What is a Dalmatian?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2020
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A Dalmatian is a kind of dog that is generally best recognized for its unique markings, which include numerous small black spots on a white coat. There are some cases in which the spots on a dalmatian are brown instead of black. Dalmations are usually lean and muscular and have thin ears that hang close to the sides of the head. By most standards, a dalmatian is considered to be a mid-sized dog, the adults ranging in height from 19 to 24 inches (about 48 to 61 cm). As adults, the smallest members of the breed are usually around 35 pounds (about 16 kg) and the largest are around twice that weight, with the males generally being taller and heavier than the females.

It is believed that Dalmatians originated in Croatia in a region called Dalmatia. Despite these origins, the development of the breed occurred mostly in England. In the United States, the Dalmatian is widely recognized as having an association with firefighters. The main reason for this is that, in the time of horse-drawn fire carriages, Dalmatians were of key importance. Dalmatians coexist particularly well with horses and were able to guide the carriages en route to fires. Although Dalmatians are no longer used for this purpose, the breed is still associated with firefighters and firehouses and are still adopted as pets by many professional firefighters serving today.


Interestingly, despite the fact that Dalmatians are so well known for their spots, they are entirely white at birth. Their spots begin to appear in the coat within a few weeks after birth. The coat of an adult Dalmatian is short and quite thick. Anyone interested in adopting a Dalmatian should be aware that these dogs shed all year round and that the amount of fur that they shed is significant. Grooming these kinds of dogs on a regular basis can help, but will not entirely deter the shedding.

Dalmatians generally have an agreeable temperament that is marked by loyalty, intelligence, affection, and an ability to happily coexist with pets of other species. These dogs are, however, naturally active and require proper exercise. Their good natures, however, may be tested if they are not given proper exercise. When properly socialized and cared for, however, dalmatians often make excellent family dogs. Their high levels of intelligence and energy also make them good companion dogs and rescue dogs.


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