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Dalmatians: Characteristics of the breed and how to live with a Dalmatian
The Dalmatian is a highly distinctive breed of large dog. The obvious stand-out feature of this breed is its coat. This is what made them famous in the Disney Movie ‘101 Dalmatians’. The unusual pattern of black spots on a white coat makes this dog hard to miss. It is named after where the breed originated – Dalmatia, a region of Croatia.
In addition to being a great looking dog, a Dalmatian can make a brilliant family pet. However, there are plenty of things to be aware of before you make the decision to get one. There are also some good tips that will make your life with this particular breed a lot easier!
Physical characteristics of a Dalmatian
Physically, the Dalmatian is likely to reach a height of around 60cm for a male, and 57cm for a female. They usually weigh in the region of 25kg, though males can be more, and females will tend to be slightly less. The famous coat of a Dalmatian is made of smooth and short fur, but they will tend to shed a lot of fur. They will need a lot of brushing to keep this under control, but otherwise they do not require much in the way of grooming.
The typical life span of a Dalmatian is 10 to 13 years. This means they are quite long-lived dogs, so taking one on for life can be quite a commitment.
They are muscular and well-defined dogs. The movement of a Dalmatian is elegant thanks to its long body. The tail is fairly long and has a slight, upward curve.
Happily, they have a low tendency to drool and a low tendency to snore. They are unlikely to bark a lot, which is another bonus. They have a low tendency to dig as this was not something that they were bred for.
Dalmatians have bundles of energy and a lot of stamina – they are the kind of dog that will run and run. This means they need to be getting at least 40 minutes of exercise per day, just to keep them calm and happy.
Personality of a Dalmatian
Good: The personality of most Dalmatians will reward your commitment in spades. This dog breed is known for its energy, but also for its engagement. They will look to you for a lot of things, including entertainment!
You need to be an active person and know how to be the ‘pack leader’ for your Dalmatian, to really give them the engagement and excitement that they need. They will require quite a lot of time to be kept happy. In return, they will be playful and sensitive dogs. Dalmatians are intelligent, can be well trained and make good watchdogs.
They are loyal to their family and good with children, although some Dalmatian experts caution that the breed may be too energetic for very small children. It’s easy to see why when they can be running around at speed and are quite large!
Bad: It is possible for Dalmatians to be reserved with strangers and also aggressive when meeting other dogs. If a Dalmatian is not well socialised then they can be timid or highly strung.
Strangely, these dogs are well known for having especially good “memories”. The unfortunate effect of this is that they are said to recall any mistreatment they suffer for years.
Dalmatians really depend on lots of human companionship. If they are left alone for too long it is possible that they can become destructive of their surroundings. It is also possible that they will become moody and act in a depressed way. A Dalmatian is definitely for an owner that wants to spend time plenty of time with their pet and can give them a good amount of attention.
As we mentioned, Dalmatians need a lot of exercise, because they have to do something with their boundless energy!
The breed was actually the object of fashion and became briefly very popular because of their movie exposure. Trends like this can often be a cause of overbreeding, leading to poor specimens, and this did happen in many cases. It also led to lots of Dalmatians being brought into homes that were not suitable due to the characteristics of the breed. They have relatively high occurrence of deafness, which can make them hard to communicate with. There are ways around this but it takes patience. Unfortunately, it is the case that many Dalmatians have ended up in rescue shelters or have been treated badly because they are not quite the same as the dogs in the movies.
How to live with a Dalmatian
It is important that you know what you are getting and that you make a strong commitment to your new pet. You should be prepared for a dog that will need a lot of love and attention, so perhaps this isn’t the best dog to have as your first. However, if you are ready to take the plunge, make sure you get these things sorted in advance!
Dalmatians are really not suitable for people who live in apartments or have tiny gardens in a city. This arrangement can only work if you are committed going for lengthy walks or runs on a daily basis. To be able to live with a Dalmatian more easily it is a really good idea to give them space to run around, to romp, to play and be themselves in an environment that is suited to their energy. It is not advisable to leave them outside without a secure fence to keep them in your garden, so sort this out before as well.
To make it easier for them to be around your home, you should buy a dog crate at the same time as getting your dog. Housebreaking them may take a while, but doing it with patience will work. You should definitely keep in mind that Dalmatians require a specific and carefully monitored diet.
If you get a puppy, you should remember that Dalmatian puppies are intelligent but also stubborn. This makes it very important that you get ahead and start with obedience training almost immediately. Otherwise you might end up with a hyperactive dog that is also disobedient and stubborn – not a good combination!
To make the ideal start, try to socialize your young Dalmatian with other dogs and all types of people. Until you are confident with your pet, you should always keep them on a lead when out walking. It’s also a great idea to always carry treats in your pocket when you are out walking. You should always supervise young children when they are playing with your dog, but it is important that you make them a close part of the family – they will love it!