The Dalmatian is a medium-sized, muscular dog known for its distinctive black-and-white spotted coat. An incredibly active and boisterous dog, the Dalmatian has been famously used as a fire dog, giving it the nickname “Firehouse Dog”.
Dalmatian puppies are actually born white and develop spots around the age of 3 weeks old. Spots are usually between 30 and 60 mm in size, though some may be considerably larger or smaller. Though their spots are usually black or brown in colour, rare colours such as brindle, mosaic, tricolour and orange/lemon are also available.
They have a short, fine, smooth yet dense coat which sheds a considerable amount all through the year. Weekly grooming with a mitt is recommended to minimise shedding and remove dead hair.
The average Dalmatian weighs around 23-25kg, with males standing between 50 and 60 cm tall and females 50-55 cm. The life expectancy of a Dalmatian is about 10-13 years.
Dalmatians are incredibly energetic dogs, and as such need to be taken on a long, brisk walk or jog every day. Large, safe living areas and backyards are also recommended, since bored, inactive Dalmatians can become destructive.
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Dalmatians are incredibly playful and happy dogs with barrels full of energy. If they don’t receive adequate mental and physical stimulation, they can become highly strung, develop behavioural issues and may become timid without enough socialisation.
If given a firm, consistent leader, the Dalmatian can be very obedient and trainable, and they have above average levels of intelligence.
Because of its boisterous and energetic nature, the Dalmatian is not recommended for families with young children. The Dalmatian does best with an owner who is just as energetic as it is.
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The Dalmatian’s place of origin is a subject of dispute, however it is generally agreed that it came from Croatia. The first depictions of the Dalmatian can be dated back to the early 17th century. Thomas Pennant described the dog in his Synopsis of Quadrupeds and cited its origin as Dalmatia, the region of Croatia from which the breed gets its name.
The first (unofficial) breed standard was introduced in 1882 in England, and became official with the establishment of the Dalmatian Club in 1890.
In the US, Dalmatians were popularly used as carriage dogs in horse-drawn fire engines. Though not used today, they serve as the mascot of US firehouses, and many firefighters choose Dalmatians as pets in honour of their firehouse past.
Dalmatians were first registered in the US in 1888 and the Dalmatian Club of America was established in 1905. As of 2013, the Dalmatian is the AKC’s 64thmost popular breed of dog.