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Variety description

Source: Julie Pluymers,A spotted Dalmatian kennel

For a detailed description of their appearance, I refer you to the 'breed standard'.


In general, it can be said that the Dalmatian is a medium to large dog. He is athletic and strong. It should not appear heavy or fragile. It is built to be able to walk for hours and is therefore in excellent condition. For this he needs enough chest space and sturdy legs.


The Dalmatian is slightly longer than it is tall and has a noble appearance with a long but muscular neck. They have a nicely shaped head where the snout is as long as the skull. The head and neck are free of wrinkles and skin folds.


The most striking is of course the spot pattern. A dalmatian has black or brown spots that are distributed all over the body. These spots are all about the same size on the body and slightly smaller on the legs, head and tail. Some Dalmatians have one larger spot, often on the head. This is called a patch, head spot, or monocle (if it's around the eye) and is actually a color flaw. Dalmatians are born all white and don't get their spots until afterwards. The patches are already present at birth. These dogs are otherwise just as healthy and sweet as the dogs without this 'colour defect'. Often these dogs are chosen first from a litter because it looks so nice. Patches are excluded from breeding in countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands. In other countries they are allowed back into breeding to increase the gene pool.



When they ask me what kind of character a Dalmatian has, I always say that you can best compare them with an active toddler. They are a real family member who wants to be involved in everything and who love attention. So don't put them separately or outside in a kennel! They just want to be with their people and make it clear. It is therefore not a breed that you can leave alone for a whole day every day.


Always ready to play, always ready to play the rascal. They have a high drama content and exaggerate everything wonderfully. You just have to watch Dalmatians play or how they greet you when you've been away for a while! They love cuddling and attention very much and they will bend over backwards to get that. You can certainly not call them a boring dog!

They are very happy, high energy dogs with a good sense of humour. They are very affectionate and even though they weigh around 30kg as an adult, they still like to curl up on your lap to be petted.


Plus, a Dalmatian can smile, which gives them that extra human touch!


East Indian deaf

Whether your Dalmatian is bilaterally hearing or unilaterally deaf, he can also be East Indian deaf at all times! They can then very selectively ignore certain things completely and they will hear other more interesting things. They only hear what suits them best.

For example, when my gang of dogs play exuberantly with each other, they will completely ignore me if I ask them to come to me, sit down or whatever. But if I ask: "Who wants a cookie?" Then a second later they are all wagging their tails at my feet. Shouting louder or making you angry does not help at all, then they will become even more deaf. So you have to have a portion of humor and patience to deal with Dalmatians. That's how they hear well when it's really 5 to 12, then they look at you angelically...



It is often said that you cannot raise a Dalmatian and that is often one of the first questions you get when you go somewhere with your Dalmatian: "Is he listening?". They apparently all know an uncle or an aunt with a Dalmatian with whom they could do nothing. Nothing could be further from the truth. A Dalmatian is a very intelligent dog that learns quickly. He's smart enough that you'll quickly get bored of him asking you to do the same exercise over and over and he may refuse to do it. So you have to make sure there is a lot of variety in the exercises and praise him when he does well.


Rewarding is the only thing that works for them, punishment and a hard hand are out of the question. For what should be, they seem to think. So you have to get creative with them and make sure they keep having fun. A bag full of cookies or a toy to reward them works wonders. At obedience training, your dog may not want to do the same exercise 5 times in a row or may refuse to lie down or sit if the grass is wet or frozen, for example. You often see them start the exercise, they sink through their legs, but do not finish the exercise. They can then look at you with a look that says that they know well what you are asking them, but that the surface is just not inviting enough to put their butt or belly on. However, with patience and plenty of rewards, you can also participate in obedience competitions with Dalmatians.


So you can say that you can teach a Dalmatian anything, as long as you keep it fun. However, they also learn wrong things quickly, so raising them consistently from day one is important. Don't forget that they grow into powerfully muscled dogs. So teach them from an early age that they are not allowed to pull on the leash or they will literally take you in tow. Unfortunately that is easier said than done with a Dalmatian, so if you don't think you can stop a Dalmatian when he pulls, choose a different breed, because there will always be times when he pulls.



The only major downside to a Dalmatian are the white hairs. They lose them throughout the year and get stuck in everything. If you like to dress in beautiful black clothing, it is best to invest in adhesive rollers to remove the hairs. You will also find them everywhere in the house, so you have to be able to handle them or use the vacuum cleaner more often.


I must add that dalmatians on fresh meat or BARF lose less hair than the dogs on kibble, which is a very handy fact! During the periods in spring and autumn when they lose even more hair, it is best to give them a good brushing several times with a rubber glove to remove most of the loose hair.


They are also self-cleaning. If they are dirty from a walk, let them dry. Once dry, the dirt is where they slept or you can quickly rub it off with a towel and they are nice and white again.



Dalmatians have an inexhaustible condition and need to release their energy in one way or another. Taking a walk on a leash a few times a day is really not enough for them. They have to be able to run completely free to sprint, sniff odors, jump around like crazy...


You really have to do something with them to meet their needs. Long walks, retrieving, cycling, taking along next to the horse... You can also do a sport with them such as agility, dogdance, fly-ball or canicross. I myself often go for a walk with a number of other dogs, then they play energetically and chase each other. That way they burn more energy than when they go for a walk alone.


If your dalmatian can get enough energy through exercise, he'll be calm in the house. On the other hand, if he doesn't get enough exercise, he can be a bit busier out of boredom and some dogs can even start demolishing in the house. A good listener only needs half a word....


Other animals

Dalmatians are social animals and can get along well with other animals and dogs if trained to do so. They can otherwise react a bit too enthusiastically, which a cat or so does not really appreciate. Dalmatians are very good with horses and are very happy to be around them without any urge to herd or chase them which can often be the case with shepherds. They used to be kept in stables to protect the horses and walked under the carriage. So they have a long history with horses. Dalmatians can walk alongside the horse very easily and they love it! Some males can be a bit dominant towards other males, but if you teach them to be social at a young age, this is very doable.


Color: BB, Bb, bb, lemon, patching, blue eyes

The accepted colors of Dalmatians are brown and black. The two colors must not appear on one dog. A brown or liver colored dalmatian has a brown nose and amber eyes. A black dalmatian has a black nose and dark eyes. The black color is dominant over brown. The allele for color is the letter b. A brown dalmatian is therefore bb. A black dalmatian can be Bb, but just as well BB. A Bb dalmatian is always black, but carries the brown color and in combination with another Bb  or bb damati can produce both black and brown offspring. A dalmatian that is BB is also black, but it will only give black offspring, because a B is passed on anyway. BB is called homozygous for the black pigment.


There are also not allowed colors. You have the lemon color, which are very light brown to yellowish spots. It is a recessive allele. You also have dogs that are tri-color, these dogs have dots of different colors. These dogs are not allowed to be bred and fortunately you rarely see them. The lemon color can also be tested, then you know whether the dog is a carrier of the lemon gene. Two carriers of the lemon color can therefore give a lemon puppy, even if both parents are black and/or brown.


Patches, head spots or monocles are larger spots that are present from birth. In some countries, breeding with patching is allowed to increase the gene pool, in other countries, including Belgium, this is not allowed. It is the breed club that sets these rules.


Some Dalmatians have one or two blue eyes. These dogs are excluded from breeding. Blue eyes often accompany dog deafness. In some countries it is allowed to breed with these dogs, such as in the USA. 



Because Dalmatians have a different kidney function than other breeds, they can suffer from bladder stones. This can cause problems if the formed crystals are not urinated outcould be. A common dalmatian is HUA (High Urine Acid), a while ago some breeders started a program to prevent this crystal formation. They did this by introducing pointers into the breed. As a result, about half of the puppies were born with a different kidney function and his LUA (Low Urine Acid). They then do not suffer from bladder stones. 

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