The Dalmatian Dog
Origin of the Dalmatian dog
The Dalmatian is a medium sized dog breed whose history is not entirely familiar. “The spotted dogs” are known to have traveled with nomadic bands of Romanies and they obtained their name while staying in Dalmatia (part of Croatia).
FUN FACT: The Dalmatian dog breed is about 4000 years old and is one of the oldest breeds. The first illustrations of Dalmatian dog have been found in Croatia, dating to 1600–1630.
The Dalmatian - a guard dog
This breed was recognized as a valuable working breed and was used for all kind of jobs, never specialized in one area. They were used as guard dogs, shepherds, ratters, coaching dogs (during the Regency period, the Dalmatian became a status symbol trotting alongside the horse-drawn carriages of wealthy English lords calming the horses and standing guard; they protected carriages and the horses from other dogs and threats), firehouse dogs (when fire trucks were horse powered, Dalmatians were used to help control and relax horses reluctant to approach burning buildings), etc. Today, most of the Dalmatians are companions and family dogs. They are great family dogs and they want and need to be where the people are.
Dalmatians stand between 19 and 24 inches tall, and weight ranges from 48 to 55 pounds. Males are usually larger than females. Their life expectancy is 11 to 13 years. Dalmatians are delightful, great-looking, muscular and athletic dogs with one the most distinctive coats in the animal kingdom. Their coat is short and smooth. The base color is white with recognizable black (or liver brown) round spots that cover all of the dogs’ body.
FUN FACT: When Dalmatians are born, they are completely white. The spots develop about two weeks later. After about a month, they have most of their spots.
FUN FACT: Studies have established that two liver spotted Dalmatians when bred do not produce puppies with black spots.
The Dalmatian - fur coat
Dalmatians shed heavily all year long. Often brushing is required. Their hair are stiff and tend to weave themselves into furniture and clothing and are hard to remove. So, if you are getting yourself a Dalmatian, first you should go to the store and buy extra strong vacuum cleaner.
FUN FACT: It is a mystery where the Dalmatians’ spots came from. They may be the result of a mutation in a gene for a ticked coat, but no one is really sure where they come from.
What was the Dalmatian bred for?
They are very active dogs and need a lot of exercise to be happy, healthy and satisfied. They are wonderful partner for hikers and runners. After all, they were created to run miles alongside carriages. They must be provided daily exercise; otherwise they might develop behavior problems. Except for being highly active, Dalmatians are also highly intelligent. Dalmatians have a real sense of humor and enjoy entertaining and being entertained. Dalmatians love attention and are eager to please, thus they are easy to train using positive reinforcement. Harsh treatment can cause them to shut down.
The Dalmatian as a pet
Like any other dog, the Dalmatian also needs an early socialization. While your Dalmatian is young, exposure it to many different people, sights and sounds, the dog will get used to them and this will help its socialization. Dalmatians can be a bit stubborn, so training must be firm and consistent. Usually, they are reserved towards strangers. Dalmatians make excellent watchdogs. They are alert to everything going on around and if Dalmatian sees something interesting or unusual, Dalmatian will want you to know about it.
FUN FACT: The Dalmatian was once a popular circus dog. This dog is able to learn and perform almost every trick there is.
The Dalmatian - health
Most purebred dogs have some genetic weaknesses. In Dalmatians, those weaknesses are deafness (approximately 30 percent of all Dalmatian puppies suffer from hearing loss and about 8 to 12 percent of them are born deaf) and a unique uric acid metabolism that predisposes them to stones anywhere in the urinary tract. The stones can cause urinary blockages, most commonly in males. It’s essential to notice whether a Dalmatian is urinating regularly and to provide him with plenty of fresh water at all times. Dietary management with food that is not high in purines can be helpful. There is a DNA test for both conditions. Dog breeders use a test called BEAR (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) to check a Dalmatian's hearing at around seven weeks of age.
Other conditions to be aware of are: skin allergies (Dalmatians are often allergic and there are three main types of allergies: food-based allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies), hip dysplasia (you can read more about hip dysplasia here), Iris Sphincter Dysplasia (an inherited ocular disorder that can cause sensitivity to bright light, poor night vision, partial or total blindness).
If you are looking to buy a Dalmatian, prepare your wallet – these beautiful spotted dogs are pricey. When you consider the cost of quality food they need to be fed and possible veterinarian costs because of the conditions they are prone to, the number is even higher.
The Dalmatian - movie
The Popularization of Dalmatian Dog
The Dalmatians became widely popular after the Disney animated film “101 Dalmatians” came out, back in 1961 (the film was based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians written by British author Dodie Smith). But then, all sorts of unknowledgeable people wanted to make some cash by using that popularity and breeding every Dalmatian they could get their hands on, paying no attention to health and the temperament of the dogs. The result is a lot of Dalmatians with potential unstable temperament. So, if buying a Dalmatian, be cautious and inform yourself. Find out who are reputable breeders with healthy dogs; try to see the puppy and its environment; ask the breeder whatever you are wondering; ask him to show you all health clearances to make sure you are going home with happy, healthy puppy, with awesome temperament. But, don’t think that getting a dog with good temperament will deprive you of work entirely - temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
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World Dog Finder team