterinary school, both of whom specialize in urinary stone formation research.
Food allergies can sometimes be controlled by the dog's diet. Low protein diets seem to help. Supplementation of the dog's diet with fatty acids may also help - products like Derm-caps, lipiderm and others. Switching from foods that contain, beef, soy meal, or corn meal to those using lamb, turkey, chicken, barley, rice, or other uncommon ingredients like venison can help if the allergic reaction is food based. Many food related allergies have cleared up when the diet has been changed.
Allergies are made worse by the presence of fleas due to the dog's tendency to lick and bite at the affected area. Prevent fleas from infesting your Dal, as it's a lot easier than eliminating them. Do not use medicated shampoos or flea shampoos; these are too harsh and can lead to skin problems. Buy a bottle of pesticide-free flea mist and use it in the summer time. It also helps to protect your Dal from flies and mosquitoes. By using the spray, and a flea comb, you may prevent the fleas from coming home with your Dalmatian!
A new flea control drug has recently been approved for use in the United States. PROGRAM is a tablet that is given to your dog once a month. It's active ingredient (lufenuron) prevents the young flea from being able to develop it's tooth, therefore preventing it from being able to hatch from the egg. It will not kill adult fleas, but will prevent your house and yard from becoming infested. It has been available in some countries for a number of years and has no reported side effects. It is recommended that your dog start taking the tablet before the start of flea season. Further information on fleas can be found in the Fleas/Tick FAQ.
Dalmatian Club of AmericaMany areas have local Dalmatian Clubs where a good deal of information and assistance with Dals may be found. Most of these clubs publish newsletters with information of interest to almost all Dalmatian owners. The regional Dalmatian clubs are listed on the DCA home page.
Mrs. Irvin D. Fleming, Secretary
4390 Chickasaw Rd.. Memphis, TN 38117
JAN CRANNY lives in South Florida with her two adopted Dals, Domino and Checkers. Both dogs get to enjoy plenty of long walks, and swim in the ocean. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CORINNE JAMES and her husband Bruce Biederman live near Corvallis, Oregon with two Dalmatians: Kenai (Kenai Lime Pie, CDX) and Chamois (Dalstar's Daydream Chamois). Kenai & Chamois do lots of walking and running with their owners in the coast range mountains and also work in their spare time on AKC obedience (Kenai, & Chamois) and conformation (Chamois) and maybe someday tracking. (email@example.com)
CAROL RUSO is a librarian who lives in South Florida. She is owned by two Dalmatians, "Chili" (Spotlight's Chili Pepper) and "Buster" (Spotlight's New Addition). They enjoy romping in the park, playing Frisbee, and riding in the car on "mom's" lap (yeah, BOTH of them!). (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SYLVIA STRAWBRIDGE from Jonesboro, Arkansas, shares her heart and her home with J. T. (4/20/90 and deaf) and Sophie Tucker (9/14/92 and very verbal). They enjoy long walks, playing chase in the backyard and going anywhere in the VW Beetle. (email@example.com)
ROBERT VON MAYR (Paradox Dalmatians) lives near Dallas, Texas with his wife Lynne and liver Dalmatians Rover (Paisley's J. Rover Brown), Sable (Ch. Aviator's Impromptu), Bingo (Mythago Marksman PX), Henri (Mythago Maserati PX) & Ch. Paradox Pop Quiz. The black spotted members of the family are: Ch. Paradox Country Style, Paradox Back In Black, TCJ Paradox So Divine, and Ch. Paradox Ropin' The Wind. Robert & Lynne are active in conformation and obedience careers are planned. Tracking is something Robert is interested in at some point, but the dogs aren't sure! (R-Vonmayr@ti.com) or (PXdals@ix.netcom.com)
MARIA ZORKA founded Bell Ringer Dalmatians in 1969. She and her husband Art, live in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. USA. Maria has bred many Dalmatian champions, including an All-Breed Multi Best in Show winner. She has also bred top ranking Obedience winners and a DCA High in Road Trial RDX Champion. She co-founded the Dalmatian Club of Greater Atlanta and was a principal author of its Code of Ethics, which was later adopted by the Dalmatian Club of Canada. She was the editor/publisher of the 1980 Dalmatian Club of America's Commemorative Keepsake. Maria also co-founded the Georgia Coalition of Dog Clubs. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Special Thanks to Art Zorka for his many hours assisting with editorial tasks and computer/on-line skills.