Dalmatian: Everything You Need to Know

Dalmatian is an energetic and cheerful pet. Thanks to its striking appearance, you will definitely not go unnoticed while walking in the park and on dog grounds.

The Dalmatian is one of the breeds for which the “media” and momentary popularity have brought more harm than good. Dogs with a difficult temperament and high needs for daily exercise do not get along with every fan of the Disney cartoon. But experienced and responsible owners will find a loyal friend and wonderful companion in this energetic creation.

The mention of spotted dogs is found in documents that have come down to us from different eras and states, starting from the ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls. However, based on scanty verbal descriptions, it is simply impossible to reasonably judge who exactly was the ancestor of modern Dalmatians.

The first more or less reliable evidence of the existence of the breed dates back to the 16th – 17th centuries. White dogs with small dark markings are depicted in the surviving religious and secular works of art of those times: the painting of the altar in the Church of St. Mary (also known as “Gospel od anđela”) in a small town on the resort island of Losinj, a fresco in the Franciscan monastery in Zaostrog, frescoes of the church Santa Maria Novella in Florence, ceremonial portraits by Venetian and Tuscan artists, which depict influential nobles – for example, Cosimo II Medici. Since much of the earliest evidence was found in the historical region of Dalmatia, which is now part of Croatia, it is from here that the roots of the Brid are derived. And the obvious consonance of the names speaks in favor of this version, officially adopted by the FCI.

In the same place, on the warm shores of the Adriatic Sea, some “theoretical” works were published. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Djakovo-Osijek has preserved in its archives the chronicles of Bishop Petar Bakić (1719) and Andreas Kecskemety (1739), both speak of Canis Dalmaticus dogs specifically to Croatia. In 1771, Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant wrote the book “Synopsis of the Quadruped”, where he first named the breed Dalmatian. In 1790 the English natural history researcher Thomas Buick included the Dalmatians in A General History of the Quadruped.

In general, it should be said that it was in Britain that immigrants from Dalmatia gained particular popularity. Researchers suggest that representatives of other breeds were used here inbreeding, in particular, black pointers and white English terriers. The latter became extinct more than a hundred years ago, but put their paws on the creation of many modern breeds: Boston Terrier, American Bulldog, Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and others. Through the efforts of the breeders of Foggy Albion, by the second half of the 18th century, the Dalmatians’ appearance recognizable today was formed.

At the same time, the “Italian dogs”, as they were originally called by the British, noticed an amazing ability almost tirelessly to run long distances, not inferior in speed to horse-drawn carriages. The swift-footed dogs were made guards for valuable “movable property” on city trips and long journeys – a kind of prototype of modern car alarms. In addition, during the trip, four-legged drivers followed the horses and, with light bites, forced tired or lazy animals to maintain the pace set by the driver. Since then, for several decades, they have been assigned the definition of coach dogs.

Although the functions of the Dalmatians were not limited to this. They guarded houses, helped hunters for small and large games, served as “bodyguards” for noble ladies walking without a male company. In the era of the regency, spotted pets became a sign of the owner’s high social status.

Finding themselves overseas, unusual dogs changed their roles and instead of rich noblemen they were accompanied by voluntary fire brigades, which, before the massive introduction of internal combustion engines, could not do without real “horsepower”. Visible from afar, white “bells” served as a warning for other participants in the movement about the approach of fighters with fire and helped clear the way no worse than sirens and light signals. But even after the carriages for extinguishing the flames became museum exhibits, many did not want to part with their living talismans. Today, charismatic dogs are a recognizable symbol of US firefighters.

As for the exhibition history, for the first time dogs from Dalmatia were presented to the judgment of a professional jury and the public in 1860 in Birmingham. Thirty years later, a breeder club was formed and an official breed standard was formulated. Two years earlier it was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The International Cynological Organization FCI registered the Dalmatians in 1926.

In Moscow, the first representatives of the spotted brethren appeared in 1982, but breeding in the USSR progressed very slowly due to a lack of fresh blood. And the demand for puppies was small since many dog ​​lovers simply had no idea about the existence of the breed. Monobreed clubs emerged only at the dawn of the 90s. Today the largest concentration of nurseries and owners of Dalmatians is in the capital, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and some other cities.

Athletic and hardy, elegant medium to large-sized dogs. Males weigh on average 18-27 kg with a height at the withers of 58-61 cm, females – 16-24 kg and 56-58 cm, respectively.

The head of a Dalmatian is proportional to the body. Elongated, flat, not too wide between the ears. The muzzle with a pronounced stop is equal in length or slightly shorter than the occipital part. There are no skin folds on the head.

Moderately large ears, set wide on the head, flattened to the sides. Triangular in shape, the tips are slightly rounded. The color is necessarily spotted, it corresponds to the general color.

The eyes of Dalmatians are medium in size, oval in shape. The color corresponds to the color: dark brown for dogs with black spots, amber with brown spots. The look is clear and intelligent. The eyelids fit well to the eyeball. Their edges are well pigmented (depending on the color – black or brown).

The nose is wide, fully pigmented (black or brown according to the main color), the nostrils are wide open.

The lips fit snugly against the jaw. The jaws are strong. The bite is a scissor bite, the upper teeth completely overlap the lower ones.

The neck is strong, rather long.

The body of the Dalmatian is well built, the shoulders are well-muscled, with a deep chest and well-arched ribs. The back is straight and powerful. The loin and croup are muscular, the slope is slight.

The front legs are straight, the elbows are pressed to the body. The hind legs are well-muscled, the knees are strong and well developed. The paws resemble those of a cat: compact and rounded, the toes are arched. The nails can be pigmented depending on the base color.

The tail of the Dalmatian is rather long, spotted, and straight. Thicker at the base, tapering towards the tip.

The coat is short, dense, smooth, glossy, hard.

On a main white background, black or brown (strictly the same color!) Spots with clear contours, which are located symmetrically along the body, on the head, ears, and tail.

Dalmatians are not suitable for inexperienced owners and people who need the company of a phlegmatic “couch” dog. Incredibly active by nature, without proper physical exertion, they channel unused energy into destructive pranks, damaging the home. In such a situation, the animal becomes uncontrollable, it does not obey commands and completely ignores prohibitions.

Failure to understand the rationale behind this behavior has led to the formation of an erroneous opinion about low intelligence. If the Dalmatian does not respond to “No!” and “Come to me!”, this does not mean that he is stupid. The point is simply that the owner made serious mistakes during his upbringing, did not establish his authority, and continues the chain of mistakes, not satisfying the natural needs of the pet in physical exercise.

Correct training, balanced and calm building relationships with the puppy, early socialization contribute to the formation of a healthy and strong psyche. Such dogs perfectly feel the mood of a person and adapt to it, they are happy to carry out commands, do not start fights on the walking grounds, are restrained with strangers, and are friendly towards animals.

Dalmatians are not attached to one “their” person, they equally love and protect all household members, while striving to take an active part in everything that people do. Get along well with other pets, especially if they grow up with them. There is a long-standing attraction to the company of horses in the genes, but few people today own a stable, so a dog or cat society would be suitable.

For a family with small children, the emergence of energetic “plum pudding”, as the English affectionately call these dogs, can be a problem. But not because by nature they are aggressive and capable of deliberately harming the little one. On the one hand, impetuous and harsh by nature Dalmatians do not measure up their strengths and often knock down the kids who are inappropriately in the way. On the other hand, animals with hearing problems instinctively defend themselves from the “threat” when they are imperceptibly approached from behind or disturbed in their sleep, and it is difficult for crumbs to immediately learn the subtleties of handling a special family member.

But with older children and adolescents, Dalmatians in most cases get along just fine, feeling a kindred restless soul.

Dalmatians are among the breeds for which proper training and early socialization are incredibly important. A freedom-loving character, unbridled energy, and hunter’s instincts without control and restraint mechanisms formed in childhood lead to the emergence of an uncontrollable, destructive adult animal.

Learning basic commands and interacting with the outside world cannot be delayed. From the first days of the appearance of a puppy in your home, a parenting program should start. A little Dalmatian must clearly understand the boundaries of what is permitted and know that disobedience will have consequences. Of course, it is unacceptable to show aggression and use physical force, but the owner’s firm and stern voice, in which dissatisfaction is clearly expressed, is in itself a sufficient punishment.

Do not forget that visits to the walking grounds and participate in group exercises with a dog handler can only begin when the puppy has received the prescribed doses of the mandatory vaccines and enough time has passed for the formation of immunity to diseases dangerous for the pet. It is better to clarify this with your veterinarian.

Well-trained dogs already in half a year know and easily execute more than a dozen commands, including both standard and “artistic” like successive coups, “High five!” or bows. In general, it must be said that spotted circus performers adore attention and are ready to make a lot of effort to make their owners smile.

An ideal option for keeping a Dalmatian would be a spacious private house with a securely fenced area where he can walk freely during the day. However, it must be remembered that representatives of this breed cannot live permanently in an aviary in our climatic conditions – short wool does not protect against low temperatures.

If you are the owner of a city apartment, long walks are a prerequisite for a peaceful existence. Moreover, not only the duration is important (at least an hour a day), but also the saturation with loads. It is best if the dog on a leash accompanies you on a run or bike ride – moving at a fast pace, he will burn enough energy not to seek adventure when he returns. An alternative can be exercised on an equipped obstacle course, just correctly measure the physical condition of the dog and the height of the barriers.

Dalmatians do not require complicated and tedious grooming. Their “fur coat” does not fall off and does not need a haircut or frequent washing, however, molting occurs abundantly and almost continuously, and becomes especially strong at the border of warm and cold seasons. To keep the coat in the house minimal, it is recommended that you brush your pet with a brush or a special mitten as often as possible (at least 2-3 times a week).

Otherwise, standard procedures are enough: monitor the condition of the ears and eyes, the length of the claws, regularly brush your teeth with the veterinary paste. Nutrition should be balanced and healthy. The easiest way to achieve this is with premium and super-premium ready-made feeds. Remember that overeating combined with low physical activity is associated with obesity.

The average life span of Dalmatians is 10-13 years.

The biggest problem of the breed is deafness. Hearing problems of varying severity occur in almost a third of dogs. 12% of Dalmatians are born completely deaf. An effective solution has not yet been found. Although only healthy animals are allowed for breeding, they also have sick puppies. The latter, however, lead a full life as pets. This deficiency can be identified in the first weeks using modern tests.

Due to the metabolic characteristics of Dalmatians, bladder stones are common. They are also prone to skin allergies and hip dysplasia. Less common are epilepsy, autoimmune liver diseases, osteochondrosis of the shoulder joint, osteomyelitis, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, laryngeal paralysis, and other nonspecific diseases.

Since many diseases are hereditary or congenital, their occurrence can be predicted taking into account the pedigree. Responsible breeders always provide comprehensive information about the health status of parents and grandparents.

How to choose a puppy?

The key to a successful purchase is a well-considered and carefully considered breeder choice. Only nurseries with an impeccable reputation can guarantee that the new member of your family will be physically healthy and psychologically stable. Since Dalmatian puppies are given to permanent owners no earlier than 10-12 weeks, they manage to undergo the necessary medical examinations and show their character traits.

A good breeder will ask you no fewer questions than you will ask him because for him every four-legged baby is not a living commodity, but a person, so it is important to understand in what family he will live, in what conditions.

And you, in turn, have the full right to get to know the parents and study their documents, the veterinarian’s conclusions about the puppy’s health, and the results of the BAER test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) – an electrodiagnostic hearing test.

It is important to see the conditions in which the mother and the babies are kept, to learn about nutrition and personally communicate with the puppy she likes, to evaluate his ability to make contact with a person and adequately respond to the outside world.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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