AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Though his origins are far from clear, the Dalmatian was first historically placed in Dalmatia, part of the former Yugoslavia. The breed became popular as a carriage dog in the 1800s, trotting beside (and even among) the horses and then guarding the carriage and horses while the master was occupied elsewhere. The versatile Dalmatian has seen many uses, including a mascot for firemen, war sentinel, circus performer, vermin hunter, retriever, shepherd, and guard dog. Today, this beautiful breed is primarily a companion dog. It has had a couple of surges in popularity, linked in part to the Disney movies.


The spotted Dalmatian is a square-proportioned, moderately built dog with good substance and an athletic build. He has rounded high-set ears, and rounded eyes that are brown, gold, or blue. The tapering tail is carried with a slight upward curve. The short coat is sleek and shiny. The signature black or liver spots should be round, well defined, and preferably separated. Patches, which are large areas of color with sharply defined borders, are not allowed by the standard. Unlike spots, which appear two to three weeks after birth, patches are present at birth.

Key Facts

  • Height:  19 to 24 in.
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  50 to 65 lbs. (male); 40 to 55 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Very popular
  • Talents:  Tracking, watchdog, guarding, endurance running, and agility


The Dalmatian is a hardy, easy to keep breed, though frequent brushing is needed to cope with the constant shedding. Dalmatians are clean, with no doggy odor. They often have large litters. Puppies are born completely white, with the spots developing later. The Dalmatian is a very energetic breed, and needs daily romps to prevent destructiveness. Deafness affects 10 to 12% of Dalmatian puppies. Every Dalmatian puppy should be BAER-tested for deafness. Dalmatian breeders must be willing to deal responsibly with any resulting deaf puppies, as deaf dogs might be difficult to raise and are in greater danger of accidental death or injury. There are some reports of aggressive behavior from being startled. The Dalmatian Club of America thus supports euthanizing deaf puppies, though this policy is controversial. Buy only a BAER (hearing) tested puppy from a reputable breeder to avoid deafness and to ensure good temperament. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip-dysplasia clearance to avoid hip dysplasia, though hip-dysplasia incidence in the breed is quite low. The Dalmatian is also prone to urinary stones because uric acid levels are higher than in any other breed. A special diet might be needed. Do not keep Dalmatians outside in the cold.


Playful and happy-go-lucky, Dalmatians need human companionship, so they don’t make good yard dogs. The very energetic Dalmatian loves to play with children, but might be too rambunctious for toddlers. Dalmatians tend to get along well with other pets, though they might be aggressive with strange dogs. Males often dislike other males. This breed can be somewhat high-strung and can be timid without enough socialization. Though they are quite intelligent, Dalmatians can be willful. They generally do well with firm, consistent training.


  • Children:  Good with children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Can be a bit dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Very active indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Short coat
  • Shedding:  Constant shedder
  • Exercise:  Vigorous daily exercise needed
  • Jogging:  An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Dalmatian Breed Standard


Dalmatian Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Dalmatian


Dalmatian Gifts