Canine Breed Spotlight: Dalmatian

Here is a look at the Dalmatian!

Dog Group: Non-Sporting, Companion dogs

Average life span: 10-13 years



This dog is known to have traveled with the gypsies, and obtained his name during his stay in the region of Dalmatia (now known as Croatia). They were originally used as working dogs in a variety of settings. Their jobs included guarding, shepherding, ratting and retrieving.

Once the breed became established in England, they were developed into a coaching dog. They were used to clear a path in front of the horses and run alongside the coach. They also guarded the coaches and horses while at rest.

When the breed made its way to North America, they took on a completely different role. They became firehouse dogs, where their duties including running with the horses to the fires, guarding the equipment and rescuing people. Nowadays, Dalmatians have settled in as a companion, family dog.



Dalmatians are smart dogs, with a sense of humor. They are active dogs and love to be active with their families, participating in activities like hiking, backpacking, camping and agility. Dalmatians are considered dependable and dignified, but high-spirited and playful. They make great family dogs if trained and socialized from a young age and come from a reputable breeder. They can get along well with other family pets, but have a special affinity to horses.

Is this breed right for you?

  • Dalmatians are highly active dogs, requiring a lot of exercise and stimulation. If they get bored, they can become destructive.
  • They shed! They need frequent brushing to keep their coat nice and shiny.
  • Early socialization and training as a puppy is very important. They can be stubborn and headstrong if not trained well can become unmanageable as an adult.
  • They thrive on companionship from their families, so if you are not at home a lot this might not be the right breed for you.

Health concerns

Both pure-bred and  mixed-breed dogs have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. Here is a look at some health concerns that are commonly seen in the Dalmatian.

A genetic predisposition for deafness is a serious health problem for Dalmatians. Only about 70% have normal hearing, with blue-eyed Dalmatians having a greater incidence of deafness than brown-eyed Dalmatians. Reputable breeders will have their puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to ensure the puppies are not deaf.


Bronzing skin syndrome, is a type of bacterial skin infection seen in Dalmatians. This causes hair loss, crusty skin patches, and bronzing of the skin. This syndrome can be caused by allergies, genetics, stress, environmental changes, or diet. Treatment for this syndrome include antibiotics, topical antiseptics, antibacterial creams, and antibacterial shampoos.

The dalmatian is uniquely predisposed to uric acid stone formation because of a unique liver biochemistry. Male dalmatians seem to be at higher risk for stone formation than females. It is not unusual for a dalmatian to require several stone removal surgeries during their lifetime. Dissolution can also be possible for uric acid stones. A prescription diet with low purine levels combined with a medication called allopurinol and proper veterinary follow up with x-rays will allow for the monitoring of the dissolution of the stones. Dissolution does come with a risk of urinary tract obstruction as the stones get smaller and try to pass though the urethra. This is potentially a life threatening concern for male dogs.