Breed of the Week: Dalmatian 06/06/16

Dalmatian 2

Breed Stats

Country of Origin: Croatia

Average Height: Males 22-24 inches (56-62 cm), Females 21-23 inches (54-60 cm)

Average Lifespan: 10-13 years

Coat: The coat is short, shiny, dense and fine.

Colour: The base colour is white and the spots can be either black or liver.  The spots should also be well defined and distributed evenly across the dog’s body.


            There is much speculation and debate over the origin of the Dalmatian; however the FCI, which is an international federation of kennel clubs, recognized Croatia as the country of origin.  The earliest illustrations of the Dalmatian were found in Croatia and they date to around 1600.  The first descriptions of such dogs date back to the early 18th century in the archives of the Archdiocese of Đakovo, where a dog described as Canis Dalmaticus was described in the church chronicles.  In 1771, Thomas Pennant described the breed in his book, Synopsis of Quadrupeds.  In this book he wrote that the origin of the breed was Dalmatia and he referred to the dogs as Dalmatian.

Despite the fact that they originated in Croatia, much of the breeds development and cultivation occurred in England.  The first unofficial breed standard was introduced by an Englishman in 1882 and in 1890 the first Dalmatian club was formed and the standard was made official. The unique markings of the breed became quite popular across all of Europe and by 1920 were widely distributed across the continent.

The Dalmatian became a very popular coach dog, meaning they travelled alongside a horse-drawn carriage and would guard the carriage when the master was elsewhere.  This is most likely where their connection with firehouses came from.  Before the invention of combustion engines, firefighters had to use horse-drawn carriages.   The Dalmatian would run in front and help to clear a path, kind of like a precursor to modern day emergency sirens.  They make great guard dogs as well so they would commonly guard the firehouse from horse thieves.  Nowadays the Dalmatian is often kept by firehouses as a sort of mascot, and many firefighters choose to keep them as pets.  The Dalmatian has had a few surges in popularity over the years, the first of which was around 1956 when the book 101 Dalmatians was published.  Then in 1961 there was an animated film and in 1996 there was a live action film, both of which caused a spike in Dalmatian popularity.


FCI: Group 6, Section 3 (Scenthounds) #153

AKC: Non-Sporting

UKC: Companion Breeds

CKC: Group 6 (Non-Sporting)

KC (UK): Utility


            The Dalmatian is a very high energy dog that loves to run.  They are highly intelligent and can be fairly easy to train.  However they also need a lot of leadership and human companionship, so a Dalmatian may not be the best choice for every dog owner.  They require plenty of daily exercise, both physical and mental or else they can become high strung.  Early socialization and training is very important for intelligent, high energy dogs such as these.


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