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 Photo of Dalmatian
Photo: Courtesy of Jill Terry

Dalmatian Books

Group: Utility - Breed Standard


Plum puddin', spotted dog — just two of the names that the Dalmatian has been known by over the years. It's origins, like the name, are lost in the history of time. Certainly many clues point to the possibility that the breed has survived almost unchanged from the dawn of history. There are paintings which depict a dog of Dalmatian type running beside a war chariot which was probably of Egyptian or Babylonian origin. The earliest known painting portraying dogs of a Dalmatian type is in Florence and is circa 1360. There was a time when people believed them to originate from Dalmatia, now part of Yugoslavia. However, it is now understood that a wealthy ship merchant first introduced Dalmatians there from England in 1930, and that there was no trace of Dalmatians in Dalmatia before this time. One theory is that it is possible their origins lay in the eastern Mediterranean, and later the breed spread east to India and west over Europe. Of course, many people know them for running with horse carriages, being practical in guarding the coach and horses, as well as decorative for the landed gentry.


Ideal height: dogs: 58-61 cms (23-24 ins); bitches: 56-58 cms (22-23 ins).

An elegant and distincly spotted dog of medium size, being well balanced, strong, muscular and active and capable of great endurance with a fair turn of speed. They possess an outgoing and friendly character and should not be shy or hesitant. Height is 22-23 inches for bitches or 23-24 inches for dogs. Their coat is short and dense, being sleek and glossy in appearance with either black or liver coloured spots on a white background. Patches, tri-colours and spots of any colour other than black or liver are undesirable in the show ring.


As a breed, the Dalmatian can be quite a handful to have around. An energetic, intelligent and wilful dog means that they can be very boisterous, need a lot of attention, and a firm but loving hand. They crave human companionship and tend to become your shadow — following you around everywhere you go! They can be good with children when raised in a family environment.

Breed Health

In general, the Dalmatian is a healthy breed which lives to a good old age. Some Dalmatians do suffer from a uric acid problem, and seem slightly more susceptible to kidney stones than other breeds, and because of this they are far better kept on a low protein diet. This problem appears to be far more prolific in the USA than the UK.

The main hereditary problem with Dalmatians is deafness. In the last few years extensive research has been carried out, both here in the UK and in the USA. Puppies can be tested for deafness from the age of 6 weeks, the only truly accurate method of doing this is by Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER). Dalmatians can be bi-lateral (deaf in both ears) or uni-lateral (deaf in one ear). Dalmatians that are uni-lateral make perfect pets and show dogs, indeed you will not be able to tell that they are hearing only in one ear. But if using them for breeding stock, great care must be taken when choosing a mate as research shows that there may be a higher incidence of deaf puppies when breeding from uni-lateral stock.

Breed Care

Dalmatians moult! They moult all year round, short spikey hairs that stick everywhere! To cope with this they require regular brushing. We use a rubber toothed brush to remove a lot of the loose hair, then finish off with a medium bristle brush. They are relatively clean dogs and do not need bathing very often, usually a good brush will remove any muck.


To keep them in a fit and healthy condition, and to keep them content and out of mischief, they require quite a bit of exercise. The majority of this should be free running. The Dalmatian that doesn't get enough exercise or attention tends to be even more boisterous than usual, and can even be destructive due to being bored.


Being intelligent they learn quickly. However, they possess a very strong will and need a firm but loving hand. They do not respond well to harsh training methods and learn far quicker, and are more willing to please, when trained by reward for doing well. See our books on training

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Last link added: 15 Nov, 2008