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The breed stands out for their unique spotted coats, which are short, sleek and glossy. The Dalmatian's outline is square, showing them to be well-balanced, strong, muscular dogs. They make great company dogs, especially for active families.

10–13 years
Adult Dalmatians weigh 23–25kg
Adult males stand at 58–61cm and adult females 56–58cm
Spotted coats. The spots can be black or liver on a white background
Kennel Club group
The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

Deafness is the most common health problem within the Dalmatian breed. 

Dalmatians can also be prone to:
- Hip dysplasia
- Urate stones which are a particular type of bladder stone made up of uric acid. Dalmatians are often not able to process this substance which result in a build up of uric acid deposits in the bladder and sometimes the kidneys. 
- Epilepsy¹ which is a condition where abnormal brain function can lead to seizures which damage the brain. 
- Atopy where the skin reacts to allergens in the environment and becomes sore and itchy.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hearing testing (BAER programme)

¹ C. Rusbridge, 'Canine idiopathic epilepsy', May 2016, Veterinary Ireland Journal.


The Dalmatian is friendly and outgoing, but if they are insufficiently exercised they can become hyperactive and difficult to live with. Dalmatians are dedicated and loyal and always want to please; they enjoy company and clowning about so can make great dogs for an active family, however, their strength and stamina - and need for almost endless exercise and stimulation - can sometimes be too much of a challenge for unprepared owners.

Vet Rating

History and Origins

Ideal Owner

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Dalmatians

Training Dalmatians

Suitability for Family Life

Did You Know?
  • This may well be the most famous breed of dog in the world, and everyone recognises this tall, elegant, short haired, spotted dog immediately due to both his film appearances and the fact that he is the only truly spotted dog in the canine world. 
  • Dodie Smith who originally wrote 101 Dalmatians in 1956 got the idea when a friend saw her out with Pongo (her own dog and the first of nine Dalmatians she would own) and remarked that he would make a lovely coat!
  • For those who know the book and the film, the scene where Mr Dearly revives a still-born pup (who went on to be named Cadpig) was based on a real life even where Dodie’s husband was able to revive one of Pongo’s litter.
  • The Dalmatian was bred to run alongside carriages – either to protect the contents and travellers (originally from highwaymen), or to show the high status of its owners. This means that this is a breed who was quite literally born to run. 
  • These dogs have a natural affinity with horses (from their history as carriage dogs) and that they were well known for running alongside, behind, or even underneath horse drawn fire engines. Not only did they protect the engine from being stolen while the firemen were fighting the fire, they also seemed to give the horses comfort.
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