Dalmatian dog breed characteristics, origin and care

Dalmatian breed characteristics

  • Size: Large
  • Traits: Active. Outgoing. Intelligent.
  • Maintenance: High maintenance, regular brushing, bathing, and clipping required (can be expensive and time consuming)
  • Best Suited To: Active owners and families with older children
  • Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

A dotted doggie delight, Dalmatians sure can’t be mistaken for any other breed! With a devoted and loving demeanour and oodles of energy Dalmatians make fantastic pets for sprightly owners.

If you are seeking a dog that can keep up with your active lifestyle and provide the kids with a lively pet, you might want to consider a dashing Dalmatian.

Where I'm From

The Dalmatian’s true origins remain contested, though the dog is thought to be an ancient breed with roots in Asia and Africa. It is widely accepted that Dalmatians derive their name from the Dalmatia region of Croatia where travelling Romany people kept the dogs as companion and guard dogs. Dalmatians subsequently become well known as carriage dogs, running alongside and protecting horse drawn carriages from foxes and thieves.

The breed was further refined in England where it was officially recognised in 1890. Dalmatians subsequently became popular pets throughout the world, and even more so after the release of the book and Disney cartoon 101 Dalmatians in the 1950s-60s. The breed with its distinguishable spots remains well loved today including in Australia.

What I Look Like

Dalmatians are certainly distinctive-looking dogs. These tall, athletic canines have black or liver-brown coloured spots of various sizes on a short pure white coat. Dalmatians usually have dark brown or amber coloured eyes whilst blue eyes and a tricoloured coat are considered faults. With face-hugging ears and a long, straight tail, Dalmatians live up to their cartoon-like appeal.

Dalmatians Breed Profile by Bondi Vet

How I Act

Dalmatians are very active and intelligent dogs that require frequent exercise to remain manageable. They are especially lively as puppies with boundless energy that needs to be exhausted. Dalmatians are devoted dogs that suit family living with children over 12 years of age as their exuberance could cause injury to young ones. Dalmatians also get along well with other pets.

Dalmatians are easy to train given firm and consistent guidance. Positive reinforcement and treats-based training works best. They also require socialisation from a young age to become well accustomed to other dogs and the outside world. They do not suit nervous and timid owners.

Dalmatians were bred for their great stamina as such they require a decent amount of daily exercise of at least 1 hour per day to remain well behaved and not destructive. This can be broken up into morning and evening walks.

Dalmatians can run away if allowed to roam free so it is best to keep your dog on a leash or exercise only in enclosed areas.

Looking After Me

Dalmatians need to be fed a meal of high-quality dry dog food twice a day as per packaging instructions. They also have a unique urinary tract system, which makes them susceptible to urinary tract stones and require an adequate fresh water supply to flush their systems.

The Dalmatian’s white coat means they get sunburnt easily and they need to have dog sunscreen applied if they are going to be outside during times of high UV in the middle of the day.

Dalmatians tend to shed a lot. They require a weekly brush as well as a bath every few months as required. Dalmatians are usually clean dogs with dirt-repellent coats and little dog odour.

Dalmatians are relatively health dogs but may still be affected by a number of health ailments including heredity deafness. Up to 30% of the breed are affected by deafness in one or both ears, which can be tested for from 5 weeks of age.

Other medical problems include urinary tract stones, skin allergies, hip dysplasia and eye sensitivity to bright lights.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy’s parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders. Dalmatians have a lifespan of 12-14 years.


  • Dalmatians are very energetic dogs that are the perfect fit for active owners and families with older children looking for a fun-loving backyard companion. As with all dogs, Dalmatians should be supervised when around children.
  • Dalmatians love a good run and can make exceptional jogging and hiking buddies.
  • Dotty Dalmatians are head turners and will surely get you a second glance as you walk your dashing dog down the street.


  • Dalmatians can be overly rambunctious and are not a good fit for young children who they can accidently injure out of excitement.
  • Dalmatians have a coat that sheds copiously and will require frequent brushing to help keep malting hair off the floors, couch and bed.
  • Due to the popularity of the breed and fame through Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, many backyard breeders bred dogs with aggressive temperaments and health issues. When selecting a dog make sure your pup is from a certified breeder and has all the necessary papers.
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