It is an uphill task to pick a breed when you wish to get a pet puppy for the family. What makes it more difficult is the fact that there are hundreds of breeds, and they are all adorable.
The magnificent looking Dalmatian is an excellent choice due to its unique spotted coat. Does it make a good family dog? Let’s find out.
Dalmatians are good family dogs due to their temperament and affection towards children. According to studies by the Dalmatian Club of America [Source: https://www.thedca.org/pertemp.html ], Dalmatians score well on many of the personality and temperament parameters.
On one of these parameters – easily house trained & clean habits – the Dalmatian scores relatively high with an average of 8.8 out of 10. The same source also highly recommends the Dalmatian as a family-friendly dog due to their attachment to children.
However, Dalmatians are excitable to a certain extent and can accidentally trip over smaller children (typically younger than 5-6 years of age) when the dog-child interactions are inadequate. Their pointy tails can unintentionally poke small children at times.
Being highly energetic dogs, they are best suited for active families with children who can keep them physically engaged. They are quite intelligent and equally fond of mental exercises.
Dalmatians get along very well with children once they have been trained well. They are highly protective towards children, affectionate towards the entire family, and watchful around strangers. This makes them excellent watchdogs as well.
Dalmatians are known to produce less dander, which makes them well suited for families with allergies. However, their short coats shed throughout the year and need grooming. Caring for their coats, however, is considered relatively easy.
Dalmatians are better suited for homes with backyards as it allows them space for running and getting plenty of exercises. Being adaptable, they can be trained to be equally at home in apartments where they can find some space to work out their energy.
Dalmatians are low-noise dogs. When well taken care of, they don’t bark a lot, thus making them ideal for noise sensitive homes and communities.
They require human companionship and thrive well with socialization; otherwise, they can become aloof and unruly.
Dalmatians are good with other house pets and have traditionally known to be fond of horses.
The Dals have a life expectancy of 12 – 14 years.
Size, Health, and Care
While deciding on a pet, it is important to know its size, health, and care needs.
Height at Withers:
Male: 21-23 in.
Female: 19-22 in.
Dalmatians typically grow to a standard size of about 48 to 58 centimeters, a little under 2 feet tall when measured at the shoulders, also known as the withers. They have a square body profile when viewed from the sides.
Dalmatians have a propensity to over-eat, but with proper exercise, both Males and females weigh around 20 to 27 kilograms, which is about 45 to 60 pounds.
The Dalmatian is a mid-sized dog and is classified under the non-sporting category in popular kennel clubs.
This makes it the right choice for being around children.
The part where owning Dalmatians sometimes gets intimidating is when it comes to their activity needs.
It is a highly energetic breed and needs at least 40 minutes of vigorous exercise on a daily basis. Owners sometimes suggest taking the pet out often throughout the day.
They are best managed with a leash in a running partner’s hands because they might run into trouble, especially in yards opening towards main roads.
According to studies by popular kennel clubs, Dalmatians are more adaptable to a warmer climate than colder climes. They are usually considered to be of robust health except for the prevalence of deafness, which is relatively high amongst this breed. Additionally, they are more vulnerable to kidney stones and gout, and problems around their hind-known as hip dysplasia.
One important thing to note about this breed is that they have a higher prevalence of hearing problems.
It is estimated that around 5% are born completely deaf while overall close to 30% have some sort of hearing impairment in one of the ears.
This is important to know as living with a dog with hearing issues has some challenges.
Pets that are completely devoid of hearing ability are often difficult to train and manage. It is strongly recommended to have puppies BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to make sure they can hear before going ahead with your decision of owning one.
Dalmatians have an impaired genetic ability in processing uric acid from foods; hence they are prone to develop kidney stones. Regular water intake and breed-specific diet, low in ‘purines’ (considered the principal source of uric acid), help.
This condition’s presence and progression can be tracked over time by the excretion of sand-like particles in the urine, which gradually get more significant like stones. Stones, when treated timely, prevent further complications.
The hind portion of the Dalmatians has soft tissues that are prone to inflammation and injury-causing hip dysplasia. This often progresses to severely painful conditions causing the dog to limp on one or both sides. As this is a genetic disorder found in many purebred species of dogs like the Dal, there is no prevention. However, proper diet, regular exercise, and routine exercise per Winston’s Joint System help delay the onset.
Training and Socialization
Dalmatians have a good temperament, and when this is used advantageously for training the puppies early on, they become the best of pets.
With a history of hunting, guarding, and exterminating vermin, the Dalmatian instinctively possesses a strong prey-drive.
Children must be aware of this to prevent them from running away from a Dalmatian for fear of confusing the Dal between friend and prey.
A Dalmatian’s best side needs to be brought out with a lot of affection, attention, and positive reinforcement. They have a good memory and remember any ill-treatment, thus, requiring careful handling.
If the Dal doesn’t get to spend time with the family, its attention-seeking side can sometimes evolve into cranky and destructive behavior.
But, with lots of love and affection, they are the most adorable, affectionate, and loyal canine friends to be around. They are also good with other dogs and pets.
The Dalmatians are aloof with strangers, initially. This is good, in a way, as it helps in protecting from friendly-looking mischief mongers.
However, when they see the stranger getting along well with the family, the intelligent Dal is quick to warm up to the outsider.
There are several factors that lead to a decision about a particular puppy breed that is suitable for the family. Every breed has its advantages and disadvantages.
It is essential to understand the pet’s needs to raise loving companions like members of the family. Failing to identify these needs often drives the best of the breeds crazy.
The Dalmatian is no exception. It is a wonderful dog and usually features in the top 20 breeds to have in Australia.
In some ways, this canine from the Croatian coast of Dalmatia is often believed to be a celebrity in its own right, being made famous by Disney in its movie 101 Dalmatians. Also used as a fireman’s helper, it popularly sits as a mascot with firefighters even to this day.
So, hurry up, get this wonderful, loving, and affectionate puppy quickly, and start playing fetch with your family. The Dal will reciprocate much more love in kind and provide wonderful memories to cherish.