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Dalmatian Information

The Dalmatian is a medium-sized, smooth-coated dog with black or liver (brown) spots.  They are intelligent, devoted to their owner(s), and moderately territorial.  The Dal is a naturally clean dog and has no "doggy" odor.  Bred as a coach dog, the Dalmatian is physically fitted for long distance running and requires a great deal of exercise.  If not given enough, Dalmatians may become destructive.  While the Dal is a hardy breed, they are not an outdoor dog or kennel dog.  They require a great deal of human companionship and love.  The Dalmatian is not for everyone, but that is not to say that the Dalmatian is not for anyone.  Due to recent popularity, the Dalmatian as a breed has been criticized as being aggressive, hyper, and having serious health problems.  Don't let this turn you away from a spotted companion.  It should only inspire you to find a reputable breeder, committed to protecting and bettering the breed.  There are many reputable breeders out there.  And, it is a good idea to see more than one litter before choosing a pup.  Temperament in this breed varies widely.  The temperament of any pup is a direct result of its genetic background and the care and environment provided by the breeder.  The breeder you choose should be a member of the Dalmatian Club of America, a regional Dalmatian Club, and/or an all-breed kennel club.  By belonging to one of these clubs, that breeder has agreed to abide by that club's code of ethics.

As with any breed, there are a few health concerns you should be aware of before adopting a Dalmatian.

  • One is congenital deafness.  All Dalmatians should be tested for hearing impairment using the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) test between 5 and 6 weeks old.  This test determines whether sound waves are picked up by the ear and transferred neurologically to the brain for interpretation.  Completely deaf pups should be put down humanely.  As cruel as this may seem, it is truly the kindest thing to be done for a deaf dog.  Deaf dogs are at a greater risk for mistreatment by frustrated owners and since they can't hear you call them, are at a greater risk to run away and be hit by a car.  Sometimes pups hear in only one ear, called unilateral hearing or "unis."  These pups make great pets!  Unfortunately many breeders do not BAER test their breeding stock or pups.  Deaf puppies may be hard to pick out amongst their littermates because they often mimic their littermates' behavior and can fool the experienced breeder.  Always request proof that your pup has been BAER tested.

  • The second is bladder/kidney stones.  Because of the Dalmatians inability to process purines (chemical compounds found in protein) some Dals may form uric acid stones (bladder/kidney stones).  This is a potentially life threatening condition!  If you own a Dalmatian you MUST watch them urinate every day!  Dalmatians should never be fed foods high in purines such as organ meat, game meat, or red meat.  Dals should be fed a high quality, moderate level protein diet.  The protein source should be lamb or poultry, and the ideal protein percentage should be between 20-26%.  Pups require higher levels of protein from the same sources.  According to an article by Mary Bowles in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine, October 2008, feeding a diet high in plant protein could actually cause stones!

    Stones, photos and information.

    Urine pH and crystals under magnification

    For more information on stones, please refer to the Dalmatian Club of America's web page on Information on Urinary Stones and Treatment

    Solid Gold Animal Health Products offers urinary pH test strips (the best way to monitor your Dalmatian's urinary pH).

If your breeder doesn't talk about these two major health concerns in great length, you may want to find another breeder.

You cannot assume that a breeder placing
an ad in a newspaper is a reputable one!

Frequently Asked Questions.  These are the questions we are asked most often by people interested in adopting a Dalmatian puppy.

Buyer Be Aware...Questions to ask Prospective Breeders?  How to determine if your breeder is reputable.

Are your ready for a Dalmatian?  Ask yourself the following questions... 

A Puppy's Life.  This is a photo essay of a puppy's life.
It may take a few minutes to download on dialup modems due to all the pictures.

Decisions, Decisions?  What will it be?  Male or female?  Black or liver?  Bi or Uni?

What is a BAER test?  See pictures of a pup being BAER tested.

Is your Dalmatian over weight (or underweight)?  See pictures of an overweight Dalmatian and under weight Dalmatian and a Dalmatian in great weight.

Feeding a Dalmatian.  Choosing a dog food.

Hypothyroidism in Dalmatians.  See pictures of our Dalmatian suffering from hypothyroidism.

How are Highland puppies raised?  This page talks about our puppy socialization practices.

The Cost of Owning a Dog, RaisingSpot.com

Recommended Reading:

  • The Official Book of the Dalmatian, by the Dalmatian Club of America

  • The Dalmatian, by Alfred and Esme Treen

  • The Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson - This is a MUST read!  If you read no other training/behavior book, READ this one!

  • another piece of the puzzle:  Puppy Development, by Pat Hastings and Erin Ann Rouse - Another must read!

  • The Art of Raising a Puppy, The Monks of New Skete

  • How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With, by Clarice Rutherford and David H. Neil

  • Mother Knows Best, The Natural Way to Train Your Dog, by Carol Lea Benjamin

  • The Nature of Animal Healing, Martin Goldstein DVM

  • Food Pet Die For, Ann Martin

Alpine Publications
Dog Wise
Dogfolk Enterprises
Amazon

Meet our Dogs

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Dalmatian mailbox designed and animated by Jim Seltzer, Willowind Dalmatians

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Highland Dalmatians and Ibizan Hounds, January 2001-2017, Last updated January 2, 2017.
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