The Dalmatian is an energetic and cheerful pet. Thanks to its bright appearance, you will definitely not go unnoticed during walks in the park and on dog playgrounds.
- Breed name: Dalmatian
- Country of origin: Croatia
- The time of the birth of the breed: 1791
- Weight: Males: 27-32 kg. Females: 24-29 kg.
- Height (height at the withers): Males: 56-62 cm. Females: 54-60 cm
- Life expectancy: 10-13 years
- These are quite large and very active animals, so it is preferable to keep them in a private house with the possibility of free-range on a fenced plot.
- Dalmatians need early socialization and proper upbringing.
- Without sufficient physical exertion, they turn into uncontrollable destructive dogs.
- Dalmatians are not suitable for stay-at-home people and families with young children.
- Despite the short coat, they shed intensively and need constant care.
- About 12% of puppies are born deaf.
- The pattern of spots on the body is unique for each individual.
- Only dogs with black or brown spots on a white background are allowed to participate in exhibitions, but there are other color options.
Dalmatian belongs to the number of breeds to which "media" and momentary popularity have done more harm than good. Dogs with a difficult character 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 devoted friend and a wonderful companion in an energetic creation.
History of the Dalmatian breed
The mention of spotted dogs is found in extant documents of different eras and states, starting from the ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls. However, on the basis of stingy 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 breed's existence dates back to the XVI–XVII centuries. White dogs with small dark markings are depicted on preserved religious and secular works of art of those times: altar paintings in the Church of St. Mary (also known as "Gospe od anđela") in a small town on the resort island of Losinj, a fresco in the Franciscan monastery in Zaostrog, frescoes of the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, ceremonial portraits by brush Venetian and Tuscan artists, where influential nobles are depicted – for example, Cosimo II de' Medici. Since many of the earliest evidence was found on the territory of the historical region of Dalmatia, which is now part of Croatia, it is from here that it is customary to deduce the roots of the breed. And the obvious consonance of the names speaks in favor of this version, officially adopted by the FCI.
There, on the warm shores of the Adriatic Sea, some "theoretical" works were also published. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Djakovo-Osijek has preserved in its archives the chronicles of Bishop Petar Bakic (1719) and Andreas Kecskemeta (1739), both talking about Canis Dalmaticus dogs specific to Croatia. In 1771, the naturalist from Wales Thomas Pennant wrote the book "Synopsis of quadrupeds", where he first named the breed Dalmatian. In 1790, the English natural history researcher Thomas Buick included the Dalmatians in the "General History of Quadrupeds".
In general, it should be said that it was in Britain that immigrants from Dalmatia gained special popularity. Researchers suggest that representatives of other breeds, in particular, pointers of black color and white English terriers, were used here for breeding. The latter became extinct more than a hundred years ago, but they put their paw to the creation of many modern breeds: the Boston Terrier, american bulldog , bull terriers , American Staffordshire terrier and others. By the efforts of breeders of Foggy Albion, by the second half of the XVIII century, the recognizable appearance of Dalmatians was formed today.
At the same time, the "Italian dogs", as they were originally called by the British, noticed an amazing ability to run almost tirelessly for considerable distances, not inferior in speed to horse-drawn carriages. Fleet–footed dogs were made guards of 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 coachman. Since then, the definition of carriage dogs has been fixed for them for several decades.
Although the functions of the Dalmatians were not limited to this. They guarded houses, helped hunters of small and large game, served as "bodyguards" for noble ladies strolling without male company. In the regency era, spotted pets became a sign of the owner's high social status.
Once overseas, unusual dogs changed roles and instead of rich nobles were accompanied by volunteer fire brigades, which before the mass introduction of internal combustion engines could not do without real "horsepower". Visible from a distance, white "bells" served as a warning for other participants of the movement about the approach of fighters with fire and helped to 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 U.S. firefighters.
As for the exhibition history, for the first time dogs from Dalmatia were presented to the professional jury and the public in 1860 in Birmingham. Thirty years later, a breeders' club was established and an official breed standard was formulated. Two years earlier, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The International Cynological Organization FCI registered Dalmatians in 1926.
In Moscow, the first representatives of the spotted brotherhood appeared in 1982, but breeding in the USSR progressed very slowly due to the lack of fresh blood. And the demand for puppies was small, because many dog lovers simply had no idea about the existence of the breed. Monopred clubs appeared 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.
Appearance of a Dalmatian
Athletic and hardy, elegant dogs from medium to large size. Males on average weigh 18-27 kg with a height at the withers of 58-61 cm, females – 16-24 kg and 56-58 cm, respectively.
The Dalmatian's head is proportional to the body. Elongated, flat, not too wide between the ears. Muzzle with a pronounced stop, equal in length or slightly shorter than the occipital part. There are no skin folds on the head.
Moderately large, set wide on the head, pressed against it on the sides. Triangular in shape, the tips are slightly rounded. The color is necessarily spotted, corresponds to the general coloring.
Dalmatians have medium-sized, oval-shaped eyes. The color corresponds to the color: dark brown for dogs with black spots, amber - with brown. 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 lobe is wide, completely pigmented (black or brown according to the main color), the nostrils are wide open.
Lips and teeth
The lips fit snugly to the jaw. The jaws are strong. The bite is scissor-like, the upper teeth completely overlap the lower ones.
Strong, quite long.
The Dalmatian's body is well built, the shoulders are muscular, with a deep chest and well-arched ribs. The back is smooth, powerful. The loin and croup are muscular, the slope is insignificant.
The front legs are straight, the elbows are pressed against the body. The hind legs are muscular, the knees are strong and well developed. The paws resemble those of a cat: compact and rounded, the fingers are arched. The claws can be pigmented depending on the main color.
The tail of the Dalmatian is quite long, spotted, straight. Thicker at the base, tapering to the tip.
Short, dense, smooth, glossy, hard.
On the main white background, black or brown (strictly the same color!) spots with clear contours, which are located symmetrically on the body, on the head, ears and tail.
Photo of an adult Dalmatian
Dalmatians are not suitable for inexperienced owners and people who need the company of a phlegmatic "sofa" dog. Incredibly active by nature, without proper physical exertion, they direct unspent energy to destructive pranks, harming the home. In such a situation, the animal becomes uncontrollable, it does not obey commands and completely ignores prohibitions.
Misunderstanding of the background of such behavior led to the formation of an erroneous opinion about low intelligence. If a Dalmatian does not react to "You can't!" and "To me!", this does not mean that he is stupid. The point is simply that the owner made serious mistakes during upbringing, did not assert his authority and continues the chain of mistakes, not satisfying the natural needs of the pet in physical exercises.
Proper training, balanced and calm building of relationships with a 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 follow commands, do not start fights on walking grounds, are restrained with strangers, are friendly towards animals.
Dalmatians do not get attached to one "own" person, they equally love and protect all household members, while striving to take an active part in everything that people do. They get along well with other pets, especially if they grow up with them. There is a long-standing craving for the company of horses in the genes, but few people today own a stable, so the company of a dog or cat will be suitable.
For a family with young children, the appearance of an energetic "plum pudding", as the English affectionately call these dogs, can be a problem. But not because they are naturally aggressive and capable of deliberately harming a toddler. On the one hand, impetuous and harsh by nature Dalmatians do not measure their strength and often knock down kids who are inopportunely on 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 dealing with a special family member.
But with older children and teenagers, Dalmatians in most cases get along just fine, feeling a kindred restless soul.
Education and training
Dalmatians belong to the number of breeds for which proper training and early socialization are incredibly important. Freedom-loving character, unbridled energy, hunter instincts without control and deterrence mechanisms formed in childhood lead to the appearance of an uncontrollable, destructive adult animal.
Training in basic commands and interaction with the outside world cannot be postponed. 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 permissible and know that insubordination will have consequences. Of course, it is unacceptable to show aggression and use physical force, but the firm and harsh voice of the owner, in which dissatisfaction is clearly expressed, is in itself a sufficient punishment.
Do not forget that visits to walking grounds and participation in group classes with a dog handler can only begin when the puppy has received the prescribed doses of mandatory vaccines and enough time has passed to form immunity to diseases dangerous to the pet. It is better to clarify this with your veterinarian.
Well-trained dogs already know and easily execute more than a dozen commands in six months, including both standard and "artistic" ones like consecutive 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.
Care and maintenance
The ideal option for keeping a Dalmatian will be a spacious private house with a securely fenced plot where he can walk freely during the day. However, it must be remembered that it is impossible for representatives of this breed to live permanently in an aviary in our climatic conditions – short wool does not protect from low temperatures.
If you are the owner of a city apartment, long walks are a prerequisite for peaceful existence. Moreover, not only the duration (at least an hour a day) is important, but also the saturation with loads. It is best if a dog on a leash will accompany you during a jog or bike ride – moving at a fast pace, he will burn enough energy not to look for adventures on his return. An alternative can be exercises on an equipped obstacle course, only properly measure the physical condition of the dog and the height of the barriers.
Dalmatians do not require complex and tedious care. Their "fur coat" does not fall off and does not need a haircut or frequent washing, however, molting occurs abundantly and almost continuously, and at the border of warm and cold seasons it becomes especially strong. In order for the wool cover in the house to be minimal, it is recommended to comb the pet with a brush or a special glove as often as possible (at least 2-3 times a week).
Otherwise, standard procedures are sufficient: monitor the condition of the auricles and eyes, the length of the claws, regularly brush your teeth with veterinary paste. The diet should be balanced and healthy. The easiest way to achieve this is with the help of ready-made premium and super-premium feeds. Remember that overeating in combination with low physical activity is fraught with obesity.
Dalmatian health and Diseases
The average life expectancy of Dalmatians is 10-13 years.
The biggest trouble 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 to breed, but they also have sick puppies. The latter, however, lead a full life as pets. It is possible to identify this shortcoming in the first weeks with the help of modern tests.
Due to the peculiarities of metabolism, stones in the bladder are often found in Dalmatians. They are also prone to skin allergies and hip dysplasia. Epilepsy, autoimmune liver diseases, osteochondrosis of the shoulder joint, osteomyelitis, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, laryngeal paralysis and other nonspecific diseases are less frequently registered.
Since many diseases are hereditary or congenital in nature, their appearance can be predicted taking into account the pedigree. Responsible breeders always provide comprehensive information about the health status of parents, as well as "grandmothers" and "grandfathers".
How to choose a puppy
The key to a successful purchase is a balanced and carefully thought–out choice of a breeder. Only nurseries with an impeccable reputation can guarantee that a 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 have time to undergo the necessary medical examinations and show their character traits.
A good breeder will ask you no less questions than you ask him, because for him every four–legged baby is not a living commodity, but a person, so it is important to understand in which family he will live, in what conditions.
And you, in turn, have every right to get acquainted with the parents and study their documents, the veterinarian's conclusion on the puppy's health status and the results of the BAER test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) - an electrodiagnostic hearing examination.
It is important to see the conditions in which the mother and the kids are kept, learn about nutrition and personally communicate with the puppy they like in order to assess his ability to make contact with a person and respond adequately to the outside world.
Photos of Dalmatian puppies
How much does a Dalmatian puppy cost
On the sites of private ads for a young Dalmatian "without documents" they ask from $50 to $100. But you should understand that in this case it is impossible to know whether both parents were really representatives of the breed you are interested in. And more importantly, there are no guarantees that the animal will not eventually show any pathologies that are life-threatening or significantly affect its quality.
The price of Dalmatians in kennels varies in different regions and varies even more significantly based on which class a particular puppy belongs to. Depending on individual characteristics and compliance with the breed standard, puppies from the same litter with FCI documents and veterinary passports will cost from $150-$200 to $400-$500. And then it's up to you to decide whether you plan to participate in exhibitions with the prospect of resounding victories or it's enough that a devoted and mischievous friend will appear in your house.