The Dalmatian is a dog breeds widely associated with Dalmatia, a region of Croatia, although the exact origin remains unknown. It is noted for its white coat with either black or liver spots.

The Dalmatian breed experienced a massive surge in popularity as a result of the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians written by British author Dodie Smith, and later due to the two Walt Disney films based on the book. The Disney animated classic released in 1961, later spawned a 1996 live-action remake 101 Dalmatians. In the years following the release of the second movie, the Dalmatian breed suffered greatly at the hands of irresponsible breeders and inexperienced owners. Many irreputable breeders and puppy mills cashed in on the breed's rising popularity, and began breeding high numbers of Dalmatians without first ensuring the health, quality, and temperament of the dogs being bred.

Many well-meaning enthusiasts purchased Dalmatians—often for their children—without educating themselves on the breed and the responsibilities that come with owning such a high-energy dog breed. Since Dalmatians were originally bred to run with horses, they require frequent exercise to keep them out of mischief. Many owners find themselves unable to cope with the breed's or the specimen's characteristics and cannot provide their dogs with adequate care. Dalmatians were abandoned in large numbers by their original owners and left with animal shelters. As a result, Dalmatian rescue organizations sprung up to care for the unwanted dogs and find them new homes.

Dalmatian Appearance


This popular dog breeds is a well-muscled, mid-sized, elegant dog with excellent endurance. The Dalmatian is slightly longer than tall according to the European (FCI) standard. The American Kennel Club standard states that the dog should be more square, as long from forechest to buttocks as it is tall at the withers. Shoulder should be well laid back and rear angulation should match the front with the stifle well-bent indicating good angulation in the rear. The feet are round and compact with well-arched toes. The nails are either white and/or the same color as the spots. The ears are thin, tapering toward the tip, set fairly high and carried close to the head.


The dog breed standard for Dalmatians varies slightly from country to country, with the FCI allowing a larger dog than does the AKC. In general, the height for the Dalmatian is between 19 and 24 inches (48.5 and 61.5 cm) at the withers and the weight is from 35 to 70 lbs (16 to 32 kgs) fully grown. Males are usually larger than females.


The Dalmatian coat is short, fine, and dense. Dalmatians shed considerably, and shed year-round. The short, stiff hairs shed by Dalmatians will weave their way into clothing, upholstery and nearly any other kind of fabric. While consistent grooming with a hound mitt or curry can lessen the amount of hair that Dalmatians shed, nothing can completely prevent the shedding.

Occasionally, smooth-coated Dalmatians will produce long-coated offspring who shed less often. These dogs are still purebred Dalmatians but cannot be shown.


Dalmatian puppies are born white, and their spots come in gradually over the period of a couple of weeks.

The most common colors for Dalmatians are black or liver spotted on a white background. Other spotting colors, though not permitted for showing, and rare, are blue (a blue-grayish color), orange or lemon (dark to pale yellow), brindle, mosaic, and tri-colored (with tan spotting on the eyebrows, cheeks, legs, and chest).

Patches often occur in the breed and are a disqualification in the show ring. Patches are present at birth, and consist of a solid color. Patches can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the head and ears. Patches are not to be confused with heavily spotted areas on a dog, however. Spots should be in size of a quarter to half-dollar.

Eye color in Dalmatians is brown, amber, or blue. Dalmatians may have one blue eye and one brown eye. While blue eyes are accepted by the AKC, blue eyes are regarded as a fault in many kennel clubs. The CKC faults any eye color other than black, brown or amber, and the Kennel Club (UK) allows only dark eyes in black-spotted dogs, and amber eyes in liver-spotted dogs.

Dalmatian Health

Dalmatians are a very old breed, often thought to be the very first type of dog for which man made deliberate attempts to selectively dog breed for specific characteristics. These characteristics were at first appearance, then other attributes such as stamina, endurance, and health. The result is a very prolific and long-lived breed of striking appearance, generally free from ailments common to other dogs such as hip dysplasia (which is very uncommon in purebred Dalmatians). Most of their health problems result from the onset of old age; the average Dalmatian lives between 12 and 14 years, although some can live as long as 17 to 18 years . In their late teens, both males and females may suffer bone spurs and arthritic conditions.

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