Is The Dalmatian Right For You?
The Dalmatian is one of the most unique dog breeds, known for its distinct spotted pattern. They are stylish, sleek, and attractive dog that is sure to turn heads while in public. But is the Dalmatian the right breed for you and your family? Each breed has its positives and negatives and genetics in which makes them who they are and no dog breed is perfect (although we think Dalmatians are pretty darn close). As a dog owner, you must pick the breed that has the right characteristics to fit your needs and your lifestyle, then raise and train the dog correctly. Dogs don’t just grow up to be great family companions, they have to be taught how to be proper members of your family. The Dalmatian requires a lot of time and effort on your part, as well as lots of patience and attention. Think it over carefully.
Family Life - Dalmatians are very family oriented. They require a lot of affection and would prefer to be with their family every moment of every day. They are extremely affectionate dogs and will happily take a seat on the couch next to you (or on you) when you sit down to watch a movie. They are not dogs that will tolerate being in isolation or away from their family for long amounts of time. The Dalmatian is not for someone who wants their own space. They are "Velcro" dogs in every aspect and should always be house dogs. They are great with Children and other dogs when properly socialized. As always, young children should be taught to respect dogs and should always be supervised.
Physical Activity - Dalmatians are a fairly active breed. While they love to snuggle up and nap with their family, they require quite a bit of daily exercise. Puppies can be especially rambunctious and will need age appropriate exercise to keep them from becoming destructive. Even as a Dalmatian reaches maturity (over 18 months) they require a fair amount of physical activity. Remember that they were originally bred to run along side horse drawn carriages all day. They do well with active families and make great running, hiking, and horse riding partners.
Shedding - It is said that Dalmatians only shed twice a year; 6 months in the Spring and 6 months in the Fall! Dalmatians shed .. a lot. In our house we call it Dalmatian glitter just to feel a little better about seeing it everywhere. Shedding can be managed a little with proper diet and grooming, but every potential Dalmatian owner should understand that your black clothes will always have some "glitter" on it if you own a Dalmatian. I also suggest investing in a robot vacuum (I would be lost without mine)!
Personality and Training - One of my favorite things about the Dalmatian is their personality. They can be clowns and give so much entertainment in the silly antics they do. They are also very smart and can be stubborn which makes early training extremely important. Dalmatians left to their own mind with no ground rules will quickly assume they are the leader. Owners who are not prepared to invest in training will want to reconsider owning a Dalmatian. Dalmatians not taught proper obedience will easily become problem dogs. Dalmatians were also guard dogs for the horse drawn carriages, so although they are happy with nearly everyone they meet, they will stay vigilant and many will alert you when something is amiss. Dalmatians should not be shy. With proper training Dalmatians make amazing pets and are often shown in obedience and performance events. There are also many Dalmatians that serve as Therapy Dogs.
Health - Dalmatians are a fairly healthy breed with many living well into their teenage years. All puppies should be BAER tested (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) after 5 or 6 weeks of age to ensure normal hearing. Deafness in one or both ears can occur in the breed. Unilateral hearing puppies (hearing out of only one ear) function virtually the same as normal hearing puppies and many will never know they only hear from one ear without the BAER test. It is our preference to withhold a unilateral hearing puppy, as well as blue eyed puppies, from showing and breeding as they are statistically shown to produce more unilateral and/or deaf puppies.
Dalmatians also have a trait called Hyperuricosuria where they are not able to process purines properly and can form high uric acid (HUA) in their bladder. This can lead to crystal and even stone formation in the urinary tract causing pain and can even lead to blockage of the urinary tract, which requires emergency surgery. While this is managed through proper diet and "floating" the food in water, any potential Dalmatian owner should research and be aware of foods that a Dalmatian needs to avoid. It is an owners responsibility to always read the ingredient list on food and treat containers. We send every puppy home with food recommendations as well as information to read and provide to your vet regarding bladder stones.
As with all other breeds, certain genetic health tests should always be performed before a breeding takes place. Here at Crescent Hill our breeding dogs pass all Dalmatian Club of America recommended health tests including but not limited to; Hip Dysplasia, BAER hearing test, and either Thyroid testing or ACVO Eye Exam, all of which are published with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for easy lookup. We will often also test for additional genetic disorders and coat traits. We will always share these results with potential puppy families!
As always any dog owner should be prepared financially to provide adequate care if an emergency arises. While the thought of a Dalmatian puppy may excite you, it is important to know that you will be able to provide care for the life of your pet.
If you want to learn more about the Dalmatian we are always happy to share stories and help you decide if they are the right breed for you!