Dalmatians have not only enjoyed great popularity worldwide since their Disney film success. The “smiling” dogs are in demand as companions and service dogs and are immediately recognized all over the world because of their unique coats. Their high level of self-confidence can be intimidating for inexperienced owners – you can find out here how you can show your Dalmatian who is in charge at home in a friendly but firm manner.
The Appearance of the Dalmatian
Short and smooth lying fur with clearly defined dark spots is the Dalmatian’s most distinctive identifying feature. Males ideally reach a height at the withers of 56 to 62 cm, females are much slimmer and are 54 to 60 cm tall. Males reach a weight between 27 and 32 kilograms, bitches weigh a maximum of 29 kilograms. Like all Hounds, the Dalmatian is well proportioned and athletic, the head and neck being quite long in relation to the body.
The Dalmatian from head to tail
- The head is long, relatively flat, and widest between the ears. The forehead is flat and the nose stop is only hinted at, similar to retrievers and Dobermans.
- The oval-shaped eyes are outlined in black or dark brown in most dogs (depending on the color of the coat). Dogs with blue irises do exist, but they are more prone to deafness and should therefore not be used for breeding.
- Triangular floppy ears are set high on the head and hang down to the side of the cheeks. The tips are rounded and very thin. Black or brown spots condense into black areas on the ears of many dogs, but these never cover the entire ear.
- The long neck transitions into a strong chest and straight shoulders. The lower profile line on the belly is only slightly tucked up, the croup hardly falls down towards the hips.
- The front legs are straight, the hind legs are slightly bent at the hocks and knees.
- The thin saber tail also shows dark spots in most dogs. The hair is short and close-lying.
Colors in the Dalmatian
- The basic color is always pure white. Brown and black spots are desirable for inbreeding. Yellow, bluish, or brindle spots are also rare in puppies.
- The spots are round, clearly delimited from the basic color, and only overlap on the ears.
- Brown Dalmatians have smaller spots and light brown eyes.
- In black-spotted Dalmatians, the spots are slightly larger (about 3 cm in diameter).
- Long-haired Dalmatians, whose fur is fluffier and softer than their peers, are very rare. Fine flags grow on the ears and on the underside of the tail.
- Also very rare are tricolor Dalmatians with light brown tan coloring on the neck, eyebrows, and paws.
The Dalmatian as a progenitor for spotted breeds
- To expand the gene pool of many modern breeds, Dalmatians have often been crossed (e.g. with the Elo).
- Designer dogs are a modern trend in the United States. Dalmatians are deliberately crossed with other breeds to enhance interesting coat colors and positive traits.
Prominent examples of Dalmatian mixed breeds:
- Pitman (mother Pitbull)
- Dachmation (father dachshund)
- Dalcorgi (Father Corgi)
- Pugmatian (Father Pug)
- American Dalmatian (mother American Bulldog)
- Newfoundland (mother Newfoundland)
Theories on the Origin of the Dalmatian
- Spotted dogs with a Dalmatian-like build were depicted on tombs as early as ancient Egypt. There is also evidence of spotted stable dogs in Greece, which were usually depicted together with horses.
- The first records and illustrations of the Dalmatians come from Croatia (16th century, Dalmatia region).
- It is documented that the dogs accompanied Croatian traders and seafarers to India and found their way to Great Britain during the colonial period.
- Pure breeding of dogs began in England in the 19th century.
Relationship to other dog breeds
Genetic tests show that the Dalmatian is closely related to the Istrian Hound from Croatia. The Dalmatian as we know it today seems to have its roots in Central Europe, where differently built hounds with different colors accompanied traders and riders. Central European Hounds are also considered to be the ancestors of the English Greyhound, whose close relationship to the Dalmatian could also be proven. The Pointer also has similar roots and shares common ancestors with the Dalmatians.
Uses of the Dalmatian throughout history
- They were used as hunting and guard dogs up until the 17th century.
- In France and England, they were considered luxury dogs and were very popular with the nobility.
- In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were used as carriage dogs to keep vermin and thieves away.
- The New York Police Department popularized the Dalmatian internationally as a rescue dog.
The temperament of the Dalmatian: Get to know his special characteristics
In addition to their (more or less) charming smile, Dalmatians display some breed-specific traits that are extremely rarely seen in dogs of other breeds. They are spirited and easy to train – because they are perceptive observers, accuracy and good timing are very important in training. A Dalmatian wants food at the exact same time each day and will repeat behaviors that have worked once.