Although it is thought that the Dalmatian was originally used as a hunting dog, it is best known in this country as a carriage dog. Indeed at one point, a Dalmatian was an important part of the carriage outfit as much as the horses! Not only were they considered a fashion accessory but they were also used to guard the horses and would usually sleep in the stables at night.
However the Dalmatian has developed in to a much-loved pet & show dog. There are even some Dalmatians who are successful at obedience, agility, flyball and much more.
The Dalmatian is an active dog, full of energy and a great companion. There is nothing a Dalmatian likes best than to accompany you EVERYWHERE!
They come in two colours: White and Black spots, & White and Liver spots. One of the main attractions of this breed is it's distinctive spotting but prospective owners are advised to find as much information about the characteristics of this breed and preferably have spent some time with an adult Dalmatian as this breed is not the perfect choice for everyone.
The Dalmatian is happiest with owners who have at least one member of the family at home for most of the day and also a family who are very active and are prepared to give this lovely dog all the exercise he/she needs.
New owners should also be aware that Dalmatian hairs do not like staying on the Dalmatian, they have a habit of shedding everywhere! So if you are very particular about your pristine white carpets or your lovely new black velvet suit, you will only make yourself ill trying to clean all the hairs off! (However, it is always easy to 'spot' a fellow Dalmatian owner and we accept each other's attire with a smile!)
Dalmatians are quite large dogs, with 'whippy' tails and full of bounce. They benefit from obedience training and can reward your efforts with a nicely behaved pet, if you are prepared to put in the time and patience that particular dog needs.
Dalmatians can suffer from hereditary deafness and it is strongly recommended that puppies are only purchased from reputable breeders who have had both the sire and dam hearing tested and all the puppies that are offered for sale, tested clear - that is, fully hearing in both ears. Although a partially deaf dog can make a great pet, as it can still function normally, it should NEVER be bred from. A Dalmatian that is deaf in both ears is an extremely difficult prospect, particularly for such an active breed and it is not recommended that an average owner wanting a pet should accept one.
Buying a Dalmatian
Due to the popularity of the Disney film 'One hundred and one Dalmatians', there has been a sudden increase in demand for Dalmatian puppies. This has unfortunately meant that 'Puppy Farms' have cashed in; producing large amounts of litters, from parents who are either far too young to be bred from, or that they do not represent good examples of the breed and therefore could be more susceptible to faults, which could give the new purchaser not only a big headache, but a rather large vet's bill.
Prospective owners should find out where the reputable breeders are, through the few Dalmatian Clubs that exist in the U.K. Most of these can not only offer advice but also produce puppy lists from their members who have to follow a code of conduct written by the respective clubs.
Most of these clubs can be contacted through the Kennel Club.
A reputable breeder will only sell you a puppy after finding out about your lifestyle etc. and deciding whether a Dalmatian would be suitable for you. They will be able to show you both the sire and dam of the litter, or be able to put you in touch with the owner of the sire. You would be able to spend some time with an adult Dalmatian and also receive any advice about the breed and its care.
The breeders should be able to produce a pedigree of the puppies, the registration papers (if they have been received back from the Kennel Club) and also the results of the hearing tests.
A good breeder will want to see the puppy again at a later stage. They will be interested in it's welfare, condition and how the new owners are coping with their bundle of fun! This is also a good opportunity to answer any questions the new owners might have and point them in the right direction.
There also are Dalmatian Welfare and rescue organisations that have many unfortunate Dalmatians in need of a good home. They too will want to know all about you, as it is very important that these Dalmatians at last find the right home and the right owners. They do a marvellous job and can also offer lots of advice to new owners.
You can never over-exercise a healthy adult Dalmatian. It doesn't matter how long you take them out for, they will still be running ahead and be full of energy. This is why the breed was ideal to run alongside horses. However, 2 hours exercise a day with some of that off the lead, will be enough to keep him/her healthy.
A young puppy however, will receive sufficient exercise playing in the garden at home. It is important that while the bones and joints are still forming, that they are not subjected to stress. This also means that roadwork on the lead should only be for 10 minutes at the most (enough to introduce the puppy to traffic etc.).
Luckily, the Dalmatian has a short coat, which looks after itself. But, as stressed before, they do shed hairs all year round, so a brush over with a grooming glove and then a wipe off with a damp cloth will help keep these hairs off the furniture!
Some Dalmatians do suffer from a skin rash, as their skin is quite sensitive. It can be caused by all sorts of things, including allergies, so it is always best to get the dog checked out with the vet.
Because of this sensitive skin, it is best to bath the Dalmatian as LITTLE as possible and then only with a very mild shampoo. You will find they manage to keep quite clean anyway.
If you decide that a Dalmatian is the dog for you it might not be long before a spotty bundle finds itself in your home and you will soon find that you could never imagine life without one.
Most Dalmatian owners/Breeders are friendly people and only too happy to talk about their spotty friends and only too happy to give advice if it is needed.