Black spotted Dalmatian
Black spotted Dalmatian
Alternative names
Common nicknames
Country of origin
FCI: Group 6 Section 3
AKC: Non-sporting
ANKC: Group 7 (Non-Sporting)
CKC: Group 6 - Non-Sporting Dogs
KC(UK): Utility
NZKC: Non-sporting
UKC: Companion Breeds
Breed standards (external links)
FCI (http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:-z5lDaXt3IgJ:www.fci.be/uploaded_files/153gb99_en.doc+site:www.fci.be+%22153+/+14.+04.+1999+%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8), AKC (http://www.akc.org/breeds/dalmatian/index.cfm), ANKC (http://www.ankc.aust.com/dalmatia.html), CKC (http://www.canadasguidetodogs.com/dalmatian/dalmatianarticle4.htm)
KC(UK) (http://www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/discoverdogs/utility/u923.htm), NZKC (http://www.nzkc.org.nz/br724.html), UKC (http://www.ukcdogs.com/breeds/companions/dalmatian.std.shtml)

A Dalmatian is a breed of dog, noted for its white coat with (usually) black spots. "Liver" (brown) and "lemon" (yellow) types also exist, though they are much rarer. In the US Dalmatians are often known (and portrayed, for example in children's books), as firehouse dogs.



This popular breed of dog is a well-muscled, midsized dog with superior endurance. Known for its elegance, the Dalmatian has a body type similar to the Pointer, to which it may be related. The coat is hard, short, and dense, white with randomly arranged spots. The spots can be black, brown (liver), lemon, dark blue, tricolored, brindled, solid white (highly discouraged in show dogs), or sable. The feet are round with well-arched toes and the nails are either white or the same color as the spots. The nose can be black, brown (liver), blue, or a dark gray that looks like black. The eyes are dark brown, amber, or blue, with an intelligent expression. The ears are soft, narrowing toward the point, carried with a slight upward curve. The more defined and well distributed the spots, the more valued the dog. Puppies are born completely white and the spots develop later.


As a result of their history as coach dogs the breed is very active and needs plenty of exercise. They are quite affectionate and need constant companionship or there is a risk they may become depressed. Good with children but because of their playfullness may not be suited for toddlers. Dalmatians are famed for their loyalty, good memories, and their kindly natures.


Dalmatian dog
Dalmatian dog

The breed was named in the 18th century after Dalmatia, a region of modern Croatia that was once part of Austria, although it is believed to have existed for possibly centuries before it was so named. 4000-year-old Greek art displays dogs that appear similar to the modern Dalmatian. There is some evidence that it originated even before that in India.

The Dalmatian's reputation as a firehouse dog appears to be rooted in the popular use of the Dalmatian as a carriage dog, that is, a dog whose role was to run along, beside, and sometimes even under horse-drawn carriages (therefore also known as Spotted Coach-dog). Carriage dogs were useful for clearing the way in front of the carriage, possibly for helping to control the horses when at a full run (such as for horse-drawn fire engines), and undoubtedly because they were attractive and eye-catching. This use might have transferred to horse-drawn fire engines although it is unclear why this link is made in the US and not other countries.

However, their origins are as a generalized working dog. They were used for so many tasks--herding sheep, hunting in a pack, and working as a retriever and as a bird dog--that they were never specialized into one particular area.


Some Dals have a tendency towards deafness, as is the case with many mostly white or all-white dogs. Information from Dalmatian clubs can usually address this issue for new owners. Some male Dalmatians are aggressive towards other male dogs. They can develop urate stones in their urinary systems; the Dalmatian breed is the only dog breed that does so. There is one reported case of a male Dalmatian forming dolomite in his urinary tract, and this unusual case has been cited as a clue as to how large sedimentary deposits of dolomite could be synthesized.


The breed experienced a massive surge in popularity caused by the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, and especially the Disney films based on the book. At the time of the 1996 live action film 101 Dalmatians concern was expressed that people, having seen the film, would buy the dogs without thinking through the responsibilities of ownership: for example, Dalmatians, having been bred to run with horses, need plenty of exercise. It is not clear whether these concerns turned out to be correct, although there is evidence that problems occurred in 1961 when the first animated film, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, was released.

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