Dalmatian – it’s spotty dog!
The Dalmatian is from the utility group of dog breeds; this group is for dogs that do not easily fit into one of the other groups! The Kennel Club describes the breed as follows:
“In the Regency period 1795-1837 the Dalmatian breed became a status symbol, trotting alongside the horse-drawn carriages and those with decorative spotting were highly prized. For this reason he earned the epithet ‘the Spotted Coach Dog’. The dogs would also guard the stables at night. The breed was also used to run ahead of horse-drawn fire engines clearing the route for the vehicles.”
Of course most of us know them from the famous Dodie Smith book ‘101 Dalmatians’ and the films based on the book. Certainly they are a very distinctive breed, but what are they like to own? Sarah tells us how she came to own her first one:
“We wanted a medium-sized dog, that was active, fun-loving, family orientated, but also could be independent of us. Our first shortlist of possible dogs did not include the Dalmatian. Then I saw one walking through our village and thought it a handsome dog. We repeated our research and added the Dalmatian to the list. The next weekend there were Dalmatian puppies advertised in the local paper and we found a wonderful dog.”
Active, loyal and affectionate
Sarah says that their Dalmatians have exceeded their expectations. They were a little concerned about the breed’s reputation for being a bit mad and uncontrollable, but quickly found that with adequate exercise, the Dalmatian is a relatively calm dog, who is fun-loving and loves to play.
Sarah’s dogs, Dice and Lola are very affectionate and happy to see her, greeting her with that Dalmatian smile! They are more than happy to be an oversized lap dog and love human contact, sitting touching her legs and feet.
Dalmatian dogs love to walk and are great if you want to keep up an active lifestyle. Sarah found with an hour plus walk in the morning, a half hour walk with a dog walker at lunch time and a hour plus walk in the evening, together with a bit of play time, Dice and Lola have been independent enough to be left during the day.
The Dalmatian loves active holidays, long walks in the country, paddling in the sea and exploring the beach. Sarah often takes them out on car journeys as they love being with her. They also loved doing dog agility and dog training.
They are very strong dogs and have the stamina to walk for miles, but will still play in the evenings. Despite being well-built dogs, their appearance is elegant. Sarah has noticed that Lola has a stronger tendency to guard than Dice. She can be over-protective of them, which can be tricky if nervous people are visiting.
Easy care dogs
The Dalmatian is not a fussy eater, although as they are prone to forming urate stones they need a low purine diet. They are smooth-coated, they are easily cared for on a day-to-day basis. However, although they have a smooth, short coat, they do shed hair continuously. The fur is about the size of an eyebrow hair which Sarah says sticks to everything! Dalmatians will also eat anything, so you do have to be careful about unattended food.
“The Dalmatian dog is also moderately difficult to train, having an independent streak to their characters. A sufficient supply of treats can overcome this.”
Deafness is common in the Dalmatian
Although they are generally robust physically, Dalmatians are notoriously prone to deafness and breeders should have their hearing checked. The deafness is caused by a link to the white ear gene. (Incidentally, Border Collies can also suffer deafness as a breed, so all my puppies to date have been BAER tested.) For more information, go to the Animal Health Trust’s pages, including Deafness in Dalmatians.
Lola is deaf in one ear, but this has never made any difference to her, so Sarah feels it does not matter much. It is quite common to have a deaf dog, as many dogs lose their hearing in old age. Dogs and owners usually manage perfectly well. However, like everything else to do with owning a dog, it does take awareness and effort to ensure you have a healthy, happy animal.
Active families required
Sarah feels that a Dalmatian would fit well with people and families who have a commitment to the dog and its exercise requirements. A Dalmatian would probably not be suitable for a family with very young children, as they can be boisterous and time-consuming in their exercise requirements (they are not small, delicate dogs!) They would be suitable for a family that has older children or teenagers.
Sarah’s advice before buying one:
“Research the breed on the internet, read books and information from the Kennel Club. Talk to owners of the breed and the breeders.”
Thank you Sarah for this fascinating insight into this adorable breed!
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