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Country/Date of Origin: Former Yugoslavia/1400s

The Dalmatian has filled many roles in its long history. It is a fine sporting dog working before the gun as a pointer. It was a shepherd in its native Dalmatia (what was once Yugoslavia). But it was as a coaching guard that it reached its flowering. Trained to run underneath the carriage, the Dalmatian would dart out and protect the horses from stray dogs that menaced them. And conversely the horses protected it. The Dalmatian's ability to exactly match the horse's pace let it slip between the moving feet to get away from a pack of curs. In the days when fire apparatus was pulled by horses, the Dalmatians were welcomed in the fire houses where they kept vermin at bay. Dalmatians were one of the first breeds exhibited at organized shows in the US.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Carriage Dog, Plum Pudding Dog, Fire House Dog

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Breed Club: Dalmatian Club of America

Rescue Club: Dalmatian Club of America Rescue Information

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Body Type:

  • A medium sized, well balanced dog not exaggerated in any way
  • Instantly identified by its distinctive, bold, spotted patterning
  • Height: 22-24 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 50-55 pounds
  • The long, thin tail is carried and never altered
  • The high-set ears are carried close to the head and are not altered
  • The gait of the Dalmatian is very important. It must be a steady rhythm of 1,2,3,4 as if in military cadence. This allowed the dogs to safely pace themselves underneath a moving carriage


  • Multi-talented. It has been a dog of war, watchdog, shepherd, hunter and ratter
  • Loving and spirited
  • A quick learner
  • Reserved with strangers. A natural watchdog that doesn't like other dogs in its territory. It was selectively bred for this quality for many years


  • Short, harsh and dense
  • Permissible colors are black or liver-brown markings set on a pure white background
  • The size, shape and distribution of the spots is a very important consideration in choosing a Dalmatian. They should be round and well delineated. They may be as large as a silver dollar. The color of the nose must match the color of the spots. Black spotted dogs have black noses. Brown spotted ones have brown noses
  • Minimal grooming required

Health Concerns:

  • Subject to deafness. This seems to be connected to the spotted gene
  • Check any puppy, especially those with blue eyes, for deafness before purchase
  • Possible allergic skin disease
  • Cataracts
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Dalmatian is commonly misspelled with an "o." There isn't any. The name is a denotes the dog's place of origin - Dalmatia
  • Two children's books, The Twilight Howling and 1001 Dalmatians propelled this breed via Disney onto the top ten list in AKC registrations
  • In spite of the above endorsement, the Dalmatian is not really a dog for children. It is rather high strung and can become too excited around kids and may bite in its wild play
  • A jogger's dog. the breed needs lots of exercise. If confined can be destructive or become a compulsive barker
  • This breed has an unusual affinity for horses
  • Puppies are born solid white. The spots don't appear till the whelps are about ten days old

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