The Dalmatian
'Fire House Dog'

descriptive textDig breed info
Weight: 40 — 60 lbs
Height: 19” — 23”
AKC Rank 2008 #74
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group Non-Sporting
Origin Yugoslavia

  • Dog Health, Dog Illness, Medical Problems

    Dog Breed Info - The Dalmatian

    This Dalmatian is running and seen with one paw flat on the ground.
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    Breed Overview

    Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Carriage dog. Today, Companion dog.

    The actual origin of the Dalmetian and how it evolved remains mostly unknown. The name comes from Dalmatia, Yugoslavia, but that’s not exactly where the breed started out according to history books. The “where” is unknown. This dog originally performed several jobs such as draft dog, shepherd, bird dog, retriever and as a circus act. The Dal was bred somewhere along the line to run fast and long to keep pace with carriages in England. As a Coach Dog, the Dal was to guard the horses from vicious dogs and add class to the processions. The idea was that the dogs would run alongside or under the carriages or coaches and perform their duties. When the automobile came along, the need for dogs dropped off but it continued as a Coach Dog for horse-drawn fire engines. Thus, it was adopted as the “fire-dog.” The Dal was AKC accepted in 1888 but has had only moderate popularity since.


    Yes, very trainable. Needs a firm hand and lots of training from a young pup on. They have been trained and used in the circus and as search/rescue dogs as well as guard dogs. Most effective method is the use of clicker training and positive reinforcement. If you are going to get one of these dogs, I'd invest the $3 in a clicker and use it!

    Crate Training

    Want to crate train your Dalmatian puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

    Potty Training

    Most Dalmatians are pretty easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Trainingwhich will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

    If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

    It's nap time for this fire-house dog!
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    These dogs were bred to run for miles at a stretch. They have the energy, stamina and enthusiasm. It is a playful companion that needs extra hard daily exercise. Give this dog enough exercise and he is well behaved and quiet in the home. Keep him on leash. He may be aggressive toward strange dogs. The Dalmatian is pretty good with other pets. This breed may be too energetic for young children. It can be stubborn.

    If you happen to get a Dalmatian with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

    Friendly Toward Other Dogs

    Is wary of other dogs. Chooses his dog friends and can be aggressive.

    Friendly Toward Other Pets

    Best if raised with other pets, but is a good family dog and fits in.

    Friendly Toward Strangers

    Fair. Dalmatians are protective of family and can be cautious about strangers.



    Yes, quite playful.


    Yes, extremely affectionate. Loves family. Needs lots of attention and companionship and gives same in return.

    Good with children?

    Yes, as a rule, especially if they grow up with the children from puppyhood. But, the breed can be too energetic for really young kids.

    Good with Seniors over 65?

    No, needs too much exercise.

    Living environment

    Apartment or condo is okay as long as the dog gets outside for all the exercise he needs. The Dalmatian also needs a soft bed and can not tolerate too much cold weather.

    A medium size, fenced yard would be a plus where he could play fetch with a ball for exercise.


    Energy level

    High energy, very active.

    Exercise needs, daily

    Dalmatians Need lots of exercise. Ideal jogging partner! Long walks, lengthy games of fetch in the yard, anything to tire this guy out will help keep him out of trouble. If not tired out, he can get into things that you won’t appreciate.



    Guard dog

    Good. Best if trained.




    Brushing with a stiff bristle brush 3 to 4 times a week will help remove dead hair, especially while shedding. If you see skin “flaking” in dry weather, see you vet for treatment. Your dog will appreciate the attention.



    Suggested Reading For The Dalmatian
    Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

    • 3rd book from the left is "101 Dog Tricks" which offers a lit of mental stimulation for your dog. There are things for him to learn in this book I had never dreamed of! It's a lot of fun.

    • The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners and should be kept close at hand. Vol 2, 2008 includes a DVD.

    Dalmatian Breeders

    In the event you decide to go looking for Dalmatian puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
    Dalmatian Breeders with puppies for sale.

    Dalmatian Rescue

    In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Dalmatian Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
    Petfinder - Dalmatian Rescue - (Nationwide) If you do adopt one, try to locate any dog health records for possible future reference.
    Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but if you don't find what you want, surf online for Dalmatian Rescue (or Dalmatian Rescue) and also look for kennels, etc.

    Dog Health Issues For The Dalmatian
    Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Dalmatian by various vets.

    This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

    The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

    • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the Dalmatian. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    • Polyneuropathy—A hereditary neuromuscular disorder that is breed related and usually shows up at around 1 to 2 years of age. It’s a collection of peripheral motor nerves that become dysfunctional in the Dalmatian. Symptoms include reduced reflexes, poor muscle tone, weakness, paralysis and normally occurs in the rear legs. This is generally a chronic problem and come on gradually. See your vet.

    • Demodicosis—Demodectic mange—A skin disease known as “Red Mange.” Loss of hair, itching, reddening of skin and areas can become crusty. Sometimes cured with topical creams. May spread. Treatment is in the form of medications.

    • Urolithiasis—Excessive crystals (stones or bladder or kidney stones) can form in the urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine. The crystals or stones irritate the lining of the urinary tract. They cause blood in the urine and pain and in severe cases make urination impossible for the Dalmatian. Symptoms are frequent urination, urinating in odd places, blood in urine, dribbling, depression, weakness, straining, pain, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dogs can be treated by diet, medications and surgery, depending on the dog, severity and other circumstances of the individual case.

    • Pannus—A disorder of the cornea of the eye affecting certain breeds in the 4 to 7 year range with an increase in dogs living at higher elevations. Not painful and treatable. If not treated for the remaining life of the dog, the cornea will slowly darken and scar causing visual impairment.

    • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

    • Atopic dermatitis's—Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds such as the Dalmatian are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

    • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
      Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

    • Seizures - a serious disorder that appears at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog..

    • Interdigital dermatitis - An infection occurs between the "toes" of the Dalmatian and sacs fill with pus which bothers your Dalmatian. She licks and bites at the bothersome infections and after a few days, they break open and drain, giving relief to the dog. All you will see is the dog limping around. Clean and cleanse the infected feet well, see a vet for medication to prevent returning infections and that should do it.

    • Distichiasis—Eye Problem - An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

    • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will cause total blindness.

    • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eyes eventually causing total blindness.

    • Iris sphincter dysplasia—Pupils don’t contract in bright light. This exposes the interior of the eye to dangerous ultraviolet light that can cause serious eye damage such as retina damage and blindness.

    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

    • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Dalmatian's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

    • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

    Other health problems could occur with your Dalmatian. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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